Outdoors blog

Chelan Gorge whitewater kayaking flush is a go! Six sign up for Class V run

KAYAKING -- They just barely made the 5 p.m. deadline! The six-kayaker minimum was met this afternoon to trigger the Chelan PUD to release water for kayakers out of Lake Chelan this weekend.

The kayakers signed up today for the rare chance to ride the flows shooting down the narrow gorge in a 3-mile series of Class V falls geared to EXPERT PADDLERS.

The Chelan River, although one of the shortest rivers in the northwest, offers some of the most challenging whitewater boating in the nation.  

This is the third year of a pilot program the PUD has established to test the safety and interest in the program.

Each year, during the study period, whitewater releases for kayakers are set to occur only on the second and fourth weekends in July and September.

Due to high flows, whitewater boating on the Chelan River on July 9 and 10 was cancelled.

More info from American Whitewater.

Read on for details and check out the video above compiled by Bellingham kayaker Matt Kuhrl during last year's weekend flush in the Chelan Gorge.

The initial three miles of the Chelan River offer rapids categorized as Class II (novice), however the river then quickly changes to Class V+ (expert) for approximately three-tenths of a mile through the “Gorge” before spilling into the lower reaches of the Chelan River and its confluence with the Columbia River.

The Chelan River is just downstream from the popular recreation destination, Lake Chelan and the water flowing into the Chelan River is regulated by the Lake Chelan Dam, owned and operated by Chelan County PUD under a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

As part of a new license issued by FERC on November 1, 2006, Chelan PUD, in cooperation with American Whitewater, is conducting a three-year whitewater boating monitoring study in the Chelan River beginning in July of 2009.

All boaters must be at least 18 years of age and are required to pre-register and complete the reservation process. Only non-motorized hard-shelled kayaks suitable for Class V whitewater will be permitted. Public access to this area is limited at all times due to hazardous terrain. Visitors are reminded to adhere to posted restrictions.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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