Patagonia Quad Crown

Aniol Serrasolses and Benny Marr fill us in on the details of completing the Patagonia Triple Crown at a blistering pace.

Completing the Patagonia Triple Crown is considered to mean successfully navigating the Rio Baker, Rio Pascua and Rio Bravo. In 2023, Benny Marr, Sven Laemmler, Ian Salvat and Aniol Serrasolses completed the feat in a blistering pace, along with a descent of the Rio Meyer. Aniol Serrasolses and Benny Marr fill us in on the details. 

ASTRAL  //  What’s it like to drive south on the Carretera Austral?

ANIOL SERRASOLSES  //  It’s always a pleasure to the senses and eyes. Beautiful open landscape that never stops changing. From deep old growth forests, to the open pampa in Parque Patagonia. Rivers and waterfalls everywhere, condors flying over our heads… It is perhaps my favorite time of the year. Finishing off the season of work in Futa and heading down south for epic missions and the best kayaking in the country. 

BENNY MARR  //  Just watching the landscape between the towns passing by is so fun, wondering what a rural Chilean life is like as you go further and further south. Driving with Aniol is extra fun. He knows a lot about which rivers have been run, which have not, and where the park and hucks are to go check out.

ASTRAL  //  Who was on this specific trip? And what made each member of the team special / unique?

SVEN LAMMLER  :  

According to Aniol : ‘Arguably the best / smartest kayaker in the world.’

According to Benny : ‘Sven is a Photonics Engineer but he paddles at a very high level, the highest, there are only a few kayakers who impress me as much as Sven. And it becomes more impressive when you look at the way he does what he does alongside other sporting interests that he puts time into and his schooling and then career. So, really he is one of the more impressive humans I get to spend time with and he is funny as fuck!’

IAN SALVAT  :  

According to Aniol : ‘A super skilled young gun from my home village in Catalonia . We’ve been friends for the last 20 years… he stayed throughout the summer in Chile helping me out on my building projects and paddling the Futa everyday.’

According to Benny : ‘Ian is a hyper-talented kayaker. He is fun to paddle with, camp with, and road trip with and has a strong presence on the river. The Pascua was Ian’s first time on a multi-day kayaking trip.’

ANIOL SERRASOLSES : 

According to Benny : ‘Aniol is from Catalonia but has been living in the Futaleufu Valley in Chile working on his properties and coaching and guiding businesses. He has been down south a lot in Chile but besides his contacts and connections, it was his knowledge of the Meyer, Bravo, and Pascua which made him stand out on this trip.’

BENNY MARR : 

According to Aniol : ‘The nicest dude you’ll ever met.’

GONZALO ROBERTS : 

According to Aniol : ‘Our awesome photographer / shuttle driver who shot great content and made our trip super efficient.’

ASTRAL  //  The Pascua is a mysterious yet powerful river. Can you describe the whitewater?

ANIOL  //  The Pascua has MASSIVE amounts of water going down tiny canyons. Extremely powerful, fast, scary and hard to paddle. HUGE boils and some must run rapids. Remote and wild, definitely one of the best big water missions in the world. 

BENNY  //  The upper cascades were mesmerizing. Every time I get to stand and look at rapids that are so long and so steep, I get giddy. Very cool wonders of the world and for people who like the sights, sounds, and feelings of whitewater, the big ones are always a treat to look at. One of those stouts looked runnable but as Aniol put it when I said as much, “There is a big difference between something being runnable and somebody running it.”  

The whitewater we ran was powerful. Deep sub-currents and aggressively boiling rapids are easy/hard to scout. You can discern features and consistency but you have to accept the random events that are going to occur to you, in front of you, around you, and behind you that can make it hard to be set up for success before and in between the more consistent features. We scouted once and flew the drones twice to get deeper looks into the canyon. This plus past beta is how we worked our way down. The boils were absolutely massive. We all struggled to stay on line and in control at different points, which is to be expected in that sort of mess.

It is deep in there, and definitely mysterious. 

ASTRAL  //  Your descent may have been the quickest to date. Why so fast?

ANIOL  //  Two main reasons. The bad weather and having Sven Lammler in the crew pushing us all. Haha!

The hike route choice and the lake crossing was done very smoothly, therefore we were very quick on the access. The weather was terrible on the second day so we just pushed through the portages without stopping much. The third day we were mentally prepared to face the hardest whitewater in the world, so we just got in that kayaking/survival mood, and pushed through all the gorges. In the end the overall distance of ww is not that long and a lot of the rapids didn’t need scouting. Took us 3 hrs 30 min from the start of the first canyon to the takeout.

BENNY  //  The weather sucked and we moved fast. We had more than enough food for another night, maybe 2. But we kept things at a good clip to create space for anything unexpected. We got through the hike and started into the lake that same night because we didn’t know how long that would or could take. We got through the lake and the portages and stopped early for a big night of sleep before the whitewater and once we got into that, there wasn’t any reason to stop. We were fast because of Sven and Aniol’s boat scouting and using the drones. We didn’t film, or take photos, we just picked it apart.  I think any uncertainty or worry we had (or I had) we used to move quickly toward what may cause the most time and we never hit that spot. You know what I mean?  If there are no problems but there may be – go get to work on it. Also, we had Sven, he doesn’t want to soak in the place he wants to get on lots of different sections, it is how he does all his trips. By moving quickly we were able to run laps on the Futa the day we started driving, Baker the next day, Pascua the next 3 days, Meyer, Bravo, Baker Laps, then back to Futa for more laps before he flew back to work. A lot of people would prefer to spend more days somewhere so deep and remote. Most really. But we paddled a lot and it got us more days on the Futa before he left. I like that, I don’t mind either way but I have been on both sides of that coin many times. Our group was happy moving. 

ASTRAL  //  Is the Rio Baker the best river on earth? Why / why not?

BENNY  //  Oh man, the Rio Baker is up there for the best ever. It is beautiful, interesting, and difficult, and has a “portage”, a wave, sections, and proper class 5.  That’s a lot of great points for a river to be your favorite or one of the best. It has lots of different flows to experience. Why not? Far and weathery. If you like big water, you gotta go. 

ANIOL  //  It’s a great one for sure!! But no, I don’t think it’s the best one on earth. It holds a very special place in my heart as It was the first truly big water river I’ve paddled. Over the years I’ve spent many hours floating down its beautiful waters. I LOVE its turquoise color, the powerful rapids and the times spent in the lower canyons. 

ASTRAL  //  Tell us about the Rio Meyer. You don’t hear about that one much!

BENNY  //  The Meyer is an absolute GEM of a Class V section that has been looked at quite a bit but never brought up as having a descendable section worth putting in the work for. Aniol dropped into the lower canyon a few years ago and was able to take us through as well. With only one group portage after Svenny swam the first big one! This section stood out to me. Very fun and very class 5. 

ASTRAL  //  Any last thoughts on the trip and Patagonian whitewater?

ANIOL  //  One of the wildest, most intriguing areas in the world. A place I try to come back every year. I love its rivers, the always changing weather, the nice people and knowing that after so many years I still know such a little part of it. Cheers to Patagonia and to the awesome trip we had last summer with some great friends. 

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