Sunday, January 06, 2013

Mission Chile 3.0

The year was running out and Chile was waiting again. So I couldn’t expect to jump on the plane to South America in early December. Flip-flop weather, the easy life, motivated buddies and waterfalls that are the drugs you need. Once you‘ve tried this synaptic cocktail, you’re addicted to it. Anyway the life in Chile is cool, but not without little surprises, which we’re usually call MISSIONS

“And it’s always a MISSION …!”

Our flight to SCL was rather boring. I suppose that the plan of the airline is to bore us to death. We shall fall asleep on the long long-distance flight. Just to keep us numb. But I know that there are plenty of cute beers stored in the galley!

MISSION  #1 - Beer: I robbed the nerves of the stewardess until she gave up and handled me out the beers without protest any more. Check!

MISSION  #2 - Lost boats and paddles: Somehow I get used to this situation. “The gear will arrive tomorrow...” WTF! But this time the luck was our companion. Paul got to know a German climber during the flight who lives in Santiago. It’s appreciable how similar the mind between a kayaker and a climber is. So it was not a big thing that we could stay at his place till the next day. Thanks Torsten! Check!

Made it!

Geared up with everything we went a little bit South-west of Santiago to warm up on the Rio Maipo. Back in the game: good flow, flip-flops, beers and an amazing overnight outside. The plan for the next day was to paddle the Rio Colorado. But we were a little bit confused where the section begins and where it ends. One description was about a nice big volume run and the other one was about a nasty gorge with a huge syphon. A little bit confused we hesitated till we decided to head south to the Rio Claro. 

 Scouting in Chile
MISSION  #3 - Rubber: A flat tire during the night drive... Just the fact that we had got enough beers during the change let us survived. Check!

 First reaction: Where's the beer and the camera?

A look at the Siete Tazas gave us an idea about the water level of the upper sections, as we could say water level to it - more dry level. We could twist and turn it as we wanted; there was not enough water in the Rio Claro. What a hard backstroke to leave this pearl beside to go further south. On the way we just hit the Rio “rollercoaster” Laja. Driven from the knowledge that the rain in Pucon would give us a good playground for the next days we were in a rush.

And it was raining! We just jumped directly after the breakfast in our drysuits to get out of our hospedaje. But there are always to sides of consideration. Heavy rain is linked to another pearl: Turbio! Luckily we found the last parking place at the take out. I didn’t know that the way up to the put in is equal to a pilgrim’s way during rainfall. Just to say that we were so stoked of this run! 

Let's go - Turbio!

The next days were followed by the usual Pucon-programme like the Puesco, the upper Nevados and some laps on the upper Palguin. 

Puesco - Tres Troncos

 upper Nevados - the slide

 upper Palguin -1st combo

A little pause of the rainfall gave us closer look at the Demshitz-drop of the lower Nevados. This beautiful 50 footer is initiated by a tricky entrance-drop. A must have! Stoked again!

 lower Nevados - Demshitz drop

There is always the danger to get stuck in Pucon. Seductions like a dry lodge with WiFi, supermarkets with lots of cold beers, fellows, Rob’s burgers in Latitude 39 and Mamas  & Tapas always chain you like the fact that the accesses to several of the put-ins are so easy to get. But the motivation schedule existed: Golgol, Upper Fuy. Salto del Nilahue, Argentina and of course more MISSIONS
MISSION  #4 - Sogginess: Have I told you that it was always raining? Considering this circumstance it would have been clever to organize a tent, wouldn’t it?! Otherwise you can work with three tarps. One you are lying on, holding it up, so that the water is flowing underneath your mat. One against the rain from above. One against the driving rain. Mates, after such a night a Mediterranean cruise vacation is getting more and more sexy to me. If there would be rainy weather, just go under deck and take an active part in some kind of animation programme. Our decision afterwards was that we decided to stay in cabanas every night. Somehow - Check!

put-in upper Fuy - mood barometer = zero

Soaking wet we needed our time to get on the river. But it was worth it. We found a wonderful water level on the upper Fuy. The crystal clear water accompanied us down the wonderful drops. This run let me forget the cruise vacation and focused the sight to our next goal, the Salto del Nilahue. We arrived in the early evening and realized that the better weather conditions and the light dictated us our schedule. Set safety and huck it today! Uff, I went so deep that my ears realized the pressure down there.

Salto del Nilahue

MISSION  #5– 4x4 vs. townsman: “Might we get through that mudhole?” Nope, we didn’t… So we celebrated a little underpants party combined with a 3x pulley and a lot of fun… Check!


MISSION  #6 – Idiocy: On the search to the put-in of the Rio Golgol we stupidly crossed the border. One extra round of border-stamps and an extra round of Didymo disinfection without any sense. Congrats...!

Finally we made it. Not a complete run of the Golgol section, but it’s just another goal to come back next year to check the Salto del Princesa and del Indio. After a great night in one of the cabana at the Golgol we passed the border (again) to reach Argentina. On the way to the Salto los Alerces we met Lucas and his wife Sabrina, which whom we made the plan to huck it in the next day. The group increased with two sick Americans. One about two meters tall and the other one was a dancer in a drysuit. All together a crazy motivated group for bombing the Alerces. Under the line 4 swims, thereof 2 swims of me on every lap… haha. In the evening the locals showed us what the difference is between a steak and an Argentinian steak. Damn, what a difference!

Salto los Alerces - 2nd lap

Back in Pucon, after more border-stamps and another disinfection at the border, we took the things as they came - rain! To get wasted at the last days we run the upper Nevados on a really juicy flow. In between we thought about hiking out, but the walls in the gorge were too slippery. At the end it was good to go. Checking the weather forecast we were surprised. S.U.N. – yes sun was prognosticated. Logic reaction: Medio Palguin! Ah, if anyone has found my helmet cam during melting the 70 footer. Please contact me.

medio Palguin - Boof to Swim

 medio Palguin - 70 footer

Since this point we ran out of MISSIONS and drove back to Santiago to spent another night at Torsten’s place to get an easy way to the airport next morning. The guy at the check-in could remember us from the lost gear search and was super pleased to us. No discussions about the sport luggage and the weight, a low extra charge and plenty of space on the long flight back to Europe which means 4 seat rows for each of one.  Under the line – WINNING!

Big thanks to Torsten and his family for their great hospitality even on X-mas morning! Also to Lucas and Sabrina for their support and hospitality! Thanks to Ford who showed us how to dance in a drysuit and to Toth who showed us to drink a long drink in one go without slugging. Thanks to Grandma Magali for freaking not out, making fire and washing our dishes in the morning. Thanks to Daniel, Mattias and Paul for the footage and last but not least to Escudo and Crystal for their support during all the MISSIONS!

Special thanks to the Nookie Team. The gear was tested under extreme conditions. Result: Absolutely Bomb Proof!

Hope to get my ass on the river very soon!

Alex Ax-Ro
Nookie Team Rider