Earth River History

Our 26 year history is the foundation of Earth River. The following company history includes; company initiated river conservation projects, relevent first descents and exploratories, new destinations discovered and pioneered, televison pieces and magazine features. We are especially proud of all the innovations it took to turn what was considered an unraftable river, the Futaleufu, into one of the premier commercial rafting destinations in the world.


Futaleufu rafting history:

(24 class 4 & 5 rapids)

1986: Upper Canyon (12 major rapids):  Currey Expeditions. Guides: Steve Currey (trip leader), Dan Bolster, Peter Fox & Brad Lord.

1991: Lower Canyon (12 major rapids): Earth River Expeditions. Guides: Eric Hertz (trip leader) & Randy Porpiglia. Kayak Safety; Chris Spelius & Eric Neise.
Note: Also first complete top to bottom raft descent. (24 major rapids)

1992: First commercial Futaleufu rafting season (3 trips): Earth River Expeditions: Guides; Mark Cocina, Randy Porpiglia, Eric Hertz. Safety kayakers; Lars Holbeck, Phil Dereimer. *Note: The safest lines through all the rapids were figured out this first season. 

1993: First Futaleufu rafting/multi-sport Expedition; Earth River Expeditions; Guides; Joe Dengler, Steve Jones, Eric Hertz, Beth Rypins. Ground support: Robert Currie.

Summary of the first complete raft descent:

"Intrepid kayakers who had ventured into southern Chile said the Futaleufu could not be rafted. (1)" "It was rapids like Terminator that prevented a successful raft descent until 1991. (2)" “In 1986 a rafting company attempted to run the river... and for the next five years the Futaleufu was deemed unraftable. (3)"

"Driving through the remote mountains of Southern Chile, Eric Hertz saw what appeared to be a narrow tongue of the Caribbean Sea. Hertz, the owner of Earth River Expeditions, had paddled down wild rivers all over the world, but he'd never seen anything like it. In those days, virtually no one in the rafting business had even heard of the far-off blue river with the melodic name, pronounced Foo-ta-lay-oo-foo. "I knew in an instant that this was the most beautiful river I had ever seen. " He recalls. "No other river had affected me like that; not the Colorado in the Grand Canyon, not even the Bio Bio. It was like the perfect whitewater river was created and laid at my feet.4"

“Aimed with 20 years of rafting experience, Hertz and a small team of guides and intrepid clients spent the next couple of years, in the early 90’s, making exploratory runs of the Futaleufu. In the beginning Hertz only allowed experienced rafters with class 5 experience to join them on those early commercial explorations. (5)" "Thanks to a new kind of raft, designed by Hertz and his invention of the safety cataraft that stays with the guest boats in case of a flip or a paddler is ejected, those early trips - and every Every Earth River descent since - were without incidence." (6) "Today most of Earth River's clients on the Futaleufu are beginners. (7)"


(1) New York Times, (2) American Way Magazine (American Airlines), (3) Robb Report, (4) Travels Along the Edge (40 Ultimate Adventures for the modern Nomad) by David Noland, (5) Robb Report, (6) American Airlines Magazine, (7) Robb Report.

