Monday, December 10, 2012

Upper Crooked - West Coast, New Zealand

After several years on the West Coast you begin to tick off most the runs at various flows, from the painfully low to the ridiculously high and everything in between. And even with this variability you are still left wanting more out of the Coast. Last season our local crew started pushing further up the drainages and found some absolute gold in the Upper Wanganui, Whataroa and Perth Rivers. We had paddled most of the major tribs from their source, or close to it, but one obvious river still waited to be paddled. That was, the Upper Crooked. Eden Sinclair and a group of Power Rangers in Scud's had accessed the upper reaches of the Crooked by helicopter back in the days of super cheap flights but unfortunately those days a gone (prices are still reasonable though), so we had always shied away from the ominous 5+ hour walk up a poorly serviced track. So were never really had much motivation to walk past the put in for the normal super classic crooked run. 

Some strange astrological cycle much have be in play as one weekend both Barny and I were overly keen to load up our kayaks and devote a day to walking into Jacko Bean Flat Hut at the top of the Crooked. Our plan was to hike in there, stay the night in the hut and then paddle out the next day.  Pretty simple really. So with a light over night kit, some dehydrated meals and 30 'Oaty Slice' meusli bars, we took to the testing track with plenty of hours of daylight. 

Earning it (p. Barny)

After three and a half hours at a steady pace Barny and I entertained the idea that we might be getting close to the hut, even though the sign at the trail head said 6 hours. But knowing we had only 8.7km to cover, we figured at only 2.5km an hour we must be getting close... We were WRONG. Murphy's law got the better of us and from the exact moment of hope the trail really turned it on, getting super steep and hard to navigate. Another hour and a half of arduous walking past and we finally made it to the flat. Quite broken by this point, we seen a sign indicating 600m to the hut... longest 600m of my life. Once we reached the hut a sense of relief over whelmed us, and we were glad that we had started walking earlier rather than later. After hanging up our gear we set to the usually easy task of lighting the fire... not this time. High elevation, an open fire and extremely wet wood was a real test and it took a solid 4 hours effort to boil (only just at that) enough water for our dehydrated meals. After this rigmarole we were quick to fall asleep, resting our tired bodies for the next day of full on paddling. 

 Home sweet home (p. Jordy)
Our choking fire slowly chugging away. (p. Barny)

Waking in the morning we decided to skip the bullshit involved in boiling water for breakfast and just eat some more Oaty Slice bars... we had plenty after all. We quickly packed up our gear and decided to get an early start on the river. From the outset the river showed us its true character, steep, technical (manky) and actually pretty dangerous. Everything had something full on below it, or a sieve or something else. So we took our time to break it down and try and set safety where ever we could. We made pretty good time paddling most things, although there was definitely a portage or two. I even managed to  drop my paddle into a sieve at one stage but hawk-eye Barny spotted it below the water and were able to get it back. The water wasn't exactly classic, but it was full on for sure.

Barny coming through unscathed. (p. Jordy)

 Looking down the Gradient..... and Water..... (p. Barny)

More goods with consequence everywhere. (p. Jordy)

A relatively clean section, quite rare. (p. Barny)

 Steep and technical. (p. Barny)

 Some parts could of done with more water, but that would of 
made everything else way to full on. (p. Barny)

 Beautiful. (p. Jordy)

A surreal gorge at the end of the Upper Section (p. Barny)

We were glad to make our way down to the normal put in for the Crooked. A quick route down familiar lines put us back to the Ravager about 5 hours after we left the Hut. All in tact and stoked to have ticked off another trip and personal First Descent for Barny and myself.

Good times on familiar lines. (p. Barny)

 Straight stoked (p. the timer!)

More rain is on it way, meaning more water and more adventures. Pretty hard to beat the West Coast during Spring!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Gradient & Water - Whitewater Calendar 2013

Well after popular demand we're back in 2013 with an even better calendar. With images from our huge 2011/2012 summer in New Zealand, Sahalie Falls in Oregon, Sam Ricketts charging in BC and Barny getting the second descent of 'Initial Falls' on our new backyard classic, the Toaroha Canyon. We've picked up some new sponsors for 2012 and are stoked to have Kayak Session helping us out in addition to our primary sponsor BLISS-STICK. We'd be stoked if you would take the time to share this page around and help us get as many of our calendars out there in 2013.

Cheers for the support,

Jordy and Barny.

 Cover: Barny Young wondering if it will go, on the First Descent 
of the Upper Wanganui (p. Justin Venable)

Twelve stellar images mainly highlighting the amazing whiterwater
and scenery found on the West Coast of New Zealand.




Sunday, September 30, 2012

Toaroha Canyon - Finishing what we started...

At the start of this year Barny Young, Daan Jimmink, Keith Riley, Kev England, Justin Venable, Zak Shaw and Myself opened up the truely classic Toaroha Canyon. After enduring the long hike and making our way to river level, limited energy levels and basically a severe lack of 'want' left the large falls at the beginning of the section yet to be run. Leaving such as septacular drop un-run was hard, but even without it the run was a great addition to the other runs in the area. Nonetheless, since then I have wanted to get back in there and fire the falls but things never really worked out. Three other descents of the canyon happened since our first descent, but no one had stepped up.

The young fellas stoked to be at the slip
With some spring rain on the coast and some fire in my stomach, I decided that it was about time to try and get back in there. I checked the flow the day before we planned to go and it looked as if it would be a bit lower than our first descent, which would be good for the falls but could mean other things were a bit low. Either way I convinced Barny we should commit and even managed to convince the 'middle-class' crew of Ari, B-Rain and Greg to to rally over for the mission. Good crew, great weather and what would be the perfect flow... we were going for it.

