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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
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    Gauley Rafting Outfitter Recommendation?

    I'm looking to make reservations for a 2-day trip on the upper/lower Gauley on the third weekend of September this year. I did the same trip about 7 years ago with a company called New River Scenic (who were awesome), but seems to now be defunct. Ideally, it would be a place that would allow camping on both Friday & Sunday nights, before and after the trip, and had a site on the river (as opposed to a base camp) to camp on Saturday night. Included food and beverages are always a plus.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I've found quite a few different sites online, but most of them have minimal information and I figure there has to be someone around here with some first hand experience.
    I think that the human mind is unique among all other forms of life in that it can spontaneously create unique thoughts and provide unique behaviors. Instead of rewarding that uniqueness we, for some reason probably because of cultural and social necessity, we chastise unique behavior and reward conformity.

  2. #2
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    Oct 2005
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    I'd look into Class VI

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
    I'd look into Class VI
    Thanks, I'll look into them.
    I think that the human mind is unique among all other forms of life in that it can spontaneously create unique thoughts and provide unique behaviors. Instead of rewarding that uniqueness we, for some reason probably because of cultural and social necessity, we chastise unique behavior and reward conformity.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    In the land of collective enlightenment
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    I've always had positive experiences with Wildwater. Some buds used to guide for them, though, so I never had to pay. Just sat back and drank beers.

    http://www.wvaraft.com/
    The greatest effort is not concerned with results.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    nashville, tn
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    360
    I've been with Rivermen 5 or 6 times and have had a great time. Ask for Mike Edwards as your guide when you do the upper. (Do it in their 4 man boats). They call him "the punisher" and he'll let you do lines others won't. Makes for a hell of a day.
    http://www.rivermen.com

  6. #6
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    Oct 2005
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    Whiskey Victor
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    All of the above are good. Class VI, Rivermen,Wildwater. If you are trying to save bucks, ACE is ok.
    Montani Semper Liberi

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by NashBoarder View Post
    They call him "the punisher" and he'll let you do lines others won't. Makes for a hell of a day.
    I've never done the Gauley. But my kids & other people I know have done it a bunch. Word is that respecting the undercut nature of that river and sticking with standard channels is wise for the vast, vast, vast majority of people out there. Try talking with someone who has been there for on-scene attempts to rescue or recover the body of someone they know from a non-main/standard channel undercut on the Gauley. Words like "lines others won't" can lose some of their sheen...

    People I respect have given a thumbs up to the Class VI guides and managers they know. Base facilities are top notch. I'm not knocking anyone else & I'd certainly check out the full spectrum of recommended outfitters - but stuff like the above would scare the crap out of me on that river. And would make me disinclined to use the outfitter or the specific guide. If you are into rolling the dice, feel free...

    Just my .02

  8. #8
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    Oct 2005
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    Whiskey Victor
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    Spindrift, that river is fun and safe. It takes some skill, but swims are forgiving (in most places) and undercuts are few (in terms of WV whitewater)
    Montani Semper Liberi

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    12
    Quote Originally Posted by MarsB View Post
    Spindrift, that river is fun and safe. It takes some skill, but swims are forgiving (in most places) and undercuts are few (in terms of WV whitewater)
    This is not true. I have done the river multiple times, and earlier this year I was on the river when someone I knew died. He was a very strong paddler just taking a side channel, he happened to flip and get sucked into a undercut/sieve right next to shore. They could not get him out until the water was turned off.
    There is gnarlier more sieved/undercut whitewater in WV, I have done some, but for the disrespect and number of rafters that go out and do the upper it is an extremely dangerous river.
    This does not mean that people can't have fun on it, it just means that you don't want a sketchy raft guide just trying for 10 dollars more on his tip by taking you into hazardous places. It is a fun enough river on the normal lines so why not stick to them?

    eli

  10. #10
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    Oct 2005
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    Whiskey Victor
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    Many, many guides have flipped many, many boats in that river. Bad things happen, but the sheer number of folks that go down that river are statistically safe. Far more people die on the lower Yough (class III) nearby, which is much easier.

