Whitewater Forum: Upper Sultan May 6th !!!!!!
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Upper Sultan May 6th !!!!!!

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Category: General
Forum Name: Whitewater Forum
Forum Discription: Open Discussion Forum. Whitewater related subjects only
URL: http://www.professorpaddle.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=15827
Printed Date: 25 Feb 2020 at 8:01pm

Topic: Upper Sultan May 6th !!!!!!
Posted By: Fun Eli
Subject: Upper Sultan May 6th !!!!!!
Date Posted: 20 Apr 2017 at 10:29pm
Alright folks, let's get some people out for this release! We get a little more water this time at 900cfs, which I think will be pretty sweet. Peak flows from the dam will be 10am-1pm with a ramp down at the end so you won't get stranded by running out of water if you are going slow. There is about a mile of river between the dam and the putin, so it does take a while for the water to get down there... but you have to hike in, so it takes a while for you to get down there too. Best bet is to start hiking a little before 10am so you get to the putin about the same time as the water. With that in mind, and given the surprisingly long shuttle, its probably best to have cars dropped at the takeout and start driving to the putin by 9am so you have time to unload boats, change into your gear, deal with waivers, etc. before it's time to start hiking. You can take out at the Power House, but the gate locks at 6pm, so I recommend getting a couple extra river miles and taking out at Trout Farm Road. Good place to meet up and consolidate shuttles regardless of which takeout you use is the Sultan Park and Ride (942 Stevens Pass Hwy, Sultan, WA), that way you can drop a car at the takeout and roll straight to the putin with gear and boats already loaded.

If you can commit to going, please go on the Snohomish PUD website and sign up.

http://www.snopud.com/PowerSupply/hydro/jhp/jhprecreation/whitewater.ashx?p=2118 - http://www.snopud.com/PowerSupply/hydro/jhp/jhprecreation/whitewater.ashx?p=2118

We need a minimum of 6 people to sign up for this release to happen, but hopefully we can get at least twice that. If you are not sure you can/want to go, don't sign up on the website, but do be sure to print out and bring the waiver with you, as it's required for all boaters:

http://www.snopud.com/Site/Content/Documents/whitewater/WhitewaterRelease_415.pdf - http://www.snopud.com/Site/Content/Documents/whitewater/WhitewaterRelease_415.pdf

If you are not familiar with the run, check it out here:

https://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/River/detail/id/2245/ - https://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/River/detail/id/2245/

or here:
http://www.professorpaddle.com/rivers/riverdetails.asp?riverid=633 - http://www.professorpaddle.com/rivers/riverdetails.asp?riverid=633

It's a high quality run, with fantastic scenery, many miles of great whitewater, and well worth the effort. If you have solid class IV or greater skills, I highly recommend you show up and get your groove on. If you can commit to paddling the upper Sultan on May 6th, please sign up on the Snohomish PUD website and also post here so we know that we have enough people to make the release happen. I'll go first:

I'm signed up. Who else is in?


Posted By: outdoorjunkie88
Date Posted: 20 Apr 2017 at 11:58pm
Thanks for getting this out. It is an amazing run. I'll be out there, maybe not that early though.

Drew C.

Posted By: jonnygriff
Date Posted: 23 Apr 2017 at 8:35pm
I'm registered and ready to go

Posted By: Nick
Date Posted: 25 Apr 2017 at 11:58pm

Nick Baughman
(425) 359 - 8469

Posted By: Fun Eli
Date Posted: 26 Apr 2017 at 9:38am
Big News Everyone!

I have been in contact with the very nice people at Snohomish PUD, and they have agreed to let us shuttle boats down the forest service road that's normally gated, all the way to the trailhead. That's right, this year you can start hiking your boat right at the trailhead! It would be best if we can consolidate on one or two vehicles that can carry lots of boats and gear, and hopefully people as well. If you are one of those people with an "ultimate shuttle rig" your presence at the release will be much appreciated.

In the interest of consolidating the shuttle, it would be best if everyone could try and be at the put in parking area by 10am. This probably mean having your shuttle set at the takeout and start driving to the put in by 9am.
They are doing us a big favor by letting us do this, so lets try and make things run as smoothly as possible.

More water and less hiking! This is going to be the best release yet! Don't be left regretting that you missed it; come on out and join the fun. If you can commit to showing up, please go to the Snohomish PUD website and sign up. Don't forget those waivers!

See you there,

Posted By: jblum
Date Posted: 01 May 2017 at 11:50pm
Hey Eli-

I'm thinking about coming up from Hood River for this gem. Do you mean to meet at the takeout at Trout Farm Road (fishing access near the confluence with the Sky?).
I'd be happy to meet you there in the morning and work together on shuttle.

