In the weeks preceding departure to the Kamchatka Peninsula for a project Bryan and I had been working on for almost two years, many of my close paddling friends kept asking about what kind of whitewater we expected to find. And the truth was, with so much of our planning and prep time focused on the salmon, the conservation aspects of our trip, and the general logistics, that we had no idea what to expect in terms of whitewater.
I don’t mean to say that we hadn’t looked into it. At it’s heart this project was born out of kayakers wanting to go explore rivers in an unknown corner of the world. But this region has seen so little interest in whitewater that there was virtually no whitewater beta. We spoke to flyfishing guides who pointed us in some directions and other tourism guides that had insights into other drainages; although, when we looked at these rivers on maps, they just didn’t give us – as kayakers – the confidence we wanted that they would pan out into good whitewater. So a week before our departure, we called an audible.
The Semilayach River had the best Google Earth imagery on the peninsula and there was definitely a pool drop character to the river. Whether it would have the right amount of flow at the time we would be there or whether the drops would be clean and runnable or a junk pile of boulders was anyone’s guess. But we decided it was our best option, and as Daniel DeLaVergne once said, ‘sometime’s you gotta just drop in and figure it out.’ We did, and we found some good whitewater and some excellent rapids. And on the heli flight into the Semilayach, we flew over the Karimsky river, which looked even better from the air, and it too proved to be excellent on the river.
The Range Life hasn’t really been our outlet for this project, but we wanted to share some pics with our loyal readers and point you to our facebook page for more updates and sources of media that are starting to filter out now. Also, check out Outdoor Research’s Verticulture site for some sat phone podcasts. We have more than 2 weeks left over here, so stay tuned for more updates and enjoy the images …
international expeditions always mean a load of gear and airports. This one included two transfers and an unexpected layover in Moscow. photo by bryan smith
Bryan, Ethan, Jay, Jeff, Rob & Shane. photo by ethan smith
our soviet era shuttle. photo by shane robinson
thar's whitewater down thar. photo by ethan
ethan hitting one of the first boof's on the trip. photo by shane
rob cruising through a nice series on the semilchik. photo by ethan
bryan stoked to find some quality russian whitewater. photo by shane
source to sea means flatwater - bryan getting back to his roots. photo by shane
hard to beat smoked salmon, hot springs and an erupting volcano to start a river trip. photo by ethan
before there was the brown, there was the shit, and ethan fired up the shit! photo by bryan
where are we? In the middle of nowhere. photo by ethan
jeff collecting some data. photo by ethan
a rudimentary but effective flow measurement. photo by ethan
lots of fun mini gorges on the Karymskaya. photo by ethan
ethan running one of the team's favorite drops. photo by shane
our camp at the beach. photo by bryan
maybe the most dangerous part of our trip - the petropavolovsk yacht club. photo by shane
and a sign off by our friend smokey. photo by shane