Wednesday, March 6, 2013

First Descent of the Upper Rio Diamante- Mendoza, Northern Argentina.

So here i am in northern argentina wrapping up a season of Rafting with Potrerillos explorer on the mighty Rio Mendoza. Hanging out in the small rafting town of Potrerillos it´s been a very fun an chill 2 and a half months. But just in time for my 21st birthday Silvio Gurrieri the local maestro came up with an idea to run the first descent of the Upper Rio Diamante. We planned to take 8 days to paddle 120 km of river, with a drop of 2 km from put in to take out, it was going to be an exciting week!

Our put in was at 3287 meters above sea level, on the Laguna Diamante, which is at the foot of The ´Volcan De Maipo´ (5500m). We needed to have a permit to enter the area as it is a Natural Reserve. We were officially heading into the middle of the mountains! Silvio and myself took 7 days to make it to our take out bridge at 1322m, passing through multiple canyons and experiencing the vast isolation of the gigantic andes. We call it the Narnia of the Andes, some of the most spectacular and wild scenery I´ve ever seen!

Here are a few shots, to show you guys how amazing this place really is!



 Wild horses as we entered the reserve.

 Diego Castro (Cindi) Our Driver!! The man. Our First glimpse of the mighty Maipo.


 Equipment, planning for 8 days on the water. Maipo in the background.
Our Put in

 Standard Intimidating canyon scene on the Diamante, Day 2
 Day 2
 Epic 90-100 footer on day 2.
 Wedge.





 Not a happy Silvio on day 3.
 Sipping on a Mate, staring into the dark canyon to face in the morning...
 Campsite, day 4. Unreal place.
 We hiked to a peak on night 4, now fairly named ´Ricketts Peak´ and we looked apon the whitewater we paddled during the day.




 After the largest Confluence on day 5, the river was a perfect 30-40cms. starting our 3 days within the Grand Canyon.
 Hmm..
 The final entrance before the plunge.


We saw multiple condors everyday. (The largest bird in the world.)
 Day 6, ´No Breakfast Canyon´ 
 Guanaco




 Marshmellow Canyon. day 5




Amazing expedition, we came across Guanaco´s (wa-na-ko´s), the largest mountain camel, Countless Condors and multiple traces of Puma. Wild and untouched paradise, the Upper Diamante is a definate classic multiday. We were back in Mendoza just in time to celebrate my 21st birthday....

Yeya!!
 
-Sam Ricketts
All images taken my Myself. ( except the ones of me, which were taken by Silvio Gurrieri.)



Google earth image of our route.



Huge thanks to Silvio and Avalancha Custom PFD´s for welcoming me to the team! Find Avalancha on facebook. Solid PFD´s handmade here in Mendoza.





Thanks to Club Mendoza Rafting & Kayak for the Sponsoring of my paddle!!!! You guys rule. 




Another thanks to ´Aymara Avdentura & Expeditions´ for the sponsoring of a Sattelite phone for the mission! Chur!


Next stop. 

COLOMBIA