Kayaker missing on Cheakamus River
Searchers couldn't find him at his last known location
by John French
A missing kayaker from Canmore is presumed drowned after he disappeared on Friday, Sept. 28.Sgt. Rob Knapton of the Whistler RCMP said the police were called at about 5 p.m. after Peter Thompson, 19, went over a waterfall on the Cheakamus River and never resurfaced. The waterfall is located about 3.5km from Highway 99 just upstream of Loggers Lake at a popular kayak entry point.
Knapton said the two people with Thompson reported they went over the waterfall after Thompson and retrieved his paddle but there was no sign of their friend. The RCMP called Whistler Search and Rescue (WSAR) and a search team was in the area of the waterfall until 9 p.m. when darkness set in.
According to Knapton, the searchers went back to the scene the next morning and discovered Thompson’s personal floatation device. An underwater camera was used to further search the area below the waterfall. Knapton said water clarity was an issue along with the powerful hydraulics in the area. The searchers were unsuccessful in locating Thompson and efforts were curtailed at about noon on Saturday. “We are evaluating options at this point,” said Knapton.
While WSAR members and the RCMP were leaving the search area another group of nine paddlers from Vancouver were preparing to launch their kayaks from just below the waterfall where the search was conducted. The leader of the group indicated they would keep their eye out for the missing kayaker as they intended to paddle a large section of the Cheakamus River. Check back for more information on the search in Thursday’s edition of Pique Newsmagazine.
Paddling community mourns loss of Canmore kayaker, coach Peter Thompson
Victim was head coach for Bow Valley Kayak Club
By Bryce Forbes and Tanya Foubert
October 1, 2012
Peter Thompson, 19, had a passion for mountain activities, especially kayaking.
CALGARY — A Canmore teenager whose life revolved around kayaking is presumed dead after going over a waterfall on the Cheakamus River in B.C. and not resurfacing. Identified as Peter Thompson, 19, he was a master on the river, acting as the head coach for the Bow Valley Kayak Club, teaching the sport to kids with disabilities, and paddling all over the world.
Rob McIntyre, president of the club, said Thompson was with a group of friends Friday at a six-metre waterfall in B.C. he had done many times before. He went over and never resurfaced. Two friends reported him missing.
RCMP called in search-and-rescue and dive teams, but after two days, the search has been called off. “We called out Search and Rescue and have not located him or his kayak yet, but we did locate the paddle,” said Sgt. Rob Knapton of the Whistler RCMP. The RCMP dive team was in the area to evaluate the scene on Saturday. Knapton said the biggest issue with the recovery effort is safety for the rescue workers because of the hydraulic pressure of the waterfall on the Cheakamus River. “We are looking at our options,” he said. McIntyre said Thompson always preached safety to his students, but tragedies happen.
Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/travel/Paddling+community+mourns+loss+Canmore+kayaker+coach+Peter+Thompson/7321923/story.html#ixzz28EItLsbg T
I'm not positive where it occurred but assume it's the waterfall that is sometimes run at the put-in. I have a photo and description of it on my website: http://www.riversandcreeks.com/paddleguides/rivers/bc/cheakamus/upper_cheak.html
Some news accounts have described it as a 6m waterfall, but I don't think it's that high. It got me to wondering if maybe he was running a drop further upstream that I'm not familiar with, but other news accounts say the waterfall is located "just upstream" of the "popular kayak entry point".
If it is in fact the one at the standard put-in, it's a relatively new feature where the historic river channel became blocked and the river changed course to flow over a bedrock ledge. An impressive amount of power plunges deep on river left (hard to tell in the photo). I've looked at it but determined it was not anything I wanted to mess with--just too much power sending you deep and no real way to tell what's down there. I know it is routinely run though.
Thomas O'Keefe, PhD
Pacific Northwest Stewardship Director
Upper Cheakamus River
ACCESS: Nearest town: Whistler (Yahoo map). Take Highway 99 to Function Junction just south of Whistler. At the light, take Cheakamus Lake Road east and in 0.5 km (0.3 miles) you will reach the bridge across the river. After crossing the river take the left fork for the Westside Main Road. After making this turn head into the House Rock Day Use area to your left. This day-use area provides convenient parking for the take-out and you can walk down to the river and view the gauge.
To reach the put-in continue up river left on the Westside Main Road (continue past the sign marking the "kayak put-in"). It is 3.0 km (1.9 miles) up this road to a small parking area at the Riparian Trail parking area (space for a couple cars) where the road comes close to the edge of the river.
Description: The Upper Cheakamus is a great run just a few minutes outside of Whistler with a long summer season. It provides non-stop class IV action all the way from start to finish. First timers might consider the higher volume creek boat, but experienced paddlers will enjoy this run in playboats. It is a short run that you can easily paddle in an hour or less if you know the lines making it a popular evening run with locals. Those headed down the first time will likely want to spend more time scouting some of the drops or go with a guide who can give you the lines as you go.
The river starts right off with a class V waterfall newly formed following recent floods which shifted the channel over a section of resistant bedrock. It's an impressive sight as you can still see evidence of the old channel, now plugged with rocks and debris, on river right. Those who just came for the class IV run put in below the waterfall (hike downstream on the trail about 100 m) but it does get run.
I just wanted to let you know that the Peter Thompson the Upper Cheak itself is considered a class IV (IV+) run, with the put-in waterfall (the rapid he died on) being at most an easy V. Also, some folks went in a few weeks later and discovered he and his boat had been pinned under something at the base of the waterfall -- either a log or a weird rock formation -- so you may want to adjust the cause of accident to "strainer / entrapment" or "pin / entrapment."