Pyranha Logo
facebook twitter vimeo

04
May

All You Need Is Ecuador

On Christmas day I flew to Ecuador to spend 3 weeks doing what I love most: white water kayaking! Fall had been incredibly busy and I wasn’t sure I would be able to make a paddling trip happen this winter. Last year, I had my first international kayaking experience in Ecuador and it changed my life, I was eager to go back!

IMG_4854

I was thankful to make it home to spend Christmas Eve with my family. The next day I was off to SeaTac airport with ziploc baggies of turkey and cranberry sauce from my Mom which I thoroughly enjoyed while I eagerly waited to board my flight.

IMG_4172

As I sat there reality began to set in, I was exploding with excitement to return to Ecuador!! My friends dropped me off at the airport and my mind started to wander. I had flashbacks of being in a foreign country, paddling everyday, exploring new runs, and warm water!

10623354_10153980145299994_6782367841831414603_o-3When I arrived in Quito, I found my way to Baeza where I met my friend Marco Collela. I don’t know if I would have been there had he not encouraged me in the first place, so glad he did! I came without much of a plan and I honestly didn’t know what to expect this time. Having no set expectations allowed me to challenge myself freely and really enjoy every moment not wanting to take anything for granted!

The next day we hit the water!!! We paddled the Cosanga and Bridge to Bridge section of the Quijos. The high water almost got the best of my overtired and jet lagged body as I surfed several holes!

Ecuador is a truly remarkable place. Last year, I learned to boof and really hone in my class 4 skills here. This year, I focused on paddling technical and challenging runs while building on those foundational skills necessary to paddle them well! Ecuador has everything one could possibly desire, from world class steep creeks to big water rivers to easy logistics, it is inexpensive, and attracts some of the most inspiring individuals you will meet. For 2 weeks I paddled everyday with great flows progressively stepping up my comfort levels and challenging my skills on a variety of creeks and rivers. From the Oyacachi, Quijos, Piatua, Papallacta, and Jondachi there was never a dull moment.

12468078_10153706502900236_1824518494_n

My favorite run? That’s a tough one as they are all so different and special. Probably, the Cheesehouse section of the Quijos river. Not only because it is a continuous big water Class V run full of big holes, moves, and boofs, but I overcame a lot in there. As we drove to the put-in I could see the water was a dirty brown color. I knew it was on the high side, but I didn’t say anything as I knew I could do this and I really wanted it. I took a deep breath when we put on and as Marco led me into the first Class 5 rapid ‘Made in Ecuador’ I dug real deep; I was nervous. I made it to the eddy I needed to be in and from there we broke down each rapid; I began to calm down.

535081_10206616702391008_8583519662106006127_n

Photo by: Niko Peha

The rapid I was most nervous about was ‘Das Boof.’ I had been having trouble staying forward and I knew if I leaned back or didn’t boof the wave in the right spot, I was going to get beat down. But where was this fear coming from? That is a great question. Turns out it had nothing to do with my ability to kayak. Sure I didn’t want to swim, but more than anything it was a mental game for me that day. As I entered my final year of University this past fall, I found myself a bit anxious and unsure about what the future held for me. Sure, I’m looking forward to graduating and as an eager soon-to-be college grad isn’t the world supposed to be limitless? I want to travel the world and have a successful career on my terms. So what does any of this have to do with my mental state in the middle of a class 5 rapid? Well, when these thoughts are flying through your head you begin to doubt yourself and your abilities. You wonder if what you are doing is going to provide you with what you truly need. I know in whatever I do in my life it needs to be meaningful, honest, and spark genuine passion for me to find value and be willing to commit 100%. Through my travels I have begun to realize rather than trying to figure forever out, why not live with a curiosity for it all? I don’t have to know where I will be a year or even a few weeks from now. After all it is the uncertainty and unpredictability which attracted me to white water in the first place. Having curiosity reminds me to live in the moment, because that’s the space in which the very best things in life happen.

10600425_10206616699350932_4632338664293611130_n

Photo by: Niko Peha

The innate beauty of the Andes mountains, very active volcanoes, wild jungle noises, sudden rainstorms, kamikaze taxi drivers, and the many beautifully butchered Spanish conversations I had; I loved it all!

1610061_10153713362255236_4076390420222968703_n

Photo by: Graham Lavery

I took a short break from paddling to spend some time at Canoa beach where I learned to surf! While I spent the majority of my time getting swirled and diving head first into the waves, I kept at it and eventually caught a few amazing surfs making the struggle well worth it!
IMG_4416

I spent my last week in Ecuador on the Jondachi river in Tena where I learned how to paddle my first low volume steep creek. The put-in tributary for the Upper Jondachi, Urusiqui creek, was particularly memorable as it had more rocks and sieves than water. I certainly feel the most comfortable in big water so this was a new challenge. I learned to use the rocks to somewhat gracefully maneuver through the rapids without getting stuck or pinned too much. One day we spent 7 hours completing a full descent of all three sections of the Jondachi into the Hollin river. Wow! I find it hard to believe there are 3 projected dams in the approval process to be constructed on this river. After spending a great deal of time here, I cannot imagine this beautiful sacred place and ecosystem being harmed by man and machine.

