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June 11, 2006

By Clay Wright. Learn more about Clay.

Oh Be Joyful’s combination of steep slides, waterfalls, wildflowers, and snow-capped peak surroundings make it one of the coolest creeks in the world. Add the funk/swank scene of Crested Butte at the base and Slate, Daisy, and East creeks withing 5 miles you’ve got one hell of a destination! (Camp 4 coffee, Secret Stash, and Lobar perk up the scene significantly). This year was like the 6th or 7th race, and while not as technical as the Green, the 400ft/mile gradient makes up for it.

Big snow and hot weather meant O B was stomping high all week. The normal put-in rocks were covered, causing numerous mishaps at put-in and swims and broken boats were common occurances. Luckily, one cool day pre-race and the flows mellowed out to ‘high side of medium’ making a perfect level for the race.

Attendance was high, with 20 something men and 6 women taking the plunge. Men ran 2x and added the times of both runs. Women decided once was enough, as most all the women melted the big falls and several took hard, past-vertical hits. Men had 3 swims – one (organizer) after pitching the falls and the other 2 after sliding down the lower slides upside down . .

Injuries were minimal – Tom Campbell took a nasty shot to the nose, which bled a lot and looked awful as he came into the finish line, and Steve Reska ripped some knuckles in the slides, but finished the course riding on the bottom of his boat – and still managed a respectable time!

First run results had Joules Campbell in his H-3 255 out in front with a 3:46, followed by me in my ‘Super Hero’ with a 3:49 and then Bryan Kirk and Jason Beaks tied with 3: 54 in WS protos. Alex Hotz and John Meyers were right behind.

In women’s, Tanya Faux did some upside-down time upstream, then pitched the falls in a classic ‘Burning WO-man" – her big fast boof rotating over to a past-vert 110 degree backdeck landing – Ouch! She recovered quick, but Elenor Perry had a cleaner top of the course, so despite pitching and surfing the falls for a few she emerged the victor. Valerie from CAN (3rd) and Kristi Murry from CB both had sweet falls runs, but must have lost time elsewhere.

Men’s second runs were cleaner and faster due to rapidly rising waters. Joules held onto the lead, I popped up left at the falls and lost some time, and Jason Beaks threw down the fastest time of the comp – a 3: 41! Beaks came in 2nd while Bryan Kirk and I tied for 3rd. Alex H 4th, don’t know from there. Prizes included ‘bitchathane’ boat repair kits . . how appropriate is that!

Just a note – Until this race anything under 4 minutes was unheard of, so hats off to the snow-gods for delivering the water to make this incredible course better than ever!

From Rocky Mountains High – Crested Butte, CO

Oh Be Joyful Video (Quicktime 6.17 MB)