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Safety

 

“I’ve rafted with Eric Hertz down some tough rivers—the Futaleufu in Chile, the Colca in Peru. He's one of the best in the business—obsessed with safety.”

 - National Geographic Magazine, November 1996 

 

In Earth River’s  two decade quest to find amazing rafting destinations for our clients, we have had our share of unfulfilled disappointments on countless exploratories and first descents, as well as some land mark discoveries like Canada's Magpie, Patagonia, Chile’s Futaleufu and Peru’s Yavero.

One of those failures was Earth River's epic first descent of Tibet’s Shiulo River was chronicled in The National Geographic Magazine, the only time a commercial river outfitter has ever been featured in the publication’s 120 year history. At one point, the expedition team was nearly trapped in a sheer walled gorge section of the river where they were forced to run a series of unscoutable class 5 rapids. After a harrowing week and one final 30 mile canyon looming ominously downstream, the expedition came to an abrupt end when a Yak trail offered the first escape from the Canyon. To the ire of a number of the paying clinets, Eric Hertz decided to abort the expedition.  After an intense debate between the expediton members, the National Geographic writer pulled Eric off to the side and told him that quitting now, 30 miles short of the end, would for all intensive purposes kill the National Geographic story. Having none of it,  Eric replied, “If you don’t have a story by now, you’re not a writer.”  The expedition ended on a rocky beach, that day.

Six years later, a group of expert, professional kayakers attempted the Shuilo’s final 30 miles. They encountered numerous unnraunnable rapids. Even in relatively light,  agile kayaks, they had a number of harrowing moments and endured long, arduous, exposed portages. They reported back that that attempting the final 30 mile canyon in rafts with gear and clients would have been extremely risky and nearly impossible and that Earth River's decision to end where they did, had been the correct one. (To view story, see exploratories in Earth River library)

Eric’s preoccupation with client safety began with his earliest guiding days. In 1973, as an 18 year old paddle boat guide on the Tuolumne River in California, he came up with the concept of foot-cups to keep people safely in paddle rafts. Two weeks later Eric helped install the first raft foot cups which have been a fixture on challenging ever since. Eric’s preoccupation with figuring out the best way to challenge clients while guarding them from unnecessary exposure continued with Earth River which one of the first companies to teach clients aggressive self rescue, swimming techniques thereby challenging the norm of having swimmers floating passively on their backs with their feet in front of them.

When Eric Hertz and Randy Porpiglia guides Earth River's first raft descent of the Futaleufu in 1991, the common belief in whitewater circles was that the Futaleufu could not be safely rafted. After that first successful expedition, the challenge was figuring out how to safely show commercial clients this wondrous place. Being the only rafting company there for the first few years, Eric invented a rafting safety system specific to the Futaleufu’s big, powerful technical water.

Twenty years later, outfitters are still using Eric’s original safety innovations including; the elimination of heavy, unwieldy baggage boats, incorporating the trail system for people not wishing to run class five, teaching clients aggressive self rescue swimming techniques, the use of custom made, stern mounted, oar-paddle rafts, a class 4 training warm up including swim test and flip drill and the use of custom made safety catarafts with safety decks (the first time catarafts were employed in this fashion anywhere). Leaving as little to chance as possible, Earth River also set up the two corresponding water level gauges and came up with the high water safety cuts offs for the different sections of the river which are followed to this day.

"

Earth River History

Our 26 year history is the foundation of Earth River. The following company history includes; company initiated river conservation projects, relevent first descents and exploratories, new destinations discovered and pioneered, televison pieces and magazine features. We are especially proud of all the innovations it took to turn what was considered an unraftable river, the Futaleufu, into one of the premier commercial rafting destinations in the world.

 

Futaleufu rafting history:

(24 class 4 & 5 rapids)

1986: Upper Canyon (12 major rapids):  Currey Expeditions. Guides: Steve Currey (trip leader), Dan Bolster, Peter Fox & Brad Lord.

