Monday, May 25, 2015

Expedition Brazil - Santa Catarina stouts, a broken back and the boys finishing it up.

After we made the grueling 25+ hour drive south from Espirito Santo to Santa Catarina we made a b-line for the Rio Benedito to blow out the cobwebs. It felt good to be back on the water, but we came for bigger and better things. We got the call from Marcelo Galizio and Jake Greenbaum, who were in interior SC, and had just begun to breakdown a waterfalls section of the Rio Chepeco. So we charged our batteries that night, and the next morning ripped over to meet up with the boys. By the time we had got there the boys had First Descended several of the channels and the rowdy put-in 50+ foot falls, so the next day we wanted to try and put the whole section together and that we did. 

 Jordy on the entrance 50+ft falls.

Ari on the First Descent of 'Waterpark Falls'.

 Barny on 'Waterpark Falls'.

After paddling another falls below Waterpark, that we just routed behind Marcelo and Jake, we had linked together the crux section of the Rio Chepeco. The drive had been worth it, we'd finally managed to paddle something since the Rio Preto. That afternoon we began to scour the surrounding area on google earth because we never had imagined we'd have been in this area of Brazil. Surprisingly, we managed to find several worthy options for the following days. One of which, was another big falls about 15km downstream on the same river. We went to check it out that night and to our surprise it looked to be another epic First Descent to be had. That was our plan for the next day.

Barny and Jordy scouting the Falls.

After another quick scout the next morning, Barny and I decided on taking the 'safest' line near the centre of the falls, not keen to paddle the big-water right line or the huge boof on the left. When paddling the falls, Barny ended up ahead of me on the lead in so ended up going first. He styled the line, indicated to Ari it was all good and I paddled it just after him, but with one small difference. I landed about 2ft to the left of where Barny did and landed on a hidden rock outcrop instantly knowing I had hurt my back. After hand-paddling the big water paddle out Barny got me to the side and the boys helped me to the vehicle and we drove 7 hours to the hospital in Santa Catarina. That was my trip over, 3 cracked vertebrae, a hernia and a cracked disc.

My view pitching off the lip of Salto Saudades.

 Salto Saudades - EPIC

After 24 hours, I was discharged and able to head to Marcelo Ludvichak's house to begin my recovery and wait to fly home. Barny and Ari hung around for a few days to make sure I was all sorted but the show had to go on, so they hatched a plan to take advantage of some rain around Florianopolis and try for the first descent of the Rio Chicao. They teamed up with Marcelo, Jake and the Pagnoncelli brothers for this mission. Unfortunately, the boys initially hiked an hour or so in the wrong direction, but eventually made it to the lower Chicao and got another First Descent.

Maybe on the right track now

Barny stoked to finally be at the put-in

After this, the rains never really came to the state of Santa Cantarina again, but somehow the Itajai-Acu stayed at stomping flows, giving the boys some rowdy days of whitewater. Barny and Ari even went so far to drive even further south to the state of Rio Grande do Sul to check out some whitewater potential. Ari decided to paddle a super clean 30, but with low water, meaning a heavy hit, bagging himself a solo First Descent. After that the boys came back to SC to paddle some more laps of the Itajai-Acu, got a lap down the classic overnight trip on the Cubatao do Parana.

 Ari routing the Itajai-Acu at highwater, the saving grace on the rains
stopped in SC.

Ari getting another First Descent

 The waterfall on the Cubatao do Parana

All in all our trip was a success, we managed to get our 6 First Descents but we left a whole lot more unpaddled than we would have liked to. But that is the nature of adventure recreation. You cannot guarantee anything, you cannot control the weather, you can only put in as much effort as possible, and stay positive. That we did, and we got a result. That said, I am sure we will be trying to get back there to finish what we have started.

