You are invited to the warm hospitality of Pucon Kayak Hostel.
Chile’s Rio Nevado has become the Pucon favorite creek run. The Upper Nevado section boasts over thirty clean 6’ boofs, three clean twenty-footers, and a Cali style slide all just a short drive from Pucon. The Lower Nevado ups the anti of skill beginning with either portaging or running the infamous Demshitzler Cascade, named by D-Pooplar founder and first-descendlar Jared Seiler. The lower falls drop off the Earth into a deep green canyon. You can feel the depths of mother earth as you enter the stair cased cascade canyon. Six quick drops and you’ve experienced a deep-canyon cascade run.
“There’s Wood in There.” -Words Kayakers Dread
Kayaking on an April after rain special Upper Nevado day Ian (Garcia) told me (David Hughes), “Zorro said there’s wood in the twenty-footer on the left wall.” Upon first inspection there was a 40’ tree bridging over the lip of the cascade to the above steep banks, “ahh… we can get around that.” Ian observed. I peered over the edge of a boulder, “Ahh shitt! Ian there’s a log in the bottom too.”
The log underwater was vertically pinned in the middle-landing zone, limbs sticking out as flags. The word portage need not be uttered. We studied the straight up walls. Neither of us wanting to hike, climb, and drag kayaks up a slick, dirty embankment to the road. Ian announced, “You want to throw boats or swim and catch?” I replied, “You’ve probably got a better arm than me. I’ll go first and catch.” Then chimnied to the lowest point of a crack, jumped the remaining 15’, swam to a rock and waited on kayaks and paddles to drift to me. The perch/catching rock was immediately above a 6’ cascade followed by the known “Auto-boof” 10 footer. We understood that the log would be a problem for next season’s peak-flows and hordes of kayakers.
Portaging Would Miss Six Quality Cascades
- Pinch-20 or Ecstacy
- “Autoboof” 10-footer
- 4-footer lead into a 6-foot slide
- 12-foot boof
- The walls are steep enough to cause a serious portage to the road and reentrance below a series of the 6 quality drops on the Upper Nevado. Yikes!
Extracting the Log
“Zorro do you want to try and get the log out next week?” –David
“Yea Hueon (pronounced way-on meaning dude). We need to get that shit out of there.” –Zorro
“Cool Robby (Dastin) said he’s in and Ian wants to help too.” –David
Two days later Zorro would go in alone, lose two axes, break two small winches, and bust his knee on a rock during the hike out.
Three days later we returned together.
Zorro set ropes and began rappelling. He chopped for a long time, taking breaks; fresh I was semi-eager to take my turn.
I’ve run big and difficult drops, hopped and climbed in every situation, have a strong sense of what I can and cannot do, and don’t scare easily. Let’s just say that being attached to a security line walking down a slippery cascade rock to a protruding log with ax in hand was slow moving. HELL YES! My nerves were spiked! We were 15’ high in the middle of a waterfall whacking with an ax at a giant log under water. The water was cold too. But the aerobic workout kept us warm… except our feet.
Chopping was off-balance and exhausting
The inside chopping angle proved ineffective. After chopping I’d climb up the waterfall, which too was tiring. Rest on a perch watching Zorro hacking away. He rested while standing in the middle of a waterfall. Every now and again he’d yell, “AAGGGHHH!”
Eventually, we realized we needed more people, more energy, more rest. Another day.
Maybe 75% of the way through a 2’ wide log the easiest angles were gone. Even trading turns we were exhausted, feet frozen. We climbed the wall, gathered gear, and began hiking, wading and busting ass up the creek bed to where we’d previously climbed down the canyon
banks. Zorro said, “I think the floods will break it and wash it down stream.” I replied, “It’s still 6 maybe 8 inches deep and at least a foot wide. Think how strong a board that size would be. I think we have to come back and finish it.” Both of us knew that finishing the job is always more likely than organizing a return mission. Now, the log is nearing its most dangerous state with a hard to hack underside approaching its breaking point.
About Running the Cascade
You peer past a log that you’ll have to slide your kayak over and then drop into a slope funneling to the left wall. It’s a rapid like no other… the funnel is so tight you have to tuck your paddle and ride a rudder. The left wall and giant boulder form the gap/horizon line. Then as you fly along the left wall time a subtle right stroke and land in the pool. The effect is a small gap forming a large horizon line drop… IT’S AWESOME!
As a leader of rivers one of my favorite things to offer is, “You want to try it blind?” It might be once in a lifetime that a kayaker can run a cascade blind.
Owner Pucon Kayak Hostel
Founder/Director New River Academy
Director Patagonia Gap Year