The Guidebook

To visit the LiquidLore Guidebook, click right here. It's the starting point for all kinds of whitewater beta and the main reason this site exists - be sure to check it out.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Statlu Canyon

The beta for Statlu Canyon

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One of the best things about southwest BC - at least for kayakers - is that it rains all winter. Most people cringe and whine when the skies get grey, but for boating it's a blessing. On top of that, rain in the lowlands usually means snow in the mountains - the best of both worlds.

After a good month of skiing in January including an awesome day at Sun Peaks we had a good rain event late in the week, getting all the rivers up and running. I have had the Statlu in the back of my mind after hearing a couple of good reports from my friends Ben and Corey who ran it in May 2009 but I couldn't convince anyone to go earlier in the fall. Finally, Joe Box from the Island was on the mainland and agreed to go check it out - this despite not really knowing what it would be like, what the level would be or if we would even be able to drive the shuttle because of the threat of a locked gate.

Turns out the Statlu is awesome. We did have to walk because the gate was closed, but it was no big deal and well worth the effort. It's hard to believe this section isn't a raging classic - it's no further from Vancouver than going to Squamish to paddle on the Ashlu and the quality of the rapids is as good as most of the other class V around here. The Bellingham crew could get here just as quickly. It doesn't have an online gauge but then again neither does the Norrish and that run is a very well travelled Fraser Valley staple.

Like so many runs in SW BC, this section of whitewater is under direct, immediate threat of hydro development - it is currently undergoing the permitting process and it is likely that it will be dewatered in the next few years. It's being assessed concurrently with projects on Big Silver, Tretheway and Shovel Creek. It will not be long before all the rivers in the Fraser Valley and up Harrison Lake/River and the Lillooet valley are all diverted.

Because the Statlu has remained out of the spotlight for so long, there is very little record of navigation there and it's unlikely it will receive the extensive mitigation measures that have been enacted on the Ashlu if the project gets the go ahead (when a project goes ahead, my opinion is the Ashlu system should be seen as the gold standard for appropriate mitigation). It was even stated in the most recent applications that the proposed diversion reach did not get navigated, and that it wasn't navigable. This is false. Just look at the pictures below - it's obviously great, fully runnable whitewater.

All is not lost though. There is still plenty of time to paddle the Statlu as a free-flowing river. It's also possible that the project will not go ahead - as of yet no approvals have been given. Go up there, check it out and when the second comment period happens go online and post up your thoughts. It's well worth the short drive and every voice counts.

The road up the Statlu is usually gated - if this is due to logging acvitity it's a little foolish as there is tons of unprotected equipment sitting on the side of the road on the Chehalis main. The road above the gate was in good condition, and it was plowed.

Visual gauge at the first Statly bridge - upstream river left. 5.5 units = perfect.

Joe Box at the put in.

Canyon entrance - that's a log spanning the river, not a bridge.

The first big one - it had a big hole at the bottom. It was a dreary wet day for taking photos.

This is what it's like - short but really good.

Trying to scout the second last drop - best on the run? Reminded me of the portage on Bald Rock Canyon, but runnable.

One of the impressive log jams at the end of the canyon - there were huge piles of logs stacked 50 feet off the water in places.

The last rapid - we portaged this one on the left - it's probably runnable though.

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