Expedition Brazil - Drought, Stout and Heading South

Ari and Barny arrived to Sao Paulo December 27th and once we got through the bureaucracy of hiring a car, thanks Marcelo Ludvicah, we started on our way north towards Espirito Santo. This mean't driving up the Dutra and pretty much going directly past the Rio Preto (MG), one of the stand out runs from Ari and my trip in Feb 2014.  So we figured this would be a good way to warm up for the rest of the trip. 

Jordy running the first big slide

Low water but still spicy

 Barny enjoying his first river in Brazil

After this we made the charge to Espirito Santo and scout out numerous First Descents that Ari had identified with google earth. And it was all GOLD! All we needed was rain, but sadly it wouldn't come.

 All we needed was water!

Barny wishing

Granite river-beds are always exciting to look at. 

Another sick drop, just not enough water.

We spent two weeks drooling over class V granite goods, but paddled nothing. Eventually we decided to flip our plans and drive towards some rain. The next phase of the expedition would be 28 hours south, back in Santa Catarina where they were getting mad rain.

Brazil - Sport NZ and a Quick Whip South.

So once again we're been fortunate enough to represent New Zealand under the banner of Sport New Zealand, Sir Edmund Hillary Adventure Trust, and this time it is in Brazil. 

Thanks again for the amazing support - From the crew

Ari Walker and myself went to Brazil in February 2014 and were amazed with every aspect of the country. The climate, culture, biodiversity, white-water and, more so, the white-water potential! A part of Brazil that we kept hearing about... Granite, rain, waterfalls, bandits and massive mountains... was Espirito Santo. Other than one stretch of river the is commercially rafted below a reservoir, nothing in the state had been paddled. The only catch is, there had has been a two year drought in the state. With this in mind, we set a broad expedition goal of 5 First Descents and were set to meet in Sao Paulo just after Christmas. But I figured I might go ahead and try organise a few things ahead of the boys and catch up with some friends in Santa Catarina. It just turned out that Chris Korbulic had the same idea as me, with his Kaiak Season 7 filming, so we figured we'd link up and do some stuff down south. 

 Jordy charging in Sanata Catarina in Feb 2014

Chris and I had a pretty relaxed schedule planned for being down south, which consisted of paddling when possible, doing our best to mingle with the local paddling community and spending some time researching into our individual projects. 

 Chris and I enjoying some Brazilian hospitality before heading on out 
separate expeditions

As it just so happened, the rains came and we did a lot more paddling than we expected. We got a raging flow on the Rio Vermelho, but not raging enough to turn us away. We had a nice padded run down the little mirco creek and once we got to the first major confluence I looked up stream in amazement. There was more water coming out of this trib than in the Vermelho itself and there was a raging falls in sight. Chris and I expected the falls, both deeming it good to go. I ran it first and Chris styled it after me. A dream really, a first Descent within days of being in the country. Stoked. 

Jordy on the First Descent of 'Amarelo Marcelo Falls' - Photo Chris Korbulic

After this was mostly laps of the classic Rio Benedito, but one particular day our friend Fabiano Pasqualli told us of a potential first descent just upstream. A little unmotivated but always curious, we decided to head up and see what it was about. It was sick! A big slide with an entrance, and you had to get left. Neither of us wanted to think about the consequence of ending the slide on the right. After 5 minutes I decided I was gonna fire it and was running to get my boat. Chris decided he would sit this one out and would be there on safety. Ten minutes, later Fabiano was helping me into my boat and I fired off another first descent, which I called 'The Hardt Way'. Two first descent in two days in a well kayaked state, incredible.

Jordy on the First Descent of 'The Hardt Way' - Photo Chris Korbulic

After this Chris and I would just get some more Benedito laps, do some more research and logistics before the boys would arrive to Sao Paulo. It was a pretty successful time in the south for us. That said, I was amped for the boys to arrive and get to work in Espirito Santo.

 Showing Chris down 'Formiga' on the Benedito - Photo: Fabiano Pasqualli

Chris making the locals pay their dues

After all this we had some more good food at Marcelo Ludvichak's and then headed North to collect the boys then to ES... hopefully Ari has done his Google Earth homework!