From Khyber Pass the Futaleufu River takes a righthand turn then abruptly pours down a ramp into a slack pool of water. The resulting deceleration forms a series of massive standing waves that rival any in the world, these are The Himalayas. Normally there are about four of them and they build in intensity until the final exploding wave-hole, called Everest. All four waves are serviced by a river-left eddy known as Tibet Eddy.
High and Low Water
The Himalayas get increasingly better as the water level drops. At high water the Himalayas wash-out.
Boat scout from No Exit Eddy on river-right above the drop.
The Himalayas are one of the safest rapids on the Futaleufu River but hazards do exist. Because the Himalayas are so large and dynamic kayakers surfing the waves must remain vigilant for other paddlers coming down the entry ramp. The speed of the current here is apt to make a collision of any type very serious. There are also opportunities to dislocate shoulders and for back injuries to occur as surfing, airborne kayaks bounce in the wave troughs.
The Himalayas are one of the best play spots on the river for big wave surfing. The middle two waves Lhotse and K2 offer the best surfing opportunities. Annapurna is often just out of reach, especially with the faster currents produced by higher water levels. The last wave, Everest often has too much of a breaking character to offer really good surfing but is also one of the easiest to catch-on-the-fly. There is also a not to be missed, glassy surfing wave up-top, which must be caught on the fly, called the Shangri-La Wave.
Catching a surf on the Himalayas is not as easy as it looks and may take some time to master the technique of getting out into the waves. Use the Surf Assist Rocks to move upstream as much as possible before ferrying out onto the wave faces. With today’s smaller boats it is often better to cut radically out to the waves and execute a quick carve to bring the boat back perpendicular to the wave train. Hopefully you won’t have too much downstream velocity developed before you get to the wave faces. Due the large guard-waves that shield the Himalayas it is often too difficult to ferry or surf out to the main wave faces.
Playing on the Himalayas for a couple of hours can be like playing all day at another play spot because of the physical exertion required. Combining the Himalayas with Pillow Rock and the Terminator Wave will make for a truly world class play day.
Where to Swim
If you swim in the Himalayas continue on down into the flat-water pool below and pick up the pieces.
Where to Rescue
Rescue boaters can wait in the Tibet Eddy to go after swimmers or wait in the calm pool below the rapid to help retrieve people and gear.
Where to Portage
You may be able to portage this rapid on the river-left side but it won't be easy.
Running the Rapid
Standard Line: Starting at the No Exit Eddy, paddle out to middle river between the two large rocks and head down the tongue with your boat pointing in the direction of Tibet Eddy. Try and come out on the river-left side, near Everest, by powering through the left shoulders of Lhotse and K2. With luck you will be able to paddle back into the Tibet Eddy for a surfing experience you will long remember. If you get stuck in the wavetrain and fail to make Tibet Eddy paddle back up to along the river-left wall.
Shangri-La Wave Option: Braver paddlers may want to try and surf Shangri-La before taking the plunge down the ramp. Getting on Shangri-La will require a skillful jet-ferry across the central tongue above the entry ramp.
- Catching and surfing the Everest Wave in the Himalayas. Video
- The author, Chris Spelius, running the Himalayas and getting pushed back by the waves. Is this a river or the ocean?PaddleQuest 1996 Video
- Corran Addison catching a surf on one of the wave-faces. PaddleQuest 1996 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