Saturday, November 10, 2012

Going to the Grand Prix

I am excited and honored to be invited to the 2012 Whitewater Grand Prix (WWGP) in Chile. The WWGP in its second year is fast becoming the event which defines and showcases the current elite group of paddlers in the world. I am one of only five females competing in this event and am super excited to get to know my fellow female racers, Congrats girls! Below is the video entry that earned me my spot. Here is a second video that is a bit more light-hearted that Leif and I made in 2011 when we thought that the 2012 WWGP would be in Canada and would include playboating.


Natalie Anderson Grand Prix entry video from Leif Anderson on Vimeo.

Although many people, kayakers and non kayakers alike, view this event as extreme and dangerous, I see it as a gathering of highly skilled athletes gracefully accomplishing a set of challenges laid out in front of them. I have worked hard to be where I am as a paddler today and I invite you to read my essay below detailing some of the reasons why I have chosen to compete in this event and addressing public perceptions of danger in kayaking.

Donate

This event will certainly be one of those milestones in my life. Leif and I are currently both students working on our PhDs in Physics (Leif) and Fluvial Geomorphology (Me). You can check out my research at www.woodinrivers.tumblr.com. As such, our funds are limited. If you would like to support me in Chile I encourage you to donate towards our trip via the paypal link below. Any donation helps, even if it's only 5 bucks! We are also doing a gear sale silent auction type fundraiser if you would like to donate and get gear from it!  See this page: Gear Auction for details.


Motivation

I'm not a huge fan of being scared and I don't enjoy being afraid. I avoid this at all costs. I have always considered myself as a moderate person who doesn't take unnecessary risks. As I have advanced in the sport of whitewater kayaking, specifically creekboating, I have become distressed that I am increasingly becoming viewed as an extreme, adreneline/danger-seeking, death-wishing individual.

Sometimes when we get immersed in a culture, such as creekboating, we can lose sight of how our actions may appear to someone outside of that culture. As I paddle with newer paddlers and speak with my non kayaking friends, it is quickly apparent to me that they perceive the drops that I run in my videos as scary, extreme and dangerous- with a little awe thrown in. In this essay I am going to attempt to try and to explain how I percieve risk in whitewater sports in an attempt to bridge a gap between my perception of danger in what I do, to the perception of others who may not be immersed in the creekboating culture. I also want let you know why I have chosen to compete in this somewhat controversial event.

The main gist that I want to emphasize is that there is a big difference between danger and difficulty. Any run, no matter the rating, class I-V+, can be difficult depending on the skillset of the paddler. Likewise, any run, no matter the rating, class I-V+, can be dangerous depending on the skill set and decision making skills of the paddler. I want to stress that you can be a great and safe kayaker at ANY level, class I-V+, which is different than being a kayaker who paddles beyond their ability and makes poor on the water decisions, which is very dangerous. Just because a run has taller drops and steeper cascades doesn't necessarily make it more dangerous than moving flatwater. Whitewater kayaking at any level, can be very gentle on the body and safe. In my career as a paddler I can count on one hand the number of times that I have felt scared or threatened, and most of these time actually occurred on class III/IV while I was learning to boat and pushing my boundaries. In addition, so far, I have only had two injuries, a blown eardrum from hitting the side of my head on a rock and a slightly torn shoulder from picking up my boat funnily. On another note, when more advanced boaters take out beginners or less advanced paddlers, I encourage them to realize that a run that may be super easy for them could be extremely difficult for someone else.  Sometimes we loose sight of this and I am guilty of this transgression.  When we take out less skilled paddlers we need to properly assess the dangers with respect to their ability level, not our own perceived danger related to our own ability level. 

