Camping in the middle of the small town Molina was not the most ideal
We quickly find our way up to the Rio
Claro but have no real beta. So we ask locals. This goes as well in
Chile as it does Stateside. Non-kayakers just don't know rivers, and we
spend an extra hour carrying our boats through the woods.
Fabian Bonanno and Igor Mlekuž.
In such a tight canyon, a few of the lines are unusual, like this one
under a log chocked in a small channel.
Andrej Bijuklic on a fun clean slide.
Fabian Bonanno, this place is really
We finish the Twenty-Two waterfalls with smiles despite the low water.
It's afternoon at this point but we decide attempting the "Garganta del
Diablo" is a good idea. Except we don't really know where to put in and
take out. After getting more local beta Rok and I walk down to the take
out where we are informed that's actually the put-in for the Seven
Teacups. So we hike back up to a side road, where according to our new
beta, the put-in is.
Rok Sribar at the
With light fading all too fast we bomb
down to the much documented Garganta del Diablo - Throat of the Devil.
I'm surprised every image I've seen of it so far has focused on just
the drop, because the canyon itself is quite the venue for mixed
emotions. The drops are not terribly hard, but a rescue would be quite
challenging to put it lightly.
Superlatives don't do it justice, Andrej Bijuklic & Fabian Bonanno.
We were all worried about the Throat of
the Devil, little did we know that the crack drops where the real
hazard. Locked into the gorge the Rio Claro flows through two very
tight crack drops. With our low flows they are just wide enough to fit
through and drop considerable gradient as they are not filled in.
Team members who forgot their elbow pads...wish they had not.
Igor Mlekuž exits the magic.
We have beta for take out but it's not
conveyed correctly, and we venture too far downstream. Un-runnable,
un-portagable. It's a good thing Andrej Bijuklic has plenty of rock
climbing experience and is able to lead an egress back upstream with
Darkness is minutes away as Rok Sribar
executes the crux move of our escape
Tarantulas are all over the take out
trail. Good thing we're not bivouacking on the river. It's almost dark
as we load kayaks on the car. The group dynamic is split, some of us
are keen on staying to run the classic Seven Teacups section tomorrow.
I'm all for maximizing whitewater and minimizing driving, especially as
there is a low probability of returning here in the future. We go the
democracy route, vote, and head into town to party. Town is pretty much
closed down, we manage to find dinner and then sleep in the dirt of
Molina again. Wild times.
On to Pucon!
Rio Claro (one of many in Chile) is located
inside Radal Siete Tazas National
Park. From Santaigo it's almost 200km South on 5 to the town of
Curico. Just past Curico exit on K-15 and drive through the small
town of Molina. In town make a left onto K-175 and follow it for some
miles into the country until a right onto K-275. Follow to the obvious
park entrance and be sure to stop and pay your fees. In 2012 they had
no problem with us kayaking in the park. The Rio Claro is split into
three sections. To get to 22 Waterfalls, drive to the top of the road
where it ends with a few buildings and a gated road over the river. We
hiked up the river right side for about 2km. The trail to put-in was
flagged and seemed to be under development. From there, kayak down to
the bridge you started out.
The "Throat of the Devil" section is just downstream. To avoid a few
portages, go downstream just a little ways on the road and hike down a
steep road to the river, as seen in the photo above. We are not the
only group to have missed take out...when you see the obvious wooden
platform and stairs on your left, take out, don't be tempted by the
nice 10' drop just downstream.
The last section is simple, from the Seven Teacups sign hike upstream
on river right for ten minutes, take out at the overlook. There is nice
pay camping just outside the park, and it's worth spending at least two