Monday, October 4, 2010

Lachine Rapids

World Class goes to the infamous Lachine Rapids.
Thanks to Weaver Froelicher for the edit!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Apurimac Multi-Day, A WCKA First!

Ben, Griff and Erik Johnson on the Confluence section, Urubamba River

The Group at our home, Cola de Mono

Confluence section put-in, just downstream from camp

I believe the last blog left off midway at our stay at Colo de Mono in Santa Teresa. Basically we all enjoyed our three weeks of bugs and sick paddling on the Urubamba. We spent one rainy day on a lower-volume creek called the Upper Sacsara. We all had fun in our shiny new creek-boats.

Our last night in Santa Teresa, the group helped Gian Marco, our beloved host, build a relaxing sweat-lodge made out of sticks and plastic tarp. That night he heated boulders, to pour water on for steam, and most of the students spent several sessions sweating out our body’s toxins in an enjoyable and new experience, preparing ourselves for the long and awaited over-nighter expeditions.

Take-out at Santa Teresa...otherwise known as town recess

After a scenic canyon drive back to Cusco, we spoiled ourselves with pizza, burgers, cake, multiple cappuccinos a day, cheap hour massages and finally a nice hostile with beds and Internet. Over the next few days we prepared ourselves for the Apurimac by buying personal snacks such as chocolate bars, nuts and sausage sticks with our 45 soles (Peruvian currency) allowance and distributing the backpacker’s pantry mountain meals. We each received four dinners including any of the following; Wild West Chili, Pad Thai, Spicy Thai with Peanut Sauce, Chana Masala, Lasagna, Macaroni and Cheese, Mexican Rice with Beef, Rosotta with Chicken, and Kung Pao Chicken. Boats packed, we were ready to start our first journey.

Cody, excited to eat his meal in a bag...mmm, tasty!

Day one on the Apurimac after a three hour drive from our beloved Cusco we hiked our boats through stone arches and over piles of rubble, through a small town and onto the river. This first rapid was a little tricky and about half of the group ran it, the other half walking, not wanting to risk messing up our lines in our unfamiliar, heavily loaded creek-boats. The rest of the day consisted of some fun rapids with some technical moves accompanied by a few scouts. That night we camped at a rocky beach with a little bit of sand that we took advantage of. Students tested out their bivies and Griff and Johnson even found a rock cave to sleep under for rain protection. Kleve and I, along with Capo and Ben, fortunately didn’t have to worry about any unnecessary moisture due to our light tents that we packed along.

Filtering water on the Apurimac River

The next morning Parker woke up to a bivy full of water and realized he would have some creative work to do if the rain came again. Day two was a short and mellow day of flat-water and beautiful scenery. We made camp early at lunch and several students spent hours building “shanty’s”, what they called their rain shelters, out of bamboo and grasses in hopes of a dry night. The rest of us spent our free time setting up camp and swimming across the river to some small cliffs to jump. That night people stayed dry but we all woke up in the middle of the night to a savage and loud rockslide on top of us, caused by the rain.

A Shanty, Hopefully it Worked!

Day three was once again mellow. We spent an hour or so trying to surf a fun wave with eddy service with our loaded creek-boats. Camping on a big sandy beach, shanties were built and when darkness came around 6 p.m., so did the rain. Our pattern seemed to be going to bed around 6-6:30 and getting a good 12 hours of sleep.

Well rested, day four was our long and fun day of rapids. The canyon walls were beautiful and the sun was shining. The day consisted of pretty continuous big volume read-and-run rapids due to increase in water with the nightly rain. The dark chocolate milk colored water made it challenging to read but we were all stoked on the day and our experience as a whole!

Griff soaking in the South American sun rays!

Day five we woke up, ate our daily morning breakfast of Avena (brand of oatmeal) mixed with gorp, and paddled a few hours of flat-water to the takeout, after a stout portage, where our cargo truck driver met us. From here we made the short drive to Cusco to get ready for the Cotahuasi and prepare for our next episode full of adventures…

Words: Olin Wimberg

Photos: Susan Hollingsworth and Kristi Murrin

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Physics Demo: #2

Check out our Physics Class' Demonstration #2: Momentum, Collisions and Impulse

Emily Allen
Griff Griffith
Olin Wimberg

Friday, November 13, 2009

Santa Teresa, Peru!

After a much needed and greatly appreciated ten-day fall break, we all arrived in Cusco early last Thursday. After several long flights from Denver to L.A., L.A. to Lima, and Lima to Cusco, we finally arrived. We drowsily disembarked the plane and were happily greeted by Kristi and a tour bus to take us to our Cusco hostel. Despite the lack of sleep, we were all excited to finally be in the greatly anticipated destination: Peru.

