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Chile Winter 09: Immersion in the kayaking paradise!

Paddler: Valentin Grollemund

text by Valentin Grollemund

End of October, Mariann Saether (NOR) offered me the possibility to join her in Chile for 1month 1/2. I accepted for sure, I hadn't real plan for my winter and I had money so let's go!

We arrived to Chile on November 18th, the weather was warm in Santiago, OK, let me put my sweatshirt in my backpack then enjoy my t-shirt and sunnies! We headed to the bus station of Santiago and took a bus to Pucòn. Twelve hours later we arrived to Temuco where Ximena and Ben came to pick us up and we drove another hour to Pucòn, but we had beers so no worry!!!

We spent 3 weeks in the Pucòn region, enjoying many creeks there and paddling everyday! The Pucòn region is a magic place, in 1h driving zone, you can paddle 30 different sections, all fantastic to paddle, and all very beautiful, it's so crazy!!! A perfect creeking place with all kind of creeks you can imagine! There are tons of kayakers, I especially enjoyed times with the Czech guys, the Demshitz and many more. Just - be careful at the party in Pucòn, it's often hard to paddle the next day...

My best moment in Pucòn was probably the Middle Palguin waterfall. It's a 22m./70ft. drop with a 3-4meters seal launch 5 meters before the waterfall... aoutch!!!!! Otherwise the waterfall is pretty clean and the landing is so soft... just don't miss the seal launch. We were 3 at the drop on that day, and I lost the game (shitty kayakers game to know who goes 1st) so I dropped it last... Steve Fisher (South Africa) explained us the line, yeah he dropped it 18 times in 5 days for a Red Bull video making. Mariann Saether dropped in first with a nasty seal launch but the rest was fine!! Jakub Sedivy (Czech Republic) went second, was quite good with a long time under the water after landing, something like 10 seconds!! So, I was alone up there, just had to go down... "Just calm down all is fine!! You're able to run that shit!!" OK let's go, I did a nice seal launch, took my time to be on the good line, dropped down, wait... hop roll and I was fine down there!!! And you have a happy French in the pool!!!!

Few days later Mariann and I started our travel to Futaleufu. 2 days on the road across Argentina and the beautiful Patagonia... without music in the car... just Mariann singing!!! In Futaleufu the water level was super high. We spent a long and super comfortable night in Mariann's house and the next day we paddled the Terminator section which is one of the best and hardest section of the Futaleufu. When we arrived in Terminator (a huge class V rapid of 1km length), Mariann just told me, she doesn't know all the lines at this level... Well OK... I'm French and I was not at all used to big waters... at this moment I just keep calm and follow Mariann, try to take the easiest lines. Mariann guided me well on that section! Yeah my first experience in big waters! Greeeeeat!!! Thanks again Mariann!!! We did it a couple of times again together and Mariann learned me more about big waters.

After few days Steve joined us and we celebrate together Christmas. Actually we had 2 Xmas. On 24th was our Norwegian Xmas with a great dinner and all and on 25th we had a south-African/French one with a massive breakfast. The same day we also enjoyed a pretty assado (BBQ) with all the kayakers of Futa... under the rain. But it was honestly great!

We spent few more days on the Futa enjoying Terminator section with different water levels, the full and incredible section of Bridge to Bridge till the Empenada house. Steve learned me more big waters and river running techniques... yeah I did my first "tuck'n roll" (kickflip in a curler). Soon it was time to go back to Pucòn for 2 days, then take the bus again to Santiago, then flight to Paris, then HOME!!!!

I enjoyed 2 more creeks and a great party up there with buddies Tyler Curtis, Logan Grayling and Jakub Sedivy; and I started my travel to France. The travel was quite long to come back at home... with the New Year evening in the flight... Right now I'm writing these lines, it's snowing outdoor... damn it, I was in summer 1 week ago...

There are many excuses and reasons to go back over there again next winter and I'm quite sure to be there, so let me know if you're coming and let's enjoy boating together. Many thanks to Mariann Saether, Jakub Sedivy and Steve Fisher for this awesome trip in Chile! See ya soon!

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