Both PacifiCorp (the dam owner) and JR Merit (the contractor removing the [Condit] dam) are very clear that any attempts to paddle the [White Salmon] river before it is officially opened will be dealt with seriously. Secondly, at this time it is physically impossible to paddle any part of this section of the White Salmon. The pool below the dam has filled with sediment and the water level is now above the tunnel. A huge logjam has formed in the canyon just downstream of the dam, making that section impassable. And, of course, taking out just upstream of the dam isn’t really an option because of the massive unstable sediment banks. But, the prospect for new whitewater looks promising

This is a subtle video of ripple patterns that are happening within the sediment of the White Salmon River where Northwestern Lake used to be. At first, it may look like nothing is happening and that this is a boring video, but watch how the evenly-spaced ripples start to slowly move upstream in unison and then completely dissipate. You can use the stumps on the ground as a reference point. I love to watch one spot in nature and see the patterns that emerge, and this is a rare video that is able to capture some truly bizarre behavior.

Columbia Riverkeeper published a series of different clips of the aftermath of the Condit Dam breach including some arial shots of the mouth of the breached dam, the silty water reaching the Columbia River, and some shots of the initial wave of water rushing down the lower part of the White Salmon. They even come back the next day to shoot some more footage of how the sediment is getting carved out of what used too be Northwestern Lake.

National Geographic just posted the most spectacular series of angles and quality of footage of the Condit Dam breach shot by Andy Maser. It includes some unique angles, and a series of time lapse shots from those various angles.  He shot over a terabyte of images, and will be tracking how the landscape changes over time. You can track his progress over at and I can’t wait to see what else he’s got. He’s also going to be shooting a photo every daylight hour for the next three years, which is a pretty amazing project that he’s collaborating on with Steve Stampfli.

This video of Northwestern Lake just north of the vantage point of the series of three videos taken the same day of the Condit dam breach (1 2 3). You can see the water start to move down into the waterfall that was slowly eroding to the north. Not a lot of other action happens, but it’s interesting to see the drained Northwestern Lake from another vantage point on the day of the breach.

The last of a series of videos looking at the sediment breaking away in a huge chunk. It’s been trapped in Northwestern Lake for 98 years, and the waterfall is slowly moving north and breaking away chunks. PacifiCorp contractors are going to be breaking the sediment that isn’t washed downstream by the White Salmon River up as part of their Sediment Management Plan, and in that PDF is a topographical map from 1912 showing  what the landscape looked like before there was 2-3 million cubic yards of sediment built up behind the dam.

This is the 2nd video from the vantage point of just north of Condit Dam. You can see the pan from north to south, and the dam in the background. You can also see Charlie, who’s shooting a documentary about the dam coming out and a helicopter flying around with Larry Moran monitoring for people getting too close and possibly falling into the river.

This is a pretty static shot of the White Salmon River as it runs freely through the Northwestern Lake reservoir for the first time in 98 years about an hour after the Condit Dam breach. There were a number of onlookers just north of the dam who were focusing on the sediment being washed away. This is the first of a series of three videos, and you can see that there’s a temporary waterfall that will be slowly eroded away by the White Salmon River.

Here’s the 2nd time lapse sequence from the University of Montana’s Geomorphology Lab. This sequence shows the two hours of Northwestern Lake draining out after Condit Dam was breached. It’s fascinating to watch the sediment slowly break away, and also to track the water line drop by watching the orange buoys 

Here’s old footage of a couple of people plunging down a flooded Condit dam. I saw photos of this and thought that they might have been photoshopped, but it turns out that Kayaker Austin Rathman and Rafter Dan McCain actually did go over the 120-foot drop at Condit Dam. I imagine that this probably happened during the ‘96 flood, and the breaching of Condit inspired Ralph Bloemers to dig up the footage and post it online. Paul Pearce comments at the beginning about the general ridiculousness of the Condit Dam.

Andy Maser & Steve Stampfli have been shooting 10 images a day for the past months of the preparation for the Condit Dam breach. Here’s a timelapse montage of some of their footage.

Description of what’s in the video from Maser’s blog:

  • The lake was drawn down more than 10 feet
  • The minimum flow has been diverted around the site, and the pool below the dam has been drained
  • A scaffolding was installed to allow better access to the site
  • Cables were strung high across across the river and machinery lowered into the riverbed
  • A huge floating crane has been moved into position upstream of the dam
  • Blasting of the drain tunnel is progressing well

JR Merit was the prime contractor for removing the Condit Dam for PacifiCorp. Here’s an animated video showing what they had to do in preparation including reinforcing the Northwestern Lake Rd bridge further down into the bedrock, dredging a pathway for the sediment and blasting a hole in the bottom of the dam. It’s pretty interesting to see what comes afterwards in terms of breaking up the concrete and burying it on the side of the mountain.

Andy Maser produced this awesome video of a local kayaker and a local activist talking  about the White Salmon River and the removal of Condit Dam. Maser says that “Heather Herbeck works for Wet Plantet, a local raft company, and is excited to explore the new whitewater in her backyard.  Phyllis Clausen, 30 year resident of Trout Lake, WA, is excited to see a project she’s poured her heart and soul into finally come to fruition.”

I personally don’t think that there’s a waterfall hidden underneath Northwestern Lake, primarily because I think that it’s more likely that the river will eventually re-establish itself to be more like it’s pre-1913 state. There’s some pretty detailed topographical maps from 1912 that were included in the appendix of the Sediment Management plan put together by some sub-contractors on the Condit Dam removal project.

Last year, The Banks Mag filmed White Salmon local Kate Wagner doing different runs on the White Salmon River. It’s pretty exciting to see what the river looks like in it’s natural state upstream, especially since it’s unlikely I’ll ever experience any of those class 3-4 rapids firsthand. Anticipation is growing to see what the White Salmon River is going to look like after the Condit Dam is breached and the lower part of the river is eventually restored to it’s natural state.

This mini-documentary shows how art was used over the past 18 years to help win popular support for the removal of Condit Dam. There were five different events listed here, and many of them included children holding salmon puppets on sticks breaching upstream through a broken Condit Dam. It’s pretty fascinating to see archival news clips back as long ago as 1993 juxtaposed with some more recent footage and commentary.