It was a good winter…

29 04 2012

I imagine it comes as no surprise that we had a below average snowfall this year in the Arkansas Valley. March was really warm and full of awesome spring skiing and parties, however no snow. Monarch closed a week early but with dignity and better snow than most places in the state. The San Juans got hammered a few times this winter so there will be some water in the southwest. Idaho also got hit. I definitely got my fair share of powder days and anyone who says they didn’t, didn’t try hard enough.

As far as summer rafting goes; the powers, the monkeys, whoever it is that pushes the buttons on the three dams that is the Arkansas River hopefully have learned a lot in the 10 years since the last drought winter of 2002. That year the river peaked at a diabolic 666 cfs and finished up Labor Day Weekend right around 220. I imagine we will sit right around 700 cfs all most of the summer until August when it will get ramped down to fall levels, 500ish. That would be ideal, rain is good, global wierding might help us out with some flash flooding or freak snowstorms. Regardless though I’m pumped for whitewater in any form; lots of fishing trips and swimming in the river, two things we’ve really missed out on these high water years.

Leap Day pow skiing at Monarch


Getting after it on what turned out to be one of the last big powder days of the season.






We got some pretty good snow as well of the course of a couple days at the Lost Wonder Hut near Garfield, CO. It was beautiful out there regardless.

The Lost Wonder Hut


Wolf Creek on a 17in day, that was nice.

Sunshine gettin' it on Monarch Pass



The Arkansas is spiking again!

7 07 2011

Once again I thought we were on our way down but nope! The numbers has risen about 500 cfs in the last couple hours. This means something upstream is releasing water. Hope for high water till August!!

From the USGS site

Skiing in July

7 07 2011

One of the great advantages of living in BV is that the climate absolutely allows you to mix your seasons. We were able to raft starting in March and now with the huge snow pack; still skiing in July. Check out these shots from July 6th on Independence Pass.

Hiking on the grass

From the top

Junker shraplin'

Me shraplin'

A pretty sweet July run, got a cornice, a couloir, and a couple open snow fields

Numbers are open!

22 06 2011

We got word today as we got off the river that the water level was dropping significantly. One of the reservoirs must have cut off giving us about a 600 cfs, instant drop. I’m not sure but for such a quick drop to happen it must have been either clear creek or twin lakes reservoir. The snow-pack is still off the charts so I imagine that the water will go back up. Good news is, Numbers is open and big. I’ll be up there tomorrow and hopefully Friday, it’s still open. That means ‘get ready’ John and crew, OH boys coming in this weekend, whitewater!

High Water Numbies

Here it comes!!

29 05 2011

Finally it feels like summer in Buena Vista! Yesterday was a warm one as well as today. The river is feeling it to; the Numbers has risen 300ish cfs just overnight! The weather shows highs in the 70′s everyday next week (with the exception of Memorial Day). This could be it, the start of the run-off! In the next couple weeks, or earlier, I predict the Numbers to close (2400 cfs), which means Brown’s gets BIG and FUN! Who knows how high it will go, but just so everyone knows, Brown’s never closes!

Summer has finally arrived to BV

The trees are getting their leaves, the river is rising!

Upper Arkansas River Snowpack Update

22 05 2011

The weather has been cold and is going to remain so for the next few days. We are now officially over 200% snowpack by some self-described experts I’ve spoken to in the area. The year 1995 has been mentioned a lot, the epic high water year on the Arkansas. We used to always joke “You know how you can tell a guide that was here in ’95, they’ll tell you.” Hopefully that will be replaced by 2011! It’s definitely going to be one for the books. I highly recommend that everyone gets out here for some ‘whitewatering!’ The valley is getting quite excited and the run-off has really even started yet! Check out the Snowpack link for the latest watershed information. I have an earlier post in the category Colorado Snowpack with information as how to interpret the data!

Biggest Snow of the Year in BV

11 05 2011

Some friends and I planned to try to get an early AM run in on the Numbers but I looked outside, this May 11 morning, and voila, about 3-4 inches of heavy wet spring snow. From there it has continued to snow all day and now is officially the snowiest day of the year in Buena Vista proper. My roommate, a rafter as well, said it best this moring, “We really don’t need this snow,” refering to the snowpack and the water situation for the summer. I spoke to a couple BV folks yesterday about 1995. In that year there were several large snow storms though even the end of June. These storms cooled off the melt in the mountains and replaced a lot of the snowpack which just extended the high water longer and longer throughout the summer. Cross your fingers for us this year!

Colorado Snowpack Information and Update

9 05 2011

I checked the snowpack again today. Some of the gauges have been questionable recently but as far as I can tell our snowpack is around 156% of average today. This level is well beyond what we experienced in 2008; that year was the biggest since 1995, the legendary year of 6000+ cfs in Brown’s Canyon, one of the biggest years of Arkansas River history. It’s hard to tell how close 2011 will stack up to 1995. Ideally the water melts slow so we don’t blow out everything at once, we’ll see.

Lots and lots of potential whitewater in ‘dem hills. This is the view from our yard in BV.

Colorado Snowpack Data

29 04 2011

Here is the link to see the Arkansas River basin snowpack data as well as most rivers in the state. On the Arkansas table, average the percentages for Brumley, Fremont Pass and Porphyry Creek. This is the accurate percentage for the Upper Arkansas Valley (Pine Creek, the Numbers and Brown’s Canyon). Today, 4/29/11, we were at 141% of average. Last year we reached the highest flows in 15 years with only 100% snowpack, hot weather melted the snow fast. It all depends on the weather to see of we get really large flows or sustained flows or, ideally, large sustained flows.



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