981081_10153295718276120_8284725162322757458_o

I also had an incredible opportunity to compete in Jondachi Fest with 30 other paddlers from all over the world in an effort to raise awareness of the projected dam to dewater this magical place. With miles of free flowing whitewater through a breathtaking jungle, the Jondachi is one of the most beautiful rivers I have ever paddled. Losing this river would be tragic for Ecuador should the hydroelectricity development move forward, show your support for Ecuadorian Rivers Institute and help protect this river.

Jondachi Race

Photo by: Graham Lavery

In life as on the river, I love being challenged and pushing my limits. Why? Because it scares me and evokes a fierce determination that I have only ever felt while I am paddling. Because it’s fun and just thinking about it makes me smile!

WestHowland J-Fest Alicia-3

Photo by: Wes Howland

Because it’s beautiful to be strong and skilled at something I really love even though it tests me at times.

941034_10206616677190378_1155074911484582542_n

Photo by: Niko Peha

Because it’s not going to be easy and I love a challenge. Because I can and I am able. I live for those moments in which I must give my very best and I am mercifully humbled. Because I want to be inspired and inspire others.

IMG_4379

Because this is where the best friendships are forged. Because even though the struggle is endured independently, it is a battle fought side by side with friends who are overcoming their fears and doubts too. Because we want to witness each others achievements and celebrate each others successes as if they were our own.

12593653_10100644543785886_3465854779258840821_o

Because not too long ago I was overwhelmed by all of the things I thought I was not and all the things I thought I had to be. Because taking things too seriously and being too hard on myself can cause me to lose focus on the things I know I am. I set goals for myself to focus my energy. For the things I will learn about myself and what I will learn in the space outside of my comfort zone. Because it just keeps getting better and better!

image001

Because from my experience life is far too short to do anything you are not passionate about. When it comes to my heart pounding through my chest, the courage to have a wild and adventurous spirit, the unpredictability of the future, and being the very best me I can be, a little is not enough.

You may be able to see the river on a map, but there is no guide to the experience. That experience is everything! It will shift your perspective, break you open, uplift and expand you, and make your heart beat fast! Challenge yourself sure, but focus on having fun! If you are having fun you will feel a contagious energy reverberate through every part of you reminding you that you are limitless!

1005514_10153725872615236_7277465451526424788_n

Everyone defines success differently. I see success not as an individual accomplishment, but as a process taking constant work- an attitude, a lifestyle, and talent itself. I do my best to think, act, work, and live in a way that will help me achieve my goals. 10 years from now I want to be able to say I chose my life, I never want to wonder what if? When it comes to success, in my experience the challenge is almost always worth it. I never want to let the fear of not succeeding stop me from growing, evolving, and progressing in life or my sport.

12622247_10156443337235114_355183198069594719_o

Photo by: Andres Reyes

How will you define your success? #shegoes

AL

20
Apr

Get The Girls Out!! (White Salmon edition!)

Calling out all the girls in the Pacific Northwest for a fun day of kayaking on the White Salmon River in Washington!!  If you’re not in the PNW… Well, it’s not too late to buy a plane ticket!!

GTGO_PC_WhitewaterKayaking-2

There’s a misprint in the flier, so don’t go to Alyeska!!  Read these details.. & check out this link for further details https://www.facebook.com/events/243338469350527/

Come join the gals of TiTs Deep and SheJumps for a day of kayaking on the White Salmon River. We will start paddling at the Orletta Section, meet another wave of girls at the Middle, and then join up with a third group of gals to collectively paddle the Lower. There is something for everyone and all lady kayakers of Class 2 and up skill level are encouraged to join. It will be a great day to meet other ladies paddling at your skill level and rally together the gals of the kayaking community. Get the Girls Out on the White Salmon!

Regardless of which section you choose as your put-in, we will all be taking out together after the Lower stretch. There will be a BBQ, so plan on grilling and chilling at the Northwestern Lake Park. Everybody’s Brewing and Naked Winery will be providing beverages, but bring something to throw on the BBQ or picnic
table!

Details

10am – meet at Northwestern Lake if you plan on running the Orletta – (Class 4 skills)

1:30 pm – meet at BZ Falls to run the Middle White Salmon – (Class 3 skills)

3:30 pm – meet at Husum Falls to run the Lower (Class 2 skills, prior experience necessary)

5:30 – BBQ & hang out at Northwestern Lake Park

19
Apr

Tallulah Fest 2016

Tallulah Fest is definitively one to go to, and it is personally one of my favorites. If you think the Tallulah is fun to paddle, the festival makes it even better. I got there Friday morning and paddled  Section Four of the Chattooga with my friends and we had a blast. It was my first time on Section Four, it was amazing, not only was the river rad, but the scenery was beautiful.  Then on Saturday I went with Team Pyranha to paddle the Tallulah.  The only bad part about the Tallulah is the hike into the gorge. It’s about a 600 stairs down into the gorge.

