Kayak Journal

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Monday, January 03, 2005

Rio Blanco al Interior

Purchase the Whitewater Kayaking DVD covering this trip.
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To Check out video of the Rio Blanco al Interior
Click Here For Video 1 “Just Like California but better”
Click Here For Video 2 “The Mandatory Big Falls”
Click Here For Video 3 “The run Out”

Click Here To Download Quicktime Viewer to your computer
After recharging in Pucon we headed to the airport to pick up Jen Cribbs. She decided to show up at customs with a grocery bag full of healthy fruit and veggie snacks. Not a good idea, especially not on the day they decided to institute a crack down on internationals bringing potentially harmful fruit and vegetables. To our surprise we saw Jen handing over her bag of fruit on the National Chileano News. Pretty funny stuff.

Ben Stookesberry on the first drop of the Rio Blanco al Interior.

photo by Nate Elliott

The next day we headed up into the Zone of Dispute. The Zone is an area running along the length of the Chilean and Argentinean border. The area is a swath 40 miles wide that is neither here, nor there. You must cross the borders of each county on opposing ends, requiring a double border crossing every time you travel from one country to the other. The zone has some phenomenal kayaking but there are few roads, and no houses or people or anything, stopping is discouraged and camping in illegal.

Lenticular cloud formations in “the Zone”.

We new of a pretty good run up in there but one had to be quick and dodgy and hope the federals aren’t at your car when you return from your little “experience”. Hiking into the river and paddling through one hell of a box canyon.

Riley Cathcart on the California Falls.

photo by Nate Elliott

Nate boofing into the maw of the top hole on the California Drop.

Click Here For Video 1 “Just Like California but better”

The next falls down was eventually portaged due to the lack of applicable safety and bad looking room.

photo by Nate Elliott

This is the slide located in the runout of the box canyon containing the above falls.
Ben Stookesberry probing the big hole at the bottom.

photo by Nate Elliott

Riley same slide

photo by Nate Elliott

After this gorge the river goes through a real active and tight class IV canyon and, boom, there you are at the lip of a falls you can neither scout nor portage. Our ‘pyschic’ guide told of a line down the middle of a 15-foot U shaped ledge. The water was real high and nervous glances abounded. Finally a paddler just took off and ran her down the gut. A shout was given and crew followed suit. Amazingly no one got caught in the hydraulic at the bottom. Good thing, cause next up was mandatory 40 footer, barely scoutable. Este and Nate climbed up and confirmed that yes, it was 40 feet and that no, we could not walk it. So most of the crew just bombed off it blind as bats.

Larsen on the big falls.

Nate Elliott on the big falls.

Click Here For Video 2 “The Mandatory Big Falls”

After this falls was nice 15 foot ledge with hole.
Here is Chris Larsen giving it a go.

A view down into the canyon after the mandatory waterfalls. Notice the tight darkness, and falls pouring into the river from the right. This a series of class IV rapids leading into 5 other committing, marginally/not-portagable and fullof boulder drops along granite walls. One missed place piece of wood and trouble would be had.

photo by Nate Elliott.

The river requires a great deal of logistics and one must pass through a generally unportagable and definitely class five gore with a mandatory 40 foot fall. The vertical extraction squad are a long way away and the gorge is in a section of South America with no government.

Click Here For Video 3 “The run Out”