What “The Best Whitewater in California” by Lars Holbek and Chuck Stanley has to say about the Devil’s Postpile of the Middle San Joaquin.
“This section was first run by Reg Lake, Doug Tompkins and Royal Robbins in the summer of ’80. Chuck and I completed the in three and a half long days in July ’86 and came away elated and impressed. My hat is off to the first descenteers.”
“This is the most demanding run I’ve ever seen. In many places it is like Yosemite Valley, but the walls are only a river’s width apart. The scenery is awesome, as are the portages. The portage through the Crucible area near Balloon Dome requires delicate friction climbing, lots of precarious rope work with people and boats, and flawless teamwork. We ‘blitzed” it in 5 hours”
“This run makes Bald Rock Canyon seem like a Cub Scout campout.”
“If you’ve done all the other high Sierra runs, and want more, this is for you.”
“To quote Chuck, “You’ll have to figure out the shuttle yourself. If you can’t find the put-in, you’ll never get down the river.”
Lars Holbek “The Best Whitewater in California- The Guide to 180 Runs” Watershed Books, Holbek, Stanley, Copywright 1984.1988,1998
A river report from “The Best Whitewater in California” written by Hayden Glatte had this to say about the Devil’s Postpile
“The first time I ran the Middle Fork San Joaquin, in 1988, it was just as intense as it is now. Phil DeRiemer and I had an estimated 50 portages, a few of which we slogs through poison oak and manzanita around impossible mini gorges. After 4 days of adventure we came out on the other end torn, scraped, thrilled to be alive, amazed at the beauty witnessed, and friggin’ dog tired.”
“The next two times I ran it, in ’96, the goal was to stay in the riverbed until absolutely forced higher. We had about 34 portages at the higher flow (650 cfs at Miller Crossing), and 26 portages at the lower flow (410 cfs). We made almost all the portages close to the river; on a few we had to go up and around. At the higher flow we made three rope-assisted portages. One of these, in the Crucible section (just above granite creek), requires roping the boats up a bluff on the river left and then down a slab to a tree still 25 feet above the river. From here we threw the boats in and jumped after them. Anchor slings made life much easier and basic rock gear is useful.
To check out the waterfall at the base of the Crucible Gorge.
Video of the Balloon Dome, forming the left hand wall of the Cruicible.
Even though we didn’t do any technical rock climbing, there is plenty of very exposed rock clambering. We also still had 4-6 no-option-but-to-run V+ drops due to vertical rock walls. One of these, in the Crucible, is not even scoutable. This run is one of the most beautiful and scary there is. It’s full-on adventure.”
-Hayden Glatte, “The Best Whitewater in California- The Guide to 180 Runs” Watershed Books, Holbek, Stanley, Copywright 1984.1988,1998
"Exactly" -Daniel DeLaVergne
"What they said." -Tommy Hilleke
"You're telling me" -Nikki Kelly