Monday, December 26, 2011

California Charge 2011

Barny and I have been lucky to pretty much skip the New Zealand winter the last two years by making the now OBVIOUS pilgrimage to the sunshine state, California. During this time we have been fortunate enough to assimilate into the local Cali crew and get pretty much everything Cali has to offer! Unfortunately I bruised or cracked or broke some ribs down on the Kaweahs this season so missed the business end but Barny carried on the Charge routing Graceland, Upper Cherry, high water Devils-Postpile and the Middle Kings. Here is an edit of the spectacular white-water that Cali has to offer, and that we were fortunate to get on! Enjoy!

Here is the edit from 2010... so looks like 2012 will be better again!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kokatahi River - West Coast's Finest!!!

Waiting to enter Carnage Gorge (p. Jordy)

The West Coast is home to numerous classic kayaking runs, from the Styx, Crooked and Kaka's to the Arahura, Whitcombe and Upper Hoki. But I think it is the Kokatahi, however, that is now the West Coasts premier class V run. Granted it doesn't have the overnight facet of the Mungo, Whitcombe or Perth, but it has EVERYTHING else. Spectacular scenery, steep boulder gardens, big rapids, committing gorges, the ever-present remote feeling, deep blue pools and anything else you could want in a kayaking run. It pretty much all goes, there were maybe 5 things that didn't get run on this high-water trip ('cover-shot' and the 'direct-slot' usually get paddled at normal flows). Our crew was Barny, Razza (Simon) Rutherford, B-Rain and Myself, the flow was Juicy and we all had good lines and safe times!

Old Razza about to loose his Kokatahi virginity (p. Barny)

Its a long an intimidating flight, even more
so when you know its high! (p. Barny)

Straight off the bat, the Kokatahi is solid
class V (p. Barny)

B-Rain getting over his initial Kokatahi
apprehension (p. Jordy)

The upper section is comprised of steep open
boulder gardens (p. Simon Rutherford)

Stacked, remote, beautiful. (p. Simon Rutherford)

This flow meant everything had holes of
consequence, lucky rudders is a master in
deal with holes (p. Barny)

Everything goes, you just need to sack up or get
Barny to scout it for you. B-Rain running
an alternate line in fine form (p. Barny)

Barny and B-Rain enjoying one of the
numerous pushy boulder gardens
(p. Jordy)

Scenery that speaks for itself (p. Jordy)

Barny charging into the infamous 'Carnage Gorge', aptly
named after the events from the First Descent.
(p. Jordy Searle)

There used to be a boxed-in waterfall in Carnage Gorge,
so it always a good idea to find out what the status of
the gorge is (p. Simon Rutherford)

B-Rain entering class IV gorge, which comes straight
after the 'direct-slot' (p. Jordy Searle)

I think this is in 'Nothing Gorge', class III
entry then nothing... or is there?
(p. Simon Rutherford)

Enough said (p. Jordy)

The 'Twin-Towers', which we portaged due to high
water. (p. Simon Rutherford)

If you get here with plenty of time its worth scouting
before lowering boats as you're pretty much done,
just the portage to go really.(p. Simon Rutherford)

A trip earlier in the week had some real carnage, with
two lost boats, a dislocated shoulder (heli evac), a hike
out, numerous resues... Just before 'Portage Gorge' we
noticed this boat and decided to pull it out... destroyed!
(p. Jordy)

My beast in a familiar spot, I think that was my 12th
trip down and Barny has done as many, if not more!
(p. Simon Rutherford)

Well we got a fair bit of footage from this trip, so looks like we're back on track! The weather is good and levels are now holding... Whats next?!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rocky Creek, New Zealand. First Descent.

Last year a good friend of ours was lucky enough to get a job that involved him being flown into remote parts of Paparoa National Park, giving him a great vantage point for scoping out rivers. For the past 9 months he had been going on about this creek, easy access, slides and it runs regularly. Even with this beta we always chose the 'bread n butter' flood runs opposed to scouting out/paddling this creek. One hungover morning, however, I tricked Barny into thinking it was after 9am and we motivated ourselves to walk into and down this creek to check it out... at around 7am! What we seen we liked, so figured next big rain we should get in there..... But the next big rain was too big (Civil Defence was evening on stand-by for the town of Greymouth) and we missed it. On the Wednesday, 14th of December we got some more rain and gave it another shot, this time accompanied by Skux and the Dream (ing of Whitewater) Team, Daan and Jess.

Putting in at the 'Log Bridge', you want more water
than this but not the whole rock cover (we think).
(p. Barny Young)

We, unknowingly, put on a bit below optimal flow but it was good for the first trip down to work out how everything would go. The creek is quite narrow, and is primarily sandstone. Comprised of about 10 slides, a gorged rapid and a couple of portages due to trees, this short run turned out to be quite cool. At our flow it was relatively low-stress, but as the flow got higher things would get a lot harder. Anyway, here are a few photos of a new flood run on the coast.

There are various boofs and slides (p. Barny Young)

Daan on the first part of the 'Gorge' rapid
(p. Barny Young)

The slides were mainly this angle, with some
taller ones. (p. Barny Young)

Being wrapped in the thick coastal forest just
contributes to this unique West Coast run.
(p. Barny Young)

Here is how to access this run: .... Go with a local. I have found out that access might be a little more questionable than first thought, so its a little locals spot X if you will....

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Upper Wanganui - Maybe a first?

Years ago Bruce Barnes mentioned to me that the Upper Wanganui would be worth a look sometime. That there was plenty of solid class V up there that would now be navigable since the development of new kayak technology and the contemporary paddlers mindset. After some meticulous investigation of the rivers gradient and character (looking from space via Google Earth) and indepth research into the meteorological condition for Sunday and Monday (checking the MetVUW forecast charts), Shannon and I decided that it was on! Barny took no convincing and organised a helicopter and we were set, flying 10am Sunday 27th of November. Our crew was Barny, Daniel (Shannon Mast), Justin Venable and myself.

