Casa de Piedra
Casa de Piedra is one of the "big-five" Class V rapids on the Futaleufu. The rapid was named by the local cattle ranchers in the Futaleufu River Valley because it is situated near a large cavern (house of rock) that served as a shelter the huasos (Chilean cowboys) during their yearly cattle drive to the Chilean coast. Casa de Piedra differs from many other rapids on the Futaleufu in that it is an extremely technical big-water rapid. It is strewn with boulders and ledge-holes. The primary feature of the rapid is the large boulder at river-center that effectively divides the river in half. A large pillow forms off the face of the rock with most of the water going river-left. The river-right channel is the line most commonly run. The river-left channel leads to a boulder-garden, ledge-hole system known as the Picket Fence.
High and Low Water
At low water the rapid tends to become less pushy and generally easier. At high water the rapid becomes more pushy and increasingly demanding. Casa de Piedra does not washout at higher water levels but just grows bigger and more intimidating.
Scout on river-right, in a cove above the rocks that mark the beginning of the different entry points. If the water is low enough you may be able to walk down the river-right shoreline a distance for a better look.
The greatest hazard in Casa de Piedra is the Picket Fence and the associated holes and ledges behind the large center boulder. There is little opportunity to effect a successful rescue should someone swim in this rapid. Flush drowning or pinning are real possibilities here.
Down at the bottom of Casa de Piedra, on river-left, there is good play-hole for vertical moves, if it is in.
Where to Swim
Swimming is not a good option in Casa de Piedra and being left of the boulder in a kayak is not much better. If you find yourself in the water keep your feet up and pointed downstream to avoid foot entrapment. If you are swimming on the right, stay in the right channel and avoid the Picket Fence on river-left.
Where to Rescue
Have a safety kayaker waiting in the Cove Eddy behind the Pyramid Rock. Rescue in other areas of the rapid is extremely difficult.
Where to Portage
Portage is possible on river-left, but not easy. Try and head for the nearby road on river-left that runs alongside the rapid and put-in downstream of Casa de Piedra.
Running the Rapid
After scouting on river right a paddler has four choices, all merging into the same line and going to the same place.
- 1] High Water Route:
This route makes for a relatively safe high water passage but is often de-watered at normal flows.
- 2] Creek Boater's Route:
This route has great appeal for the creek boaters and less aggressive paddlers. However, belying its benevolent appearance, the line requires great care and precision to thread the needle between a rock and pocket-hole midway through the entry way.
- 3] Conservative Line:
This route exposes the kayaker to the foam-pile off the center boulder and seems to be one of the more intimidating choices but is probably the most conservative route.
- 4] Hero Route:
The “Hero Route” exposes the paddler directly the foam-pile and the real possibility of going left around the center boulder. Kayakers choosing this route should be prepared for the consequences should they lose the gamble and be unintentionally directed left. Once left the continuation is to either eddy-out as quickly as possible in some safe location and portage the boat off the river or negotiate the hazardous ledge-hole system called the Picket Fence.
- Back Together on River-Right:
Once past the main current, around the right side of the center boulder a conveyor system takes over that leads paddlers directly to a large ledge-hole at the bottom of the rapid adjacent to the Picket Fence. The idea is to stay on this conveyor, on the river-right side, just long enough to catch Cove Eddy hidden behind a sizable rock on river-right. From the top of the rapid a large rock shaped like a pyramid (Pyramid Rock) will help kayakers find the correct line. Paddlers should aim directly for the Pyramid Rock and the region of slow water that appears on the river-right side of the conveyor. After Pyramid Rock, Cove Eddy will appear (very suddenly) on river-right. It is hidden from view until a paddler is almost upon it. Paddlers should eddy-out here. From Cove Eddy the rest of the run can be boat scouted. The most prominent feature after Cove Eddy is Imaginary Eddy and a clustering of rocks behind it. Imaginary Eddy looks inviting, but looks here are deceiving. The eddy is extremely dynamic with numerous boils and upwelling water offering little secondary stability – paddlers should avoid it. Instead paddlers should find and ride the unstable subduction-line between Imaginary Eddy and the conveyor with the boat angled left. The subduction-line leads directly to Exit Door a small v-tongue feature between the oncoming holes.
On line, river-right in Casa de Piedra. Video
Copyrights: (Copyright © 2006, Expediciones Chile) All photos, maps, diagrams, text and computer code is the copyrighted property of Expediciones Chile with all rights reserved.
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.Read More: Disclaimer