Another trip to Chile. This trip was one of my best but also my shortest trip out of the 5 years in a row that I’ve visited this incredible country.
My brother Graham and I arrived on the 16th of December to a low water year. Very similar to our first year. We managed to scrape down the Rio Claro upon arrival with a group of 5. Included in the group were the Meyers brothers, Jonny and David and a lovely shuttle bunny, David’s girlfriend Brooke. Local Chilean heart throb Nico Buenaventura blessed us with his presence and local knowledge as well. We had a sweet top to bottom run of the “22 saltos” and “Garganta del Diablo” sections and then all drove to Pucon together in the “Gypsy Wagon”, a truck we rented from our friend Cristian in Santiago. We arrived in Pucon very tired from the long uncomfortable drive with 6 in a pick up truck and took our first day off and went to the hot springs, Los Posones.
The following day we went to the classic Rio Puesco, 9km of non-stop class 4-5 boulder rapids. One of the world’s finest Aerobic Kayak runs!
Graham running the 70’on the Middle Palguin. photo David Ernst
The next day was cold and rainy and we almost took another day off but finally decided to go to the Palguin in the afternoon. We ran the middle section, which is always a huge thrill. 3 waterfalls in a row the 1st called “Boof to Swim” roughly 20′ tall, followed by “stout 10” which leads directly into the most famous middle Palguin 70′ waterfall. 11 of us ran the 70′, and 3 ran stout 10. We paddled through the lower section and drove back to town and celebrated as usual.
The next day I paddled the upper Llancahue with David Meyers and 3 others, Wes Huestess, Cooper Lambla, and Nate Klema. It was a very cold day but as always very worthy. Before we put on we scouted a potential first descent of the lower section that looked promising and I planned to come the next day to drop into the unrun gorge. After the run we went to the Termas Rincon and got in for free! Classic Chile day.
The next day I rallied a crew with the recent knowledge of the Lower Llancahue and we accomplished the 1st descent of the lower section, which turned out to be one of the best runs I’ve done in Chile! Follow this link http://riversofchile.com/lower-llancahue/ for a description of the Lower Llancahue at Riversofchile.com Beginning the run with a perfect 30′ waterfall followed by a 200′ long slide I ran first and named “La Longaniza”. More slides and waterfalls led to a continuous class 4-5 section of rapids we named the “Quality and Quantity” section. Then a few more waterfalls about 15′ tall each and we arrived at a massive landslide that diverted the river through a forest! We were able to paddle through the forest carefully eddying out and weaving through the trees and downed logs. After the forest more rapids and waterfalls brought us to our truck at the puente Llancahue. Definitely the best 1st descent I have ever been a part of. I was so excited with the run I went back in with another group 2 days later, Christmas day, and we ran a number of drops we portaged the first time leaving behind only one, which has since been run by another group! It’s an amazing feeling to discover a steep 6 mile run where every drop is runnable and its only an hour and a half from Pucon, the creeking mecca of Chile!
Graham running the Longaniza
After the Llancahue days we decided to head south of Pucon to the Rio Cochamo, the best overnight run in Chile. Located south of Puerto Mont, we took a ferry to the Cochamo valley. This area is sometimes called the “Yosemite of Chile” because of the giant granite domes that paint the landscape. Climbing in the valley is also quite popular. We rented a couple of horses to carry our gear and Jonny’s kayak 8 miles to the put in at “La Junta”. Jonny experienced a near tragic back breaking injury two years ago, and this was his first big kayaking trip since, he decided not to risk hurting his back before a big day of kayaking, plus it was nice having the horses carry all off our overnight gear out the next morning which left us with empty boats for the river. The trail we hiked to La Junta is famous from the story of Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance kid, bank robbers from the states that fled to the area and moved livestock across the Andes from Chile to Argentina via said trail. It’s truly a remarkable place with breathtaking scenery and interesting history, not to mention one of the most challenging kayak runs in Chile. At the put in at La Junta is a fun slide that we like to slide down on our butts to cool off after the long hike. Camping under the stars caps off the first day of the experience. The next day our crew accomplished the most complete descent of the Cochamo, portaging only once and first descenting 2 of the biggest drops on the run including an entire gorge that has always been portaged towards the end of the run. We named the two substantial first descents Butch and Sundance, respectively.
Jonny Meyers running “Sundance” on the Rio Cochamo
With high morale the Gypsy Wagon crossed into Argentina the next day to run the classic hidden river, Rio Escondido, situated on private property. Our crew Los hermanos Seiler and Los hermanos Meyers hiked into the river and found a perfect level for a complete descent including the mandatory 40′ waterfall! After getting off the river amazed with its beauty and the amount of quality kayaking we had accomplished in two weeks, we drove back to Pucon arriving on New Years eve for a ridiculous celebration!
Freewheeling Boof to Swim
We spent the next few days taking it easy before my last day of kayaking in Chile, and no better place for this then the Palguin! We put on with a group of 20 people! I ran nearly every drop on the river except for 80′ Salto Palguin, at the put in ( which I have run twice before 😉 ) Then, I was the only one to run the “Exportacion” in the upper section, mainly because of the low water level and it was my last day, and I ended up swimming at the bottom… Then in the middle section I seal launched in below the top part of the Turvina rapid, that had wood in it, and ran the bottom 1/3 of the drop. Turvina has only been run a handful of times. I then called out a freewheel of the “Boof to Swim” drop, which turned out spectacularly. Then “Stout 10” into the 70′ I boofed wonderfully but exploded my backband and had to run the 70′ loose as a goose. I was promptly ejected in the pool below. 2 booties coming up. Continuing downstream on a mission to run the seldom run last drop on the Palguin “Lavados” aka Brennan Guth’s drop, the one Brennan drowned in 12 years ago, and its only been run once since. Evan Garcia and I stepped up to the plate with ample safety set and got it done! What a last day in Chile, and cap off of an amazing 3 weeks of paddling! Now back in the States I am reliving the trip through the Gopro footage and put together an hour long video from the trip! Check out the video here! It’s amazing after 5 seasons in Chile I am still finding new stuff to do! Truly an amazing place! You must go! For information about all inclusive kayaking trips to Chile, check out http://kayakpucon.net Happy Paddling Demshitz!