I do recognize the basic inherent risks associated with kayaking, but I also recognize inherent risk every time I step into a car. In both cases I take precautions to reduce my risk. While kayaking, I make sure that I have the necessary skills to safely navigate a run and I try to recognize dangers and possible outcomes before I run a rapid. Most of the time, if I am not above 97% sure that I can run the rapid without putting myself in a bad situation that I would have a hard time getting out of, I don't run the rapid. I admit that sometimes when I am feeling riskier I will lower this threshold somewhat- maybe down to 90%.  Before I get in a car, I put on my seatbelt and try to drive as safely as I can. When the conditions are horrible or I am tired, I beg out and have Leif drive because he is an amazingly safe driver. I also get the bonus of being able to "teleport" to paddling destinations because I usually sleep through the drive, it's awesome! While on the road or on the water, most accidents happen when we are complacent, tired, or distracted. Sometimes, but less often, accidents that occur due to the inherent risks that are out of our control such as: bad road conditions, other drivers, vehicle failure, flash floods, weather, unseen or hidden hazards such as submerged logs, rocks, caves, etc., and underestimation of the power of the water (although the ability to assess dangers and what the water can do to you is tied to experience and skill).   In whatever I do, I assess my risk and try to minimize it as much as I can. Through training, skill improvement, preparation, and making wise decisions on the water, I can run rapids that look very risky to the untrained eye with very small real risk to myself.

This photo (which is currently the banner on the WRSI facebook page), generated some comments from the public because what I am doing in this photo looks really scary to many people. This rapid is actually very safe and easy to run for a moderately skilled paddler. We scouted this line for a while. The flushy tongue through the rapid is at least 20ft wide. There were no hard entry moves at the top or consequences below. Thus, being on line was fairly easy and if I were to swim recovery would have been easy. The outcome of this photo was that I barely got my head wet and had a huge smile on my face afterwards. I felt comfortable enough with the rapid that after I made the first descent (pictured) I was able to lead a few class IV paddlers through it with no problems.
I am not into kayaking for the thrill factor, and in fact, most lifelong paddlers aren't. In my opinion, adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers tend to bounce around the 'extreme' sports, plunging themselves in over their heads to get that flight or fight adrenaline rush. Many people see the pursuance of harder and harder whitewater as analogous to a drug junkie who can't get their fix at lower doses. Although this may be true for some paddlers, I think that for the majority of whitewater paddlers, this is an erroneous misconception. I have improved my kayaking skills slowly and have taken on harder and harder whitewater, not because it gives me a bigger adrenaline rush (I actually hate that feeling), but because as I become more skilled it poses harder challenges. I get satisfaction running a difficult rapid well. As I become a better and better paddler, the runs that were difficult become easier and I pursue more difficult rapids. I see the WWGP as an event which challenges the best paddlers by increasing the difficulty of runs by racing down them, which for the prepared paddler, will not inherently increase the danger. This is why I think that this event is invitation/application only. The event organizers want to make sure that everyone who is competing can do it safely.

After the first Whitewater Grand Prix was aired from Quebec, i thought, Wow! Cool! Finally an event that actually showcases our best paddlers! This was shortly followed by a realization that I had reached a point in my paddling skill set where I could say, I can do that! I was also thinking that we needed more females in the competition dishing up the goods. I got to thinking and realized that there aren't that many females (yet) who have the skills and the desire (yet) to compete in an event like this. So, here I am in 2012 going to Chile. My family is nervous for me, understandably. I am a bit nervous for myself. I have never been to Chile or dropped as many waterfalls as most of the guys. This competition will challenge me and whether or not I do well, or run all the events, I am welcoming the opportunity to to challenge myself, to share my journey through with you the high quality media that the WWGP is going to put together, and to be someone that aspiring class IV-V women kayakers can look up to.

Writing this post has made me realize that I have a lot of opinions about whitewater kayaking that I would like to share. I am looking forward to writing more posts such as this one in the future. I'd love to hear your comments!

Take care, build your skill set, make good decisions, and stay safe. See you on the water!

- Natalie

P.S. One of my most recent satisfying moments was actually not on class V but on class II when I beat Leif by about 20 minutes during a 3 mile upriver paddle in downriver boats from No-Name to Grizzly on the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs.

Gear Sale Fundraiser

To help us out, our sponsors have donated gear for us to sell. Rather than clutter up this post, we have a whole separate page with more information here:

Gear Auction

We have some really cool stuff for sale, like a drysuit, helmets, and an entire SeasonFIVE outfit. Check it out as an alternative way of donating.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Gear Auction

In order to help fund our trip to the 2012 Grand Prix in Chile, our sponsors have graciously donated some gear that we are selling to support our trip. If you are interested in any of the items below,  make a bid in the comments section at the end of the blog.  Bidding ends the day we leave, Nov 26th.  If you are the winning bid, after you pay us we'll get the items shipped to you.  If you win the drysuit you may just have to wait until after we get back in January.  The other items will ship straight from the sponsors.

