Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pat and Mar in Chile

Photos by Tanya Shuman

The Baker is incredible piece of whitewater at the end of a seemingly endless transit (7days from Canada) in the heart of southern Patagonia. This run is truly one of the great big water runs in the world. The baker has the volume of the nile powering through towering sharp metamorphic canyons... Putting on the first day we were all pretty nervous as we had forgon a thorough scouting mission from the roadside in favour of getting on the water asap (7day transit)...

We had seen some photos of the run and it all looked pretty manageable but a quote one of our peruvian friends had relayed to us wasn't far from our minds... When someone had mentioned that the Baker didn't look THAT big, his response was that "in the photos you can't feel the ground shaking" ... that about sums it up.

The main line of the first rapid goes into an enormous hole that looked pretty terminal so we opted to run down the left... After the first drop is the confluence with the glacial fed rio Neff, and the
entrance into the first canyon.

The first day we stayed pretty close on each other heels, trying to pretend like if something happened someone else could help... We were greated with beautiful, pretty straight forward rapids, with some large holes best avoided and lots of random stuff happening: seams that would just open up out of nowhere, boils that make that straight forward line a little harder and eddies that would surge up and down metres at a time... There are amazing rapids on the first and third canyons, a nice little whirlpool run in the second canyon and even a great wave at the takeout... We spent an incredible 8 days on the canyons of the Baker, i think it was about day 6 that our two Japanese friends decided they were ready to fire up the run... We only had 3 big boats between us and Rush volunteered to take them down... On the first rapid of the first canyon I think they were thinking that it looked smaller from 100feet up, they both ended up swimming but (somehow) managed to make it to the bottom and managed to hike up and out before the next big rapid...

The Baker is easily one of the best big water runs in the world. Unfortunately it's in cue to be damned by Spanish giant Endesa to provide electricity to Santiago, which, inconvieniently, lies 2000kms north and will require huge new powerlines to be cut... Once these lines are in the futa will be in danger too as it lies between Santiago and the Baker...
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