1991: Lower Canyon (12 major rapids): Earth River Expeditions. Guides: Eric Hertz (trip leader) & Randy Porpiglia. Kayak Safety; Chris Spelius & Eric Neise.
Note: Also first complete top to bottom raft descent. (24 major rapids)

1992: First commercial Futaleufu rafting season (3 trips): Earth River Expeditions: Guides; Mark Cocina, Randy Porpiglia, Eric Hertz. Safety kayakers; Lars Holbeck, Phil Dereimer. *Note: The safest lines through all the rapids were figured out this first season. 

1993: First Futaleufu rafting/multi-sport Expedition; Earth River Expeditions; Guides; Joe Dengler, Steve Jones, Eric Hertz, Beth Rypins. Ground support: Robert Currie.

Summary of the first complete raft descent:

"Intrepid kayakers who had ventured into southern Chile said the Futaleufu could not be rafted.(1) "It was rapids like Terminator that prevented a successful raft descent until 1991.(2) “In 1986 a rafting company attempted to run the river... and for the next five years the Futaleufu was deemed unraftable.(3)

"Driving through the remote mountains of Southern Chile, Eric Hertz saw what appeared to be a narrow tongue of the Caribbean Sea. Hertz, the owner of Earth River Expeditions, had paddled down wild rivers all over the world, but he'd never seen anything like it. In those days, virtually no one in the rafting business had even heard of the far-off blue river with the melodic name, pronounced Foo-ta-lay-oo-foo. "I knew in an instant that this was the most beautiful river I had ever seen. " He recalls. "No other river had affected me like that; not the Colorado in the Grand Canyon, not even the Bio Bio. It was like the perfect whitewater river was created and laid at my feet." (4)

Aimed with 20 years of rafting experience, Hertz and a small team of guides and intrepid clients spent the next couple of years, in the early 90’s, making exploratory runs of the Futaleufu. In the beginning Hertz only allowed experienced rafters with class 5 experience to join them on those early commercial explorations." (5) "Thanks to a new kind of raft, designed by Hertz and his invention of the safety cataraft that stays with the guest boats in case of a flip or a paddler is ejected, those early trips - and every Every Earth River descent since - were without incidence." (6) "Today most of Earth River's clients on the Futaleufu are beginners.(7)

Footnotes:

(1) New York Times, (2) American Way Magazine (American Airlines), (3) Robb Report, (4) Travels Along the Edge (40 Ultimate Adventures for the modern Nomad) by David Noland, (5) Robb Report, (6) American Airlines Magazine, (7) Robb Report.