Also, note that this whole thing is sort of informal. We reserve the right at any time to totally change the rules, and by "bidding" here you are not entering into any formal legal agreement. This ain't ebay. And we don't want to get sued.
  1. New Men's Large Bpod with neoprene gasket from Stohlquist.
    $700 value. The suit shown in the link above is black, but the one we have for sale is that nice yellow/mango type color. We have the suit and we'll be the ones sending it, but it is a brand new suit and has never been used. Let me re-iterate that the neck gasket is a neoprene gasket. That's not bad or anything (they're incredibly comfortable), but some people care a whole lot, and I wouldn't want the person who bought the suit to be surprised.
  2. Two brand new helmets direct from WRSI:
    A small red moment
    A sweet full face helmet!  I have the blue and black one and will be wearing that at the Prix!  Leif has the red one.  So comfortable that I forget I'm wearing a full face.
    $138 value.  Minimum bid $80.
     A large green trident.  A great composite helmet.  I wish I had this helmet; it looks very sexy.
    $168 value.  Minimum bid $100.
  3. One complete outfit from Season Five.
    This includes a long sleeved top, pants and booties. ~$200 value.  I'd love to sell this as an outfit, but if you really only want one piece make an offer.  If someone wants the complete outfit they get priority.  Since this is so size specific, the winning bid will get to tell us what size they want and I'll contact Season Five who will mail it to you.  I love the booties.  They are perfect to put over your drysuit booties for protection and increased dryness.  The material is waterproof so the shirt is great to wear overtop your thermals, but under your drytop.  Don't expect these items to be thermal, they are waterproof and great to wear under your stuff, but I recommend layering them with a warmer fuzzier base layer.  Both Leif and I are huge fans.  I like wearing the top sometimes instead of a drytop in warmer weather or on flatwater.  Great for SUPing!

LET THE BIDDING BEGIN!!!!!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Summer roadtrip video

If you live in Colorado, summer has been over for about 13 months now. However, if you're an international rock star, the party never stops, and the season is endless.

You can guess which category Natalie and I are in.

We had an awesome summer this year. Early in the season, we collected a lot of creekboating footage around Colorado for Natalie's 2012 Grand Prix application. It was good that we did that early, because the Colorado season never really happened this year. That didn't matter to us, though, because we were off to Idaho for the North Fork Championships and playboating on the Salmon, then onward to the Colombia Gorge, Skookumchuck, British Colombia, and finally our home away from home, the Slave River in the Northwest Territories.

We playboated, creekboated, and just had a great time traveling around. For the majority of the trip, we were joined by Markus and Maria from Germany, who are on a year-long sabbatical, traveling, kayaking, and raising money for their charity: time4charity.com. It's a cool idea: you donate your time. Advertisers pay for ad space on a newsletter, and you can sign up for this newsletter. The ad money that is generated from your clicks and views and such goes to charity. So you donate to charity without spending any of your own money. Check out their site for more info, or to sign up.

Anyway, despite their incredibly slow van, the Germans joined us for about a month of really awesome paddling on the Slave. The water was high this year, but eventually dropped, so they got to see the full range of features that the Slave has to offer. I had to come home early for the Gore race (well, that and you know, school), but Natalie and the Germans stayed up there for another few weeks and got to surf Rockem Sockem, which is a low water feature that I have never gotten to experience. I was very jealous, but I consoled myself by putting together this video of our summer.

Summer Roadtrip Video from Leif Anderson on Vimeo.



It's really just a quick taste of all our adventures. Each little scene in this video could have been a whole movie of its own. If I didn't have this stupid Ph.D. taking up all my time, I would have put together at least 5 short films. Too bad for you, I guess.

Enjoy the summer video, and get ready for winter!

