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By John McConville

"Its time to be class 5 boaters" said Chris Baer, only seconds before rolling over the lip of a mandatory 50 foot waterfall. With no way to jump to the pool below and no possibility of climbing back out, Andy McMurray, Chris Baer and myself were totally committed to everything that lie below. Chile had opened up with a bang, only 3 days in this beautiful country and it already had our full attention.

Chile is kind of like the land of big beautiful clean waterfalls, amazingly steep creeks, volcano’s, glaciers, oceans…. Chile has it all! Offering so many different styles and difficulty of rivers, Chile has become the warm weather destination for kayakers all over the world during Chile’s spring season. Pucon is definitely the hot spot to be as a kayaker. Within about an hour of the town there’s enough options to keep a solid group of kayakers occupied for more than a few weeks with different rivers every day. The days are long and the creeks are short and steep, often times allowing for multiple runs or park n hucks to be done in a single day. Much like the green river is to Ashville NC, the Rio Nevados is the local favorite to Pucon Chile. This short by stacked run comes complete with a sweet opening slide, several deceivingly high 20 footers, and a stout 50 footer at the take out. The road leading back to town from the Nevados goes directly past another Chilean legend, the Rio Palguin and its super clean 70 footer. Composed of 3 different sections, and tons of other really quality drops the Rio Palguin has the power to flood your dreams with images of waterfalls.

Moving on to a different location a few hours north of Pucon lies one of my personal favorites, the Rio Claro. Offering 3 different sections, this deep basalt canyon is worthy of a few days stay! Starting with the Siete Tazas ( seven teacups ) is five perfect rolling lip, pool drop waterfalls ranging from 10 to 20 feet and great for any paddler looking for waterfall practice. Continuing 3 miles up the water park like river of the Claro is the Veintidos Saltos ( 22 waterfalls ) section. A step up from the Siete Tazas, the Veintidos Saltos adds quite a few more drops ranging from 10 to 30 feet. Connecting these two sections is of river is yet again an ever harder section called the Entre Saltos, Garganta del Diablo ( the devils throat )! Good beta on this section is strongly suggested, for once committed to this scary but beautiful crack in the earth, there is no chance of climbing back out and a must run 50 footer. After descending down the toilet bowl looking 50 footer, the river goes though several blind hallways barely wide enough for a kayak to fit through. Its dark, cold, and many of the rapids are unscoutable but WOW, what an amazing place to be!

Chile has truly been an epic place to visit. The experience’s taken and the friends made will last as memories forever! Looking back now I see the 3 weeks spent there was only a scratch on the surface of what Chile has to offer. Much respect is given to those that are still there now running the stout on a regular basis, living the hard but beautiful life style that dreams are made of… So for now I’m back home in WI with the family for the rest of winter until the spring season brings in a new boating year. Keeping in shape with open pool sessions at the YMCA in Milwaukee and indoor rock climbing at the local gym. Looking forward to the new year of 2010, I plan on heading to Canoecopia this month, then head to the Shore’s of lake Superior for the fantastic spring melt. Maybe a few weeks in Cali, Wausau Whitewater for the summer, Gauley Season this fall, and some sort of travel this winter again. Anticipating another great year, I continue on working hard and hoping for the best and speaking of the best… looks like the new Villain is going to be my new best friend!

John McConville

 Click to see larger image

Big water FuyClick to see larger image

Cookin dinner at the lakeClick to see larger image

LizardsClick to see larger image

Park n Huck Rio CoilacoClick to see larger image

Rio Claro Basalt hallwayClick to see larger image

Rio Claro The Devils ThroatClick to see larger image

Rio ClaroClick to see larger image

Rio NevadosClick to see larger image

Rio Turbio Yellow RiverClick to see larger image

Upper PalguinClick to see larger image

Vallarica Volcano smokinClick to see larger image

Vallarrica, the Volcano near Pucon