Saturday, December 04, 2004

Rio Yeso - Chile

2 hours from the Santiago airport and already in a Chilean whitewater dream. Posted by Hello

Those looking for some excellent creeking won't have to travel far once they arrive in Chile. The Yeso, which means Gypsum in Spanish, is one of the 3 main tributaries making up the Maipo river system coming out of the high central Nevado mountains immediately South of metropolitan Santiago. From the big city, it takes less than 45 minutes of paved travel before you come to the quaint town of San Jose del Maipo. From San Jose, continue upstream along the Maipo river about 20km until you cross the Rio Yeso bridge, marking the take-out for the Yeso and the put-in for the upper (IV-V) Rio Maipo run. The Yeso pounds down this steep valley when the snow begins to melt in November and December, but normally the creek settles down to a manageable flow throughout the summer months. Just upstream from the take-out is the Yeso's crux section, a long (V) maze of boulders and steep endless whitewater. It is worth walking upstream to check this stretch out because at higher flows it has been known to ruin the days of kayakers who enjoy eddy hopping.

The last section of the Rio Yeso at lower flows. Posted by Hello

Although the road turns to dirt at this point, the logistics from here are still very simple. Take your first left once you continue on from the Yeso bridge and you will immediately want to scout the canyon below. Upsream of the canyon, the valley opens up and the Yeso turns into a low volume bouncy (IV) run until you can observe the gradient going off the scale about 6km up the road. At this point you will need to find a good route scrambling on foot down the open banks of the Yeso until you reach the creek. For more information about the Yeso, Rio Volcan and Maipo drainages stop by HOT RIVER rafting expeditions (4km upstream of San Jose del Maipo) and say hello to Alexi and his Belgian raft guide David Joos. David has been living and working in the Maipo valley since 2002 and can be found playboating on the Maipo throughout the year.

David Joos on the upper reaches of the Rio Yeso, Chile. Posted by Hello