Natalie's Grand Prix audition video

For more than a year now, we have been scheming and plotting, hoping to get Natalie invited to the 2012 Whitewater Grand Prix in Chile. We were about 6 months ahead of schedule making an application video (which you can see here). We had it finished before they even announced the location and format of the 2012 Grand Prix. Of course, as we know now, the 2012 event is going to be exclusively creek races, no freestyle events, so our original video, which was designed to show how well rounded of a paddler she was, no longer actually addressed the event. So we gathered more footage around Colorado, British Colombia, and basically wherever we could find water, and we put together this video:

Natalie Anderson Grand Prix entry video from Leif Anderson on Vimeo.

We barely got it done before the deadline, which was funny since in a way we had been working on it for over a year. I was pretty proud of my fancy editing work. Not so much the editing itself (although I am proud of that), but more the fact that I managed to produce a 2:43 video from a song that was originally 3:37 long, without cheesy fadeouts or anything. I'm proud of the fact that if I hadn't mentioned it just now, most people wouldn't know.

Speaking of proud, it was awesome to sit back and watch the finished video and think to myself: hey, that's my wife right there. She rocks. We're both pretty excited. We might have a shot of actually getting invited to this thing. However, the field is pretty stacked. Check out some of the other application videos:

Katrina Van Wijk

Nouria Newman

Louise Jull

The invitees will be announced in just a few weeks here. Wish us luck! And if she gets invited, wish us money!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

GoPro Philosophy (and another stern mount)

I wrote a blog post a while back about some of the mounts and accessories that I had built for my GoPro, along with a video that got surprisingly popular (the article can be found right here). I've been thinking about it, and I decided to expand a little bit, and talk more directly about my philosophy of filming with the GoPro.

Also, I built another stern mount, which I'll describe first. If you want to skip straight to the philosophy, click here.

The new stern mount is a little lower profile. The Narwhal mount from last time provides a better view of the surroundings, but it's not right for every situation. It sticks up really high, so flipping over is not advised, and swimming is very bad. Also, if you do flip over, or brush the mount against a rock wall or something, it tends to get loose and start wobbling a lot. To fix all these issues in one fell swoop, I designed the new stern mount. It's a little specific to my boat (Fluid Bazooka) but the basic idea will work anywhere. I got a piece of plastic with a flat top, then figured out a way to connect it to the grabloop. POW.
Fully assembled and mounted. Always have a safety tether. Even if your mount is secure, the clip on the GoPro can still break. GoPro equipment
Disassembled. I usually connect the U-bar thingies to the side of the mount for transport. GoPro equipment
Another view. GoPro equipment
A closeup of the grabloop attachment point. GoPro equipment
The particular piece of plastic that I found was a cut off section of the center part of the seat of the old 2009 style Fluid outfitting. I used a bolt or two to attach it to a flat piece of plastic that had a slot cut in it that closely matched the grabloop. The fluid grabloops stand up a little bit, so that they're easier to clip to, and because of that they stick into the slot and make the mount really stable, but I think the idea can work for most boats.

The idea here was that most of the time, just a couple inches of extra height up off the stern would keep the camera up out of the water during boofs. Also, this would be a much more secure mount for large waterfalls.

Here are a couple frame captures to give an idea of how it works:
The waterfall in the Black canyon. GoPro equipment
Mamquam from the lip. GoPro equipment
Mamquam halfway down. GoPro equipment
It works pretty well for waterfalls, when the boat is tipping forward enough that some of the surroundings are visible. For small to medium rapids, the low mount is terrible.
Low mount on "Ballcrusher" in the Black Canyon. Terrible. GoPro equipment
Here's the high mount on a very similarly sized rapid. Much better. GoPro equipment
Low mount on "Honey Badger". If there is stuff to see, it looks fine. GoPro equipment
So, this makes for a great transition. Why do some of those shots look good, and others look terrible? This is where the philosophy of GoPro filming comes in.

