Friday, February 03, 2006

1st Days on Chilean Whitewater

My first paddling in Chile was on the Maipo River. The Maipo is a big water class IV run with one class V canyon style rapid. I hooked up with local shredder Pangal and three of his cousins who were also good kayakers. We had a wonderful run down the river trying to catch waves when possible. Due to tremendous snow pack the river is still running at high water so most of the play is catch on the fly.

The following day we traveled four hours south to el siete tazas, aka the 7 teacups and the veintidos saltos, aka 22 waterfalls. This day was a magical experience because I was able to paddle more waterfalls at one time than ever before. Both of these runs are in the same watershed, the same character and five minutes drive from each other. We started on the vientidos saltos with a 4k hike to the get-in. The river started with a bang, a 5meter waterfall. The next drop was a 9meter waterfall, and I quickly realized how the river got its name. The drops were all similar in character, big, clean and fun. While heading down river I would run first for the opportunity to take photos of the other paddlers. Needless to say it kept me entertained. Arriving at the get-out of the 22-waterfall section we paddlers were treated like rock-n-roll stars by the locals hanging out at the local swimming hole. I’m not sure exactly what the locals were saying but they were very excited to see the kayakers in the river. After several request the kayakers showed off their flat-water skills entertaining the crowd. During our short walk to the car several more people introduced themselves. Two men, after introducing themselves, invited us to join them for a rum drink. We declined, we had more kayaking to attend to.

We quickly loaded our boats and drove to the 7 teacups. After a short ten-minute hike we were inside the beautiful gorge looking at another canyon loaded with waterfalls. This river being similar in character to river we just finished we followed each other one after the other through the seven waterfalls to the take-out. Atop this canyon is an observation deck complete with cheering spectators. At the take-out one of the Chileans needed a bit more and jumped sixty or seventy feet from the observation deck into the river.

This area is unique to anywhere I have been before. Picture a desert then imagine that there are two big cracks of granite that are filled with waterfalls and pristine water. This is what the veintidos saltos and siete tazas look like. This day was a wonderful experience and left me on a natural high for the rest of the day.


Jay Gifford said...

not a bad first day? sounds like fun jason. keep the stories coming....

your buddy buddy said...

Yo vendria a las siete tazas cuando estaba en Chile. Fuimos en un autobus de escuela en tres peises de nieve y yo piense de ti. Estaba muy extrano porque nuestra autobus "got stuck" en el nieve.

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