Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chaiten, dolphins, and ocean surf

Chaiten, dolphins, and ocean surf

Three months in South America and I decided to stop by the Futaleufu. As soon as I reached Futa I was introduced to some soon to be friends. Marcos was the one with the game plan, he showed off pictures of dolphins, sea lions, surf waves, and a creek all to be accessed by a friend that had a sea worthy boat. So without hesitation we celebrated a friends birthday and proceeded to wake up early and a little hazy. We piled into a pickup and a van both WAY over loaded, and started the trip to Chaiten.

Loading up the rigs

Chaiten is a ghost town now days, there was a pretty big volcanic explosion that covered the town in a couple feet of ash just last year.

The Volcano looked ominous

We made are way through Chaiten, and to the boat, it looked a little smaller then I remembered it in the photos. We all piled our gear in and on the boat and headed south. We traveled for an hour or so and arrived in rainy conditions to the boat owners homestead.

Cruising back to the homestead

The homestead was pretty built up, two different houses, some out buildings and a handful of beached boats. The owner offered up his second house and we happily excepted. There was food, there was drinks, and there where a ton of stories going through the very eclectic group. The next morning we woke to parting clouds, we piled back on the boat and headed even further south. During the boat ride we saw dolphins, penguins, and sea lions, the group was stirring with excitement.

we actually surfed with these guys, they loved showing off

The Sea Lions seemed a little annoyed with us and made a lot of noise

We finally set anchor and looked in on a ugly looking ocean break flowing directly into a rock jumble. The raft got inflated, kayakers got suited up and seal launched off the boat into the ocean, and slowly almost every one migrated to the beach. There were a few of us that looked at the break and went straight in. The break was definitely a little sketchy, and the biggest waves headed toward a huge rock, sometimes you surfed right and sometimes you surfed left, but the rock was always in play. The waves were actually really good and there was more then a few times that 4 or 5 of us caught the same wave laughing, spinning , and blunting towards the rock. While paddling out one time I had three dolphins pass me, turn around and surf the wave right in front of me back toward the beach. The group was stoked the stores were coming true, and we just got done surfing good ocean waves with dolphins. We packed up and paddled out to the boat and made our way back to our borrowed house for the second night. Again we ate, and planned for the creek mission the next day.

The View from above the homestead

We awoke, repacked for the creek mission jumped in the boat and headed into a cove. Deep in the cove was the outlet of the river and the boat headed straight up the fjord. We made our way further and further up the fjord, the water depth was getting shallow, and there were submerged trees everywhere, I couldn't believe how far up the fjord we had made it. We finally set anchor, suited up, and headed to the ruff fishing trial that headed up the creek. We hiked, and hiked, and hiked, and there was no end in sight. We crossed sketchy bridges, crossed creeks, attained up the main channel, and bush whacked our way up the creek.

One of the sketchier creek crossings, that log was slick as shit

Five hours into the hike the group's moral was supper low, and the decision was made that we would not make it to the "class 5 section". We turned tail and cruised down the creek in under 45 minutes splashing through three great class 4 rapids. Back to the house for some more food, and I collapsed from exhaustion the lack of good food and the long hike had taken there toll. I woke up the next morning feeling well rested and we made our way back to Chaiten. This is where the story turns to party, we all reached "civilization" the barren ghost town of Chaiten. We bought snacks and beer and prepared to drive back to Futa, when Marcos's dad invited us in for an asado. We ate, drank heavily, went to the beach, drank more, and then Mark Anthony came on the TV. The next thing you know there is singing dancing and a lot more drinking. We woke up the next morning haggard, and finally got in the van, only four hours of bumpy roads to get us back to Futa.
There are some trips that stand out because of the white water, some about the destination, and some about the friends. This trip was all about surfing in the ocean with dolphins.

The view from the beach

Now I am back in Futa training for the Baker, one of the biggest whitewater rivers anywhere
Chris Baer life is good, and even better when you get to surf with dolphins


  1. Hey Chris, the photos are sick. Amazing

  2. Yo Chris, Got to hand it to you-looks killer down there. Going big and not holding back! Keep up the nice work.- (Automan)