Smyth Hut is a long way from civilization (p. Justin Venable)

Trying to get the cradle back into the Chopper (p. JV)

Flying in, we soon realised that we had caught the flow pretty much perfectly... not to mention the stellar blue skies. We were able to fly right to Smyth Hut thanks for some stellar work by Zeb Laing, and we knew we were in for a bit day. The river was ridiculously steep, somewhere in the realm of 80-100+m/km. Obviously this meant portaging, but we probably ended up with a 50/50 paddle to portage ratio and there were definitely a few big things in there that would of gone... Anyway, the 2km or so down to Galway Creek took us about 4 hours so by the time we got to the normal Wanganui (at high-ish water) we were ready to mob and get down to Hunters Hut. One scout, and 45 minutes later we had covered the 5 or so km of the normal Upper Wanganui and were ready for a night of relaxation and reflection at the a very classy establishment.

Alpine boulder-gradens (p. Jordy)

Getting steeper (p. Barny)

Daniel (p. Jordy)

Slings were priceless on the steep portages! (p. Jordy)

Barny amongst the unparallel West
Coast beauty (p. JV)

Tight and beautiful! (p. JV)

Inspecting... next time maybe?! (p. JV)

The final drop, the one after the section
above (p. Jordy)

JV soaking it in (p. Jordy)

The boys about to go one two (p. Barny)

Shannon on the charge (p. Jordy)

JV cleaning it (p. Jordy)

The one in the background is still
to go... Just so you know (p. JV)

Clean (p. JV)

Steep steep, check the decending bushline! (p. Barny)

Hunters Hut, a place for well earned rest! (p. JV)

In the hut, goon, food and good conversation (p. Barny)

Falling asleep that night to the predicted patter of rain on the roof, little did we know we'd be getting 100mm and be riding out a big brown gravy train the next morning! Perfect!!! Everything worked out perfectly, the access, white-water, weather, food, rain and everything. There is definitely a few more things to go up there for the bold, and the added extra incentive of hotpools at the top and bottom should convince more and more crews to get on this one.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gradient & Water - Whitewater Calendar 2012

Well here we go again! Another year has passed and both Barny and Myself have been fortunate enough to have an action packed year, paddling in New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and California. Here are a collection of photos that we not only think illustrate the difficulty of our sport, but also the beautiful settings that we are privileged to visit. This year we have included a few photos of other bliss-stick paddlers Ari Walker, Brendon Bayly, Jared Mitchell and the late Simon Davidson. Principle photography is by Barny and myself, with Daan Jimmink and Tyler Fox contributing photographs. SO here is a preview to get you going... order one for yourself, your mother and get ready for another year of looking at Barny and me!

Cheers for all the support,

Jordy and Barny

Cover: Paddler Jordy Searle - Photo Barny Young






Friday, November 4, 2011

A little tribute to the late Simon Davidson

Here is an edit from the two trips down the Nevis on opening weekend. Unfortunately our boy Si wasn't there with us in body, but we all felt him in spirit. It was good to have such a big group of paddlers, as numbers have slowly dwindled over the last few year. The crew was Barny, Willzy, Ari, Dylan 'the Villan', Masty, JV and myself. We ride with Si!

Cheers to Tyler Fox for the opening image.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Nevis River - Central Otago

It is always an anxious wait for the Nevis River to come in, watching the guage (yes one of the only runs in the South Island that has one), checking the forecast and speaking to the local paddlers of the Central Otago Area. Usually we devote a week or so to the 'Nevis Season', also paddling the Kawarau (Nevis Bluff, Citeron and Retrospect) and taking full advantage of the continual party that Queenstown is. This year, however, there was something special missing. On June 22nd, 2011 our good friend Simon Davidson was taken away from us, doing the thing he loved most. I had previously paddled the Nevis 7 times, 5 of those were with Si and we always crashed at his pad. Hungover Bluff runs and massive nights on the town, these were all things that Si had always been a part of. It was an odd feeling being at the put in of the Nevis without Si, but we all knew that our boy was with us in spirit... he'd never miss the Nevis Season.

Our typical evenings in Q/T (p. Jordy)

Simon routing Freight Train (p. Jordy)

On his way to check out little brother, first
day we ran it... together! (p. Jordy)

Simon looking back up at Big Brother... right before he said
"Not this time my big brother"... (p. Jordy)

Now here are some snaps from our two laps on opening weekend, the crew was Barny, JV, Dylan the Villan, Willzy, Masty, Ari, Eden and Myself. Good lines and good times!

Dyl sitting at the dodgey portage (p. Jordy)

JV hoping to miss the rock (p. Barny)

Willz soaking it in (p. Jordy)

Barny on Freight Train (p. Jordy)

JV... Beautiful! (p. Jordy)

Safety first! (p. Jordy)

Boofing the lead in to Big Brother (p. Barny)

Route this! (p. Jordy)

Willzy having ANOTHER slick line (p. Jordy)

Another clean line on Big Bro (p. Jordy)

Dyl just routing in... the next bit looked fantastic! (p. Barny)

Me rolling in (p. Barny)

Ari the Curry, showing he's hot stuff! (p. Barny)

We spent a fair bit of time taking footage of this trip and hope to put together a little tribute to Si in the next couple of weeks. On this southern mission we also paddled the Young River, Routeburn River, the Marion Creek Section of the Hollyford and I bagged a sunny day on the Okuku with Jared Mitchell and Skux!