Earth River History (time line):
  • Jan. 1988 - Earth River is founded by Eric Hertz and Troy Harrison.
  • Aug. 1988 - First raft descent of Quebec's class 4 Magpie River (Expedition leader, Eric Hertz).
  • Feb. 1989 -  First descent of Mexico's Lacanja River. (Expedition leader, Eric Hertz).
  • Aug. 1989 -  First commercial descent of Magpie River (Expedition leader, Eric Hertz).
  • May 1990 -  Eric Hertz scouted (by float plane) 6 major rivers in Quebec threatened by the James Bay Hydro project, looking for a river to run conservation awareness trips on. (James Bay hydro-electric project threatened 11 major rivers in Quebec, proposing to flood over 2,000 square miles) (see library).
  • Jan. 1991 -  First raft descent of lower half of Patagonia Chile's Futaleufu River and first top to bottom raft descent (Raft guides: Eric Hertz/trip leader & Randy Porpiglia. Kayak safety; Chris Spelius & Eric Neise.  NOTE: There were 8 intrepid Earth River guests in the oar/paddle hybrid rafts including Troy Harrison & Robert Currie.
  • Mar. 1991 - Eric Hertz, Robert Kennedy and the Natural Resources Defense Council organized and ran conservation awarness expedition on the Bio Bio River in Chile (see library). The fifty participants (incuding the chief of the Puenche First Nation) made it the largest group ever to run this class 5 river.
  • Aug. 1991 - Aug. 1993 -  Eric Hertz organizes and runs 8 conservation awareness trips on Great Whale River in Quebec to expose policy makers and media to the threats from the James Bay Hydro project. Participants included Robert Kennedy, The Natural resources Defense Council, The National Audubon Society, Members of the Cree First nation and Grand Chief, National Geographic Magazine, Conde Naste Traveler, Turner Broadcasting, Nickelodeon and politicians from New York and New England who were negotiating to purchase power from the James Bay project. (see library for articles).
  • Jan. 1992 - Completed the first commercial rafting season on Futaleufu. (First commercial Futaleufu guides were; Mark Cocina, Eric Hertz, Joe Dengler and Steve Jones. Safety Kayakers were Chris Spelius, Lars Holbeck and Phil Dereimer. 
  • Oct. 1992 - Great Whale river conservation participants, Senator Franz Leichter and Assemblyman William Hoyt hold Legislative hearings in New York against James Bay Project. Assemblyman Hoyt proposes legislation in New York legislature to stop the project. New York Governor Mario Cuomo pulls out of the 13 billion dollar James Bay Hydro-electric contract dealing the project serious blow.
  • May 1992 - First "commercial" descent of California's class 5 Middle Fork of the Feather River to raise funds for Earth River conservation projects.
  • Jan. 1993 - Eric Hertz working with G.A.B.B. (Grupo Action Bio Bio) organized and ran a conservation awareness trip on Bio Bio River with Chilean actors, artists and media.
  • Feb. 1993 - First multi-sport expedition in the Futaleufu Valley.
  • Oct. 1993 - Men's Journal Magazine features Earth River on Futaleufu.
  • Jan. 1994 - Eric Hertz introduced the safety cataraft among other safety measures on the Futaleufu River (First time catarafts had been used this way)
  • Dec. 1993 - present (ongoing) -  Eric Hertz and Robert Currie co-founded the Earth River Land Trust on Futaleufu River to help ensure the Futaleufu did not meet the same destructive fate as the Bio Bio River to the north which was decimated when a land speculator aquired most of the property along the river and sold to the power company who built a series of dams. To date the conservancy has protected over 13 of the most spectacular and dramatic miles of the Futalefu from dams and other adverse development. The eventual goal is for the land to be protected for perpetuity.
  • May 1993 -  First "commercial" descent of class 5 Generation Gap section of California's North Fork of the American to raise funds for Earth River conservation projects.
  • Feb. 1994 - Purchased Mapu Leufu Cliff Camp on Futaleufu.
  • May 1994 -  First commercial raft descent of Peru's Colca Canyon (the deepest walled Canyon in the world) (Mark Kocina/trip leader).
  • Oct. 1994 - Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau announced that the James Bay Hydroelectric project would be abandoned.
