Thursday, December 29, 2005

North Carolina action

Last spring, me and a group from Quebec leave the snow to enjoy the beautiful river of North Carolina! That was a good place to test our Magnum! We've been there almost 4 weeks so we had plenty of time to test our boats! The Magnum is a awesome creeker, easy to boof, easy to turn, good acceleration, good edge on the stern so you don't miss a eddy turn... Perfect fun!!! During this trip, we had the chance to paddle with Chris G. and many others paddlers from the area, We had a great time!

As usual, we take some video footage! Me and my friend dominic Fournier (also member of the Riot Team) produce a video every year. Those video are there just to show the different rivers in our area, or to show some good paddling destination! So our friends don't have to paddle the same river over and over again!

So, here some pictures, we're going to work on our video this winter, is gonna be ready next spring! (by the way, if you want to see some action from North Carolina and also from Mexico or Quebec , go to

and click to download some preview.

By the way, we are goiing back to Noth Carolina and West Virginia next spring, so you're more than welcome to join us! And if you plan to paddle one of our creek in Quebec, just send a email! We already had a lots of snow so expect a good creeking season!


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Magnum on California creeks, reportedly satisfactory.

Our friend Dan Glauser sent us some info and pictures about his buddy, Tim Robinson, who recently bought a Magnum and is loving it.

These guys went on a California creeking trip this summer and apparently Tim was styling everything so well that few of his group could keep up with him in his Magnum.  "Looks like a good boat," according to the rest of the group.

Here is Tim on the Middle Kings. 

There were only three guys in the group on the Middle Kings so taking pictures was a bit of a chore.

Here is a pic of Tim on the South Merced.  Apparently this pic was his first day in the Magnum.

Tim used to be the climbing instructor for Camp Carolina.  He moved out west and did a lot of climbing, including numerous assents of El Cap.  On the river he can pretty much climb around anything, an invaluable skill to have on expedition runs.  He may even have the speed record on the hike into the Middle Kings, he did it in one day taking about eight hours with no mule or other support.
Here is Tim in his element, doing what he loves. Mid hike on a Middle Kings Expedition.

These photos are courtesy of Chris Harjes and Christian Magallanes. Thanks fellas!

Later, Spencer Cooke

Friday, December 09, 2005

Rock Slide at Wilson Creek Revisited

Greetings citizens.

Watch the Wilson Creek Rock Slide Video

Joey and I went over to Wilson Creek last week, a few days after Chris and I had run the Elk at high water.

Joey freewheels

An off the Rock Helix I did

The level was around zero, so we were catching the tail end of the precipitation from earlier that week. We took the Inferno and Orbit down the river. My friend Todd Zarzecki, a Raleigh NC local, joined us as well. Of course, we stopped at the big sliding rocks at the end to try some tricks. I don't often have the opportunity to surf big, fast waves. If you live around the southeast you know it's mostly small hole play. That said, this rock slide at Wilson Creek has got to be the best practice for big wave play moves you could get without a big wave. The speed at which you hit the water sends you skipping, as long as you have your edge up. Edge down results in an equally fast windowshade. Next trip you take to Wilson Creek I recommend you try this in a creek or play boat. The best spot is right at the end of the run, before the railslide rapid.

Enjoy the Video and photos.

Later on,

Spencer Cooke, Team Riot

Monday, December 05, 2005

Green Headcam in the Magnum

Hello everyone,

Well, I've recently acquired something that I've wanted for the past couple of years... my own headcam! Since I started editting videos recreationally, I've always thought it would be incredible to have shots from the paddler's point of view, and be able to show the viewer that ominous horizon line that is always in our subconscious, and the view that we recieve when we paddle off of it!

I went out for an after-class paddle on the Green Narrows recently with my friend Scott Harcke. Scott is a young local boy(19 i think), that has been ripping it up on all the Southeastern creeks for the past couple of years. Scott was a competitor in the Green Narrows 275% extreme race last year (1 of only 8 people), the most extreme kayaking event that I think both of us have ever done, and arguably the most core whitewater race that has ever been held.

Anyways, this footage was taken at a base 100% level on the Green, and the video includes all of the majour rapids, top to bottom. I tried to edit as little as possible, so that those who have never paddled the Green can see how the rapids link up. Sorry about the subsequent large file sizes. The Magnum is sick out there! It stays on the surface really well, and basically just takes care of me at all times. It is significantly shorter than Scott's Nomad 8.5 (by six inches) but seems just as fast.

I'm pumped about having this new camera, and I'll get some other footage up as soon as I can get out there and paddle the rivers... Toxaway, Triple Falls, Horsepasture, and high water Green are on the list for sure.

See you out there!

-Chris Gragtmans

Monster Mile headcam (28 mb)

Lower Narrows headcam (18mb)

November Rain

Download Elk Falls Video (6 mb)

Well, the Southeast finally got some rain! 3-5 inches in the Western North Carolina area put every single creek that you could possibly want to run at a high or blown out level. Toxaway was too high, Ravens Fork was running, and the West Prong was juicin! Our sights today were set on a different creek however, in the Boone area. I have done the Elk River once before, and I remember it being a super quality run, with good class 4-5 and two absolutely incredible waterfalls, one 35 feet tall, and the big one somewhere around 50 feet tall.

