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!