Lee Royle

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18 – O’Higgins Adventures

We carried on further south to arrive at the end of the road in O’higgins, which was full of big new 4x4s from various groups loaded up from diving from wherever, and us in an overloaded 1992 Subaru asking what the fuss was.
We spent the day hiking up the Rio Mosco for a look, which looked like a few kilometers of grade III/IV rock choss. The hike up was a killer without boats, so we thought best of it.


It had been really hot and sunny for a while now, and all the rivers being glacial melt were on the up and looking big and brown, so we set on up to the Rio Perez.

The Perez put-on had a river crossing at the bottom, which we decided to not risk the Subaru on, so we had an ~8km hike in instead.

What we found was a couple of alright drops, one portage and a long flat paddle out. Not the best river in the area, but it was good to do, and again was amazingly beautiful up at the top.

After completing the Perez, driving back down the valley we decided to put on the Rio Mayer after seeing it on the way up and deciding that it looked mostly flat. Sebastians GPS did say it had 200m height loss in 20km, but it didn’t look like it, so we put on at the top at 5pm, while Rory drove to the bottom.


From his point of view he waited at the bottom until it got dark, then drove up the road and found us wandering along down with no boats looking quite disheveled.


Putting on, the river was a big volume run, which was flat for a while until it gorged up a bit, where it got a little bit more exciting.

The gorge walls shot up, with a horizon line and spray looking ominous. A landslide provided a little eddy to have a look from, and also thankfully a way to portage around a river wide ledge hole, with a sketchy eddy to get back in above some more big holes.

The next canyon crept up slowly, and another horizon line beckoned. We decided to not get the last minute eddy, which was a good choice as inspecting from the cliffs it was another portage, and the last minute eddy a siphon.

A bit of a discussion of what to do concluded with us going up and out, as there was seemingly no way round, a long gorge with more hard whitewater below, and it was getting dark.

Linking up all the throwlines we hauled the boats up and wedged them against some tree whilst we did some more sketchy scrambling up and out of the gorge.

It also turned out that we we almost as far from the road as possible on the river, so had a lot more hiking through dense forest to go.

6 hours after deciding to take out, we were on the road and walking down hoping Rory was coming up to find us, a 15km walk was not something we wanted to be doing.

The next day we decided to go get our stuff, walk round and paddle down the rest of the river. Rory dropped us off near the top and we set to it again.


Of course, it turned out that there really wasn’t any way around this gorge, or at least no way back down to the river for a very long way without 5+km of super thick forest bashing.

So we got to the boats, set up some ropes and Z drags and started hauling. 4 20m throwlines tied together, and several pitches of that later, we were standing on the top of the gorge facing a long hike back to the road again, but very glad we brought a massive Norwegian to do the hauling for us.


6 hours after setting off, again, we were back at the road but this time a passing truck gave us all a lift to the bottom to Rory and our car, who’d had a much more relaxing time reading a good book.


After deciding we’d had enough adventure down at the Mayer, we decided to go back to the Bravo after a little rest.


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