Richard Lytle '20 Runs the 'Gorilla'


From left to right, Eli Dowler '21, Mike Mohney, and Richard Lytle '20.


Richard Lytle '20 Runs the 'Gorilla'

Minds begin to race when a Headmaster's Holiday is announced at Christ School.

What is the best way to enjoy a day off from classes? For Richard Lytle '20, there was never any question it would be sitting in a kayak.

Tuesday was something new though. Richard successfully ran one of the most iconic and technically-difficult rapids in the Southeast.

The Gorilla Rapid on the Green River Narrows is a Class 5 rapid. The put-in for paddlers is about 20 miles from Christ School. The International Rating system for paddlers has seven classes for rapids – A (lake water, still), 1 (easy), 2 (moderate), 3 (moderately difficult), 4 (difficult), 5 (extremely difficult), and 6 (extraordinarily difficult).

The system goes on to describe Class 5 rapids like the Gorilla as "Long and violent rapids that follow each other almost without interruption. River filled with obstructions. Big drops and violent currents. Extremely steep gradient. Even reconnoitering may be difficult. Rescue preparations mandatory. Can be run only by top experts in specially-equipped whitewater canoes, decked craft, and kayaks."

"I'd been looking forward to it every since I started doing that river," Richard said. "There were a little bit of nerves. At the start, there is this really scary notch you go through. I was really scared I was going to flip over, but after I landed, I looked up, saw the lip and just went for it. Once it was over, it was just crazy."

Video of Richard's run of the Gorilla can be found on Christ School's social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn).

Richard is a Red Hat leader with the Christ School Outdoor Program and had put four years of preparation into Tuesday's run. He and Eli Dowler '21 were given their Red Hat status in a small ceremony at the end of the season for Greenie paddlers. The group was coached by Mike Mohney.

"We started the fall with four first-time paddlers who were very tentative," Mohney said. "Richard and Eli worked diligently with this group and by mid-October, all were running Class 3 (rapids). The Red Hat in the Outdoor Program is awarded to those participants that have mastered all the skills associated with the program's curriculum and who have displayed effective leadership and a unique ability to teach and train others."