Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ragati River - Kenya

James Savage. A first descent of the Ragati slides, Kenya

The Ragati River is another primary artery to the Mt. Kenya drainage system that we were hoping was going to put out impressive results. On this side of the mountain the bedrock had somewhat changed from the pool drop nature so commonly found in the lava-like gorges nearby. Instead, the Ragati was known to have super slides one would hardly expect in this part of the world.

A weekend came about with the crew ready, and water levels ideal so we set out on a ground mission first to see what we could find on foot. Already the night before when the topo map was on the table, Simon had given us his word that there would be plenty more slides above the 1 and a half he had ran when he was here in 2004.

Within an hour from basecamp, we were walking easliy along the shore getting some interesting looks from local farmers, mothers and children who were least expecting 3 muzungus thrashing through their banana and coffee plantations while checking the river. From where the 1st descents of the slides left off in 2004, the original slide conqueror and myself headed further up the drainage to discover more of the goods that had been waiting patiently for our return.

The Ragati slides start of with a 200+ foot two-tiered monster slide that began with scouting discussions of ' yeah right' into 'ugly-hmmm' into 'interesting' as we neared top. Probably a good thing that we were walking from the bottom up. But in the end some of us were only willing to give the top part a go and this was going require more safety that we had. Beyond, the slides again pick up in size until Bamboocha hurls another 100+ feet of instant gravity loss your way.

Simon Coward drops in.

After Bamboocha, a few smaller ramps appear and a tight class V slot drop makes the Ragati feel like more than just a African supersized waterpark. Over a dozen slides later, including a grand finale on the original from 2004 that caused a near decapitating from the fierce shore vegitation, we were down on the flats with darkness fast approaching. The Ragati is currently one of Kenya's sweetest paddling discoveries. Until the next group appears, it is a fine symbol in the search for quality creeking in a region where whitewater has no face.