IMG_9520Oceana is a known rapid on the Tallulah. It’s about a 50 foot slide. Its very deceiving in pictures, it’s super steep and very scary. Once the Pyranha crew got to the rapid we pulled over and got out of our boats to look at the rapid. I was really nervous, but so many paddlers talked to me and told me just to keep your right paddle blade in the water and you will be fine. After a bit of thinking, I got in my boat and went to the lip, and took and paddle stroke and I was going down the rapid. It was really big and fun. It was a bumpy ride and it had a fun hole to boof at the bottom.

IMG_9511

Bren Orton doing a kick flip on Oceana

IMG_9525

Team Pyranha at the bottom of Oceana

The next couple of rapids were pretty easy, there was a one like Oceana, it was a slide, a little shorter and not as big. It had a sick boof at the bottom too. Then came one called Tom’s Brain Buster. It feels just how it sounds, if you flip, and if you don’t it is just a fun rapid. There is big rock to the right of the middle of the rapid. While paddling the rapid you obviously want to avoid the rock, and paddle down  the ride side.

I paddle and tried to go right but ended up slamming into the rock and going down the right, but upside down. I was on the back deck of my boat and I needed to be tucked, so I tried to move and tuck on my boat. I did do that, but I felt every groove, rock, and ledge. I finally rolled up when the rapid was over and I was not a happy person, thankfully my shoulder and elbow was only bruised. I was using a new full face helmet and it was blue, so when I rolled up the back and top of the helmet didn’t have any blue paint and the part the goes around my face to protect it didn’t have any blue paint either. Which meant the helmet got really beat up. Then I went to reach for my Ultra Pro X Camera and it was not there. I was again not a happy person. I didn’t really mind losing the camera, but all my footage was on the SD Card. I got over it, but the rest of the river was really fun.

Then after everyone ran, the festival began. There was a pretty rad band. The music from the band was awesome. Then the raffle began. Some really sick stuff was given away at the festival, like Sweet Protection shorts and a gear bag, Mountain Khaki gift cards, Watershed dry bags, and Pyranha Shirts and Hats. Then the best prize ever. Pyranha Kayaks gave away a new Loki. The winner was really stoked to get the boat.

12987094_971900132886941_4369617033289351102_n

Then there was a 5 minute paddling video award. The winner got 1,000 dollars cash and a new Sweet Protection Dysuit. Dylan Mckinney won, and it was a really sick video. He worked so hard on it. Then the after the award we all went back to out hotels, campsites, and RVs. Tallulah Fest is definitely one of my favorite festivals and its festival you should go to. I plan on going back next year and going to the festival for years to come. Huge thanks to Big D who made this years Talulah Fest happen.

995337_971900129553608_6603586337011667055_n (1)

Hope to see you on the water,

Cat H.

10
Apr

A Plea to the Outdoor Industry

Growing up as an enthusiastic female kayaker and learning to paddle with family and friends of all genders and ages, I didn’t really realise there was a gender inequality in the sport until I went to University. Despite a number of inspirational female paddlers having been through Leeds University, I still often found myself alone with the boys on the river and even earned myself the nickname “Token Girl” after a club trip to Scotland. However, as the years go on, everywhere I look there are more and more female kayakers. At an event which previously has been nicknamed “sausage fest”, last year there were more women than ever and each time I get on the river I end up bumping in to more awesome and talented ladies. I also feel very lucky to have competed last year in the first Adidas Sickline World Championships where the women’s places sold out and we had our own category!

But now the time has come for me to start looking for a new drysuit. Amongst the confusion of zip styles, breathable materials and hydrophobic properties, there really is only one question on every discerning female kayaker’s mind…

…do I want pink, purple or baby blue? It’s a difficult decision and one that any woman buying outdoors kit has had to struggle over – not because we really care about whether petal pink or orchid purple will make our eyes pop more, but mainly because I am not really sure why I have to be distinguished as a woman just from the colour of my kit (plus I really, really detest the colour pink!)

Why is it that outdoor retailers insist on making our kit in “girly” colours?  Are they worried that we’ll be so busy charging lines and surfing waves that we might forget we are the proud bearers of ovaries? I’ve heard the argument that it costs too much to manufacture in a range of colours but to me that just further proves my point: surely if you are buying material to be used for the men’s kit then the cost effective choice is to simply use it for women’s kit too? If so, why not offer the same colours to both men and women? I am pretty sure I know some guys who would look fabulous in pink, and I know plenty of women who covet the greens and oranges that are popping up in men’s ranges across various outdoor clothing manufacturers.

In the end, I settled for a men’s drysuit from a company who does not make women’s specific kit. It’s a shame that my shiny new drysuit will not fit as well, but I can understand that for smaller companies the amount they would need to spend on research and development is not justified for such a small market…

But is the market really still that small?

 

Excited for some lady boating. Photo - Mark Mulrain

Excited for some lady boating. Photo – Mark Mulrain

 

I constantly hear the view that kayaking is a “male dominated sport” and although this may still be true at the moment, times are definitely changing and we need to make sure we are keeping up. It is a constant source of frustration for me that despite more women coming up through the sport, the industry is still making it hard for us.