  • Nov. 1994 - Purchased the now world reknowned Earth River Cave Camp on the Futaleufu.
  • Jan. 1995 - Purchased the Terminador Camp on the Futaleufu.
  • Feb. 1995 - Took ABC Sports down Futaleufu to shoot special featuring Earth River guide Beth Rypins.
  • July 1995 - Scouted two river systems in Labrador looking for a place to bring media to gain attention to the sonic booms from Nato jet fly overs that were destroying the bush culture of the Innu native culture.
  • Nov. 1995 -   Began running some of the first commercial trips on China's no damed Great Bend of the Yangtze.
  • June 1996 - National Geographic (yellow) Magazine and National Geographic Explorer television feature Earth River on first descent of Tibet's 8,000 foot deep class Shuiluo Canyon (Expedition leader, Joe Dengler) (see library)
  • Feb. 1997 - ESPN/Men's Journal television special featuring Eric Hertz leading an expedition on the Futaleufu airs.
  • Jun 1997 - Week long trip to help Ouj Bougoumou Cree look for a river in their territory to do adventure travel on.
  • July 1997 - First raft descent of the Yukon Territory's Primrose River (Expedition leader, Eric Hertz).
  • Aug. 1997 - One of first commercial descent of Tibet's upper Yangtze River (Expedition leader Eric Hertz)
  • April 1998 - Earth River takes two van loads of local Futaleufu farmers on week long trip to visit the Bio Bio River River dam site to show them what could happen to their river and valley. Some of people are reduced to tears when they see the destruction.
  • July 1998 - Sunday Boston Globe features Earth River on the Futaleufu (see Futaleufu library).
  • Jan. 1999 - Outside Magazine cover photo of Earth River's Futaleufu trip.
  • May 1999 - Purchased Tree House Camp on Futaleufu.
  • Sept. 1999 - First descent of unknown Yosemite like valley Headwall Canyon in British Columbia with tributary waterfalls as high as 2,000. (Expedion leader, Eric Hertz).
  • Oct. 1999 -  First descent of Tibet's class 5 Po Tsang Po  (Expedition leaders; Steve Currie, Robert Currie, expedition leaders) (see library).
  • Nov. 2000 - Nov. 2003 - www.Earthriver.com wins Forbes Magazine's ""Best of the Web"" for Adventure Travel.
  • May 2000 - Eric Hertz and Steve Mahan ran conservation awareness trip on New Foundland's Main River, threatened by the clearcutting of it's old growth forest.
  • July 2000 - Eric Hertz organized conservation awareness trip through Headwall Canyon threatened by clear cut logging. Expedition members include: National Geographic, Actor, Richard Dean Anderson, Chief of the Klahoose First Nation and the Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Nov. 2000 - National Geographic Explorer television features Earth River doing Headwall Canyon.
  • Jan. 2001 - Discovery Channel special "Don't Forget Your Passport" airs, featuring Earth River on Futaleufu.
  • Feb. 2001 - American Airlines Magazine (American Way) features Earth River on Futaleufu River (see Futaleufu library).
  • Dec. 2002 - National Geographic Adventure Magazine features Earth River on first sea kayaking expedition into the remote Lakes of Patagonia, Chile (see library).
  • June, 2003 - www.earthriver.com wins World Web Award for adventure travel.
  • Oct. 2003 - Outside Magazine feature on Earth River's Futaleufu trip. (see Futaleufu library).
  • Aug. 2004 - Eric Hertz organized and led conservation awareness trip on Magpie River threatened by a series of dams. Participants included; Robert Kennedy, Jr., Canadian Media, Canadian environmental groups and National Geographic Adventure Magazine.(see library).
  • March 2005 - Ran conservation awareness trip on Futaleufu River with, Robert Kennedy Jr., celebrities (John Mcenroe, Julia Louis Dryfus and Dan Aykroid), members of the Chilean business community and Chilean Senator Antonio Horvath (head of the Chilean senate environmental commission).
  • Nov. 2005 - Town and Country Magazine features Earth River on the Futaleufu (see library).
  • May 2006 - The New York Times features Earth River's Futaleufu trip (see library).
  • May 2009 - First raft and commercial descent of Peru's class 4 Yavero River. 