    Peace and vibes to your friend, lazarus. Was he a Tarkio MT kid? I knew Brennan, amazing person.
    Last edited by MarsB; 05-22-2008 at 05:55 PM.
    Montani Semper Liberi

  11. #11
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    Mar 2006
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    Tahoe City/Idaho Springs
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    class VI or Rivermen
    we have about 10 guides from both of those co's and they are fuckin cool
    ive only tagged along on a VI trip, and there couldnt be a better time in my opinion
    goo

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
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    Well, we ended up booking our trip with ACE. I was too busy to deal with the reservations earlier this week, so one of the other 5 guys on our trip booked it for us. I wish we would have waited another 2 days to see how this thread panned out since ACE doesn't seem to be getting a lot of love here, but we wanted to make sure we got reservations before they filled up.


    Quote Originally Posted by MarsB
    All of the above are good. Class VI, Rivermen,Wildwater. If you are trying to save bucks, ACE is ok.
    Any reason why they're just OK? It's still early enough to possibly get our deposits back, so if ACE isn't that great we could book with someone else.


    Quote Originally Posted by spindrift
    I've never done the Gauley. But my kids & other people I know have done it a bunch. Word is that respecting the undercut nature of that river and sticking with standard channels is wise for the vast, vast, vast majority of people out there. Try talking with someone who has been there for on-scene attempts to rescue or recover the body of someone they know from a non-main/standard channel undercut on the Gauley. Words like "lines others won't" can lose some of their sheen...

    People I respect have given a thumbs up to the Class VI guides and managers they know. Base facilities are top notch. I'm not knocking anyone else & I'd certainly check out the full spectrum of recommended outfitters - but stuff like the above would scare the crap out of me on that river. And would make me disinclined to use the outfitter or the specific guide. If you are into rolling the dice, feel free...
    I hear what you're saying. Only myself and one of my friends have any previous Gauley experience on this trip, which is why we're doing the reverse lower/upper trip. I would personally love to try to run it in one the 4 man rafts, but I'm not about to take 3 guys with no Gauley expericence, not to mention, very little rafting experience, into those kinds of conditions.
    I think that the human mind is unique among all other forms of life in that it can spontaneously create unique thoughts and provide unique behaviors. Instead of rewarding that uniqueness we, for some reason probably because of cultural and social necessity, we chastise unique behavior and reward conformity.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    nashville, tn
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    360
    Quote Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
    I've never done the Gauley. But my kids & other people I know have done it a bunch. Word is that respecting the undercut nature of that river and sticking with standard channels is wise for the vast, vast, vast majority of people out there. Try talking with someone who has been there for on-scene attempts to rescue or recover the body of someone they know from a non-main/standard channel undercut on the Gauley. Words like "lines others won't" can lose some of their sheen...

    People I respect have given a thumbs up to the Class VI guides and managers they know. Base facilities are top notch. I'm not knocking anyone else & I'd certainly check out the full spectrum of recommended outfitters - but stuff like the above would scare the crap out of me on that river. And would make me disinclined to use the outfitter or the specific guide. If you are into rolling the dice, feel free...

    Just my .02
    I can appreciate your take on my statement. I quess I should have been more specific and say, "he'll let you do lines that others won't while on "safe" rapids". The last thing anybody wants to do is screw around some nasty undercut. For example, Pillow Rock, while big water, is relatively safe in terms of undercut. Most enter river right and sweep across the river to "get sum" on Pillow. Mike would start us river left and we'd hug the left rocks. Made for an interesting swim one year though.

  14. #14
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    Dec 2006
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    If you need a cool place to stay, check out my buddy's little resort, http://www.opossumcreek.com/

    He used to guide for Class IV, and is a great resource on the whole local area...
    Neil Young said Harvest put him right in the middle of the road, so he headed for the nearest ditch. I think we've kind of just gone ditch to ditch to ditch a lot of the time.

