About Zeta Rapid
Zeta is named from the sharp Z turn the Futaleufú takes as it carves through this porous, mini gorge. The power, confusion, and difficulty of this rapid is hard to duplicate, especially at high water. Elite local and foreign kayakers will run this depending on water levels and how they feel. Downtime, undercuts, and keeper eddies make swimming an unreasonable option. At very low water much of the difficulty dissipates and it becomes Class IV+. Raft companies never take clients through here, electing to undertake a complicated portage involving ropes on either side of the river. Because of all dangers and difficulties associated with Zeta, the only beta given on this rapid is how to portage.
Zeta First Portage Option
The following portage trail is only big enough to portage kayaks. You want to be in a good position to catch the portage eddy on the right as you start to see and hear the rapid. There is an obvious trail into the woods at the bottom of the eddy. Anticipate slippery rocks as water levels here fluctuate a great deal.
The portage trail exits onto a large rock outcrop with wonderful views of the rapid. This is a great place to have lunch and enjoy some sunshine on the warm rocks. If you elect to explore the rocks, cliffs, and rapid, be sure to wear a life jacket and helmet while doing so. Slipping into this rapid would be horrific, even more so without any gear. As you walk around, one thing you will notice is the swiss cheese erosion in the rocks. Circular holes full of water will drain into the river without an obvious exit point. Remarkable, but also scary to think of the same type of erosion found below water level.
When you are ready to resume the portage, the trail continues into the forest about ten meters from where it exited. The trail exits onto another rock outcrop down a steep, slippery path. Use the branches and rope to assist the descent. Consider lowering boats down if people do not have the balance to carry a boat. Once on the rock outcrop, you have a couple options for re entering the river. There is a very fun seal launch off the 45 degree sloping outcrop. This seal launch can be 3-4 meters at high water, or 9 at low water. The drop lands on non-aerated water, so be mindful not to launch if it’s too high. If the seal launch doesn’t look good, walk downstream to the end of the outcrop. There is an easy and obvious place to climb down and re-launch. People also enjoy cliff jumping off the 45 degree outcrop. The wall here is undercut, particularly upstream. The undercut is very easy to avoid by jumping far out into the current with a lifejacket. You can then swim to the shore on the right to the above mentioned access point.