EARTH RIVER ETHIC

Eric Hertz founded Earth River Expeditions in 1988 on a number of core principles; operating the safest, finest trips possible, discovering new incredible places to take our guest, hiring local people from the areas we visit, working with local communities to protect river resources where we run trips as well as helping to protect areas we don’t visit when we feel our knowledge and experience can make a difference.

The company has volunteered our time and resources over the past 23 years to protect irreplaceable river resources around the world running dozens of conservation awareness trips with media, policy makers and celebrities. We also spearheaded efforts to protect Patagonia from water borne invasive species and founded the first outfitter initiated land trust. This work has been funded using the profits from our commercial river trips and in some cases even running special expeditions, to raise money for conservation work.

The brief time line below outlines our hands on river conservation work. More in depth accounts of a number of these projects can be found on the web site library.

EARTH RIVER CONSERVATION TIME LINE
  • March 1990: Eric Hertz and Robert Kennedy organized and ran conservation awareness expedition on threatened Bio Bio River (Threatened by dams) in Chile with Natural Resources Defense Council. With 50 participants, including the chief of the native Puenche Indians, it was the largest, class 5, multi-day expedition ever run. READ NRDC Newsletter (Bio Bio trip).
  • Feb. 1991:  Eric Hertz organized and led conservation awareness expedition on Chile’s Bio Bio River with Chilean actors and artists. READ Catherine Bragg letter (Grupo de Accion por el Bio Bio).
  • May - June 1991: Eric Hertz scouted (by air) 7 major rivers in Quebec looking for a suitable stretch to run environmental awareness trips on to expose politicians and the media to the threat from the James Bay II project which if built would be the largest hydro-electric project in the world flooding over 2,000 square miles. After two weeks of flying over a thousand miles of threatened waterways a section of the Great Whale River was chosen to run conservation awareness trips on. READ Cree Chief Robby Dick letter, (Great Whale conservation trips).
  • Aug. 1991 - Aug. 1993:  Eric Hertz organized and led eight conservation awareness trips over three summers on the threatened Great Whale River in James Bay, Quebec. Participants included; The Natural Resources Defense Council, National Audubon society, members of the Cree First Nation including the Grand Cief, National Geographic Magazine (yellow), Conde Nast Traveler, Turner Broadcasting, Nicolodian Television and politicians from New York and New England which were negotiating to purchase James Bay power which would have dammed and dewatered 7 major rivers and flooded an area the size of France. Also, began training Cree youth, taking six of them on an expedition down the Magpie river, so they could start running their own expeditions. READ Luis Eguren, Coordinator Whapmagoostui Band of Cree First Nation, letter (Great Whale Conservation trips).
  • Oct. 1992: Earth River, Great Whale River conservation awareness participants, Senator Franz Leichter and Assemblyman William Hoyt hold Legislative hearings in New York against buying power from the James Bay Project. Assemblyman Hoyt proposes legislation in New York legislature to stop the project. Later that year New York withdraws from their 5 billion dollar contract to buy power sending a near fatal blow to the project. (Note: In 1994, The James Bay II Project is suspended indefinitely.) READ NY Senator Franz Lichter letter.
  • Nov. 1993 - Current:  Robert Currie and Eric Hertz start the Earth River Trust on Patagonia Chile’s Futaleufu to ensure the Futaleufu would not meet the same destructive fate as the Bio Bio River to the north which was dewatered and damed. Working with clients the trust has purchased and protected over 12 miles (22 parcels) of some of the most important and easily developed property along the Futaleufu. READ Ronald G. Dodson, President Audubon International, letter.
  • July 1995: Eric Hertz Scouted two river systems in Labrador by air and ran one expedition looking for place to bring media rafting to bring awareness to the Nato jet fly overs that were breaking the sound Barrier directly over Innu Native hunting camps and literally driving them from the bush and their cultural heritage. READ excerpt from Cultural Survival Magazine.
  • June 1997: Earth River scouted for a suitable river for the Ouj-Bougoumou Cree, an Indian community Northern Quebec that’s had many past hardships, to run eco-tourism trips for income.  READ Cree Chief Bosum, Ouj-Bougoumou Cree, letter
  • May 2000: Eric Hertz and Steve Mahan ran conservation awareness trips on Newfoundland’s Main River which was threatened with clear cut logging. READ excerpt from greatcanadianrivers.com.
  • July 2000: Eric Hertz and Robert Kennedy organized and ran conservation awareness trip through Headwall Canyon threatened by clear cut logging. Expedition invitees included; actor Richard Dean Anderson, Robert Kennedy Jr, NRDC, Kathy Francis, chief of the Klahoose First Nation and National Geographic Television. READ National Geographic Headwall Canyon trailer.
  • Aug. 2004: Eric Hertz organized and led conservation awareness trip on Magpie River threatened by a series of dams. Participants included Canadian Media and Canadian environmental groups including the Canada branch of the Sierra Club. READ Michele Gauthier, Director, Quebec Rivieres Fondation, letter.
  • March 2005: Earth River organized and ran conservation awareness trip on Futaleufu River (threatened by dams) with celebrities, members of the Chilean business community and Chilean Senator Antonio Horvath (Head of Senate environmental committee.)  (press conference with participants in Santiago after trip which was attented by major newspapers, magazines and Chilean television.
  • READ

