For years and years I’ve wanted to have a crack at the Adidas Sickline Race in Oetz, Austria. Unfortunately, other commitments such as University or work always prevented me from going, but not this year! After a whole summer of playboating on the Ottawa I was very excited to get back in a creekboat, and where better than the Wellerbrucke rapids?
Having achieved the goal of running the Rio Baker we loaded up and set off in search of other rivers and adventures further south. There is probably nobody better acquainted than us with the locations of all gomerias (tyre shops) along the Carretera Austral, but fortunately other than a few punctures and a missing knut the Subaru performed superbly and safely delivered us to Villa O’Higgins, the most southern point of this famous thoroughfare.
For many years now it has been my dream to paddle the Rio Baker down in Patagonia, Chile. After 2 trips down to Chile where, due to commitments with World Class Academy, I was unable to journey further south than the Futaleufu and with the threat of a dam imminent I thought I had lost the opportunity to paddle this unique river. However, thanks to the work of opposition groups the “Patagonia sin Represas” campaign has managed to put a stop to the progress of the dam…for now. This January I was able to join old British paddling buddies Lee Royle and Rory Woods along with a new friend Sebastian Hennig from Norway on an epic trip down to Patagonia and finally got to enter the imposing canyons of the Rio Baker.
After hearing a lot about this infamous canyon of the Apurimac River, on the 31st of August myself, Julio and our new Aussie friend Ben Webb headed to Cconoc hotsprings close to Curahuasi to begin our descent of the Abysmo Canyon. The plan was to spend 4 days making our way down to Puente Pasaje with the second day spent hiking up to and visiting the Incan ruins at Choquequirao. Anyone interested in paddling this section should note that it’s possible to paddle much farther downstream to San Francisco though according to Julio this involves a lot of flat water and an even longer return to Cusco.
So you’ve seen all the videos, read the blog posts but are still wondering just what it was like to be an athlete at the Whitewater Grand Prix in Canada this spring. Well to sum it up in 5 adjectives it was: amazing, exhilarating, terrifying, exhausting and surprising. To find out more…read on; here is my account as a competitor relatively new to the whole brown-clawing, flat cap wearing, stout, church scene of rather good whitewater kayakers.