Paddlers Complete First Descent of Peru’s Upper Colca Canyon

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Paddling Life has the details on the first descent of Peru’s Upper Colca Canyon, which was completed on August 31st, when a team of 8 paddlers emerged from a largely unexplored, 12-mile stretch of the Upper Colca River.

Often called the World’s Deepest Canyon, although there are others who lay claim to that distinction, the Colca is more than 3400 meters (11,154 feet) deep. That puts it more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, although the surrounding walls are not nearly as as steep.

The upper portion of that fabled and remote canyon has remained mostly unexplored, until now. According to the article, the team of adventurers were only able to run approximately six of the twelve miles they set out to conquer. Thanks to raging Class V and VI rapids, fast moving, deep water, and a surprising number of water falls, it was very slow going for the intrepid group. The remaining six miles of the canyon was said to drop another 1500 feet, with even bigger water and drops to contend with. All told, the river dropped an average of 250 feet per mile, giving an indication of how crazy the conditions were.

After spending six days in the canyon, the team eventually had to leave the water and trek their way out to civilization. Due to the slow going, the they were low on food and supplies, and decided they had to give up on their plans to run the entire section.

The trip was a big adventure, both on and off the water as well. One of the major accomplishments of the expedition was the discovery of an ancient tomb, pre-dating the Inca civilization, with eight mummies still preserved inside. This discovery made for a very successful journey, with a first ascent and a significant archeological find.

Looks like it was a great trip all around, and some of the team are already planning a return in the future to finish off the remaining section.

Kraig Becker

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