GoPro Philosophy



The first thing here is an idea that was described really well by Freddie Wong somewhere on his youtube channel (can't find the particular video I'm looking for. It was somewhere on his "behind the scenes" channel). To paraphrase, if you want to make better films, watch other films and try to learn from them. There is something to be learned from every video, especially the ones that suck. When you watch a video, monitor your reactions, and try to figure out what's causing them. Are you enjoying the video? Is it boring or confusing? Do you actually feel the suspense they are trying to build? Whether the answer is yes or no doesn't really matter. What matters is why it's working or not working. Pay attention to the things that work well or poorly, and use or avoid those strategies in your videos.

And don't get too set in your ways. If you find any rules of thumb for making good videos, continually test the rules to see if they could be refined. Watch a video and see if you like it, then check your rules of thumb to see if they matched reality. Don't watch a video and see if it matches the rules, then use that to decide if you liked it or not.

After watching several GoPro-based videos critically, I started to formulate my personal unified theory of GoPro cinematography. The short version of it is this: use the gopro to film something. More precisely, what I mean is that you should have a subject that you are getting footage of as you use the GoPro.

If you were filming with a normal video camera, you probably wouldn't have very much footage of empty rapids, or many shots with just the bow of someone's boat sticking in from the side. Just because the GoPro is small enough to wear on your head doesn't mean that you should suddenly throw that experience out the window. Many of the GoPro videos that are boring are boring because the subject they are filming is an empty rapid out in front of the paddler. As always, there are exceptions. If the rapid is intense enough, it can be interesting to watch the bow of someone's boat while they run it. And sometimes the subject that you are capturing will be the unique view that a paddler sees, like the view from the top of a tall waterfall, or what it looks like down inside some narrow gorge. Also, I'm not trying to say that there is no use for head-mounted footage of reasonable rapids. If you were filming with a normal camera, you would hopefully include a couple establishing shots of empty rapids, or of the surroundings. Variety is good. This means that a couple headcam shots mixed into a normal video can really spice it up, even if you're not running 100 foot waterfalls. But you should usually avoid entirely headcam or entirely bank shots.

One of my favorite ways to use headcam footage is to follow someone through a rapid really closely, or to wear the GoPro backwards and have someone follow me. Then, you have that immersive view, where your viewer sort of feels like they could be running the rapid, but it's still interesting to watch, because you're filming the other paddler. You have a subject out there in the rapid. That tends to give the rapid a lot more scale, gives you a better sense of speed, and just generally gives your audience something to watch. The one tip here is that for your footage to turn out, you usually have to be much too close for comfort, because of the wide angle lens. I usually try to be constantly bumping into the subject's boat. It should go without saying that this is a great recipe for physical comedy and broken friendships.
Empty rapid. This footage has its place, but is it actually exciting to look at? GoPro equipment
WHAM! Action! We may look far apart, but I could have accidentally smacked Conor with my paddle right here. GoPro equipment


Now, of course, you see why bow mount and stern mount footage is interesting. The subject is you. You can mount a really close-in bowcam to try to capture your facial expressions as you boof the shit out of a 30 footer, or you can do an over-the-shoulder stern mount to see the tuck on that 80 footer. It's not just what you see in your boat, it's footage of you seeing what you see from your boat. This gives scale and impact to the rapids. However, it can be taken too far. I once wore a helmet camera on a little arm that was pointed back at my face, for a tourism Canada shoot up on the Slave river. The footage was nauseating, and even had it not been, it was too much of me. The face-only shot isolated my facial expressions too much; there was no context. It made for a great one-second clip mixed in with other shots, but more than a quick impression would have been too much. (Here's the video. It also made me look really silly.) Similarly, but to a less extreme degree, if you mount a stern or bow camera too low, you won't see anything but the paddler. You can do that intentionally, planning to cut it in with other shots, but think about that ahead of time.

Part of planning your GoPro shots, and thinking ahead of time about what they will look like, is experience. Go out to the garage, build yourself a little bow mount, and go try it out. A lot of the shots that I used as examples in this article were taken during a pair of trips down the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The Black Canyon is a really fun run, but it's not really all that intense. A lot of the reason that I was filming those runs was to practice filming, and get used to the new stern mount. I watched all the footage from the first trip, and thought about what looked good and what didn't, and even tried to imagine, if I were to make a short video of the adventure, what shots were missing. In that case, I noticed that after the grueling portage I sort of forgot about the cameras, so I had no footage of the second half of the trip.