When you look at kayaking events you see examples such as “King of the Alps”, “King of Asia” and “King of New York”. Time and time again I find myself, like Eddie Izzard searching the back streets of Thailand, screaming into the online entry pages “Where are the Queens?”. I have been to events which do not even have a women’s category, despite having 15 female competitors. How much extra time would it really take to have a top 5 final? Why would I bother coming back when I don’t even have a chance of getting into the final, let alone winning a prize?

Prize money is a constant cause of frustration. So many times I’ve been told that of course I can win the prize money, I just have to beat all the men.  Given that I start with a genetic disadvantage, is this really fair? If I am paying the same entry fee as the men then I should have the same chance of winning a cash prize. I get that if there are fewer women and the prize money is equal then actually I have a higher chance of winning, which I agree is also not ideal. In that case why not try setting a proportional prize to encourage greater participation or introducing a handicap to scale the times so everyone competes on an equal playing field?

I also think that the media coverage of the women’s competitions is often very poor. I sincerely hope that at Sickline this year they televise the full women’s final rather than spending their hour of airtime purely on setting the scene for the men’s race. Equal coverage has the potential to particularly help women who are just starting in the sport, introducing role models and proving that your gender is not something which should hold you back.  There are female paddlers out there and they are good!  We need the stories of these women shared loud and proud so that ladies of any age know that they can paddle too.

For a few years now I have grumbled in the background, but given the clear evidence I have seen of the increase in women on the river, at events and in races, I decided that now is the time to speak up.

So here is my plea: there are many awesome women out there in kayaking and in the outdoors in general, so let’s make it easy for them! Give us a better choice of kit, let the racing “Queens” have a shot at some decent prizes and shout about it when we win!

 

“Girls just wanna have fun” during an expedition in Indonesia. Photo – Beth Hume

“Girls just wanna have fun” during an expedition in Indonesia. Photo – Beth Hume

 

03
Apr

The River Motu – North Island’s classic multiday mission

The New Zealand guidebook encourages paddles to “jump at any opportunity” to paddle one of North Islands finest multiday rivers. So, with 4 days off over Easter, I joined a 21 strong crew of friendly North Island kayakers to enjoy this jem.

IMG_0207The river flows through the Raukumara Range which was the last area in New Zealand to be mapped, so the rugged and remoteness of the surroundings makes this a river to be remembered.  The length and continuous nature of the river is rare on the North Island, so combined with a lack of roads and people, creates a really adventurous trip.

 

IMG_0253

The group consisted of many people from all over the place that didn’t know each other, but as is the nature of kayakers, by the end of day one, stories and laughter accompanied the fire like we were old friends.

IMG_0261Red dear, wild goats and swooping hawks watched over us as we paddled endless read and run rapids. We only spotted a  handful of fisherman and hunters who got helicoptered in to enjoy the wilderness.

IMG_0268Awesome campsites dot the river banks, ranging from pristine beaches, to established hunter’s camps and the abundance of firewood kept us warm, as the stars and moon shone overhead.

IMG_0342

IMG_0314This was the first time I had paddled the 9r on a multiday and it handled the extra load admirably.  A simple re-adjust of the seat kept the weight forward and there was ample space for; stoves, tarps and the all important bag of wine.  The speed was awesome for punching holes and hitting big lines, whilst the sculpted edges allowed for accurate boat positioning down the endless, boulder garden rapids.

IMG_0326_stitchThe Motu is a must for any paddler wanting to experience the quality and remoteness of North Island whitewater.

IMG_0387Thanks to Cameron Birch for some epic organisation and to Pyranha and Long Cloud Kayaks and Outdoors for sorting me out with my awesome vessel.

IMG_0438

18
Mar

Nass – The Sacred Headwaters

The Nass, what a mission this one turned out to be! 19hr hike in, 5 days on the river and a 250km hitch. This river is one of three veins flowing undisturbed off the pristine wilderness of the Sacred Headwaters Plateau.

DSCF5207

As most epic missions begin, a few quick phone calls, some minor talk of logistics, then commit. This trip was a little different to most. Myself, Hector Darby MacLellan and Louis Geltman signed up.

IMG_0778

Rumours of a ‘hike in’ route (as opposed to the usual float plane) were heard on the grapevine. Todd Wells, an up and coming expedition legend, managed to plan what seemed to be a ‘do able’ route from the end of the road that follows the Little Klappan to Nass Lake. From A to B, roughly 20 km stood between the two.

Having heard it has been done, we unanimously decided this is the way to go, screw the floatplane! Todd armed us with a photo of a napkin on which he drew a ‘Lord of the Rings’ style map. This turned out to be very open to interpretation! Let’s just say the Topo maps we carried with us did not match exactly with Todd’s artistry.

S0455116

The crux… we had 3 tributaries to choose from. These marked the start of our descent into the Klappan drainage. We decided to go with the obvious choice, the largest. That way it would make for good boat dragging, or even kayaking. Our choice was average at best. As we dropped deeper into the canyon and the walls grew taller overhead, we started to truly feel the remoteness, the exposure. This climaxed with a sequence of gnar waterfalls that were un-portage-able. Our only choice was to hike back up stream and climb through the thickest BC hell f*@# I have ever experienced and onto the ridge.