 


SUMMIT MAGAZINE

The Colca Plunge

by Jon Bowermaster September 1994 First Commercial Descent

At Pope Paul II Falls—a torrential spill at the bottom of one of the world's deepest canyons—they sat cross legged and prayed for a safe journey. You need all the help you can get when you pierce the Andes by raft. ?

“See those?” The Peruvian gas station attendant is pointing at the yellow running lights rimming our over loaded bus. ?

“They will be perfect target for the Sendero.” ?

The Sendero Luminoso, that is: the Shining Path, who has frightened away tourist expeditions like ours for nearly a decade. At least the Sendero helps to keep our minds off the equally notorious challenges of the river we intend to float, the seldom-navigated Colca, which plunges through one of the world's ?deepest canyons.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ADVENTURE

"Rafting the Po Tsangpo"

By Michael McRae
April 2000
(First Descent)

Trip Note: The first descent of the Po Tsangpo chronicled below was a success and Earth River planned to run a commercial trip the following year. Unfortunately, later that year, a massive landslide took out the access road to the put in forcing Earth River to cancel the trip. It was years before the road was repaired and we never had the chance to bring another group down this remarkable stretch of river.

Since 1992, when the Chinese began admitting foreign adventurers to Tibet’s “Great Canyon.” The chasm’s whitewater rivers have acquired a sinister reputation. The Yarlung Tsangpo has so far claimed the lives of two kayakers attempting first descents: Yoshitaka Takei, a Japanese man who vanished in a monstrous rapid in 1993, and Doug Gordon, a virtuoso former U.S. Team member who disappeared under similar circumstances in October 1998. Other world- class paddlers who’ve challenged the lethal currents of the Tsangpo (in the upper gorge) and its tributary, the Po Tsangpo, have come away humbled, and some have declared the rivers all but unboatable. But this same river system that is only now revealing its dangerous power is also, incongruously, giving hints of what some believe to be enormous recreational potential. Last October, after two years of scouting, an international team led Earth River Expeditions safely completed a four- day, first rafting descent on the upper Po Tsangpo. Afterwards, the expedition leaders announced that they believe the stretch of the Po Tsangpo they had completed is viable for commercial led rafting trips.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE

"Rapid Descent"

By John Bowermaster
November, 1996
(First Descent)

The blinds are drawn in Eric Hertz's hotel room in downtown Kunming, China, though it's nearly noon. The 40-year-old river outfitter from New York State badly needs rest. His eyes are bloodshot from jet lag and worry, and his face is darkened by two-day-old stubble. ?

“I'm scared,” Eric says. “Too many things can go wrong on this trip. The best maps we have are 47 years old. We weren't allowed to scout from the air. We could get in way over our heads.” ?

I've rafted with Eric down some tough rivers—the Futaleufu in Chile, the Colca in Peru. He's one of the best in the business—obsessed with safety. Coming to China was his idea. First thing tomorrow morning we plan to set out for the Shuiluo (scway-lo), a wild tributary of the Yangtze, or Jinsha, River whose 150-mile-length, locals say, has never been run before. Paralleling the border of Tibet and Burma, the Shuiluo carves a deep gorge through a series of 16,000-foot mountains. The few hundred ethnic Tibetans who live nearby hunt wild goats and sheep, grow wheat, and pan the river for flakes of gold.

