Wednesday, September 24, 2008

snowy mountains misadventures

above: munyang

above: mikey @ munyang put in
me and mikey went to the snowy mountains for the last 3 days for a bit of snowmelt inspired adventures. We certainly got had some interesting times. First up we ran the easy bottom half of munyang. Later that day we went to the top and ran the whole thing down to island bend, where our kombi and cold beer was waiting. The next day (monday) we fired off a quick run down munyang. It started raining halfway down, so after lunch we drove around to the thredbo valley.
above: the van a few cm below the high water mark
There was an eerie orange hue about the sky and an obvious brown shade to the water as we put on. Once the rapids began it was all on. Basically a thumping brown rollercoaster of holes, waves and boulders, with minimal eddys. The unsettling thought in the back of our minds that the next corner was going to contain tree/riverwide hole etc. pervaded and added up to an un-relaxing run. There were no swims/logs, so we got off quite fired up/shaken. It was also still pissing rain. Luckily some cute german dentistry student/holidaymakers were having car troubles and were happy to drive us up to the van when they got their van running.

As it turned out that night there was 107mm of rain at thredbo. This would explain why the river where we were camped for the night (the trout farm) rose from 1.5m to 2.7m while we drank beer and downplayed the sketchyness of the afternoons paddling. We moved the van to higher ground. In the end it got to 3.6m (10cm short of where we had the van initally).

above: the stage board at the take out
The next day we bandied around various ideas of what to paddle, but the gauge at the trout farm was dropping fast. We decided on the skitube to trout farm run and set about drying out our gear/getting organised. i tried calling a few people to try and work out what constituted "high". PeteL was obviously lying when he said "yeeah, I reckon it probably gets easier when it high".
mikey on the thredbo. it was massive, but this photo is foreshortened..mikeys log is on the right side of the frame....

We drove the boats/gear up to the top and left the van at the takeout. After a quick 15min ride to the shell servo and an even quicker hitchhike shuttle (we got picked up by the 3rd car!) we were at the skitube getting sorted, on the river at around 12:30.
above: snow esky
The river began benignly enough. But once it sparked up we were working hard for the next 4 or 5 hours. I boatscouted (then probed) probably the biggest rapid on the river (excluding the 2 that we portaged) almost getting backlooped twice....luckily i made it to the eddy unscathed as the 2nd biggest rapid was more or less a continuation of this rapid... Mikey rolled, went over a pourover sideways, flipped, travelled through a hole/under a log and rolled....a champion effort... He was physically unscathed.

This section of the thredbo is basically a series of large bouldergardens (think up to 500m long) which at this level was a pushy, uncompromising run. We had each other but not much else - an extended surf in a hole or misplaced log would have been a major issue. Luckily mikey was on fire and i kept up a facade of confidence!

we were relieved and fairly shagged when we got to the trout farm at 5:30.

above: more munyang