Friday, November 19, 2010

Big Banana Falls, Rio Alsaseca

This is a belated update from the biggest drop of 2010 in my mind. All the boys found themselves in the deepest darkest jungles of Veracruz Mexico firing up drops from another dimension. Lead by the animalistic leader of the revolution, Rafa Ortiz, we found ourselves scouting the 128 foot Big Banana falls. No one would step up, until after 5 years of dreaming and waiting Rafa was ready to drop this stout.

Getting the whole thing to line up was a mission. We spent a whole day just waking in to scout and find the right shots to take the following day. Once the day was upon us an early start was needed to catch the light, but a tropical storm from the Yucatan had just reached the region. The light was shot and rain was falling hard. With only three days left on the trip, Rush, Rafa, and Aniol already at the top and all of us at the bottom...this thing was gonna go down.

By some act of god the rain stopped as soon as Rafa was rappelled into the canyon and was ready to go. A few very tense moments passed before Rush radioed to us that he was going. Todd and I were in our boats ready to get our boys and everyone else had cameras in their hands ready to capture history. For that split second that Rafa came over the lip time froze and Todd and I mad eye contact and said something along the lines of...."SICK!!!" Boom! He hit the pool and came out against the river left wall. No paddle to be seen I gave him the "Hand of God" and he was stoked! All good, in one piece, and had just stomped the drop of his dreams.

Rafa at that crucial, oh so epic, moment in time.

After Rafa had come down we all celebrated and got on the radio to tell Rush that he was all good and the drop was clean. Before I knew it, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Aniol 'La Cobra' on rope dropping himself into the box canyon above the lip. Crazy bastard!!!! Another few very tense moments passed, but we all know that once 'La Cobra' is ready to go, he wastes no time. Radio...Good to go...10-4! Off La Cobra went with absolute steeze! Two strokes and a paddle toss lead to almost 3 seconds of free fall! Aniol went deep and came up with a boil hand roll. You know the type of resurface where you don't even know if he flipped over or not? Crushed!

Aniol keeping it together and stylie off the biggest drop of his life.

Aniol and Rafa stoked to be together at the bottom of the 2nd tallest waterfall ever run in a kayak.

It was a totally incredible day to be a part of. Even without running the drop it was one of the most exciting days of my season for sure. The boys were all so fired up and everyone couldn't believe that this waterfall went down so smoothly. Todd, Rafa, Aniol, and I continued downstream to complete the Big Banana Canyon for a celebration run. Rafa took out above the Silence canyon and had to go to town to get 3 stitches on his eyebrow from the impact. The three of us continued all the way to Puente Tomata to get more stout. Now that is no easy task after said huckfest. Without question Aniol got to the stout 40 footer and laid treats all over it. Like it was a basic 20 footer from his home run.

Aniol running the Silence and making it look oh so good.

Once we were into the goods we got caught up in the middle of one of the most intense rain storms of all time. When we got to the Meatlocker it was no scout, no safety for this bombing trio. Maybe Aniol got out to make sure he knew what drop we were talking about ;) In the rain we bombed off the Meatlocker and all boofed the shit out of the boxed in death hole below it as well. Finishing the pezma run the river was on the rise very quickly.

Aniol and I at the end of the Big Banana in the flat water above Tomata Falls.

The stills I have of Big Banana falls were taken off my Sony HD camera. The real video and still shots that came from day are so sick and will be seen in ESPN magazine and on RiverRoots new film 'Frontier'. Hope you enjoyed the Mexico updates. There was a lot more but I just don't have the photos to put up yet. I leave for Chile here in a few weeks so there will be more goods coming soon.

Later E.G.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Salto de San Pedro

The San Pedro Falls is about an hour away from Tlapacoyan. It wouldn't be that far in any other country, but when the road is covered with pot holes and speed bumps, you can't just put her in 5th and cruise. After some ungodly amount of jesus's yelled out as we passed cars on corners and caught air off topes we arrived at a small inconspicuous bridge. Upon arrival you would think nothing, but when you peer over, you see it!

The fall in all its glory. I said, "There are only three places in the world you can just find a drop like this. Mexico, The Northwest, and Chile!".

Rafa slipin' and slidin' off the lip near the beginning of our trip at low flows.

Todd Wells from the bottom, I thought the drop looked way bigger and better from down at this angle.

So we had a nice session at low water, got good shots, and had a good time. Rush spotted a good jumping platform and wanted to return another day to shoot it with better light. So we left it until the very last day of the trip. After two solid days of crazy tropical rain everything was too high expect for this small drainage. We came back to it and had a nice little end of the trip huckfest! Check the video out below...

San Pedro Falls, Mexico from Evan Garcia on Vimeo.

All of us getting ready inside the house staying out of the rain.

Aniol running the brown!

La Cobra and I waiting for Rush to go big in his own way.

Aniol behind the falls running safety for the left pocket.

Rush throwing a huge gainer off a 60+ foot cliff right into the falls.

