Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mexico 2010: The Rio Alseseca

This year I was lucky enough to be invited on a trip to Mexico with paddlers Rush Sturges, Evan Garcia, Rafa Ortiz, and cinematographer Matt Baker for the filming of River Root's next film Frontier. So, on October 12th I gathered what money remained from my summer of work at the Kayak Shed, and headed south. After some hours on the plane and a long night in the Dallas Airport I finally arrived in Mexico City. There I met up with the crew and spent a few days exploring the world biggest city, a city of 27 million people. After la tour de la ciudad we headed to Tlapacoyan, Mexico’s epicenter of steep rivers and clean waterfalls. Each one of us had been to Tlapacoyan before, and this year our goal was to paddle as many of the classic runs and as many of the big drops on those classic runs as possible.

My Dallas Airport bivouac

Of the many amazing rivers in the Tlapacoyan area, the Rio Alseseca is without a doubt my favorite. The most relaxed portion of the Alseseca is the Roadside section. The Roadside section, laden with continuous clean basalt rapids including the infamous “S-Turn”, is the perfect warm-up before hitting up the bigger stuff. The next step up from the Roadside Section is the Big Banana Section. This stretch of the Alseseca is longer than the Roadside and flows in and out of multiple deep gorges, which means countless clean drops. One particular drop on the Big Banana section, The Silencer, I had looked at last year, but neglected to run due to a hairy cave below on river left. This year I stepped it up and rolled off the 40 footer with a big 'ol boof stomp to steer clear of the river left cave. Evan followed with a similar line and a week later, once we had met up with a few other kayakers, Spanish paddler Aniol Serrasolses layed out a silky smooth line on her as well.

Myself on one of many sick drops on the Big Banana section
Rafa dishin' out mad steeze on Meatlocker
A must-make boof directly below Meatlocker

Aniol "La Cobra" styling the Silencer Drop

Heavy Rains on the Alseseca
Waiting in the rain for our ride back to town

Of course, a trip to Tlapacoyan could not be complete without an epic Tomata huckfest. Our first huckfest on Tomata resulted in mostly "not-so-clean" lines. However, when we returned for round two (in which I didn't participate due to a bum shoulder) everyone seemed to have pretty good lines. In that same day everyone proceeded to run Second Tomata as well. While Evan and Rafa endured some carnage on this stout, Rush, Aniol, and Iker Beristain Van Dusen "naturally stuck the piss out of it."

The full crew above Tomata. From Left to Right: Pancho, Aniol, Iker, myselft, Evan, Rafa, and Rush
Rafa Falling Off Tomata

Rush ridin' dirty on Tomata. More mount angles to be seen in Frontier

 A view of Second Tomata From Below
Also on the Rio Alseseca River is the infamous Big Banana waterfall. For six year this 128.6 foot monster had been looked at by multiple paddlers, but it wasn't until this trip that finally Rafa and Aniol stepped up to give 'er a go. Our team spent a full day scouting this drop from every which angle, and by the end of the day Rafa and Aniol decided that they would give 'er the following day. The next day Rafa and Aniol repelled 70 feet down to the lip of the waterfall, looked at her once more, and paddled off the lip. As I waited in my boat for first Rafa and second Aniol to come off the lip of the waterfall I was full of mixed emotions, but as soon as they emerged from the turbulent pool below I was hit with a wave of relief and happiness. Congratulations boys.

Rafa Scouting Big Banana from the lip via 70ft. repel

Rafa and Aniol sharing the excitement of having cleanly dropping the second biggest waterfall in a kayak

Photos by Lucas Gilman, Rush Sturges, Evan Garcia, Matt Baker, and myself

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