Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Gillman Gorge

Maggie on Falls Creek Rapid Crux

Gillman Gorge of the Eagle River is a classic Colorado run not far from Vail. It also happens that Homestake Creek flows in right a the put in. This made it a very convenient run since we were spending a lot of time there already. We all got in a few runs together and I got to paddle it a total of five times while Matt ran laps on Homestake.

The run flows through a deep gorge surrounded by a lot of mining history in the form of abandoned buildings and other mining structures. It is rather eerie floating past these ghostly places as you approach the first major rapids. Starting off quick and gradually building up to class III-IV boogie water the run is quite fast. Shortly after passing the ghost town you see Falls Creek (a huge cascading waterfall coming of the mountain) on your left. This begins the main section of the run. Falls Creek Rapid starts things off with multiple drops to negotiate and a big water feel. We all got out and scouted on the first run.

Several quality rapids follow with a short section of class II leading up to the final rapid, Slurry Pipe. Rated class 5.1 by AW this is a long complex set of drops. It starts off with an easy approach and boof but picks up quickly as you negotiate one hole after another. First a large guardian hole threatens to stop you but is easily boofed on the right (just below the bridge). Next a large diagonal wave-hole shoves you to the left and threatens to slam you in a boulder pile (and on one run it succeeded, forcing me to wiggle myself off a slightly unpleasant pin). Several more drops follow and eddies are scarce. Additional danger comes from artificial hazards that have fallen into the river here. Definitely a heart racing ride the whole way down. We spent a fair bit of time on the first run committing each move to memory before making our way down. A great rapid for sure.

Overall the Gillman Gorge was a very fun run and I enjoyed getting to run it multiple times and learning the rapids.

Matt scouting Falls Creek Rapid Crux

Mining village

Gillman Gorge

Ghost town

Matt at Falls Creek Rapid

Ed on Gillman Gorge

Slurry Pipe approach

Matt on Slurry Pipe approach

Matt boofing entrance hole on Slurry Pipe

Slurry Pipe

Matt on Slurry Pipe

Slurry Pipe

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