S0485120

Once past this section we met up with the river again, once all creeks met we were able to kayak. Hey, it wasn’t bad with some nice class 3-4. The next part of the puzzle was to find the meadow marking the divide between the Klappan and the Nass. We found it! By this point it was about 5pm, 9 hours into our second day of hiking. The only catch was (after analysing the Topos) that Nass Lake sat on the distant horizon as far as the eye could see. Our 80lbs boats by this point were starting to feel really heavy. We crushed it, 4 hours straight of pushing through oil infused, thigh deep marshlands.

We were at the lake! 13hr day done. Only now it was pissing down with rain and we were all exhausted, cold and suffering from mild trench foot. Louis by this point had really not been feeling well for some time. We called it, we made the controversial decision to delicately break into the hunting cabin on the lake. This shed like structure provided us with shelter for the night. We left the cabin the next morning as we found it. The owners none the wiser other than the confusing $20 bill pinned on the wall. Thank you.

S0605144

The river is stunning, put simply it boasts endless pristine wilderness for as far as the eye can see. There is a lot of classy class 4 with enough 5s to keep you on your toes.

S0585135

This river is home to some of the biggest log jams I have ever seen! 100s of 1000s jammed at all angles making a beautiful spectacle.

IMG_0843

A first for me was eating a perfect, fresh salmon that a Grizzly we disturbed left twitching on the riverbanks. River bounty, perfect. That lunch, we cooked it up on a flat slate over an open fire. Delicious!

S0835184

This was the first time I took the 9R fully loaded on an expedition. It paddled beautifully! That thing still flies fully loaded. I have to say a few years ago I did not think the 2010 Burn could be improved, it was my perfect boat. Now the 9R has taken that title!

S0565133

01
Mar

Redemption

The story:

Three years ago, I, a lowly fresher, completely new to kayaking, decided to step up to a relatively low run of the falls of Dochart. Safety was set and everyone on the river that day was fully prepared to fish me out if I, as expected, swam out of the hole under the bridge. However, the proverbial shit hit the fan earlier than expected. Before the bridge I managed to hit a rock and flip. Unable to Eskimo roll, I swam out of my kayak. Not yet defeated, I remembered the advice bestowed on me by Kestutis that I was to try and avoid the right side of the river at all costs. I began to swim river left but the river had other idea and pushed me right, off the plate and then I disappeared for what felt like an eternity. I was pushed into the undercut that was carved out on the river right bank and hit my knee with great intensity against some sharp rocks.

12789864_10156596748445430_871485060_o

When I resurfaced I was in excruciating pain and, to add insult to injury, I had torn the leg of my dry-suit and it had filled up with water. Unable to walk, I was helped up to the road by Calum and Kestutis and set off back to the car using my paddle as a crutch.

I was unable to bend my leg for 3 weeks and had to use crutches for extended period of time. The injury itself wasn’t life threatening and my rehab was in no way taxing but that day fundamentally altered how I assess the safety of myself and others on the river.

Fast-forward to last weekend and a group of people from Edinburgh Uni Canoe Club were out in the highlands for a long weekend. After 4 days of class 3/4 boating (and a G5 or two) I was feeling confident and strong.

12789841_10156596748340430_148972628_o

After 3 years away from the Dochart it had become somewhat of a nemesis to me and I was nervous to say the least but today was the day. I could feel it! Fresh off a low run of the River Coe I was ready for some REDEMPTION!

I got into my kayak and let Tom, Becca and Sam go before me, giving them plenty of space. I only managed to get half way down before eddying out to help Sam who had swam and was standing in the middle of the river. After getting Sam and his boat to the side I set off to do the rest of the rapid. With all my friends watching from the bridge I aced the line and skimmed over the hole under the bridge screaming with relief.

12788325_10156596749265430_2023744623_o

I know the Falls of Dochart aren’t the hardest run I’ve done or will do but the fear I had built up around them meant that it was challenging to get on the river that day. I think that with the bombardment of videos from professional kayakers running 100ft waterfalls or burly rapid class 5 rapids, it’s easy to forget how important personal accomplishments are; improving step by step and making sure you’re 100% ready for a challenge are luxuries we often forget we can afford.

Thanks to everyone who was there on the day to set safety and thanks to Scottish Kayaks & Paddles/Pyranha for lending me the sexy sexy 9R L; fast is most definitely fun!

Amy

01
Mar

Awesome! Chile road trip

Since last October, I adventurously explored rivers and waterfalls of Chile for two months with a tool called Whitewater Kayak. I could newly discover the scenic beauty of mountains and rivers of South America by overcoming fears of occasionally veiled water streamline. Furthermore, the natives’ culture and attitude of living along the river was a wonderful experience.

Even though just watching in the airplane, the sky view of Andes beat my heart

1_1칠레_항공샷_1280

I teamed up with Chilean kayaker, Alejandro Campos, and we have met great Chilean kayakers.

