Sunday, February 28, 2010

From Behind the Line - Upper Upper Perth

Due to its wide flow range, open river character allowing complete scouting and portaging options and the plethora of fantastic whitewater it possess', the Perth River has always been known as a classic New Zealand helirun. Two years ago, admittedly before I/ most our group was worthy, I paddled the Upper section of the Perth River with a disastrous outcome... but two years on this would be a very different story. With a plan forged in the bar the night before and a late start due to the lasting effects of a very good night, Barny, Joe Keck, Brian Urmson, Ari Walker and Myself found ourselves at the Whataroa Heli area trying to sort a helicopter.

Barny and I trying to explain B-Rain and Ari's relationship (J. Keck)

Our shuttle vehicle (B. Young)

After getting a cradle brought over from Fox Glacier township, educating the pilot to our shuttle plan and exchanging some cold hard cash, we dropped B-Rain and Ari at Scone Hut and Barny and I were dropped 'well' up the Perth River. This would turn out to be a much longer day than we'd thought. During the first couple of hours I was amazed at how much the river had changed since my last time down... little did I know we had put on about 4km higher than last time. Putting on at 2pm usually isnt much of an issue but this 'higher' put in took us 6 hours to break down and seen us rolling into the hut around 8pm tired, beaten and grinning ear to ear. Here are the photos from day one.

Landing well the the Perth Branch above Scone Hut (J. Keck)

Barny ready for business (J. Keck)

Barny lacing the first notable drop (J. Keck)

Me running the lead out (B. Young)

Barny bringing out the Fish eye... (B. Young)

Boofing another amazing drop (B. Young)

Joe Keck blending into the background (B. Young)

Joe didnt like the look but Barny and I loved the taste... stout (B. Young)

I wanted it on video so had to go first... through the lead-in (B. Young)

and boofing through the hole (B. Young)

Barny hucking into the hole (J. Keck)

Barny running a sick boof... this photo is taken from the middle of the river!!! (J. Keck)

Joe experiencing NZ at its best (B. Young)
Me getting ready to launch (J. Keck)

This photo does not, in any way, reflect how continuous the upper section is. (B. Young)

The funny thing is that all of these drops and many more not shown here are all above the section that I ran two years ago which took us 4 hours back then. This time round Barny, Joe and I flew through this section in about 2 hours with the help of pieces of Barny and my memory and some brave eddy hoping. Photos would of taken time and we were well past 6pm at this stage.. Sorry. Anyway, arriving at Scone Hut where B-Rain and Ari had the fire going and water on the boil for some much anticipatd Ravioli. After catching the last little bit of sunlight while eating dinner, some lethargic goon drinking (or lack there of), we drifted off to sleep in the fire warmed accommodation provided by the Department of Conservation.

Day two started, and as you will see finished, like a dream. Blue-bird sky, bacon and egg breakfast and pretty much dry paddling gear... this was going to be a good day. Here are some of the photos from the second day.

Scone Hut up the Perth Valley (J. Keck)

The first thing we scouted out properly (B. Young)

Joe smiling on Day 2 ... well we think he is smiling (B. Young)

Bliss-Stick Mystic (B. Young)

B-Rain boofing the hole (B. Young)

The alternate line to Pinballs (B. Young)

Ari... Boofing? (B. Young)

Joe coming through the hole... (B. Young)

NZ Pure... Straight from the river

Boofing a sweet drop towards the end of the first steep section on day 2. (B. Young)

This river trip really had it all... steep technical white-water, good friends to share it with, perfect weather and most importantly no serious incident. With three options for get-in's, the lower at Five Finger Stream(IV-IV+), Scone Hut (IV+ - V) and the Upper (V), this river has plenty of options for trips and is definitely a must do for anyone paddling on the West Coast... Check it out.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Two Day Whitcombe - Steep, Scenic and an outright Stellar trip

The Upper Whitcombe has been infamous in my mind since reading its description in Graham Charles White-Water Guide to New Zealand during my early paddling days. Remote, gradient up to 100m per km and the power of a river apposed to a creek were and still are things that played on my mind. Paddling on the coast, hanging out at Lake Mahinapua and rubbing shoulders with the more established paddlers I never really heard much about the Upper Whitcombe, so it had remained a tempting unknown... a thing all paddlers can appreciate. On top of a good 'Southern' spring season and regular good flows on the coast, a period of prolonged good weather brought the river levels of the harder runs into a more manageable state and we would take full advantage of this. Though some of the regular faces were unable to come along, news of a Upper Whitcombe trip attracted the interest of Zak Shaw and ex Home and Away star Shannon Mast. Like stars coming into alignment, the logistics came together nicely and after an early start and chopper trip we were at the top of of two days worth of white-water... with smiles from ear to ear.

Shannon pealing out early on

Zak Shaw dropping in

Barny running the first drop in a series of 5 stacked drops

Shannon Mast making sure to get right

Cant protect it, cant see it... Zak probing what was a serious hydraulic

Barny routing a line the rest of us couldn't see

Zak taking the aerial route for exiting a steep section of white-water

Shannon soaking it all in

Barny towards another horizon line...

Prices Hut - Goon, Bees and Good Times.

The next three images are from Zak Shaw ( taken in the gorge below Prices Flat.

Sweet little boof early on (p. Zak Shaw)

Staunch boof with a tricky lead-in hole (p. Zak Shaw)

The crux section of the lower prices gorge (p. Zak Shaw)

Barny running the lead out of the last substantial drop above the extended Cropp put in.

This two day trip would have to be one of the best river trips I have been on. Dando drops your food, goon and anything else you want at the hut, which meaning light boats for the steep section. And if you can go without your gear for a few days to a week, you can leave your gear there and he will pick it up when he is in the area. I cant believe that I left this trip for so long and with only 5 short river level portages over the two days, it is super manageable. It is tempting to try bag another trip down this beauty, but with the Mungo River/Upper Hoki trip still on my to do list and having not done the Two-Day Perth in two years, who knows whats next!