With that all said and done we had nothing left to do other than head back pick up our gear and hit the road back to the city. There are many missing updates to come soon. When I get the photos...until then enjoy the shots of San Pedro and the short video I put together of the last day in Mexico.

Later E.G.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Rio Jalacingo "San Rafael Canyon"

After the Upper section of the Jalacingo, Rafa was spouting off about some really quality and scary drops and rapids downstream. With lots of time left on the trip and water levels good we had to go finish up this, so far quality, river.

The San Rafael STOUT!

Walking in through a steep banana field the first thing we were going to run was a stout 60 footer that Rafa first D'ed two years back. The only scary thing about it was, he plugged it and hit the bottom of the river! Upon scouting you could definitely see there was rocks in the landing on the left side of the drop. Rafa was super keen to fire to off, and said he was going to "45" it. Well that's all fine and dandy, but a 60 foot boof seems crazy!

Rafa on his waterfall...2nd 'D'.

Sure enough he sacked up and fired it off. Landing completely pancake flat he came out stoked saying it didn't hurt at all. Let's get this straight Rafa is an animal! I was scared, I didn't want to boof it, but I sure as hell didn't want to find rocks at the bottom either. So I went and did my Spirit thing off a drop at least twice its size. Big hit for sure, but the line was clean and looking steezy.

Some pre-stout yoga, trust me it's worth it. check the nice 20 footer right above us! Sick river.

Holding that stroke looking down and ridin' dirty.

Todd and I chilling in the pool, happy to be at the bottom.

Once completing that stout we ran one class III rapid and ended up looking at another huge horizon line with history behind it. The same day Rafa had snagged the drop upstream he also ran this one. 40 feet tall, tight entry, weird lip, two pocket caves, and it was shallow! Stout...we scouted and decided to leave it for the next day and come back for our boats.

Day 2:

Scouting the stout 40 footer right below the 60...very intense place to find yourself.

We had already scouted the 40 footer and everybody seemed to want to give her a go.

Rush, we didn't really see his line, but after video replay he killed it and made it look easy.

I went next and botched the line pretty hard. I was too far right and missed my boof stroke. I paddled all the way down and backendered at the base of the falls. Finding myself in a boiled out room on the left rolling up I paddled my way out to the pool. Todd was next. Same scenario happened to Todd. The lip was tight and the right side gave out where you wanted to take your stroke. Todd ended up in the worse of the two caves on the right. He battled his way out and looked pissed once he got to safety. He had taken his paddle across the nose and was bleeding pretty good.

Todd trying to get his bow up and clear the caves...this guy was very tricky.

Rafa was last and gave it a go, he had to see if he could stick it as well.

Rafa coming out of the left pocket after a huge boof stomp. I missed the picture of him. He got a good boof, but still had to paddle out of the boily pocket where I ended up as well.

Once through the guts of the canyon the river opened up to an amazing slide and drop section. Maybe 20 beautiful class IV-V drops lined up all in a row. The day was coming together like grilled cheese and tomato soup...until!!!!! We found ourselves looking at a very scary, very gorged in, and stout 30 footer. I was not sold at all! That was until I saw Rafa clean that everliving piss out of it.

Rafa destroying the hardest drop of the Jalacingo in my opinion...but I'm biast because it beat the hell out of me and made me swim.

So yeah after him...Todd with a broken nose fired it up as well. He landed sideways, but pointing left in the direction he wanted to end up. I was pretty much chilled out by that point and walked back up to my boat. Coming through the entry I was all good. Then I ended up too far right and taping the wall as I disconnected for my boof. Boom! Same shit as upstream...buried in the falls I do a huge backender.

Now I'm in between a powerful falls and a bad looking wall. I hold on and try rolling...I feel myself coming out, but not at much of a quick rate. No mas...I swim. This was no good place to swim. With luck I was far enough away from the falls that I got flushed downstream. With great luck I had been climbing in Colorado before I left for my trip and my finger grip was spot on. I had about 2 seconds before I would have swam into a hole that would rival Chaos or any shity boxed in stout you can think of...but I got ahold of the wall with a death finger lock and got out. Rush and Todd helped me to river left over the cauldron where I could safely jump into the canyon downstream from the hole. Weeeooooo! Heart was pounding, but I was alright. Then I got to my boat and the thing was split like a tuna can! Hike out! Up Up Up through banana fields and along country roads until a huge truck gave me a ride to Puente Tomata our planned take out. The crew got there an hour after I did and said nothing other than a huge portage remained...but I was now boat-less in Mexico once again.

Drinking some well deserved beers after a stout 2 day mission through the Jalacingo canyon.

And don't forget some bomb ass tacos...5 for $1.30? Good livin'.

I was bumming and got sick the next day. After asking around I found another blue Jefe from a raft guide on the Filobobos. Same boat, hahaha so I was back on top for now. The Jalacingo mission was a great one. I had a bad line that earned me a scary swim and shity hike out, but I was ok and ready for some more kayaking to come my way.

Later E.G.