    Patterson Hood of the DBT's

  15. #15
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    Mar 2008
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    West By God Wyoming
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    You'll have a good time with Ace, they have a great campground. They own something like 1000+ acres on the New, so lots of territory if you feel like taking a hike, or driving down there backroads to the river (wait until all buses are done for the day, because they will run you off the one lane roads). I worked with Mike Edwards at Rivermen, the guide referenced in a post above, and know him to be an excellent guide. If a commercial rafting crew wants to take a less than standard line in a class III-IV rapid and shows that they are up for it, then great for the guide that's capable of safely providing that experience. The left line at Pillow is totally acceptable with customers if you've got a good group that wants to go big or go home... but its a different story at Iron Ring. I can assure you that Mike (like all legit guides) is serious as shit in rapids like Lost Paddle. Tailoring the trip (within reason) to your customers is the name of the game.
    Last edited by Woolly the Mammoth; 05-29-2008 at 10:42 PM.

  16. #16
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    Apr 2008
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    Raleigh
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    Just remember, the gauley is a big class IV+ river with big wide lines guided by people who have logged lots and lots of mileage. Veteran guides tend to know a whole lot more about the nooks and cranies of a river, hence the disproportionate number of private boater deaths, both expert and gaper, on all rivers
    That said, you're going for a yahoo-ride on a yahoo-river. If you wanted to be scared you would be going to the Russel Fork or the Kern. Enjoy yourselves! What Class VI has is a desire to appear more professional that Wildwater and ACE and more deluxe facilities. If you have any concerns about safety, just call them up and ask when the last commercial death on the Gauley was, and whether ACE has had a commercial death.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    1
    Quote Originally Posted by jm2e View Post
    If you have any concerns about safety, just call them up and ask when the last commercial death on the Gauley was, and whether ACE has had a commercial death.
    The answer is that there have been 3 commercial deaths on the Upper Gauley in the last 3 years, all at Iron Ring, and 2 of them were with ACE.

    In fairness to ACE, running the Upper Gauley in the summer at lower water levels is more technical than in the fall, and ACE runs more Summer Gauley trips than anyone.

    We just did the Upper Gauley with ACE, had a great guide and a great time. However, I would say that the initial cattle call experience at ACE is not great. Once on the river though, our experience was very good.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    5

    Do you want the truth!

    Most of what has been said so far is BS, half truths, mis information!
    I have guided 5 Upper Gauley seasons and have about 100 trips down that river.

    TRUTH
    All companies hire self proclaimed "hot shots" from around the world for Gauley Season because there are not enough Class V guides in WV. Some suck!

    Most rating companies are like dysfunctional fraternities (they even have their initials...I have worked for RR, RWV, EE, AU, CCR, AQ, OT etc.) and river guides have unique personalities. So as companies in WV merge many of the best guides have walked off due to conflict with owners and other guides from the newly merged companies. This has caused a shortage of old timers and a surplus of new "hot shots" to fill their shoes. Some suck!

    Finally, because its a dysfunctional fraternity world, all types of stereotypes and rumors exist. Most are BS. Check out the states annual rating safety report and you will see the rumors of who is safe and who is not are crazy.

    http://www.wvdnr.gov/LEnforce/White/...01_Inj_rpt.pdf

    For instance, I used to work for Raft West Virginia and we were know as the most reckless company (way more so than Songer or New and Gauley River Adventures aka NRA, the runners up for that title). I was even banned from Drift-a-bit (the most conservative company) for my reckless reputation. But the stats show that Drift-a-bit had 5.3% of the States rafting injuries, even thou they only took 2.9% (ratio = 1.8x expected) of the states customers. My company RWV had only 1.1% injuries for 1.3% customers (Ratio = .85). So even thou our boats were upside down (an inevitable consequence when trying extra hard to have fun) far more often we managed to injure less than half as many people (per-capita). Songer and NRA have numbers a little over 1 but neither is as high as Drift-a-bit. Both of those companies give great trips, the guides are capable of giving you any ride you want, and the stats show they do it SAFELY while Drift-a-bit won't let you surf, flip, swim rapids or run any non-standard line and still injure more people.

