Sunday, February 21, 2010

WCKA in Chile: Cuando en Pucon

Of all the places WCKA has visited down here in Chile Pucon stands out as having the best whitewater, most beautiful women, and some of the most amazing scenery. In Pucon we spent the majority of our time paddling the upper section of the Rio Palguin, and as many paddlers can attest to this short segment of whitewater is one of the best class IV runs in the area. Of all the drops on this section we decided that the third drop, a smooth 20ft. waterfall, was the most fun. After getting used to the sweet boofs this drop dished out some of us decided to step it up and started throwing freewheels, pan-ams, pistol flips, and hail maries off the falls. A lot of us were throwing down some sick moves off this drop, but Seth Stoenner’s airborne hail mary stands out as the best downriver move I’ve ever witnessed.

Volcan Villarrica

Capo boofing the first drop with steeze

Risto Beatty flying high off the second drop

Myself throwing a Pan-Am off the third drop

When our crew wasn’t paddling the Upper Palguin we spent time on the Trancura, Maichin and Liucura. These rivers didn’t quite compare to the whitewater of the Palguin, but they had some fun surf waves and offered us occasional views of the smoking Volcan Villarrica.

During one day towards the end of our stay in Pucon I took the day off from school and headed up to the Middle Palguin for a huckfest with some quality Pucon kayakers. Opting not to run the stout 10 footer that lead into the 70ft. waterfall, I seal launched in above the drop and freefell down to the deep pool below. Unfortunately my skirt imploded in the turbulent boils and I had to swim to shore. Keen on cleaning the drop I hiked to the top for a redemption attempt. On round two I cautiously repositioned my implosion bar toward the front of my deck before the drop and at the bottom rolled up with everything intact.

Dropping in above the 70 footer

Falling off the lip of Middle Palguin (Round 1)

Round 2...

From its world class creeks and crystal clear lakes to its beautiful beaches and happening discotecs Pucon is one of the coolest cities I’ve ever visited and I look forward to coming back in the next couple of years.

I'd like to throw out a big thanks to Rush Sturges for letting me use his Agent in Pucon... It provided for some sick downriver freestyle

All Photos by Candace Sanders and Eric Parker

Here's a short video Risto Beatty put together in cinematography class

Saturday, February 13, 2010

WCKA in Chile: The Siete Tazas

Though extremely short the Siete Tazas section of the Rio Claro is a very beautiful run with seven thrilling drops stacked consecutively after one another. After a good half hour of lowering our fourteen kayaks down to the river we put in on the first and most fun waterfall of the run. This 12 foot drop with a clean sliding lip and soft landing made for silky smooth boofs day after day. After the put-in drop were four easier ledge drops ranging in size from three to six feet. These smaller drops provided for good opportunities to throw freewheels, macho moves and pogo-loops, and the crystal clear pools between each drop allowed for good cartwheels and flat water loops. The next bigger drop of the run was a sliding 15 foot waterfall that because of its abrupt lip provided for some excellent carnage. Shortly afterward came the last and largest drop of the run. The uneven lip and green landing on this 17 foot drop made each boof more painful and also provided its fair share of carnage.

Coach K and myself stoked to be on the Siete Tazas

Capo boofing the first drop
During the first two days at the Rio Claro we had regular class days followed by casual runs down the Siete Tazas, but on the third and final day at the Claro we spent the morning picking up litter at swimming holes along the Claro and spent the afternoon racing down the Siete Tazas. Even if you don’t bring your kayak, the Siete Tazas on the Rio Claro is an excellent destination for anyone traveling to Chile.

Picking up trash along the Rio Claro

Miestro Capo throwing some disk with our freetime

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

WCKA in Chile: The Maipo

Choosing to take the last semester of my senior year through World Class Kayak Academy is turning out to be one of the better decisions I’ve made. The crew of ten students, four teachers, two cooks and a driver has turned out to be a pretty cool group of people, and I’m stoked to be spending two months with them here in Chile. We’ve spent our first week about two hours north of Santiago enjoying the high volume and big waves of the Rio Maipo. We split our time on the Maipo equally between the steeper and more turbulent Upper Section and the more play friendly Lower Section. Both the Upper and Lower provided good times for everyone and for me, a devout creek boater, the Maipo was some of the highest volume whitewater I’d ever paddled in a hard shell kayak. For the Upper Section we put-in on a small tributary to the Maipo, the Yeso River, and quickly bounced our way down to the much higher volume Maipo. Once on the class III+ main run, we boofed our way through countless holes, rode some frothy waves, and even chased down a few swimmers. On the lower section we took it a little slower making sure to catch as many waves as possible. Here we were able have some sweet rides and throw wave wheels, kick flips, macho moves, loops, and blunts on a regular basis.

Eric Parker awaiting his surf

Myself surfing a wave on the Lower Maipo

An additional highlight off the river was during outdoor leadership class when we rode horses up an old mining road. Along the ride we were able to look up at the rugged Andes that divide Chile and Argentina then down at the deep Maipo river valley. On a day off from school we kept ourselves busy with a beautiful hike to the bottom of a glacial bowl and cooled ourselves off with a refreshing swim in a spring-fed lake. The eerie mineral deposits, abundant crystal clear springs, and assortment of wildlife at the glacial bowl made for an amazing hike. For any confident class III paddler traveling to Chile, I’d highly recommend a trip to the Maipo and to spend time on both the Upper and Lower sections of the river.

Eric Parker, Olin Winberg, and Risto Beatty- The Cowboys of Chile

The rewarding spring-fed lake after our long hike

Photos by Ben Kinsella, Hanna Kertez, and Jason Cohen