Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Vantasy Island, Parte Deux

Since my last post, I've received a lot of email from readers, mostly from people wondering about how to visit Vantasy Island. Best bet is to get in touch with Roarke Adventure Travel .. ask for Mr. Roarke or his executive assistant, "Tattoo". They'll make everything super easy for you, & you'll be surprised at Mr. Roarke's uncanny ability to put together a dream trip for you on the island .. It's like he's a mind-reader or something. If you're after waterfalls, he can definitely get you waterfalls.

Anyway, before we get into the Day 2 TR, I just want to plug Kayak Session for running a bajillion-page article about Squamish that I helped Bryan write. It features some great action images from Squamish local photogs Steve Rogers & Phil Tifo. Also included is a great interview with our boy Bryan. Cheers to Toon & Whitney for the great piece! And to Bryan for all his recent work & successes!


Okay, moving right along .. Our 2nd day on the island started early with a huge breakfast and, of course, a peaceful row across the inlet. Braden & Chris had shown up the night before, so we were now at full strength.

The MiniVanIslandVan was running on fumes, so we had to wait til 9am for the "gas station" (more like a one-pump gas shrine) to open. That afforded us time to pick up our patched flat tire from the day before, & this spare, as we would later come to learn, was a very fortunate thing to have.

ES breaking "strickt" rules at the tackle/tire shop.

The Dalai Lama sez, "Be Stoked that the shrine provides you petroleum today."

Our plan was to head for one of Jakub's high priority 1D missions -- a low-volume, gorged-out creek averaging 250 fpm. It would need more water than what we'd seen in the area the day before, so the logic was that we'd be taking advantage of overnight rainfall on this small creek, & save the bigger drainages for tomorrow. But as we drove inland, we realized that the farther we went, the drier it got. Our storm must've been a localized coastal event. So, we called an audible & re-routed for the Klanawa instead.

Arriving at the put-in bridge for the NF Klanawa, we were all giddy looking down into an alluring series back-to-back-to-back ledges disappearing around the corner into a dark box canyon. The sun broke through on cue as we began getting geared up.

Looking upstream from the bridge. This is a deceptive photo. The water is much deeper than it appears, it's clarity was amazing.

What we knew of the Klanawa was that Jakub had pioneered the run 2 years prior, but was forced to hike out upon reaching a big waterfall at around sundown. We knew that there would be some arduous portages around wood & we knew that we would probably get to run some waterfalls. Beyond that, we didn't know much at all, and what lay downstream of the "big" waterfall was uknown. The water level looked about perfect from what we could see from the bridge.

Go Time! Scotty leading the charge ..

Entering the gorge.

Last drop, first series from downstream .. me, committed.

After entering the gorge, we were immediately greeted with an amazing sheer-walled room with a meandering deep green pool .. & a portage around some old growth blocking what would have been a fun 12-foot ledge.

This guy came early in the run too. Totally runnable, been run, but with a super thin, very technical line to avoid pocket-beatdown-to-undercut-stuffage combo. ES & I agreed that if presented this option a little later in the day, we both would've given it a shot .. Next time for sure ;-)

Typical BC scenery

Typical BC portage

Typical BC ledge boof .. Chris Mennell

We then came to a nice 15-footer with a technical lead-in into an "airplane turn" into the guts. So GOOD!

Jakub from below.

Jakub from beside.


More Leif(s)

Evan in the LZ

Jakub on another fun slide to ledge series. This one had a beautiful tributary waterfall spilling into the gorge from river-right.

Braden under the log

An obvious horizon line indicated we'd come to the big drop that forced Jakub's earlier retreat. It was at least 40 ft into a massive pool & looked absolutely perfect. I think we were all consumed with that anxious mix of excitement & trepidation as we scouted from the sculpted granite lip of the falls. There were no visible issues with the falls, apart from the technical lead-in. You'd have to punch a couple small holes in the very narrow approach, then power through the super-mushy water to the rolling lip of the falls. Looked like you wanted to be just left of center as the right side seemed to land on a protruding ridge.

Braden had quickly decided he didn't want to hem & haw, running quickly back upstream to get his boat. He was already locking in by the time anyone realized what was happening. "Do you wanna wait for me to get my camera??" "No, man. I can't hang around up here any longer!" & off he went .. He nailed the lead-in, driving left up onto the off-camber right-leaning slide, & rolling over the lip in a tucked position at the same speed as the water -- no faster, no slower. About two-thirds of the way down he began to roll ever so slightly over the handlebars & BAM! He clipped rock just before landing. Uh oh .. he slowly rolled up in the outflow & it was obvious that he was injured. He slowly made his way to shore, but was isolated, as we were all stuck up on the lip of the falls with no obvious/quick route down. At this point, we'd all gone into evac mode & no one was going to try to make another attempt of the falls -- getting Braden & the rest of us out of the canyon safely & before nightfall was now the priority. We considered rapping down the face of the falls, but opted finally to just huck out into the deep greenwater below the impact zone, & rope boats down to the ledge at the bottom. By the time I got to Braden, he said that he was in some pain but reasonably certain he didn't have any serious fractures, apart from the bow of his boat .. which he repaired at riverside with roofing tar tape.

It was getting late/dark & we were now more or less committed to paddling out through the unknown lower gorge. We were all totally relieved to find nothing more than unbelievably scenic class III the rest of the way to our takeout, which involved a bit of BC bushwhacking up to the road.

I think it's safe to say that we're all totally bummed that the waterfall didn't end up being the "lay up" that we had all envisioned. We wanted that glory drop SO bad! We were all very thankful for Braden & for the group that he avoided serious injury. An evac from from that spot would've been a dire exercise in pain suppression. My thoughts on the waterfall, having inspected it from below, are that it is most likely good to go, but certainly not without serious risks. I think Braden did exactly what he wanted to do & what we all had planned to do -- the same thing would have happened to all of us had we probed. Knowing what we know now, I'd say more speed & more of a boof-stroke at the lip would likely get you out away from the curtain & hidden ledge. I think that running it more to the right than where he ran it would be better .. & that a bit more water would help as well.


Anonymous said...

Very Very nice, boys...how many more of these baby's you think we got left hiding up there? I know I'm gonna keep lookin...

Rafting Life said...

Sweet reports as usual. I am just putting some video together from some other rivers on the island. Some footage from the Klanawa involved as well. Nice photos.

Anonymous said...

nice. very nice. kudos on the first D falls and the strong ankles.