1_2칠레_카약원정대_1280

Anywhere in Chile was easily possible to purchase fresh food. Especially, fine BBQ could be done any time since the reasonable price of high quality meat. Typical local food: Completo, compose of avocado and sausage. Cazuela, soup with beef.

chile_bbq_1280

chile_beer_1280 1_3칠레_음식

Numerous beautiful campsites are in the vicinity of urban areas in Chile. Excluding private properties, camping is freely available at any places. Listed campsites possess amenities such as barbecue grills.

1_4칠레_캠핑

I involved in a 3-day teaching class as a session staff for the students of Adventure Tourism in Santiago Duoc UC. The students were trained in various outdoor activities in mountain, river and ocean by professionals for 2 and half years. They get CPR courses in every session. I really envied their infrastructure of systematically educating outdoor sports.

1_5칠레_학생들

Chile still has many unknown rivers and waterfalls due to the harsh environment. This waterfall is the one we approached when heading to the south of Santiago. At first we planned to kayak the waterfall, but the height of it and its previous waterway were much more dangerous than we expected. It was left in abeyance until the next adventure.

1_6칠레_chillan폭포

Chillan’s Waterfall, Photo by Kang Ho

Soul friend kayakers in Chile

amigos amigos1 amigos2 amigos3

amigos4

Rio Yeso, which is named after a famous old limestone mine, reflects the color resembling limestone. Beginning from 1480m above sea level, the river starts to flow by the melt water when summer arrives. The best season for kayaking is from Oct. to Nov. It is a rapid flow rate creek which is categorized as class 4+/5 river. It has steep slope with many rocks and flows about 3 km. Upper Maipo is connected further down the takeout point.

2_rio예소 2_rio예소_2 Rio Yeso, Photo by Kang Ho, Kayaker Tino Specht

Rio Maipo is a fascinating gorge located an hour away from Santiago. It is consisted of 8 km of upper region and 12 km of low region. Commercial rafting is available from Sep. to winter season in low Maipo. Meltwater keep increases as the season goes, introducing continual rapid stream. The Maipo kayakers are very famous for their toughness even in Chile. In Sep., the class of upper Maipo is 3/4, but it changes up to 5+ in upper area at Frechman’s corner in Dec. Rey del Maipo, extreme kayaking competition, is annually held in Frenchman’s corner Every Sep

riomaipo_kangho_수정_1280 Frenchman’s corner in Rio Maipo, Photo by Alejandro Campos, Kayaker Kang Ho

3_rio마이포_1

Rio Maipo, Thank you Adventra Extrema

Rio Claro is made of basalt which is polished by melted glacier for millions of years. It is formed with class 5 region “Throat of the Devil”, probably the most beautiful drop in the earth, regions of 22 falls and the region of “the seven teacups national park.” Although its characteristics are that of clear waterfall, it’s beyond our imagination in scale and overwhelming. Kayaking is available in early summer season when it melts.

4_rio끌라로 The seven teacups national park in Rio Claro, Photo by Sergio Vidal Bogdanovic, Kayaker Kang Ho

Rio Teno has similar geographical features with Rio Maipo. We can experience the brown colored wild river from September, when the snow begins to melt. Los Quenes River Fest which is a relatively small scale third round of the national kayak circuit is held every early November. Kayaking and rafting competitions are held. Thanks to the road near the river, scouting is handy. The 20 km stretch is mostly class 3/4 but also has upper region with narrow gorge of class 4/5. It meets the clean and beautiful Rio Claro, which has class 3/4.

5_rio테노_1

Los Quenes River Fest in Rio Teno, Photo by Kang Ho, Team Universidad de La Frontera

5_rio테노_2

Los Quenes River Fest in Rio Teno, Photo by Kang Ho

As moving south from Santiago, the natural environment begins to change little by little. Rio Nuble has turquoise blue color of water unlike other brown colored rivers. The Nuble Kayak Fest is held in this region. Until early November, its water level is getting higher due to the meltwater. An upper Nuble run would be 14 km section of class 3 and 4 and has famous fast stream, the crux rapid. It is surrounded by snow covered mountains. Technical kayaking is required due to huge rocks. Also, there is a big-boat play boating point in long flat-water part. The lower section is class 3 with continual waves. Unfortunately, Rio Maipo and Rio Nuble are under construction of dams. There are also a lot of frictions between the local residents and construction developers because of the planned or under construction of dam in many rivers

6_rio뉴블레_2

The crux rapid in Rio Nuble, Photo by Kang Ho

6_rio뉴블레_3

Upper Nuble, Photo by Kang Ho, Kayaker Pedro Astorga Leiva

6_rio뉴블레_1

6_rio뉴블레_5

Rio Trancura, meaning lots of stones, is a favorite kayaking spot for locals. From November, the river maintains abundant water level with meltwater and frequent rain. It includes commercial rafting region, where the working place of local kayakers. A typical run on the Trancura could be divided into an upper section of class 3/4 and a lower section of class 3. At the upper section, volcanic basalt produces drop-pool rapids. There are 5 main rapids including Mariman rapid. I got a lucky bigwater when I was there.

8_rio트란쿠라_1

8_rio트란쿠라_2

The world class kayakers mainly participates in Puesco Fest. Partly kayak race, partly music festival and partly environmental rally, Puesco Fest brought together more than 1,000 people to celebrate free-flowing rivers. It was incredible experience to watch the paddling of skillful kayakers from all over the world. An all-night rave which lasted 3 days was fantastic.