It'll also help frame your shots if you have the lcd bacpack for your GoPro, and sometimes the stern mount is hard to reach, which makes the wireless remote very handy. Check out the GoPro store to upgrade. While you're there, check out the video on the GoPro homepage. Almost every shot, in whichever sport it is, is a shot of a person doing that sport. Cliff jumping? Nobody wants to see a big featureless wall of water coming toward the lens. They want to see hot chicks freefalling at the same time as you. Surfing? Base jumping? Same story: hot chicks. It's very rarely just a floating POV cam. They almost always have a subject that they are filming. The one exception I can think of is a helicopter shot near the beginning, where the shot has no traces of the helicopter, it's just a floating shot that slows down radically when we see a breaking wave. Even then, we're looking at the breaking wave. That's our subject.

So that's my GoPro philosophy. Film something with your GoPro. I think it's pretty simple, and hopefully I was able to explain it relatively clearly. If you have any refinements or counterexamples, please let me know, since I'm also trying to continually improve my own filmmaking. And if you haven't read the old post or seen the old video, check them out.

Original blog post: Cool things to do with your GoPro

Original video:

Fun things to do with your GoPro from Leif Anderson on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gore Race 2012

Here is a video that I put together from the weekend. I didn't have much footage of other people, so it's mostly my personal race experience. Enjoy!

It's that time of year again, where I scramble into the car and book it back to Colorado from the Slave River, just barely in time for Gore Race. This year, I trained extra hard while I was up at the Slave, trying to paddle hard for about 10-20 minutes on flatwater every day. Also, this year I had the large Bazooka, a very fast but still very manuverable boat. I was primed for a rematch against Conor Flynn, my nemesis.

Conor is a fast paddler. We've had a rivalry for a long time. At the last Gore race, Conor took first in the creekboat class, with me in 6th. My private goal this year was to beat Conor.

Come race day, I was feeling pretty stoked. Conor and I paddled in together across the flatwater, each of us paddling a little faster than we were comfortable, but trying to pretend that it was easy. He was the first racer in our class, and I was the second. I watched him bust out of the start, then waited through the longest minute of my life until my own start.

I left the start at a full sprint, trying to not hold anything back through the flatter stuff at the beginning. Every now and then, on long straightaways, I caught glimpses of Conor, still holding about a minute ahead of me.

I felt like I had good boofs on most of the major rapids. In Applesauce, in particular, I had one of my largest boofs ever. My only major mistake was getting eddied out relatively deeply below Tunnel falls. Every now and then I would catch myself slowing down, and I would imagine racing without that one minute interval between racers. Conor would probably be right there, and he would start pulling ahead here! That would dependably spur a burst of speed.

Before I knew it, I was in the midst of Kirshbaum's, the final rapid. I laced together three segments really well. The top I had already practiced. The middle section was pretty untested; I had watched Jules Campbell take a sneaky goalpost move during my practice lap on friday, and I barely managed to duplicate it. Then again at the bottom, I snuck over to the far left in a rocky shallow section, where Peter Benedict had breezed past me on that same practice lap.

I held it together through the finish line. When I eddied out, Conor was right there, chuckling.

"Nice lines," he said, "but I'm out of the water and my boat is already dried out. Just sayin."

That bastard. I got out and jogged.. well, walked... back upstream to where my mom was helping out with timing. When there was a break between finishers, we asked her which of us was faster. She said that I had finished 1:12 behind Conor. I was pissed. I had felt so fast, but somehow I had ended up 12 seconds slower than my nemesis.

After watching most of the other racers finish, a big group of us paddled the rest of the way to takeout. I started to feel a lot less pissed. Regardless of how much Conor had beaten me by, I had still gone pretty fast. I crossed my fingers for a top 3 finish.

The awards ceremony always takes forever, and I took advantage of the wait to film some time lapses. Right when they got to the creekboat class, I was fiddling with the camera, not paying much attention. I was a little surprised to hear my name, and made my way up to the front, where someone handed me a mug. It wasn't until I got back into the crowd that I read the mug and realized that I had won. The start interval hadn't been exactly a minute, it had been 1:16, so that I had actually beaten Conor by 4 seconds.

