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05-19-2008, 02:01 PM #1
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.
05-19-2008, 02:12 PM #2
05-19-2008, 02:43 PM #3I 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.
05-20-2008, 06:51 PM #4
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.
05-22-2008, 04:34 PM #5
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.
05-22-2008, 05:36 PM #6
All of the above are good. Class VI, Rivermen,Wildwater. If you are trying to save bucks, ACE is ok.Montani Semper Liberi
05-22-2008, 06:10 PM #7
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
05-22-2008, 06:21 PM #8
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
05-22-2008, 06:35 PM #9
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?
05-22-2008, 06:51 PM #10
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 06:55 PM.Montani Semper Liberi
05-22-2008, 08:50 PM #11
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
05-22-2008, 09:55 PM #12
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.
Originally Posted by MarsB
Originally Posted by spindriftI 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.
05-23-2008, 09:03 AM #13
05-27-2008, 12:20 PM #14
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
05-29-2008, 11:39 PM #15
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 11:42 PM.
06-01-2008, 07:37 PM #16
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.
06-09-2008, 09:49 AM #17Registered User
- Join Date
- Jun 2008
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.
02-08-2010, 09:18 PM #18Registered User
- Join Date
- Feb 2010
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.
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.
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)
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
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
Tip your Guide $100 (its less than tax on the trip and Uncle Sam didn't do anything)
02-08-2010, 09:26 PM #19
Pretty good first post, JONG.
02-08-2010, 09:38 PM #20
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
02-08-2010, 09:39 PM #21Registered User
- Join Date
- Feb 2010
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.
02-08-2010, 09:40 PM #22Registered User
- Join Date
- Feb 2010
yes that is what I meant
02-08-2010, 09:46 PM #23Registered User
- Join Date
- Feb 2010
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).
02-08-2010, 10:15 PM #24
pM just received from gauleyguide:
Originally Posted by angry dude
02-08-2010, 11:41 PM #25
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