The Perfect Storm

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Contents

Quick Facts

  • Class: V
  • Type: Composite: Constriction Gorge with Ledges
  • Length: 175 meters (600 feet)
  • Alternate Names: Salida, Exit, Escala de Jacobo, Jacob's Ladder
  • Previous Rapid: Dance of Angels
  • Next Rapid: Las Escalas Valley
  • Interactive Map: Futaleufu River Valley
  • River Section: Upper Futaleufu, Infierno Canyon

Overview

A detailed sketch illustrating the key kayak lines of Perfect Storm
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A detailed sketch illustrating the key kayak lines of Perfect Storm

Perfect Storm is one of the more serious rapids on the Futaleufu and is worthy of its Class V reputation. The rapid starts off as a wavetrain of large rolling waves then pours through a ledge system that resembles a Broken Levy. Past the levy most of the volume heads toward an enormous, mostly submerged rock located at river-center. The water funnels around the rock in mostly in a river-left to river-right (counter-clockwise) direction toward an eddy called False Haven. The circulation pattern around the rock resembles that of a hurricane so the river features have names like Storm Surge, Eye Wall and Roca del Ojo (Rock of the Eye).

High and Low Water

At low water the rapid tends to become less pushy and you have more time between the river features. At high water the rapid becomes The Perfect Storm.

Scouting

Pointing to Storm Surge Rock in front of Roca del Ojo during a very low water scout.
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Pointing to Storm Surge Rock in front of Roca del Ojo during a very low water scout.

At low water the scout is a small eddy on river-right. Come into the eddy one at a time and get your kayak stashed out of the way to help the next paddler get out of their kayak. At higher flows the eddy may be washed-out. If you can’t spot it immediately don’t spend time looking for it as dawdling on river-right will put you in a bad position to find the slot through the Broken Levy.

Hazards

Skirting Storm Surge Rock, during very low water.
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Skirting Storm Surge Rock, during very low water.

There are a number of features on this rapid worth noting and avoiding. A horizon line, ledge-hole hole system called Broken Levy spans almost the entire river except for the broach located center-left. Stay away from the right side of this feature as it is the most dangerous. On the left side of the river below the Leeward Islands is another pocket-hydraulic you will want to miss. The Eye Wall Hole in front of Roca del Ojo also presents a real problem. It becomes stickier at lower water levels but easier to avoid. To the right side of Roca del Ojo is False Haven, a large violent eddy with retentive characteristics and an undercut wall behind the eddy.

Play Opportunities

Some catch-on-the-fly surfing on the rollers above Broken Levy is about the only opportunity for play on this rapid.

Where to Swim

You will generally want to swim to the right of Roca del Ojo while avoiding getting pushed into False Haven eddy or going against the undercut wall. If you are headed straight to Roca del Ojo, and swimming right is looking unlikely, there is a route to the left of the rock. Keep the feet up as you go through the narrow slot. Rescue is easy at the bottom.

Where to Rescue

A close-up of the Broken Levy.
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A close-up of the Broken Levy.

At the bottom of the rapid is the place to pick up the pieces. A Class V paddler may park in the sweet-spot, a small upwelling in False Haven eddy. Constant control strokes will neutralize the eddy currents that want suck a kayaker out of the eddy. Paddlers will also have to be careful to not slide out the back of the eddy and into the undercut part of the wall. False Haven is a very strategic spot to see all that goes on in this rapid. One can rescue any swimmer that is coming towards False Haven or offer them encouragement to swim back towards the main current to avoid the eddy and wall all together.

Where to Portage

None available.

Running the Rapid

 Perfect Storm at moderately low water. Roco del Ojo is exposed as is Storm Surge Rock.
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Perfect Storm at moderately low water. Roco del Ojo is exposed as is Storm Surge Rock.

From the scout area (assuming it is not washed-out) paddle across the river to the river-left side and enter the big rolling wavetrain heading toward the breach in Broken Levy. Stay away from the river-right side as it contains a dangerous pour-over ledge. These big rollers are the prelude to the upcoming "Perfect Storm" – look for some surfing opportunities if you dare. After going a short distance on this left of center route, you will see a horizon line and spot the cluster of rocks known as the Leeward Islands along the river-left shore. To the right of the Leeward Islands marks the breach in Broken Levy – a large v-shaped ramp. The drop here is dramatic and you will immediately feel the deceleration as the river piles up against Roca del Ojo located at the center of the river.

 Running the right side at very low water (not possible at normal levels).
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Running the right side at very low water (not possible at normal levels).
The first major feature you will encounter is a large wave-hole (or big upwelling) known as Storm Surge. Storm Surge is caused by a small rock in the main channel that will sometimes be visible at low water levels. Try and cut the right shoulder of Storm Surge and continue to drive your kayak to river-right – but not too far right. Straight ahead, beyond Storm Surge, at medium and high water levels, lies the Eye Wall - a nasty hole, caused by the submerged or partially submerged Roca del Ojo, that you will want to avoid. With Storm Surge behind you drive your kayak right of the Eye Wall and Roca del Ojo but left of the large eddy on river-right called False Haven. There will be a significant current (with a left to right component) behind you, trying to force you into False Haven . You need to counterbalance this force to avoid being caught by this eddy. This left–to-right current resembles the counter clockwise rotation of winds around the eye of a hurricane (Roco del Ojo). Eddy-out on the left-hand side of the river after you thread you way between these last two features.

Video

  • The Perfect Storm at very low water with the Roca del Ojo (Rock of the Eye) exposed. Video
  • Carnage in The Perfect Storm as a guide school raft flips in the Eye Wall. Video

Copyright & Terms of Use

  • Copyrights: (Copyright © 2006, Expediciones Chile) All photos, maps, diagrams, text and computer code is the copyrighted property of Expediciones Chile with all rights reserved.

  • Terms of Use: Any type of reproduction, republication, or re-transmission for commercial use is prohibited without the expressed, written permission of Expediciones Chile. Users of this Wiki guidebook may print copies of the text, images and diagrams for personal river running use only. Users may not alter the diagrams or text without expressed written permission of Expediciones Chile. Users must read and acknowledge the disclaimer before printing. Printing implies acknowledgment of the disclaimer.

Disclaimer

  • Disclaimer: Under no circumstances should paddlers substitute the information and diagrams in this guidebook for their own sound judgment on the river and their collective experience running rivers. This guidebook is based on Expediciones Chile's twenty years of experience running the Futaleufu River. However, the diagrams and descriptions found here are only approximations of what paddlers will find on the river once they get here. They are not to scale and nor are they completely accurate. Water levels change, rocks move around, landslide debris can enter the river at any time making the diagrams obsolete. Expediciones Chile also reserves the right to update these diagrams and descriptions at any time as we find better ways to illustrate and discuss the rapids. Use this guidebook at your own risk.

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