Mission accomplished. Booyah.

Here are a couple photos, mostly from the day after the race.
One of Conor's few mistakes during his race run. Photo by some random jerk.Gore Race 2012
Brian Bank at Applesauce. Gore Race 2012
Pleasure paddle crew, below Applesauce. Gore Race 2012
I'm gunning for this line next year. The boof isn't as majestic, but the exit is a lot faster. Gore Race 2012
Here's Spencer swimming out of Tunnel. Gore Race 2012
Back home again. Gore Race 2012

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Slave 2012 - Week 3

Here are a couple handy Slave-related links:
Map of the rapids
last year (week 1, week 2, week 3, goodbye, wood video)

Best of this year

2012 Week 1
2012 Week 2

Week 3 - Or maybe week 3 and a half?

How did a whole week go by without me updating the blog? I'll tell you how: there were sick waves in every day, so I paddled all day, then went to bed. The water levels have just risen back up to 5300 cms (187,000 cfs), so nothing really good is in. However, for the last week or so, we've been surfing Rollercoaster almost every day. We took a lot of video, so we don't have quite so many stills, but it's still a large amount of media to sort through for this post.

Paddle mount GoPro. Slave 2012
The lighting is cool! Go do a trick right now! Photo by Mike Seitzinger. Slave 2012
Clearly not staged at all. Slave 2012
One of my favorite photos of all time. Slave 2012
From Slave 2012
From Slave 2012
We built a staircase for the Cassette takeout. Here is Natalie trying it out. Slave 2012
Where's the wave? Slave 2012
Markus with a strange backstab. Slave 2012
Natalie with a nice panam Slave 2012
Markus had some killer flashbacks. Slave 2012
Maria getting pitted! Slave 2012
Natalie drops some science between sessions. Slave 2012
John get even better at back pan ams Slave 2012
John drinks river water every day. Slave 2012
Keep checking back. If the water levels continue to not cooperate, I will hopefully be posting photos more frequently. In the meantime, here is a slideshow of all our photos so far:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Slave 2012 - Week 2

Here are a couple handy Slave-related links:
Map of the rapids
last year (week 1, week 2, week 3, goodbye, wood video)

2012 Week 1
2012 Week 3
Best of this year

Week 2 - New rapid and Sweet Spot

Right at the end of last week, there was an explosion of new people. On their first day, we led them through the new rapid. We made Jen Eddie and Markus Leppaenen run it blind, because you can only do that once. The line got a little narrower with the reduced flows, which led to some great laughs after the rapid.

After that, we headed over to Cassette Rapids, where we finally found the water level where the feature called "The Bitch" is good to surf. No, we did not make up the name. The name of that feature has a bit of a story behind it, but let's just say that it's a little too... shocking... for the blog. If you know the story, that was hilarious. If not, sorry, that was probably nonsense.
And then I said, "yeah, left is fine. Hahaha!" Slave 2012
From Slave 2012
From Slave 2012
The germans at the Bitch. Slave 2012
From Slave 2012
Panning shot turned out, surprisingly. Slave 2012
Flows have dropped to about 5,000 cms (177,000 cfs), which is the high end for Sweet Spot. This feature is very dynamic wave located right in the outflow of Molly's Nipple. It's pretty hard to control, and I was happy when I finished a long session having thrown three moves. I was even more proud that I stuck two of them.
Markus tries not to pearl. Slave 2012
John with a flatspin that would have gotten a huge air bonus in a competition. Slave 2012
Jen and Mike Slave 2012
Natalie not quite in control. Slave 2012
Helix! Stuck! Slave 2012
Chillin at a sweet spot. Slave 2012
John with a facefull. Slave 2012
Natalie gets a little air. Slave 2012
Markus pops a wheelie. Slave 2012
With the dreads flying free! Slave 2012
The wave looks huge! Slave 2012
The scene at the spot. Slave 2012
Markus got like ten moves that day. Here's a particularly good one. Slave 2012
Keep checking back, because Sweet Spot will be good for at least a few more days. Then hopefully we'll get Roller Coaster.

In the meantime, here's a slideshow of all our shots so far: