FUTALEUFU RAFTING HISTORY

“No self-respecting whitewater aficionado would contest that the Futaleufu is among the greatest stretches of whitewater on the planet. This thread of turquoise winds through an impossibly grand theatre of sky-scraping peaks, sheer granite walls and hardwood forests.”

- National Geographic Adventure

"Intrepid kayakers who had ventured into southern Chile said the Futaleufu could not be rafted"

- New York Times

“In 1986 a rafting company attempted to run the river... For the next five years the Futaleufu was deemed unraftable."

- Robb Report

"It was rapids like Terminator that prevented a successful raft descent until 1991"

- American Way Magazine (American Airlines)

“The white-water outfitter Eric Hertz spent a lifetime searching for the perfect river. In 1990, he finally found it, in Patagonia."

- New York Times

"Driving through the remote mountains of Southern Chile, 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 God had designed the perfect whitewater river and laid it at my feet."

- Travels Along the Edge (40 Ultimate Adventures for the modern Nomad)

“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."

- Robb Report

"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 incident. "

- American Airlines Magazine

"Today most of Earth River's clients on the Futaleufu are beginners"

- Robb Report 

As the sole raft company on the Futaleufu in the formitive years from 1991-1993, was confronted with numerous challenges other commercial rivers did not have; not only did he have to pioneer the safest raft routes through the Futaleufu’s challenging rapids, he had to figure out high water level safety cut offs, while dealing with numerous additional challenges other commercial rivers did not have. Most of the innovations Eric came up with (see list below) had never been used on multi-day river expeditions before and are now standard protocal on the Futaleufu:

  1. The Futaleufu was too powerful for straight paddle-rafts, so  customized boats were designed with rowing frames on the back, turning them into oar-paddle hybrid rafts.
  2. Safety kayaks (the industry standard of the time) were not adequate rescue crafts on the Futaleufu because they could not get people safely out of the forcefull current, so the safety cataraft was invented and a second cat was added for additional insurance.
  3. Swimmers passively floating on their backs with their feet up (the industry standard at the time) left people in the water for too long, so guest in the water were instructed to "self rescue" by swiming agressively on their stomachs towards safety.
  4. The river was too challenging for heavy, unwieldy gear boats and there were two portages, so in order not to carry gear, Earth River initially ran a base camp trip for the first few years, utilizing one property that guests would return to each night.  Later, four fully outfitted and supplied camps were build so little had to be transported down river making baggeage baots obsolete.
  5. The natural start of the river had very little warm up before entering a intimidating class 5 Canyon, so a training day, on an accessible class 4 lower section, which included a flip drill and swim test.
“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."
“The absolute mastery of Robert Currie guiding in the back of the raft made every element of the Futaleufu river seem heightened, perfected, colorized, almost virtual."
"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."
"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.
“Eric Hertz and Robert Currie have devoted their lives and their 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."
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