In spite of the fact that everyone that I called said that this river was too high, Adam Herzog, local guru, was pumped on doing the run, and willing to see what happens. Oh yeah, did I mention that last time I ran the Elk the indicator gauge(Watauga) was at 1200? Today it is at 6500! Anyways, Zog took me down this run last time as well, and is a very safe, very solid paddler to follow down the river. Also joining us on this adventure is Spencer Cooke, who in spite of being a gnome, is the man in a kayak, and behind a camera(thats the only reason I hang out with him anyways!).

The crew during the shuttle.

The highlight for me over anything else on the last run was the 50 footer at the put in. You literally put in, paddle through a bit of class 2, and if you want to, run a very large waterfall! I broke my paddle with the huge impact last time, but otherwise it was a clean run. I had heard that the two pockets on each side of the curtain get really horrible at high water, so I was not expecting to get to run the drop today, but theres always a chance...

Upon arriving at the put-in, the river was a nerve wracking site. Standing waves and deep boily water mached past where there was a small shallow slide last time. The Elk appeared to be running somewhere in the vicinity of 1000-2000 cfs. Very hard to gauge though. Paddling up to the drop to scout, I could not believe how much more of the lip was underwater than last time. That is a horrifying horizon line if Ive ever seen one! We hopped out to look at the drop, and although it was super intimidating, it certainly looked doable. A quick scout from the bottom revealed the hazards of the drop. The two pockets on each side of the waterfall had big boils backing them up, and were recirculating very powerfully back into the waterfall. The left pocket went behind the curtain, a very scary thing to look at. Spence and Zog opted out, but I was feeling pretty good about it, and walked back for another look from up top.

My heart was in my throat looking at the falls from the top, but I felt confident in my ability to stick the line, and privileged to be given this opportunity at such a high flow. We had decided that because of the massive amount of aeration at the bottom, and the fact that ending up in either of the pockets would be absolutely horrible, I should land the drop at a 45 degree angle rather than the preferable 80 degrees for a drop of that size. I got in my boat, did my warm-up, and everything was great cruising up to the lip until a big log popped out of a boil right next to me! I did not at all want to be falling with that thing beside me, so I turned around and took about 8 or 10 hard strokes upstream to separate myself from it. I was still moving downstream towards the drop however, and turned around just in time to line up with my curler and watch the world open up in front of me...

Big waterfalls are an entirely different experience than any other aspect of kayaking because of the self control that is needed to successfully run them. Every single instinct that you have as a kayaker is telling you to paddle like hell and charge the lip. The key, however, is slowing down to the speed of the water, and not disconnecting from it, but sticking to the angle of water with your boat as you go off. The last stroke is the most important part, and should be held fairly vertically and given only slight pressure until about halfway down the drop, to stabilize the angle. My last stroke on Elk Falls was a righty, and I got just a little bit too gung-ho with it, pulling myself a bit too flat before tucking up on the way down. I felt myself engulfed in the vail after a long, long fall, and landed at about 40 degrees. This angle made my boat arc up very quickly, and my head took a pretty big hit on my cockpit rim through the sprayskirt. I planted my left blade coming out of the tuck to charge for my life if I saw myself being sucked into one of the pockets, but I was safely in the main flow and at the bottom of an incredible waterfall!

The drop was an awesome experience, but did take a ding out of my eyebrow. An important thing to remember about hard whitewater is that it is not by any means an individual activity. Spencer and Adam were there for me to offer the safety and support that they could if something were to go wrong. It is important for everyone to take into account that when you run a big drop, your mistake is not only your own problem, but could lead to friends putting themselves in danger coming after you. Short of this, noone wants to ruin their day to hike another paddler out of a gorge and take them to the hospital because of a dumb decision. Be safe out there.

Anyways, in spite of the cut in my eyebrow, we decided to continue on with our adventure. After running the first drop of the gorge and subbing out through a monster hole, Adam matter-of-factly told us that this was way higher than he, or most likely anyone else has every paddled the river. The whitewater was a combination of class 5 steep creeking and Zambezi style drops. Pretty nerve racking! The drops linked up like crazy, and we needed to scout a number of them to make sure they were still good to go. After getting out of the main flow and catching an eddy just above the inescapable lead-in drops to Twisting Falls, we were faced with a couple of options to proceed. We went ahead without boats, and quickly decided that the normally-run mini gorge after Twisting Falls was not an option. Some of the ugliest keeper hydraulics ever, and the fact that the running 35 footer would probably mean getting sucked behind the curtain, made us decide to go high and portage the set. The 45 minute portage was brutal and very scary for a person as afraid of heights as I am, but we made it, and paddled the class 3 boogie to the car with an extreme sense of relief that she let us pass unscathed.

The aftermath: two stitches on the forehead. Things happen off of big drops, even with a good line.

Anyways, I hope that everyone else got on some good whitewater with the rain. See you on the river!

-Chris Gragtmans

Download Elk Falls video HERE.

All photos and video taken by Spencer Cooke, Effort Inc. Thanks for being there man!

**Check out the money shot of this sequence in the Spring issue of Paddler/Kayak Magazine.**