    Gauley river safety ratio (bigger numbers equal unsafe)
    Boyscouts 3
    Ace .75
    Rivermen 1.8
    Rivers 2.2
    Extreme Expeditions 1.5 (Recently merged with Rivers and will get worse)
    Class VI .2
    Mountain River Tours .15 (Recently merged with Class VI)

    So. If you want to be really safe go with Class VI
    If you want to have a real good time and your not a safety freak go with NRA or Songer
    If you want to collect some insurance money go with the Boyscouts

    AND
    If you don't have prior rafting experience (preferably one that resulting in you swimming a rapid) OR can't swim OR are easily panicked OR have a heart condition OR have not gotten off the couch in a year OR can't pay attention to a scrubby half hippy half hillbilly, etc...GO ON THE LOWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    The lower would be one of the most famous rivers in the USA if it was not connected to the Upper.

    P.S. I Love That River
    Have Fun
    Be careful
    Tip your Guide $100 (its less than tax on the trip and Uncle Sam didn't do anything)

  19. #19
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    Nov 2005
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    Pretty good first post, JONG.

  20. #20
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    I knew Class VI had good peeps, didn't know they had the best safety numbers too. So their 'early bird' Upper trip is $169, and you're saying to tip $100?

    Errrr, sorry, that ain't gonna happen. Maybe the whole boat, sure, $15-25/person, maybe that's what you meant.
    Neil Young said Harvest put him right in the middle of the road, so he headed for the nearest ditch. I think we've kind of just gone ditch to ditch to ditch a lot of the time.

    Patterson Hood of the DBT's

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    5
    oh. and whoever said its all wide open lines is crazy. I've boated around the world and run Class IV/V from 100 to 67,000 cfs. The scariest incidents I've ever been a part of were both on the Upper Gauley. The worst was in a rapid that NOBODY KNOWS THE NAME OF. Its the smallest rapid (a shoal with a series of weird slots along the left side) between Keggans Falls and the finger nail (between Sweets and Iron ring).
    Many rapids that get forgotten are quite technical (its not Gore, Clear Creek, Yough technical but certainly not wide open). Rapids like Buds, suckers left, iron curtain, Conestoga, soda fountain and the entry to insignificant all have spots where minor mis judgments can put you in very scary spots (like when I was pinned on a rock with a boat wrapped around me and my feet in an undercut at the bottom of tumble home in 2001). Ive seen people try and run the Upper only to take off 9 hours later in a boat without a floor even thou they had no problems in the big 5. Remember, the Upper Gauley may be the Disney land of Big Whitewater but its still Big Whitewter. And big Whitewater can and does kill.

  22. #22
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    Feb 2010
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    5
    yes that is what I meant

  23. #23
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    Feb 2010
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    5
    and class six does not have the best safety record. I only posted some highlights. Many companies had better statistics but Class VI takes so many people I figure the stats were accurate for them. Many companies take a percent or two of the people and have no injuries (but the stats are just 1999 so who knows how it adds up over time). In all fairness thats probably why the boyscouts look so dangerous. They take very few people and are probably more likely to report the injury. Many people come off the Gauley injured but don't report it (the boyscouts probably don't allow that).

  24. #24
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    Nov 2005
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    bwa!

    pM just received from gauleyguide:

    Quote Originally Posted by angry dude
    only a self righteous Jackson tele tool would greet me like that
    Fuck you! Your the JONG.
    But when I see you swimming this summer I'll still throw you a rope. For a case of moose drool :fuckyou. Dick.
    LOLZ. easy there, beast.

  25. #25
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    Apr 2005
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    Seattle
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    Dang, what would he say if someone really insulted him?

    So the Gauley is one of the most dangerous rivers in the world? Interesting...........JONG!
    Nada

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