River Roy Update August 27th 2008

Rivers 'near' Fort William
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chrisdickinson
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River Roy Update August 27th 2008

Post by chrisdickinson » Wed Aug 27, 2008 6:17 pm

River Roy Update August 27th 2008

Paddled the Upper Roy and Roy Gorge yesterday at a low flow and then again this morning at a medium/high flow (i.e. level with the quartz band at Roy Bridge). This mornings run was enough water to make the lower river a pleasant run also.

Observations on the rapid formerly known as Headbanger.

The huge undercut has mostly collapsed and the resulting blocks have slumped into a position that blocks the river. A huge blocks is wedged against the nearside. This obstruction is unlikely to move. Callum Anderson, who was with me, feels that smaller
rocks and material which were originally part of this “dam” have now been washed away, such that at low water the obstructions form a sieve rather than a dam as at first.

At low water.
The river leads through a rapid (with much less drop than before) with eddies either side to a blockage and at least two sumps which are self evidently dangerous. To enter this rapid at all risks approaching close to these sumps. Better to take out upstream of this entry rapid as before and to portage on river left. Most water passes under the nearest block on river left. The hole is almost big enough for a boat to go through, but probably not with a paddler in it! The same hole will provide easy passage for fish heading upstream.

At high water
The river backs up somewhat behind the obstructions and then overflows them. The main centre chute is twisting and into a savage hole, but possible. The right side of the drop, whilst possible, clearly has water disappearing downwards through the rocks. We elected to run the left side of the fall by boofing the shoulder which takes you safely past the grippy hole and down a slab of rock covered in water. To run this new fall, which I suggest we now call “Tumbledown Falls”!, at medium/high levels the grade is 5, as before, but primarily because any mistakes will wash straight into the drop and severe twisting passages below. What the fall will look like in a very high flow remains to be seen, but is likely to be 5+.

It is also possible, as before, at high water, to take the first eddy on the right after the entry rapid and continue through it into a “backdoor” channel on river right, that rejoins the main river lower down. This line can also be gained from above the entry rapid on the extreme right and is a way of running this section at high to very high flows.

Observations on the difficult constriction and sump (river right) that marks the last hard rapid.

At low or medium/high levels the sump, which lies behind a good eddy, was not an issue. The run through the main chute now is viciously curling to the left and to avoid slamming into the left wall below and probably flipping a high skill level boof to the right
across the curling chute is required. For anyone who swims here, there are a number of other submerged obstructions below that pose a hazard.

Conclusions

The Roy’s unstable slabby geology continues to see changes. Besides the above, two important ledges in the gorge have changed in recent years and continue to change.
At good water levels, with good skill levels, all rapids on the river are currently runnable.
That situation may change for worse or even better. watch this space. As of today the river has few if any dangerous wood obstructions that are not obvious and in places of low hazard. That can change also. Paddle safely.

Chris Dickinson
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Last edited by chrisdickinson on Wed Aug 27, 2008 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RichA
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Post by RichA » Wed Aug 27, 2008 6:50 pm

Thanks for the update Chris. Don't suppose you got any pictures as well?

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Post by jmmoxon » Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:12 am

http://kayakworldguide.forums-free.com Links to websites with info on white water, touring, sea & surf.

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Roy photo

Post by chrisdickinson » Fri Nov 07, 2008 10:07 am

Thanks Mike for that photo....each time I have run it a partner has messed up the photo!!

At low levels of course it is as shown.

At medium levels it becomes runnable LHS, straightforward run in but with tendency to flip on edge of hole that forms below.

Medium plus a route boofing out on slab on left opens up which is easiest.

At very high flows it looks horrendous, but then so do the drops below.

Chris

PS Have run the drop three times now and it is a distinct improvement on how it used to be in truth. Suspect it will change further given time.
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Post by geyrfugl » Mon Dec 01, 2008 1:43 pm

Don't suppose you got any pictures


There's a few pictures here, including a view looking upstream to the remains of heabanger:

http://pennine.demon.co.uk/photos/mainarchive/index/RiverGallery/2008-09-12-Roy.html

with some (big) video of Rooster Tail, Brothers Grimm and
the rapid below that in _very low_ water. Please download
the video to disc just once and play it from there - my server
isn't youtube (they have a better phone line!). This is the last
drop that Chris mentions, with the syphon (open and visible)
below the paddler tied to the rock:

Image

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Post by Nasty swimmer » Sat Dec 06, 2008 7:23 pm

OK, I know this isn't Friends Reunited, but is that Andy Waddington, ex CUCC circa 1978?

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Mark Gawler
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Re: River Roy Update August 27th 2008

Post by Mark Gawler » Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:26 pm

We paddled the gorge today at a low level. This picture shows the redesigned Headbanger.
Image
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Dug
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Re: River Roy Update August 27th 2008

Post by Dug » Thu Mar 19, 2009 11:04 pm

Has that changed again? I remember only one rock blocking it in November when I was last there... plus nice dead sheep, all the best syphons have one!

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Re: River Roy Update August 27th 2008

Post by chrisdickinson » Fri Mar 20, 2009 7:35 pm

Yes Roy "Headbanger" blockage has changed again I'd say. I was down at low water on Thursday and it looks to me as if much of the blocking material has washed out, leaving just the biggest stuff. The river is now unlikely to pool above the blockage to the same extent, the small fall above has reappeared and the blockage constitutes a real hazard if you ran that drop above unwittingly. If you went in there you would end up like the sheep! Without seeing it at high water I can't say whether it will be runnable, but I would say that even then it will be much more dangerous than previously as a lot of water will be going through the siphon now. Best portaged from now on by the look of it. Chris
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River Roy update

Post by chrisdickinson » Wed Apr 08, 2009 10:17 pm

Couple of runs recently through gorge at very low levels show the headbanger to be a MUST portage, whilst at higher flows (critical to inspect) it remains runnable on river left (5). The lower siphon looks very dangerous indeed at low water levels, if a paddler shows any lack of control, AND is hard to portage. At medium and higher flows it is much less of a risk. Take care!
Chris
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Re: River Roy Update August 27th 2008

Post by chrisdickinson » Wed Apr 08, 2009 10:19 pm

Mark Gawler's recent pic shows exactly how it looks currently at low water at the Headbanger blockage, sheep included!
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Re: River Roy update

Post by Mark R » Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:17 pm

chrisdickinson wrote:The lower siphon looks very dangerous indeed at low water levels, if a paddler shows any lack of control, AND is hard to portage.


Yes, it's now utterly horrible - previously it was easy for a group to stop above and the line down the left (well clear of the siphon) was a straight paddle.

The siphon has opened up more since the 2006 fatality, making the upstream level much lower, hence -

- Flow into the siphon is more pronounced and strong.
- Stopping above is harder.
- There is no direct route, you have to turn sideways onto the siphon rock and squeeze through a chicane, very close to the siphon.

I would no longer recommend this trip in low water, sadly.
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Re: River Roy update

Post by conoroneill » Mon Nov 23, 2009 6:48 pm

chrisdickinson wrote:The lower siphon looks very dangerous indeed at low water levels, if a paddler shows any lack of control, AND is hard to portage.


We paddled the Roy Gorge in low water in early Nov 2009. We were portaging around this siphon (awkwardly!), when a boat got dropped and ended up wedged nicely in there. It took us over 2 hours to retrieve it! See some photos here:
http://picasaweb.google.com/conoroneilluk/200911RoyGorge#5404384301706807938

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