Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Futaleufú

The Futa is a river that I have heard about since my first week as a kayaker. Stories of giant waves and beautiful scenery filled my mind with amazement and excitement…little did I know that two years later I would find myself in the Futaleufú River Valley.The paddling was every thing I had dreamt it would be; the bridge-tobridge section was a sweet class III-IV section with great play, towering waves, munchy holes, and beautiful scenery from put in, to take out…

the whole crew hangin out below terminator

In addition to the bridge-to-bridge section, a hand full of us made our way to the put in of the Infierno Canyon. This section is recognized as being one of best big water class five runs in South America. The canyon itself was several miles of quality white water.

Todd Wells droping in to entrada

As we went through the final rapid “Salida” the river flattens out and the canyon opens up. Blues skies and sun shining, we floated along with the beautiful turquoise water. After an hour of flat water we arrived at “zeta”. The rapid is notorious for its Swiss cheese like rock and powerful eddies that plunge in to the deep recirculating abyss of the futalefu. Though the line through zeta is manageable, the extreme consequence of this rapid makes it a standard portage. Following the zeta portage, we paddled a few miles of boogie water until we reached the river right eddy above the infamous rapid known as the thrown room. The thought of running thrown room had been on my mind the entire trip and as we stood along the banks, scouting out the line, I was amped. The line is to shoot down the river right side, punch the edges of two lateral holes, and take her home on the big pillow ferrying above the big hole at the bottom. Miss your line and your into the toaster for a hefty beat down. I was on edge of whether or not I should go for it, but after watching Todd Wells and head coach Ben Kinsella have two solid lines, I took a deep breath, and decided to fire it up.

scouting the line

I paddled hard out of the eddy with one thing on my mind hit the pillow on the left and stay clear of the toaster (a big manky pour over on river right). I flew past the massive hydraulics and hit the pillow, which set me up with a straight shot in to the big hole at the bottom. I took one last stroke and tucked into the hole hoping for the best. I resurfaced, clear of the hole, and was immediately hit with a wave of one of the best feeling of my life. Floating in the eddy below, gazing up at the steep jumble of white water I could nothing but smile and soak in moment.

Todd wells droping in

todd hitin' the move on the massive pillow

me charging down the middle

seth stoenner getting boosted on the pillow

seth sending it in to the last hole

From throne room we paddled the remaining futelefu whitewater and completed the “todo futa”. It was Sic Day that I will never forget.

During the final days of our stay we were lucky enough to compete and be apart of the second annual “futa fest”. The first day of competition, was quick sprint from cara del indio to the mundaka hole. Todd wells took home the gold in a very close final heat.

The second day consisted of a mass start down river race, on the Puente a Puente section. The race officials dropped the rope, which began the la’man start of the race. 50 or so competitors charged to there kayaks and quickly snapped on the skirts to rally off. Right away I was able to get in with the lead group of my division and from there I paddled hard to grab third place. It was a great competition and an awesome way to finish the trip. The Futa is one of the most beautiful places on the planet and with that said I plan on to returning to this unique big water river many times again in the future.

the competitors meeting

the put in for the race

WCKA Chile 2010

just another beautiful sun set in chile

Photos by Risto beatty,jason cohen, and myself


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