PADDLER MAGAZINE

Earth River Expeditions

by Josh Karzen
Spring 2001

Thirty years ago, on a bike trip through Idaho, a 16-year-old boy named Eric Hertz met a river runner who invited him to run the Rogue River in Oregon. Hertz gladly accepted. The trip hooked Hertz on river running for life. He continued to return to Idaho during the summers, working on the Middle Fork of the Salmon. A steady career of river running followed and in 1990 Hertz’ commitment culminated in the creation of Earth River Expeditions. Soon after starting Earth River Expeditions, Hertz brought on Robert Currie, a native Chilean, as his partner. The two made a handshake deal that endures to this day, combining their talents to tackle the daunting challenges of international expeditions.

As a global outfitter, with trips offered on some of the world’s most wild and remote rivers, Earth River Expeditions was a natural pursuit for Hertz. The list of trips offered reads like a whitewater wish list: the Bio Bio (Chile), Upper Yangtze/ Great Bend of the Yangtze (China), Primrose (Yukon), Magpie and Great Whale (Quebec), Talkeetna (Alaska), Colca (Peru), Po Tsangpo (China), and Futaleufu (Chile). The inspiration behind Earth River Expeditions was fueled in large part by a desire to protect rivers of the world. Hertz wanted to facilitate “on the ground conservation.” Early on, Earth River Expeditions established a relationship with the Audubon Society, and created the Earth River Fund. The fund was designed, says Hertz, “to increase awareness of the danger to the world’s rivers”, and monies raised have gone to protect the Great Whale, Bio Bio, and Futaleufu, to name a few. Good intentions notwithstanding, Earth River Expeditions is a commercial outfitter, and thus Hertz needed a business model which lived up to its aspirations. Setting out to commercially run the world’s most remote and wild rivers, Hertz focused on some core themes to guide Earth River Expeditions; experience, safety, and trust. Guided by these principals, Earth River Expeditions has enjoyed steady growth throughout the past ten years.
“About 30 percent per year,” says Hertz.

The first year they took only three clients down one river, the Futaleufu. Last year 250 clients, and this year 300 will partake in the Earth River experience.

The key to any successful business is its employees, and Earth River Expeditions is no different. The stakes of the game are raised on rivers like the Colca, so the skill of the players must be raised accordingly. Calm heads, tamed egos, and a team mentality are what Earth River Expeditions looks for in a guide. A quality resume and solid references are standard also, but the quality most sought is a respectful, professional attitude. With this in mind, Earth River Expeditions will train prospective guides first on one of their runs. Over time, as the guide learns the river, Earth River Expeditions will make the call whether the chemistry is right to bring him on as an employee. According to Hertz. “The lowest ego will make for the best guide for Earth River Expeditions.”

PADDLER MAGAZINE

Paddler MagazineEarth River shares river running and a passion for conservation

By: Joseph Carberry
April, 2006

Seventeen years ago at a dusty train station in Temuco, Chile, Eric Hertz squeezed into an open seat across from a young Chilean farmer named Robert Currie. Currie was traveling the country collecting supplies for his farm. Hertz was an American artist-cumraft bum, an aspiring playwright who had traded Manhattan for a drama featuring rubber and oars on a stage moving water. Call it a cosmic coincidence. Two wandering thespians in search of life roles meet on a crowded train and hit it off like an Oscar-bound actor and director. They talked all day, and Currie invited Hertz to stay at his home. “I don’t think he though I would take him up on it,” Hertz recalls. “After traveling around a bit I showed up at his place and stayed with his wife and kids. He wasn’t due home for another week.”Hertz was guiding on the Bio-Bio at the time and offered to take Currie on a trip. It would be the first of many. A year later they formed Earth River Expeditions, now one of the most prolific rafting outfitters in the world, offering trips to South America, Asia, the Unites State and Canada. “It was the smartest thing I ever did,” says Hertz. Earth River guides more than 500 clients a year, but numbers don’t mean much to these two globetrotters. “It’s not just about rapids,” says Currie. “We are blessed to guide several gems and there are very few left in the world. We have a responsibility to protect them.” Currie and Hertz are adamant about protecting the cultural and environmental legacy of the places they work.

