Gladiator Creek

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We did an exploratory descent of Gladiator Creek in the winter of 2003 and found a very interesting run indeed. Access was very difficult, and though I won't go into our challenges suffice it to say it involved a long drive followed by a long hike through the mountains, and a long bike shuttle at the end of the day. This is not a run I will be repeating very often! That said, the rapids consisted pretty much entirely of three waterfalls, with several excellent all-day playspots formed by the bedrock creekbed. A fun run, but the access obstacles will keep this one from being paddled very often, if ever again.

It was pouring and we finally decided the creek would have enough water; we hiked in that morning and decided to put on above a waterfall several miles up the creek. This was a heck of a fun way to start the run; peel out of a tiny eddy and run a 15 footer!

The line over this first falls (we called it 'Arena Falls') was thin but very easy to hit. The entire right side (where most of the water was going) pours onto rocks, and the left side didn't have enough water, but there was a thin tongue down the middle-right was clean; it was a super fast, fun ride! Too bad the creek is gorged out below this falls, because it would have been nice to do a few laps on this one..

The author runs Arena Falls on Gladiator Creek.

Downstream of Arena Falls the creek was flat and splashy, unremarkable class two with few playspots. This all changed when we arrived at a drop we called 'The Punisher'.

The Punisher is a large, twisty falls that looked very tough; I would rate it hard class five at this flow with limited safety options (due to the rock walls) and severe, possibly lethal consequences for a missed line. I took one look at the evil vortex halfway down the drop, which can only be described as a 'hellish terminal whirlpool' and started to portage.

The hole at the bottom of The Punisher was large and powerful in it's own right, but you could probably swim free of that one; not so with the middle hydraulic; that thing would keep a swimmer until the water level dropped.

( This drop IS runnable and would be much easier with less water, but at this flow we decided not to throw the dice. )

My boat below The Punisher on Gladiator Creek.

Soon the creek widened and we came to a monster horizon line; there were few places to stop due to lack of eddies, so we grabbed some tree limbs on the left hand side and got out to scout.

Below us the creek dropped away through a long series of slides that dropped away below us for over a hundred yards; all clean and very runnable. The pool below this huge slide had impressive rock walls towering overhead, so we called this drop 'The Coliseum'.

This was a very fun drop; we were whooping and hollering all the way down. It should be noted that the hole in the bottom drop was formidable on the right hand side, closely resembling a low-head dam. This was one sweet drop..

Below The Coliseum on Gladiator Creek.

Below the Coliseum the creek mellowed considerably; there was one more class three-ish drop, then it was class II for the last mile or so with several excellent playholes and surf waves.

Back-surfing one of the smaller all-day-play holes on Gladiator.