About Throne Room Rapid
Most of the river traffic on the The Las Escalas section comes from kayakers looking to test themselves at Throne Room. This rapid gets substantially more difficult as flows increase but is never truly easy. Commercial rafting companies will only run this rapid on rare occasions, electing instead to “ghost boat” rafts down with kayakers waiting at the bottom. To the left of the Throne is a massive hole that will flip rafts and beat down kayakers. At high water, there are two more holes below that don’t pack the same punch but are still worth mentioning. The right of the Throne is called “The Toaster”, as in you’ll get toasted if you go right! The rapid does finish in an enormous pool, there is just a lot between the top and the pool.
Scouting and Portaging Throne Room
River Left: If you are certain about portaging, the river left trail is far and away the best option. This can also be a good place to scout the rapid, but takes much longer than scouting from river right. You will pass through a riffle two hundred meters above the entrance to the Throne room. Catching the bottom of the eddy on river left will bring you upstream along the shore to the trail. The well marked trail will take you 0.5 km to a large eddy below the rapid. Half way through, the trail presents a right fork that gives access to the best overview of the rapid. From this exposed perch, you can take in the entirety of the rapid and perhaps watch some boaters descend through. Rejoining the trail will lead down towards river level. Find the best side trail access point down to the water. If you cross a small creek you have gone too far.
River Right: This is the best place to appreciate the speed and power of Throne Room. It is also the easiest place to scout and jump back into your boat quickly. If you scout and don’t like how it looks, it is possible to paddle back upstream for the left portage as the river right trail is not recommended for carrying a boat. To access the scout, continue past the rifle along the right shore. Only 20 meters or so above the lip of the rapid is a small trail. Scramble through the woods to the river’s edge. The river volume will greatly determine how close to the rapid you can get. It is possible to walk the length of the rapid, but it’s incredibly tight through the trees and would be arduous with a boat.
How to run Throne Room Rapid
Holes, waves, rocks, and difficulty will vary greatly with volume, but the line is more or less the same. Start right of center in the green tongue and begin building momentum to the left as you enter the wave train. There is a pillow wave coming off the Throne. If you hit the pillow wave correctly, you can surf all the way the river left, avoiding the substantial hole next to the Throne.
There are a lot of ways to get this rapid wrong. Fighting the instinct to paddle left early is important. The left line is littered with holes and current that wants to spit you out towards the Throne with the wrong momentum and angle. Hitting the pillow above the Throne wrong and falling into the left hole will give you a memorable beat down. You will come out of the hole, it just might take a few rounds and might not be with a boat. Catching the wrong surge, or not paddling hard enough to the left will result in you getting “toasted”. Kayakers and rafts that get pushed right off the Throne often fall off the edge of the massive boulder into a powerful seam. Some stay on the surface and release out the bottom. Others might find themselves stuck in one of two powerful eddies. Others might end up going very deep in the seam and popping up below. I once witnessed an unmanned 18 ft raft get completely submerged in the seam for two seconds and resurface below like a breaching orca.