Rio Llancahue (Upper)
|Stretch:||Near the Road|
|Difficulty:||Class IV to IV+|
|Flows:||200 to 500? cfs|
|Put-in:||Near Termas Geometricas|
|Take-out:||Small Clearing downriver|
|Shuttle:||1.4 miles, 5 minutes|
|Season:||Like the Palguin, apparently this can be run all year|
|Featured in Video #36, Chile 2010 Installment Four|
Although the Rio Llancahue is an hour drive from Pucon and in a region 5 counts higher than Pucon (XIV instead of IX), the put-in is surprisingly only a few kilometers from the Rio Palguin. However, due to the volcano and the rough 4-wheel drive roads standing between them, the normal access is to go the long way around the Volcano.
This river was a wonderful surprise. Prior to our trip, I saw plenty of photos of the waterfall near the put-in, the clean 18-20 foot drop has easy eddy photo access from both above and below and thus sees plenty of film developed of it. What I did not expect was the quality of the whitewater that laid downstream. What we found were several multi move rapids in tight walled minigorges and a few small vertical drops. Sadly, half of our team walked away with a sour taste in our mouths as we blindly dropped into the last rapid (100 yards above take-out) and one member got beat and was forced to swim, where he then proceeded to body recirculate three times. While that was going on, another team member dropped in and tried to plug under the boat in the landing zone and took the boat to the face resulting in an one inch wide hole in her lip. Other than that, the river was great fun. As it was, the final drop is very scoutable and portagable if desired, we just didn't realize it was going to be as big as it was until it was too late and the cluster f..k began.
One thing that is nice about this river, is that it holds water longer than some of the others. Also, this section of river is never far from the road, so escape is never a difficult option. The downside is however that once you are on the river, the views are minimal. From the road there are great views of the back side of the volcano, but the thick forest of bamboo lining the river blocks any such views from reaching the water. In all, this river is class IV/IV+ in difficulty with maybe one or two rapids that standout as harder. Also, be ready for a portage or two. One portage is due to wood that makes a drop a little sketchy and the other is due to a massive rapid with a few undercuts, a few massive holes, and a log jam at the bottom. It has been run, though I am not sure how often or if anyone has actually succeeded. Also, just downstream is a stout run that has only been run a few times, so make sure to take off before you get that far downriver (from the google earth scout it looks like there is a mile before it gets really bad, but how knows)
- Llancahue Falls (IV- to IV+). As far as waterfalls go, this one is really easy for its size. There is a autoboof left of center, and there is a pool downstream. There is also good locations to set safety from both above and below for those are who are nervous. Scout from the left eddy just at the top. Also, once down below, take the time to paddle behind the falls. It's pretty cool back there.
Boogie (III). A couple of easy boogie rapids quickly lead to one of the cruxes of the river.
Mini Gorge (IV+). It is probably wise to scout this section before putting on. There is a small bridge over the water marking the mini gorge. Once you drop in there are no eddies. Also, if you are unsure it would be good to have safety here. There are three or four distinct drops. The largest of which is directly under the bridge and totally surprised me as I only looked up and downstream from the bridge. All the moves are into large holes in tight confined spaces. Great fun though. There is also an eddy on the right just below to collect pieces in which is important as the next rapid has wood danger.
Woody (IV to U). It had a line, but the wood danger outweighed the fun. So we walked easily on the left.
Fun (IV to IV+). Immediately downstream lay another fun drop. This one was best run right of center heading center through a couple of holes.
Wall (III to III+). Just downstream was an easy enough drop with a decent hole to punch.
The Crux (IV+). The hardest of the rapids that you will likely run, this drop has a small drop leading to a weird shallow fold with a shallow run out. Get out on the left to scout when you see the tree over the water.
Ledge (III+ to IV-). At our flows it was a straight forward ledge, I can imagine at high water it probably gets a good size hole.
- Portage (V+). Just downstream of the ledge, catch the eddy on the right and begin to portage through the bamboo. The drop is three or four very large moves with some bad caves, undercuts, and wood in play. It has only been run a few times. Rodrigo said carnage of him in it is in one of the Epicocity videos... sadly, not the one I have.
Put Back In Ledge (III-). Downstream of the portage-put-back-in is a small ledge that goes in several places.
Small Island (IV+). The top is nothing to write home about. However, hop out on the left and scout the horizon line immediately downstream. It is big, and once you enter, you likely won't be able to get a good view of it. So, at the top, just shoot around the small rock in the middle of the river. On the big part, drive to the right and boof the edge of the curler. Set safety from above on the left as it can recirculate a swimmer.
Take-out just down 100 yards at the first gravel bar you come to on the right.
Take-out: Look at a map for help on this one as we made many turns. The idea is to get to the town of Conaripe on the far side of Lake Calafquen. Once you enter town, go left at the roundabout and follow signs for Termas Geometricas. Follow the dirt road, eventually you begin to follow the river. Not long after you get to the river, you will come to a small village of 5-6 structures. In another few hundred yards you will get to a clearing where there are grass slopes on the right and left. This is take-out, it should only be 100 feet down to the water on the right.
Put-in: Continue up the road, when you see a red sign for Termas Geometricas and a left turn onto another dirt road. Park, this is put in.
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