Stoked to have this opportunity. We'll bring doughnuts for the PUD guys... they love it.



Posted By: Fun Eli
Date Posted: 02 May 2017 at 11:36am
Preferably meet up at the park and ride right off Hwy 20. There's more room to deal with moving around boats and gear and more parking too. Then all you need to do is drop a car at the fisherman's access and roll up to the put in. Meet up at ~8:30 and start running shuttle at ~9am. See you there.


Posted By: JayB
Date Posted: 02 May 2017 at 1:22pm
Man - wish it was possible to have the release dates posted a few months in advance instead of a couple of weeks! There are probably a fair number of folks like myself that would jump at the chance to paddle this, but have to plan their lives out a few months in advance.....


Posted By: NateW
Date Posted: 02 May 2017 at 3:01pm
I just found this:
Worth checking that from time to time.

Posted By: Mengolian
Date Posted: 04 May 2017 at 9:07pm
I will be there, is it possible to camp out there where we will be meeting?

Posted By: Fun Eli
Date Posted: 04 May 2017 at 9:41pm
Not sure about actual campgrounds, but there is lots of forest service land further up Hwy-2 past Index, or if you are sleeping in your car, there is a Wal-Mart parking lot in Monroe. Maybe someone else has better camping beta.


Posted By: chipmaney
Date Posted: 04 May 2017 at 10:30pm
I don't know of any camping in Sultan. You can go through Index and downstream on the river right side of the NF Sky. There is camping about a 1/2 mile down. Might be crowded depending on weather

sitting all alone on a mountain by a river that has no end

Posted By: Sdperry93
Date Posted: 05 May 2017 at 8:37pm
I'm in'!

Posted By: NateW
Date Posted: 07 May 2017 at 7:13am
Thanks Eli for helping coordinate this. Thanks Steve for bailing out a bunch of the late shuttle-less people.

For people considering this in the future:
Get an early start.

Have a probe boater that is good at spotting wood and familiar with these sorts of runs.

Not a great off the couch run, the walk down + the portages + the length of the run made it a long/tiring day.

This was my first time on the river, and at least at this level I'd describe this as iv-iv+ mostly read and run, but lots of drops where you had to make 3-4 moves. There was a *lot* of rapids and even though we had only one wood portage and the landslide portage I was pretty darn tired by the end of it.

Last nasty was last and nasty - I think a bunch of groups rolled into it thinking it was just another one of the mellower drops. Reading the river page apparently there is a WKC plaque that identifies last nasty, probably should have read that before putting on.

One of the paddlers I spoke to ran the Sultan two years ago when the release was 700/750 and felt that everything was a step easier at that level. Looking at the gauge, the release + the water coming in from the side creeks had the gauge at about 1050 CFS during the period when they were releasing.

Posted By: jonnygriff
Date Posted: 07 May 2017 at 9:05pm
The sultan was epic! I'll never miss another release

Posted By: Fun Eli
Date Posted: 07 May 2017 at 10:28pm
Thank you to all the great boaters who came out and made this release such a success! It was good to see so many people taking advantage of this opportunity to run such a great river. I sincerely hope we can get as many people showing up for future releases. If you participated in this release, please take a couple minutes to fill out the survey, letting Snohomish PUD know what you liked and disliked about this release. Also, please thank them for letting us shuttle boats from the dam all the way up FS-6122 to the Sultan River Canyon Trail. They really did us a huge favor by making that possible, so please let them know how much you appreciate it. Follow this link and click on the little blue box to the right that says "Take Our Survey!":

http://www.snopud.com/PowerSupply/hydro/jhp/jhprecreation/whitewater.ashx?p=2118 - http://www.snopud.com/PowerSupply/hydro/jhp/jhprecreation/whitewater.ashx?p=2118

