Thursday, July 1, 2010
Stand Up Surfing the Glenwood Wave During Record High Flows in June 2010
Photos by: Dan Gavere and Ken Hoeve
Dan and I were unable to tear ourselves away from Glenwood Springs, Colorado early this June and opted out of competing in the Battle of the Paddle in Hawaii. The reason for this is a river wide standing wave on the Colorado River that was raging at flood levels for over a week during the peak of the spring snow runoff.
One could ride this endless wave, if they were able to even paddle onto it, for as long as they could surf it, sometimes up to 10 minutes. At peak flows, about 22-24,000 cfs, the wave was about chest high with a constant flow of debris trying to mow down the surfers. Full on trees, telephone poles, and constant wood flushed through the wave adding an element of difficulty to riding the wave. The only known injuries were to the boards, some dings and fin boxes broken, not to mention a plethora of fins that were ripped off.
After a wipe out, we would be washed quickly downstream and be challenged to swim or paddle aggressively to the side of the river and catch an eddy, which are nearly non-existent when the river is at it's highest. This can be very dangerous for someone trying to get to the side of the river because they can be easily pushed up against trees or bushes near the flooded river banks in the fast moving freezing cold water and get their body or board pinned. If you can't catch an eddy than you are quickly flowing downriver farther and farther away from the wave. Not recommended for people who don't understand or have knowledge of whitewater.
After making it to the river bank, we then had to carry our boards up the bank and across the street over a bridge before heading back down to the water's edge to do it all over again. What a workout, especially when you're not used to the elevation and the cold water.
My introduction to the Glenwood wave was a year ago. It was a tough lesson in patience and not giving up. The wave is difficult to stand up and paddle onto from the eddy, most people either prone paddle or get pushed in. You must cross swirling and turbulent water of the eddyline while paddling upstream at just the right ferry angle so you can slide onto the wave. You must try not to catch an edge while also trimming the board so that it doesn't flush off the back of the wave or pearl. I must have attempted to paddle onto the wave at least 30 times before I finally made it without falling. It paid off because this year it was much easier for me and I consistently made it which meant LOTS of wave surfing time!
Last year I learned to surf the wave on a 10'6 CMAC. This year I used my 10' Starboard Whopper for two sessions before downgrading to a Starboard 8'5 Pocket Rocket. Dan was ripping on the wave, even spinning his board doing 360 turns. Ken Hoeve (Hobie) of Surftech, was tearing it up along with Dave Collins and Charlie MacArthur who were regulars at the wave.
Below is some footage of me on the wave, a few shots of when it was 24,000cfs...the most fun I've had in a LONG time!! Enjoy, Aloha