An early start and super quick walking pace seen us reach the sleep in only 2 hours, with only another 45minutes down the falls. We were energized and I was more than fired up for the falls! But it wasnt going to give it up easily, the lead in was still tricky AND there was the issue of getting the boats up there. But after I made my way to the lip of the falls I decided that I had to have it. The boys set safety and Barny helped me get into my boat in a perfectly placed boat-szied crack in the gorge wall. I heard the 'whoop-whoop' from Barny and that was it, time to sack up. I was strangly calm with what was about to happen and the lead in went ok but as I was pitching off I was almost sideways. Fortunately I pulled a let left stroke which brought me around, but it also brought my bow up. I got in a sneaky stomp and all was good! 

 Me bagging the First Descent... stoked!


Next up to the plate was Barny, fresh off a winter of minimal boating and good life, he was ready to break out fo that eddy and step it up. After a last scout and giving me the thumbs up I let the boys know he was about to come then gave him the got to go. Barns charged in, keeping nice and straight and tucking slowly ensuring he didnt go over the bars. Taking a soft hit, but breaking his paddle, he rolled up stoked to have routed the falls. Two descents and two clean lines. But there would be more.

Barny mobbing in! 

Straight and clean, Barny charging (p. Ari Walker)
After giving Greg and Ari a hand to get up to scout the falls, I left them to make their own decision about whether to fire or not. After not to long I noticed the boys beginning to carry a boat towards the lip of the falls, they were stepping up! Greg was going first, so we set safety and waited for the young charger. He came in hot, ditching his paddle high on the falls. He slightly over-rotated and got twisted by the buffer but hand rolled up stoked! Another clean line. Now it was the 'Curries' turn. Same system, Greg gave us the all clear and Ari  was up. He got a little further right than the rest of us, pitching over a bit and ditching his paddle. He took a bit of a hit in the base of the falls as he tried to sit up and correct his angle. But handle rolled up fine and we were 4 from 4. Stoked!

Greg Allum straight CHARGING 

Greg entering the beast
With all this done we were now left to make our way through the classic Toaroha Canyon. I had forgotten how amazing it really is in there, I will go back several times this summer for sure. Dim light and pressing time didnt encourage taking many photos but Barny and Ari got a few snaps. Check it out and get in there yourself!!!!

 A look at the inner 
 The Boof before the must run slide

 'Always 'Right', a sweet boof into a hole

'One More Falls'

 Barny on 'One More'

One project down with great success, but there are still plenty more plans in the wood-work. So keep and eye here or get to the coast and come on a mission!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

End of this leg of the 'Truth Tour'.

Well after three months of charging all over the western United States my trip has finally come to an end. Having paddled several states I had never been to, paddling numerous rivers I had never done and making even more friends. Riding dirty with Nick Murphy has been fantastic, feeding off his stoke, getting pity hucked on most rivers and enjoying seeing him hurt after his continual bender catches up on him. We went big, but now its done. Parting ways for other missions on other continents. I'm off home for a big summer on the West Coast of New Zealand and Nick is making steps towards an expedition to India. But even with this, I am sure that this summers only continual A-Team charges will be reuinted in the near future.

I am flying home in 2 days and am ready to get after a few projects on the coast and the Otago region. Here are some of my favourite photos of me from the trip and a link to a video of the West Coast, made by my boy Dylan the Villian, that I just watched and is building my stoke!


Sahalie Falls

North Fork Payette

Mesa Falls

Mesa Falls

 Bull Lake Creek

 Bull Lake Creek

 Clarksfork Box

Clarksfork Box 

Silver Falls

 Lower Lewis Falls

Little White Salmon

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Silver Falls, Cispus and Lower Lewis - Washington

Jackson Hole is the biggest vortex in the world. The people are nice, the social scene is awesome but there is pretty much no whitewater after the Box is done. We had some car trouble, so 'reluctantly' had to commit to 10 days of hanging out, BBQ's, disco night, long boarding and the like. After this we got some new shoes for the van and made our way to the Canadian border. Its a touchy subject but we didn't make it. So 5 hours, two inspections and some frizbee throwing later, we crawled back into Washington state. Unsure what to do we decided we should at least go paddling so we made our way towards the Cispus River. On the way we decided to check out Silver Falls, and although it was low we decided to fire.

Winner goes, so I went! 

 Nick entering cool and collected.

So after getting our feet we went wanted more and went up to the Cispus, which is an absolute gem! Totally under-rated in my opinion, 6 miles of class V with no portages... a dream. So we got to work and banged out 6 laps over the following few days.

 Nick probing the right side of the 'Island'

Me entering 'Behemoth', a side 30 footer.

 Nick of his first lap of 'Behemoth'.

 The sweet boulder-gardens that lay down-stream.

But after a few days we had found our peace with this river and it was time to move on to bigger and better things, which happened to be Lower Lewis Falls. This beautiful 35-40 footer is road side and always has a live audience. Nick ran it twice but I only went once, took a hefty water-hit and wasn't keen to do it again. Nonetheless, another sweet drop for the tour.

 Nick about to slay it.

Me having a good entry angle but about
to take a hit.

So after this we decided it was time for good food and some 'social investment' with the boys at the Beaver Lodge, and their guests the Seiler brother. Enough said I guess, big nights, rough mornings and a little bit of paddling. Green Truss, and a surprisingly good LOW water lap on the Little White (@ 2.1). The blessed waters always deliver. And so has Washington!

Nick roosting BZ in the evening light.

Me about to plug the left side of spirit.