Spot: Canada, Northwest Territories, Slave River, Pelican Falls.
What's it like
This place is one of Canada's best kept secrets, which is mostly due to the remoteness and sheer pain in the ass driving distance. It never really gets dark during the summer so the biggest problem you'll face (if you go) is not to burn yourself out the first few days. The sunsets are dramatic and last for six hours and then sunrises begin. This place would be great for paddling videos, festivals, rodeos, extreme paddling etc... and would make a photographer's dream location come true. The place is filled with bears, wolfs, and buffaloes so be prepared. In the past there were quite a few bear incidents so it always requires a medium sized group to effectively remain safe.
The Slave is a big river that flows from Lake Athabasca in Alberta to Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories. This river proves that there is no real limit to extremely large surfing waves. You really have to experience it to appreciate what anybody is telling to you. Imagine yourself on a river where you cannot see a shoreline, it looks just like a lake when all of a sudden all hell breaks loose and you're into class IV WW and there is no real line to take because everywhere you look there's whitewater, with huge waves, holes, and boils that all freak you out. Starting to get the picture of this place?! The locals figured out the runs by using a float plane and mapping it out, then taping it to their decks.
Pelican Falls is the biggest single drop on the river. The Slave is about 1/2 mile wide on average. At Pelican Falls the chute is about 50 feet or so in width. There is a lot of water flowing over (guesstimate: 50,000 cfs). It was first run by Mike Druce, Patrice Gagnon and Larry Norman, in 1991. The drop is a BIG wave (about 30 feet high in high water) with 2 really big holes on either side. The width of the wave is about 25 feet. Apparently the guys were almost backsliding on the wave, it is so big and steep. The following picture was taken at lowish water and usually where the guy is sitting is under water:
The next picture shows the river just upstream of the wave. This part is even more dangerous than the waters after the wave: lots of very nasty holes and other pleasures.
And here is a picture of the first ever surf on this monster, in August 1999:
How to get there
To get there by car drive to Edmonton and then head north through High Level. Head toward Hay River in the NWT and then make for Fort Smith. You can either go north on highway 2 through Slave lake or west on highway 16 to Whitecourt and Fox Creek then north. Keep going north to High level. Then towards Hay River and Enterprise. At Enterprise keep going through to Fort Smith. Both routes are similar in distance and road quality. If the drive is too long you can also fly up on either Canadian Airlines or Northwestern Air.
Pelican Falls if you dare and thousand of other drops, holes and waves await. More detailed information about how to get there can be found at the website listed below.
To get to Pelican Falls you have got to find a local; they know the way. Do not go without someone who knows the river: it is easy to get disoriented and head towards something that will kill you (PLAYAK.COM cannot be held responsible for loss or damage of any organic/inorganic hard- and software).
Don't forget to drop into the wave pool - water slides at the West Edmonton Mall on your way out - it's a cool break from all the road boredom!
This place is awesome, the locals are great and very hospitable. Do it, plan it out and just get yourself down there!
Look for details about the Slave River Rendezvous at the above website.