9_rio푸레스코_1_1280

9_rio푸레스코_3

Jared1_1280 Tres Troncos in Rio Puesco, Photo by Kang Ho, Kayaker Jared Seiler

Rio Palguin is an endless gorge with various large and small waterfalls. Rio Palguin is high level class 4/5 water challenging the kayakers same as Rio Nevados. We can train our boof skill with various drop and waterfalls in the dangerous but beautiful river.

10_rio팔긴_2

10_rio팔긴_5

Rio Palguin, Photo by Jaime Lancaster Rial, Kayaker Kang Ho

10_rio팔긴_1_1280

Rio Palguin, Photo by Lucas Varas, Kayaker Kang Ho

10_rio팔긴_4

Rio Palguin, Photo by  Jaime Lancaster Rial, Kayaker Alejandro Campos

10_rio팔긴_3

Boof to swim in Rio Palguin, Photo by Kang Ho, Kayaker Jaime Lancaster Rial

Pucon, located in southern Chile, is the best vacation spot. Especially it is a shrine for kayaker due to meltwater and huge rain on a lot of gorges. Rio Nevados is a dangerous stream of class 5, but many kayakers are challenging. 50 feet of Demshitz waterfall was enough for just looking at it.

7_rio네바도스_2

Rio Nevados, Photo by Jaime Lancaster Rial, Kayaker Lorenzo Andrade Astorga

7_rio네바도스_4_1280

Ecstasy in Rio Nevados, Photo by Jaime Lancaster Rial, Kayaker Kang Ho

7_rio네바도스_1_1280

Dulce Amor in Rio Nevados, Photo by Jaime Lancaster Rial, Kayaker Kang Ho

Rio Coilaco, a beautiful 13m waterfall which could be easily accessed and boofed all day long, would definitely make your new profile picture.

11_코일라코_1280

Rio Coilaco, photo by Alejandro Campos, Kayaker Kang Ho

Free the Rivers

Korea is a small but beautiful country with four distinct seasons which is a peninsula surrounded by seas on three sides and is consisted of mountains 70% of the land overall. However, a number of dam construction destroyed river and surrounding environment. This resulted in limited kayaking, which is only available on certain rivers and even more, days right after rain. Economic development oriented policy built a lot of dams and it is still going on, endangering rivers. I am opposed to the construction of dams which destroys natural environment that related with native people’s life. I want to share my experience in Chile of huge mountains and rivers. We must not stop the rivers. It is a vein of our peninsula.

I thank to my bro. Alejandro Campos and his friends. He helps me a lot right beside me. I thank to the family of Adventra Exrema and Cristian. God will bless them.

Spceial Thank you! I especially thanks to my wild horse 9R going through the whole adventure. 9R inspire me and give faith on every drop, fall, eddy and hole.

9R Love! Pyranha Love!

27
Feb

Wairoa Extreme Race 2016

I have been out in New Zealand for 2 months now, getting excited for the arrival of my new 9R.  It turned up a day before the Wairoa Extreme Race so, needless to say, I was super excited to try it out.

This annual race is the first in the NZ Extreme WW race; Wairoa, Buller Fest, Citroen and provided an awesome opportunity to meet some more of the awesome N. Island boating community that are so inviting.

IMG_0071

The boater-X showcased some fantastic lines and excellent carnage to keep the spectators cheering

Day one consisted of a 7-8 minute time trial down the dam release section of the Wairoa packed with a heap of brilliant grade 4 rapids.  This was my first time in the 9R and I loved it.  Super-fast on the flats, skips away from drops and boofs like a dream.

The evening provided time for a couple of Kaituna laps and an awesome party.  Yet another chance to enjoy the awesome NZ boating community.

Terry Lasenby

Loving the boofs in the 9R during the boater-X. Photo – Terry Lasenby

The boater-X event was on day two, where kayakers would paddle head to head down the 1 minute crux of the river.  There were tons of competitors and spectators lining the banks, cheering all of the carnage and watching some pretty styley lines.

Johannes Hendriks

1st round of the boater-X, approaching ‘Rollercoaster”. Photo – Johannes Hendriks

This was an awesome introduction to the speed and accuracy of the 9R and I am supper excited to get on lots more of New Zealand’s classic runs in it.

Thanks to Long Cloud Kayaks for helping me get the boat out here, the Wairoa race organisers for a wicked weekend and to Pyranha for their awesome, continued support.

26
Feb

Man vs Hell

I largely despise any sort of Charity Challenge; far too often they are elaborate reasons for students to stroll up a mountain in the sunshine and feel empowered about it. Whilst it is brilliant that they have the forethought to raise money for charity, I’m not sure if going on holiday is the right way to go about it…

However, there are a few challenges out there that are absolute “suffer fests”, where human endurance, willpower, and sheer tenacity is stretched to the limit in the name of others, so much so that even my penny pitching self felt morally obliged to cough up some cash. With this in mind, there was one charity challenge that piqued my interest; Man Vs Hell.

