Celestial Gorge on the White River at flood

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Celestial Gorge on Oregon's White River used to be run fairly often by Kayakers, but it is now illegal. This is very unfortunate, because the 50-foot middle falls in the gorge was probably the most-run large waterfall in Oregon prior to the ban.

This restriction on running the falls is a bad idea, I believe, and hopefully it will be overturned. For those of you who haven't seen it, the guys at Ashland Mine Productions have an excellent (and hilarious) scene in their video 'No Big Names II: Amped' where two boaters actually ride pool-toys over Celestial at low summer flows (an Alligator and an Orca toy, if I remember correctly) and this was actually legal, because the ban only applies to kayaks.. If the raucous reaction of the crowd at the premiere was any indication, this ban is very unpopular among kayakers in the Northwest.

Prior to the ban on kayaking Celestial and the gorge below the falls, professional photographer Mark Gamba and friends spent some time shooting photos running the waterfalls of the Celestial Gorge at a variety of flows, and I think his photos are the best I have ever seen of these falls and the surrounding locale.

On this particular day some of the best paddlers in the region tackled the waterfalls of the Celestial Gorge at floodstage. Mark had four cameras shooting simultaneously, with spectacular results. Mark generously allowed me to post his pictures, so you can enjoy them as much as I did (and still do). For more kayaking photos by Mark, visit his excellent website at Mark Gamba Photography (the opening image on this site is incredible..)

The following photos are of James Fredericks, running the middle and lower falls at floodstage. James ran Celestial falls three times on this particular day, and this is definitely one of the highest flows Celestial has ever been run (if not the highest ever). All photos shown below were taken by Mark Gamba.
James, first run over Celestial Falls at flood

First run again, no problems.

James.. second run.. no problems..

James Fredericks from the front, second run of the day over Celestial Falls at Flood.   Look at that boil!

James third, and final run over Celestial at flood did not go according to plan.
Needless to say, there was not a fourth run.
Run number 3, from the side.. uh oh..

Run 3, from the front.. it's hammer time..

The lower gorge below Celestial has only been run a few times. Ron Blanchette and James Fredericks both ran the lower gorge on this day, including the largest drop, a highly technical 25-footer with a shallow landing known as 'Rooster Falls'. This drop requires a perfect boof, and as you can see below Ron nailed it. (all photos by Mark Gamba).
Ron Blanchette hits the boof at Rooster Falls

Ron Blanchette again on Rooster, shot from the front.

Now a few more shots, taken at low summer flows at a variety of angles.
James, shot from the top, at summer flows.

Kayakers at the top of the upper, 90-foot falls above Celestial.

Other info on Celestial: After I posted this report, I received an email from Sam Hass, who said:

Hey Jason, nice photos on Celestial Gorge. Just as an fyi, in case you get any response from someone with interest in leading the charge to reopen Celestial, OKCC has $200 and change in a Reopen Celestial Falls fund that's just waiting for a volunteer. If someone's going to start working on it, let me know and I can coordinate access to the $ with OKCC.