AMERICAN WHITEWATER JOURNAL

American WhiteWaterSaving the Magpie

By: James McBeath
April, 2006

The phone rang on an early August afternoon. It was a rather distraught Eric Hertz.

Before we even had a chance for hellos, I heard him says, “They’re going to dam the Magpie!”

Eric and his company, Earth River, have long been running the Magpie with their high-end clientele. Eric has also partnered with Robert Kennedy Jr. on a number of occasions to foster the awareness and legislation to protect of some of the worlds most spectacular whitewater rivers. The Magpie is their latest challenge, and one they seemed to be taking seriously. Indeed, as soon as Eric heard of the dam plans, he ran a Magpie trip with Kennedy and leaders from many Canadian eco-organizations. To the dismay of dam planners, his trip made front-page fodder across Canada.

The mysterious Magpie River was suddenly beginning to catch my attention. Why ?such a fuss? Truth be told, Eric only runs the elite rivers of the world like the Futaleufu, Yangtse and Colca. I didn’t think the Magpie was even on the radar with these… or was it? It had always been a mystery to me that Eric ran such a little-known river – one I never took the opportunity to investigate. But, the rivers Eric had picked up the gauntlet on before were all well-known whitewater gems like the Bio Bio, and Futaleufu, so I decided to trust his judgment.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE

James Bay: Where Two Worlds Collide

by John G. Mitchell
November 1993

In August of 1993, Earth River Expeditions took a National Geographic writer and Photographer on a conservation awareness rafting trip down the Great Whale River to meet the Cree Indians and see first hand the destruction the James Bay II hydro project would have on the environment and the native Cree community. The following article appeared in the November issue.

Darkness is about to fall across the valley of the Great Whale River. It is the end of a long August day in the north of Quebec, in a land of black spruce and tan granite, and we have come to see how this river runs while the water is free.

I am traveling with Matthew Mukash. He is a Cree Indian. His people have been living in this country for 5,000 years. Across the purling water one of their tepees stands pasted against the sky, a ghostly pyramid trailing a thin white plume of wood smoke down river. Mukash, who is chief of Whapmagoostui, a Cree village at the mouth of the river, on Hudson Bay, suddenly sweeps his hand in an arc. "All this will be flooded by the dam," he says. "The river has a sacred route to follow, but they will drown it. All of it."

“Eric Hertz has devoted his life and his company’s resources to saving some of the world’s last great white-water, wilderness rivers.".
"Earth River is the premier river runner in the world. Their staff includes the finest guides to be found."
“Earth River is more than a great whitewater outfitter. Their contributions have made a real difference in our efforts to preserve some of the world's most beautiful rivers in Chile and Canada."
"I want to personally thank Earth River for helping us stop the hydro-electric projects on our land preventing the destruction of one of North America's last great wildernesses.
“I’ve rafted with Eric Hertz down some tough rivers—the Futaleufu in Chile, the Colca in Peru. He's one of the best in the business—obsessed with safety."
“Earth River runs the only continuous, top to bottom, multi-camp, wilderness expedition on the Futaleufu. A week without roads, electricity or cell phones.”
“I’ve been on nearly all the commercially run rivers in the world and Earth River and the Futaleufu stand out as the very best of the best.”—Fred Wiedemann, Co-founder
"Earth River is the premier river runner in the world. Their staff includes the finest guides to be found."
“Earth River’s conservation effort on the Futaleufu is Herculean and represents the single largest river land trust endeavor ever initiated by a commercial outfitter."—Ronald Dodson, Pres."
"I want to personally thank Earth River for helping us stop the hydro-electric projects on our land preventing the destruction of one of North America's last great wildernesses.
“Earth River’s Futaleufu trip is an astonishment. The amazing camps, all different from one another, but all surprisingly and ingeniously comfortable”—David Rakoff
"I want to personally thank Earth River for helping us stop the hydro-electric projects on our land preventing the destruction of one of North America's last great wildernesses.
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