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Argentina & Chile

Drops patter the rain fly. Natures serenade tells a song of water levels not dropping. We rise in the morning and are not surprised that the river looks the same. It's go time regardless. Ciro Vivar takes our excess gear out so we have light kayaks. It would be a shame to hike out after hiking in, but it's reassuring to know the trail is not too far away. I can't help but think of the bottom nine the Cochamo has been compared too. I always peak out halfway through the bottom nine, perhaps because all tough paddling to get there. Regardless, the second half is a true grind, focused on escaping safely and anticipation of being done making life or death choices all day long. If this is tougher than the bottom nine it's going to take concerted focus on downstream progress.

A panoramic view of Cochamo Valley after a nights rain.

Yoshihiro Takahashi paddles through the valley.

Putting on it's surprising how much flat water we're paddling. The flow is healthy and scenery is great, but it takes us almost an hour to reach the gradient. What a contrast, the Cochamo doesn't waste time transitioning into fierce whitewater. It's grade five at the end of the valley and we can't see an end in sight. A quick scout reveals a multiple move rapid, scrape over a rock up top, boof left, go left again, drive back to the center, boof again, eddy out and scout the cascade that continues around the corner.

Rok Sribar doesn't quite make the center move, but like an old hand adjusts to his new line with ease.

Yoshihiro Takahashi creates a beautiful splash over the center line.

Yoshi Takahashi pulls for a boof on the far left.

Plenty of water, Rok Sribar has multiple channels to choose from.

Yoshi Takahashi in the wild Cochamo.

One or two read and run rapids lead us to a crux section of gradient. Igor Mlekuž boofs the entrance.

Andrej Bijuklic boofs to finish the same section of gradient.

Side creeks plummet into the mighty Cochamo.

It's taking us time to scout each section. Scouting may well be the most dangerous part, the rain wetted rocks are too slick. Above the scour line it's thick jungle, but we have to force our way through dense vegetation to scout several moves in advance due to the steep gradient and high water. This is like the steepest sections of the bottom nine, except the bottom nine goes into siphons at peak gradient. Here the team is able to run almost everything. Still at this pace it's going to be a long day, it's grinding by more slowly then the bottom nine. Where the side creek comes in below looks to be a break in the gradient and probably a good lunch spot.

Andrej Bijuklic, Igor Mlekuž, Fabian Bonanno and Klemen Valentincic scout the final drops of the first steep section.

Andrej Bijuklic hits a classic boof.

Yoshi Takahashi boofs in the stacked gradient.

At each cataract we are amazed at how good the Cochamo is. Fabian Bonanno boofs a favorite.

Rok Sribar on the same.

A little mix up turns into a swim for a team member, but all is recovered minus the paddle. Not too bad considering the gradient of the run, it would be only too easy to lose a boat in here. We take a brief pause to wolf down some food and water before returning to the downstream grind.

Below the swimmers rapid it's read and run. I'm just getting in the zone for a long day, then suddenly it's over. At lunch time. I guess we failed to note that although the Cochamo is steep and tough, it's also rather short, the whitewater is contained in a one mile section. We exchange high fives at take out and head to Puerto Varas to celebrate completing a magical section of river. Apparently higher is better on the fabled Cochamo.

Bojan Rusjan, Yoshi Takahashi and Rok Sribar enjoy a break in the rain just in time for take out.

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