10484264_231024033912463_8261817915165795527_o

The Man vs Hell challenge centres around one man, Richard Brooks, and his desire to push himself to the limit in the name of charity. The challenge has, in the past, been 24 hours of non-stop kayaking on the Upper Dart river in Devon, quite an achievement in itself. However, this year, Rich would be taking it to the next level by immediately getting on his road bike and cycling a distance of 300 miles for a further 24 hours. My first thoughts when I heard that Rich was going to attempt this ambitious feat were; “Not an ‘effing chance mate!’.

12765650_10156532521135557_1644733747_o

Rich got some training under his belt, the months flew by, and soon the challenge was upon him. I was lucky enough to join Rich for the 24 hours of kayaking on the Dart; we started at 12:00am on Friday morning, the levels were low but not terrible, and the first couple of laps flew by. Just another day on the Dart.

12778897_10153248572881822_5358090860877557267_o

Things quickly changed once the sun went down though, and we began getting into double figures in our total amount of laps. Visibility was a major issue, despite various elaborate lighting systems we could only see at most, two feet in front of ourselves. It had been raining steadily though the day and the river began to rise in the early hours of the evening, not enough to be dangerous, but just enough to change the lines on a few of the rapids. This led to several moments of carnage as we adjusted to the different levels, notably Rob Harris at Pandora’s Box, a tricky little slot with a tight lead in that is near impossible to see in the dark. Rob had a few crashes on this drop but came up smiling every time, at least, I think he was smiling… he could have been grimacing, it was rather dark at the time.

The hardest aspect of the night for me was adjusting to the different temperatures; we would be sweating as we cranked out laps on the river, only to become freezing cold as we stopped moving during the shuttle back to the top. I think it was these temperature changes that sapped me of my energy the most; but it could also been the multitude of laps we had completed and the lack of sleep. Around 5:30am the urge to just go to sleep was almost over powering, but we pushed on for another run of the river and were rewarded on the following lap with a glimpse of the sun rising over the moors in the distance. The sun came up, the air temperature became bearable, and several fresh faced friends joined us for some early morning laps, providing us with a much needed boost.

12768159_231051440576389_7363965758821093047_o

The following few hours flew by, but with just two hours to go I was starting to really feel it. The last two laps were a genuine struggle, but we finished strong. Delighted, elated and broken, we took off our gear for the first time in 24 hours, refuelled and briefly celebrated. Celebrations were brief, partly because we were both shattered, but largely because a sobering thought had crept into my head, “Holy $#@! – Rich still has another 24 hour challenge to get through!”. We said our goodbyes shortly after this; I would not be joining Rich on the second challenge, for I am a simply not man enough. I climbed / crawled into the van, and myself and Rob Harris began a three hour drive back to London.

12771777_232655647082635_5615549446077716896_o

Rich fuelled up on another cup of tea, donned his cycling equipment and took off into the hills to begin his second consecutive 24 hour challenge.

I would truly love to tell you that I spent the next several hours deeply worried as to whether or not Rich could pull it off, but that would be a lie. I was too busy sleeping!

I awoke on Sunday morning expecting to hear the worst;
Rich couldn’t do it, it was just too much.
Rich fell asleep on the bike and crashed into a ditch.
Rich was hit by a drunk driver outside of Cambridge in the middle of the night.
We ran out of tea bags and he couldn’t continue. You know how much he likes his tea.

12079881_232655893749277_9140370643429939931_o
Thankfully, none of these serious problems had arisen through the night. Rich was alive and somehow, pulling off the impossible. He had battled through atrocious weather in Dartmoor, climbed some long hills in Bath, avoided being run over and was well on his way to completing his challenge. I could only smile in disbelief, my body ached from the 24 hours of kayaking alone. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain that Rich must have been in during the night on his second challenge.

I watched online as Rich’s tracking dot crossed over the finish line of his journey, 53 hours 20 minutes after he began his epic challenge. I was impressed, I was astounded, I was inspired… I was… feeling thoroughly emasculated.

12593717_232067853808081_8142058168297901837_o

Rich Brooks is just an ordinary man who dreamt up an extraordinary challenge and went through hell and back to finish it. Rich is quick to shake off any praise or glory and point out that the suffering he went through during this challenge does not come close in comparison to the suffering that cancer patients, their families and the families that have lost young children go through everyday.

In the face of Richard Brooks’ amazing achievement there is one lasting impression. If an ordinary man is willing to go to such lengths to raise awareness for others, surely then an ordinary bloke such as myself should be willing to donate a few quid to help them out as well…

https://www.justgiving.com/Richard-Brooks15/

http://m.virginmoneygiving.com/mt/uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=Manvshell&un_jtt_redirect=un_jtt_iosV

Thanks for reading and see you on the water,
Bren

All photos provided by Man vs Hell.

With thanks to:
– Everyone that has donated and helped to support this challenge.
– Richard Brooks at Sue’s Canoes and his support team for genuinely being awesome people.
– Rob Harris for rigging up the light systems and joining us on the night runs of the Upper Dart.
– White Water The Canoe Centre for lending me a kayak to do the challenge in.

Older posts «