Canadian Canoe Routes

Broadback vs Pontax
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Author:  Stajanleafs [ February 8th, 2019, 1:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Broadback vs Pontax

Looking for some insight.

Eyeing the possibility of paddling from the James Bay rd down at the end of July-Early Aug. Choosing between the two rivers, does one of them stand out as better for scenery, whitewater & levels? I've seen reports of mid-summer levels being all over the place for both, depending upon the year....

Is there a good contact for shuttling from Ft. Rupert?

Author:  tim [ February 8th, 2019, 2:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Broadback vs Pontax

Can't talk for the Broadback.
We contacted directly by phone, at the time ;) , Waskaganish adm's...


Mr Blackned, was our shuttle guy.

We really enjoyed the small number of portages... and long and numerous class 3 rapids.

...and sand beaches and no flies ... on the Pontax
(but this can be different... this next summer)


Author:  Paddle Power [ February 8th, 2019, 3:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Broadback vs Pontax

Two river trips, do both.

Author:  Peter K. [ February 8th, 2019, 4:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Broadback vs Pontax

Only done the Pontax, but I can vouch for the variable water levels. We went in late July/early August with the expectation of low water and only a few portages. What we got was high water to start which became progressively higher as we continued. What was supposed to be Class III was unrunnable in an open boat. On one Class III we ended up taking a channel which the cartespleinair chart said was usually a dry channel -- Class II/III for our trip. The blackflies were positively the worst I've seen anywhere.

So . . . you roll the dice. From the videos of the Pontax I've seen before and since, we had really bad luck. However, you should be prepared for the possibility of a demanding trip.

Author:  recped [ February 8th, 2019, 6:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Broadback vs Pontax

I've paddled both...Broadback at high water, Pontax at moderate levels. I'd like to do both again some day, not sure which I'd pick.

Pontax might have more scenic value although the Broadback has the big Falls and a couple of really nice camps (after the falls it's more...."meh!").

Pontax probably has more runnable whitewater although my Broadback trip was at very high levels which made some rapids too intimidating to run and I recall the lining to be difficult.

Can't say it's always this way but the paddle down from the Pontax was a lot easier than the paddle up from the Broadback.

Raymond Blackned IS the shuttle guy to contact although he can be non-responsive to emails.

Author:  Sam82 [ February 8th, 2019, 8:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Broadback vs Pontax

The Pontax is a real pleasure in high water if you enjoy nice quality class 3 rapids.

Author:  Verdure [ February 9th, 2019, 9:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Broadback vs Pontax

Again, have only done the Pontax. Great R. Long sets, 50/50 camp sites.

Author:  DougB [ February 9th, 2019, 2:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Broadback vs Pontax

I've done both, same trips as Recped. Difficult to compare WW as the Broadback was near flood compared to a low level on the Pontax. Both had long stretches of runnable rapids. The Broadback is a bigger river and also has more activity in terms of camps and cabins along the way
I would still give the scenery edge to the Broadback because of the falls. The Pontax felt more remote. Hope to get back both at medium flow, perhaps one this spring.

Author:  rab [ February 11th, 2019, 12:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Broadback vs Pontax

I've also paddled both. I think I have a report about the Pontax up here somewhere, don't think I did one for the Broadback.
Managed to hit the Pontax at low(very low) levels and it was a grind. Lots of walking canoes through boulder gardens, especially the first day, though also further down. Can only imagine that finding campsites at higher water would be challenging if the rock we camped on was underwater.
Fishing was great, as was the lack of portages. Trip felt remote.
Broadback - paddled at medium level - rained lots before and during the trip. More campsites. More scenic. More portages. As the water was high the fishing was very poor, but can only imagine it would be great. The rapids were long and big. The swims could be very long and dangerous at higher water levels.
I suspect the August water levels would make the Broadback the wiser choice, but don't know that for sure. A spray deck would be great for both of the rivers.
We experienced lots of headwinds on both rivers.
Yes, Raymond is the guy to use for shuttles. He does not reply to e-mails very quickly. I have his phone number somewhere that I will locate. He replies to text messages more quickly.


Author:  recped [ February 11th, 2019, 6:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Broadback vs Pontax

I suspect the August water levels would make the Broadback the wiser choice, but don't know that for sure.

That's what I was expecting when I paddled it in September..........didn't turn out that way!


You can see in the chart that August is on average the low water month but it doesn't take a lot to push the levels way up over the course of just a week or so.

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