Rio Palguin (Upper)
|Stretch:||Below Salto de Palguin|
|Difficulty:||Class IV to V|
|Put-in:||Below Salto de Palguin|
|Take-out:||Above Medio Palguin|
|Shuttle:||1 mile, 5 minutes|
|Season:||Year round apparently|
|Featured in Video #34, Chile 2010 Volume Two|
The Upper Palguin is certainly the most well documented run in the Pucón area. Its close proximity to town, its long season, aesthetic beauty, and relative ease of its waterfalls all make for a run that can be enjoyed by class IV and V boaters alike. After a short hike down to the water you will get a glimpse of the Salto de Palguin towering above the river. Standing 90 feet tall, this waterfall although run frequently in the past year, has handed out its fair share of beatings and stands apart from the Medio Palguin in its seriousness.
Once you get down to the water level you will find a curious land bridge spanning the river shore to shore. Cross the bridge and seal launch down the river right shore. Once on the water, you are allotted no warm up. Your first time down you will likely want to scout the first drop, enjoy catching the eddy which has some badly placed branches blocking its entrance making a class II move a bit more stressful. From the first rapid down, you will be greeted with clean waterfalls ranging from 10 to 20 feet in height. Your first time down you could easily spend 2 hours scouting, photographing, and taking video. However once you have exhausted all angles for photos and once you have committed the lines to memory, I am sure you could get down the entire run in 10-15 minutes. Hence, folks tend to run several laps of the Upper Palguin in a day.
There are two take-out options. Once of which requires a forty foot throw and go (or running a large class V+) while the other has a quarter mile hike up and out of the canyon. We always used the latter approach.
Thanks to Rodrigo of KayakPucon for his contribution of photos.
- Put-in (IV+ to V-). The pool below put-in leads to this rapid. If it is your first time down, plan on catching the eddy on the right at the lip to scout. The line is to boof the entry hole (which gets harder as the flows get higher) and then keep it straight for the exit boof. Easy enough right?
The Alley Drop (IV to IV+). This drop is damn difficult to scout or portage, so most will just run it blind. Two small entry moves are read and run. The river then bends left and drops some ten feet. You want to be on the right wall boofing right as the middle and left side of the falls form a large hole. Or just have faith in your boof and sky over the middle.
Split Falls (IV to IV+). A short pool leads to the splits falls, you can scout from river left at the lip. The left side is a slopping falls while the right side is a vertical falls with small cave on river right. Both lines are great fun, personally, among my favorite lines of the entire trip was airing out the right side boof.
Hole (IV to IV+). Just downstream of the split falls is a sticky hole. Just power straight down the gut and don’t get beat in it.
Class III (III). A short class II with a wood sieve in play needs to be avoided on the left.
The Pinch Drop (IV+ to V). A short rapid leads to an eddy on the right at the lip of a serious drop. Catch it and scout the drop from the lip on the right. The river drops over three chutes. We always ran the middle one straight down the gut. It is only a boat width wide so straighten your paddle for the short falls. As soon as you land, take some strokes to get yourself out of the boxed in hole.
Sneak Down Right (IV-). As the next rapid approaches, go into the shallow rock channel on the far left next to the shore. Drop down until the trail is visible on the left climbing out of the canyon. This is take-out. Unless you want to run the drop (or throw and go) downstream and paddle to the bridge.
Big One (V+). We took out above it every time. Some folks run it, some folks throw and go around it and take-out downstream.
Take-out: Honestly, I don’t recall all the turns and for the life of my I can’t even decipher exactly what is going on on the map. I think I found the location on the map (approximately at least). Anyways, on the dirt road (assuming you can find it using a different guide source) drive past the café on the left. Drive until a small break in the fence looking down a wooded trail. This is take-out.
Put-in: Drive less than a mile up (steeply) the road to a large turnout on the right. Park here. If you walk up 100 yards you can see the Salto de Palguin. From the turn-out, a trail leads down to the land bridge from which you put-in.
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