Wednesday, April 24, 2019
‘Kayaking Patagonia’ Provides Update on Endangered River
Thursday, November 1, 2018


Olympic kayaker Chris Spelius will present “Kayaking Patagonia” at 6 p.m. tonight--Thursday, Nov. 1--at Ketchum’s Community library.

Spelius, who divides his time between Sun Valley and Chile, will provide an update about threats to Chile’s wild rivers from the mining and energy sectors that want to harness the river for hydroelectricity. And he’ll tell some amazing stories at the same time.

Spelius, who earned a degree in biology at the University of Utah, has won several national kayaking championships in addition to competing in the 1984 Olympics. He medaled in the 1991 World Playboating Championships and was the first kayaker to descend the Niagara Gorge beneath Niagara Falls.

He also has various first descents in Chile where he helped develop kayaking as an Olympic sport with the help of a grant from the International Olympic Committee. He returned to run commercial trips on the Futaleufu River where his Expediciones Chile is celebrating its 30th year of adventure trips.

The turquoise-colored Class V river runs through the second highest mountain range in the world and is located in a valley that the locals refer to as “a landscape painted by God.”

“If you were to design a river, you couldn’t design it any better,” he said of the Futaleufu, which means “Big River” in indigenous Mapuche. “The Futaleufu is in a league of its own. The water there is clearer than any water in Idaho—and given how clear our water is here, that’s a hard thing to get your mind around.”


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