We spent two nights in the city of Cusco and had plenty of opportunities to practice our Spanish with the locals and buy loads of souvenirs. Our Spanish classes consisted of a citywide scavenger hunt, forcing us all to use our somewhat limited Spanish vocabulary to interact with Peruvians.

Workout: Climb up the mountain (base=11,000 ft), sit-ups next to Incan Ruins

After our time in the city we packed up to head to our next destination. We had another seven hours of traveling over mountain passes and driving along deep canyons to our new home in Santa Teresa. Currently we are camping at Cola de Mono and will stay here for the next three weeks. The site is a few minutes outside of Santa Teresa and we have room for each of our tents and a large canopy to eat and have class under. The location is close to several creeks and river runs, not to mention three meals are cooked daily for us. The only setbacks are the amount of mosquitoes, most of us were covered in itchy bites by the first morning workout, and the absence of one major thing: kayaks.

Swiftwater Rescue Review Day

Our home base in Santa Teresa

Shortly after we had arrived in Santa Teresa we were greeted with the bad news. All 14 of our new Jackson boats are stuck in Lima customs, and have not yet been released into the country. Obviously a major part of our daily school routine is missing. World Class Kayak Academy has become more like World Class Camping Academy. Despite this, we have still been able to find plenty of activities to fill time that is usually spent paddling.

Community service day, putting those muscles to work

We have assisted with some community service, which consists of moving wheelbarrow loads of dirt down the road to build a driveway over a marshy patch of land, enjoying a night-time hot spring soak, and also making an impromptu trip to Machu Picchu. We rode a train into the town at the base of Machu Picchu and spent the night. Early the next morning we headed to the top of the mountain, and spent the entire day exploring the ruins and absorbing Peru’s history. In the afternoon, when we were left to explore the landmark on our own, half the group hiked to the top of Wayna Picchu and enjoyed the perfect view of Machu Picchu below. After a full day, we walked along the railroad track back to Santa Teresa.

Machu Picchu visit (students have a million more photos!)

Since then, our days have been filled with double amounts of classes and a review of swift river rescue. The group has kept up a positive output and morale has been high, despite such a long hiatus from paddling. Soon, however, we will rent boats to use until the others arrive and we will be able to train and prepare for the upcoming multi-day/self-support trips. Our long stint as World Class Camping Academy will soon be over, and we can be World Class Kayak Academy once again.

Article: Emily Allen

Photos: Susan Hollingsworth

Field Trip to the Coal Fields of West Virginia

On our final day at the Gauley River we packed up camp and drove two hours to the home of Larry. Larry’s home sits on a small mountain in Marsh Fork, West Virginia, the heart and soul of American coal mining. The 50-acre property is filled with this "black gold" and is valued at around 60 million dollars. Larry told us all about his life and the coal companies that he has to deal with on a day-to-day basis. After the presentation, the students were able see to dozens of mountain top removal sights from the safety of a nearby peak. I think I speak for every one when I say it was a bitter sight; we could see thousands of acres of destroyed mountains. Thick vegetation used to cover the vast hillsides; it has now been reduced to dirt and rock. It was hard to comprehend the damage to the surrounding environment. This unique experience opened our eyes to harmful ways of the American coal industries.

After the tour of Larry’s property we drove to Marsh Fork Elementary. The elementary school is less than a hundred yards from an enormous coal silo. Ivan Steifel, a former WCKA teacher and anti coal activist, gave us a brief presentation about the poor air and water quality in the surrounding area. The school also sits just below the dam of a 2.8 billion gallon coal slurry. A coal slurry is a large body of water that serves as a dumping ground for coal waste. Coal slurries create highly toxic waste that can leak into surrounding wells and ground water supplies. I had never known how coal companies can affect the health of local communities.

During the last leg of our journey we visited the Coal River Mountain Watch base camp. The CRMW is a group of people fighting against coal mining. The students piled in to House #3, in which we were able to interact with members of CRMW and discuss the issues with coal mining. Every one at the Coal River base camp had interesting perspectives and stories to share.

By the end of the day we all came out with a plentiful set of knowledge on coal mining. Being able to see coal mining and its effects on the environment was one of the coolest field trips I have ever been apart of. I feel that I learned more about coal mining at WCKA than I ever could have in a formal classroom.

Eric Parker

Monday, October 5, 2009

Youghiogheny River Update brought to you by WCKA Video Class

Video Update from the Youghiogheny and ASCI Whitewater Course

Physics Lab Demonstration: Newton's Laws

Physics Assignment: Demonstrate Newton's 3 Laws for future WCKA classes