Sunday, June 04, 2006

Return to the Apurimac

So, last week we had a chance to return to the Apurimac. The river had dropped several feet which offered a different feel on the water. Especially, considering our first time we didn't know where to go. This time i was paddling with some of the local boys. Two brothers, diego and Santiago, whom are part of Peru's most notorious paddling family. They both had the river wired, were great paddlers and were determined to show me all of their favorite lines between droping into huge holes on the fly. The few days we spent on the river were great. Diego and Santiago paddled play boats loaded with overnight gear which was impressive. Though, they didn't seem to think much of it. Getting to the river this time was much smoother than i was used too.We were able to coherese one of the local rafting companies to give us a ride, which was much more comfortable then our alternative.

So, we put on the water mid afternoon and bombed down into the Purgatory gorge. The Purgatory gorge is the most dramatic section of the Apurimac. The river constricts dramatically and provides a long section of continous whitewater amongst smooth rock walls. The bottom drop of Purgatory is a small slot where the entire river pinches between two walls. the left side is not an option and on my previous trip we had walked the whole thing. Diego and Santiago assured me, that at this level it was fine. Diego dropped in first. his entrance didn't look pretty, but we could see that he exited the bottom hole. Santiago followed with not as much success. The entrance is about a five foot pourover that is four feet wide and boxed in. after the ledge there is a twenty foot long flune that slightly twists before pouring into the bottom hole. Santiago dropped in and instantly was backflipped. The backwash held him and for the next minute he withstood an honorable thrashing. Eventually, he caught a bit of green water and flushed out of the top hole while splatting the right wall. But he wasn't able to gain full control before he fell into the bottom hole. He subsequently signed up for another proper ass whooping and eventually swam out of the bottom hole. I wasn't sure if he was out of the bottom hole, as i couldn't see anyone downstream. I waited about another thirty seconds before entering the rapid. Assuming that they were both pushed around because they were in fully loaded playboats. I belived a bigger boat shouldn't have as much trouble. So, i dropped in and was able to jump over the first hole. The backwash made me hesitate and i was immediatly thrown into the right wall. moving through the flume i was able to move off the right wall, but entering the bottom hole i was also backfliped. After a few scramble strokes i exited the backwash to see Santiago on shore. We both laughed, but i could tell that Santiago was mad that he had just swam. Diego quckly emgerged with Santiago's paddle and began to kid his younger brother that he had to buy beers tonight. That evening we stayed at the purgatory camp. Built a bonfire and enjoyed the quality of life that the Apurimac seems to naturally offer.

The next morning, we began to make our out of the gorge. At this level the Apurimac is loaded with great play features that are dispersed between incrediable rapids. Diego and Santiago did not hesitate to take advantage of every spot. There were a few spots that had eddy access, where we could unload boats and trade off. Big waves and Peruvian sunshine...Another incrediable trip down the apurimac......

Pictures: (Above) Santiago below the first portage. (Below) Santiago hunting for waves. Diego catching a little air...self support style. Purgatory Camp. Exiting Purgatory. Diego at the water fountain. Santiago and another great wave. Diego entering "last laugh." Wavelicous.....

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