Given certain events, I do want to stress that this is a run for class IV+ or V boaters only. It may be rated class IV, but given the length of the run, the complete inaccessibility for most of the run, and the potential for unpredictable wood hazards, this should really be viewed as a run for class V boaters or people already stepping it up to class V. For most of the run, hiking out is just not an option. If you swim and lose your boat or it breaks going over a drop full of water, it's going to be really bad! If you lose your paddle and don't have a breakdown, it's going to be really bad! If you get hurt and can't continue downstream, it's going to be really bad! While hiking out at the diversion dam is theoretically possible, you should not even consider it an option unless there is some sort of emergency, and should instead plan on taking out at or bellow the power plant. We are in the early days of getting releases on this river, and access is dependent on showing the Snohomish PUD that we are a group of responsible boaters who are not going to cause them problems. While the releases were negotiated as part of the dam relicensing, this is a cooperative arrangement between the Snohomish PUD and the boating community, and a lot of what they do is simply because they are being generous. Releases on the Upper Sultan are by no means guaranteed, and they can make our access to the river as easy or difficult as they see fit. Any incidents on the Upper Sultan reflect badly on the boating community as a whole. If someone were to get hurt or lose their boat and require a rescue, it would jeopardize access to this gem for the entire boating community. This is NOT a run for stepping up to class IV! This is a run for people who already paddle class V at least occasionally. There is no hiking out of the Upper Sultan! Also, keep in mind that given the potential for wood and the tight canyon walls, it's possible that at some point in the future we might encounter a must-run rapid (cannot be portaged) with wood hazards, turning an otherwise class IV rapid into a solid class V-V+. While this is a fantastic river, and will be a pleasure for even the most hard-core class V+ boater, you should really only be attempting this run if it is half a step BELOW what you normally paddle. It would be easy to get in trouble in such a remote, inaccessible gorge, and no one wants to see anyone get hurt or killed. Please use your head, and don't attempt this run unless you have the skills and physical stamina to paddle it safely.

I hope to see so many people out there next year, or whenever the next release happens.


Posted By: NateW
Date Posted: 08 May 2017 at 12:47pm
Do you think that the description on professor paddle should be adjusted some? Honestly, the description on the page vs. what everyone encountered Saturday doesn't line up IMHO. If the wording was changed here and on AW to emphasize the committed nature of the run, some people that aren't quite prepared for the run will choose to opt out.

I wonder if the PUD would let people shuttle down to the diversion dam. It seemed like the entire run was much cleaner after the diversion dam, which might open the run up to more boaters. I know that the flow studies were done at 300 / 700 / 900 CFS, is there a reason why the release should be 900CFS? Like I mentioned in the previous post, another boater told me that 700 CFS was a much friendlier level.

I hope that this release can be something that as many people as possible can participate in.

Posted By: chipmaney
Date Posted: 08 May 2017 at 4:02pm
Agreed it's a poorly written description.

However, the summary does describe Class IV+ boat scouting with wood potential, and that's pretty much what the river gave. I agree it could turn into a Class V environment with the right wood, but the rating doesn't predict wood.    However, the IV+(V) rating is accurate in my opinion. Whitewater rating does not include consideration or remoteness or length, only Difficulty.

If you want to update the description, then by all means go for it-- it's openly accessible. Making a better description would be helpful to fill in those information gaps about length, commitment, and the wood environment.

Also, plenty of people thought 900cfs was awesome, and I agree. Nice fluffy flow. So different strokes for different folks. It is nonetheless obvious how some peeps would be more comfortable with less volume. That is why releases occur across a range of flows. Maybe the August release will be 700cfs.

The place for commenting on flow levels is in the PUD comments form, so if you want a different flow, speak up and be heard!

sitting all alone on a mountain by a river that has no end

Posted By: otterend
Date Posted: 08 May 2017 at 5:05pm
When we took out at Powerhouse, the CFS for the Upper was 1100 and for the Lower was 2000. Lots of contribution from all those beautiful waterfalls. A wet spring = higher flow on a dam release. In the early fall, a 900 release likely would seem tamer.

Such a fine run. All in for a Claas 4 boater like me. Glad I did it.

Posted By: chipmaney
Date Posted: 08 May 2017 at 6:14pm
Good points, Otterend. The run is long, and there are a lot of rapids, too, so if you are not fit or get tired, the run increases in difficulty. I def found it to be difficult.

Sick run! I loved it! Looking forward to going back in August, whatever the flow.

sitting all alone on a mountain by a river that has no end

Posted By: NateW
Date Posted: 08 May 2017 at 10:55pm
I copy/pasted Eli's post into the bottom part of the run description, this was good distillation of the challenges of the run. Eli - if you don't like what I pasted in there, please feel free to take it back out. I noted that you were the one that posted the info.

Posted By: outdoorjunkie88
Date Posted: 09 May 2017 at 10:08am
Please fill out the feedback survey for the PUD guys.  I'm re posting the link so it doesn't get lost in the thread.  The survey is a link on the right side of the page.


2 recommendations that I had were

1. Do a higher water release in the spring and a low water release in the fall or vice versa

2. Asking for clarification if boaters could use the diversion dam as a take out or put in to make the run shorter.  This was the half way point.

After talking with the PUD guys, they told me that they give 48 hour notice of unscheduled releases after rain events.  They said to watch spada lake levels.  They do about 4 releases a year. 

Drew C.

Posted By: Fun Eli
Date Posted: 09 May 2017 at 12:54pm
Thanks Nate. Good call. I went ahead and copied it over to the AW description as well.

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