I first heard of Abyssmo canyon of the Apurimac from my friend Ron Fischer a few years back. Since then this canyon has been on my mind. Stories about hard whitewater, siphons and steep sheer canyon walls has provoked my imagination, and I hoped to one day be able to paddle this river.
The problem with visiting Peru has always been the time of the season; my summer season in Norway is pretty full on with coaching and kayaking, the early fall season is when I recharge the batteries and get ready for some fall adventures. Finally everything seemed to fall into place, and after a few hiccups (a bit of an injury and a busy fall schedule) I found myself on a plane to Peru then a bus to Cusco to meet with a paddling crew of Aleix, Arnau, Kalob Grady and Nacho.
The drive to the put in is not very long, only 2-3 hours from Cusco. The river is pretty inviting with 3 hours of flat before the canyon walls close up and the Abyssmo lets you know what is coming.
We quickly realized we had a pretty high water level; the lines change and some of the normally run rapids become portages. After the first day of paddling and just before sunset, we rest and set up for a night at Junito’s camp spot, nervous and full of expectation making it hard to go to sleep.
The second day is a big one. The water is really high which makes some of the big rapids impassable, and leaves us with a hard portage on slippery and ever shifting rocks. We are making slow progress as scouting is hard and the rapids are very hard to predict.
The river eases out a little bit after the only pedestrian bridge, where we have lunch and time for a break. Afterwards the river becomes super fun class 4+ boulder gardens with big waves, holes and read and run rapids for hours of fun. Then the canyon closes and the difficulty cranks up again.
There is not much daylight left when we reach a beach and set up camp. A nice sleep under the stars is welcomed after a long and draining day full of big moves and dodging dangerous siphons.
Day three is bit more chill, but still some big rapids. The river has changed in character; there is a lot more volume and the holes come more into the play. A few portages and some big moves, then we are looking forward to see the confluence with the Pachachaca River.
Reaching the take out just after midday, we are tired and happy that all went well and the Abyssmo let us pass.