Earth River History (time line):
  • Jan. 1988 - Earth River is founded by Eric Hertz and Troy Harrison.
  • Aug. 1988 - Ran first raft descent of Quebec's class 4 Magpie River (Expedition leader, Eric Hertz).
  • Feb. 1989 - Ran first descent of Mexico's Lacanja River. (Expedition leader, Eric Hertz).
  • Aug. 1989 - Ran first commercial descent of Magpie River (Expedition leader, Eric Hertz).
  • May 1990 - Eric Hertz scouted (by float plane) 6 major rivers in Quebec threatened by the James Bay Hydro project, looking for a river to run conservation awareness trips on. (James Bay hydro-electric project threatened 11 major rivers in Quebec, proposing to flood over 2,000 square miles) (see library).
  • Jan. 1991 - Ran first top to bottom raft descent of Patagonia Chile's Futaleufu River (Raft guides: Eric Hertz/trip leader & Randy Porpiglia. Kayak safety; Chris Spelius & Eric Neise.  There were
    also 8 passengers including Troy Harrison, Robert Currie & Andrew Solamon.
  • Mar. 1991 - Eric Hertz, Robert Kennedy and the Natural Resources Defense Council organized and ran conservation awarness expedition on the Bio Bio River in Chile (see library). The fifty participants (incuding the chief of the Puenche First Nation) made it the largest group ever to run this class 5 river.
  • Aug. 1991 - Aug. 1993 -  Eric Hertz organizes and runs 8 conservation awareness trips on Great Whale River in Quebec to expose policy makers and media to the threats from the James Bay Hydro project. Participants included Robert Kennedy, The Natural resources Defense Council, The National Audubon Society, Members of the Cree First nation and Grand Chief, National Geographic Magazine, Conde Naste Traveler, Turner Broadcasting, Nickelodeon and politicians from New York and New England who were negotiating to purchase power from the James Bay project. (see library for articles).
  • Jan. 1992 - Completed the first commercial rafting season on Futaleufu. (First commercial Futaleufu guides were; Mark Cocina, Eric Hertz, Joe Dengler and Steve Jones. Safety Kayakers were Chris Spelius, Lars Holbeck and Phil Dereimer. 
  • Oct. 1992 - Great Whale river conservation participants, Senator Franz Leichter and Assemblyman William Hoyt hold Legislative hearings in New York against James Bay Project. Assemblyman Hoyt proposes legislation in New York legislature to stop the project. New York Governor Mario Cuomo pulls out of the 13 billion dollar James Bay Hydro-electric contract dealing the project serious blow.
  • May 1992 - Ran first "commercial" descent of California's class 5 Middle Fork of the Feather River to raise funds for Earth River conservation projects.
  • Jan. 1993 - Eric Hertz and G.A.B.B. (Grupo Action Bio Bio) organized and ran a conservation awareness trip on Bio Bio River with Chilean actors, artists and media.
  • Feb. 1993 - Ran first multi-sport expedition in the Futaleufu Valley.
  • Oct. 1993 - Men's Journal Magazine features Earth River on Futaleufu.
  • Jan. 1994 - Eric Hertz introduced the safety cataraft among other safety measures on the Futaleufu River (First time catarafts had been used this way)
  • Dec. 1993 - present (ongoing) -  Eric Hertz and Robert Currie co-founded the Earth River Land Trust on Futaleufu River to help ensure the Futaleufu did not meet the same destructive fate as the Bio Bio River to the north which was decimated when a land speculator aquired most of the property along the river and sold to the power company who built a series of dams. To date the conservancy has protected over 13 of the most spectacular and dramatic miles of the Futalefu from dams and other adverse development. The eventual goal is for the land to be protected for perpetuity.
  • May 1993 - Ran first "commercial" descent of class 5 Generation Gap section of California's North Fork of the American to raise funds for Earth River conservation projects.
  • Feb. 1994 - Purchased Mapu Leufu Cliff Camp on Futaleufu.
  • May 1994 - Ran the first commercial raft descent of Peru's Colca Canyon (the deepest walled Canyon in the world) (Mark Kocina/trip leader).
  • Oct. 1994 - Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau announced that the James Bay Hydroelectric project would be abandoned.
  • Nov. 1994 - Purchased the now world reknowned Earth River Cave Camp on the Futaleufu.
  • Jan. 1995 - Purchased the Terminador Camp on the Futaleufu.
  • Feb. 1995 - Took ABC Sports down Futaleufu to shoot special featuring Earth River guide Beth Rypins.
  • July 1995 - Scouted two river systems in Labrador looking for a place to bring media to gain attention to the sonic booms from Nato jet fly overs that were destroying the bush culture of the Innu native culture.
  • Nov. 1995 -   Began running some of the first cmmercial trips on China's Great Bend of the Yangtze.
  • June 1996 - National Geographic (yellow) Magazine and National Geographic Explorer television feature Earth River on first descent of Tibet's 8,000 foot deep class Shuiluo Canyon (Expedition leader, Joe Dengler) (see library)
  • Feb. 1997 - ESPN/Men's Journal television special featuring Eric Hertz leading an expedition on the Futaleufu airs.
  • Jun 1997 - Week long trip to help Ouj Bougoumou Cree look for a river in their territory to do adventure travel on.
  • July 1997 - Ran first raft descent of the Yukon Territory's Primrose River (Expedition leader, Eric Hertz).
  • Aug. 1997 - Ran one of first commercial descent of Tibet's upper Yangtze River (Expedition leader Eric Hertz)
  • April 1998 - Earth River takes two van loads of local Futaleufu farmers on week long trip to visit the Bio Bio River River dam site to show them what could happen to their river and valley. Some of people are reduced to tears when they see the destruction.
  • July 1998 - Sunday Boston Globe features Earth River on the Futaleufu (see Futaleufu library).
  • Jan. 1999 - Outside Magazine cover photo of Earth River's Futaleufu trip.
  • May 1999 - Purchased Tree House Camp on Futaleufu.
  • Sept. 1999 - Ran first descent of unknown Yosemite like valley Headwall Canyon in British Columbia with tributary waterfalls as high as 2,000. (Expedion leader, Eric Hertz).
  • Oct. 1999 - Ran first descent of Tibet's class 5 Po Tsang Po  (Expedition leaders; Steve Currie, Robert Currie, expedition leaders) (see library).
  • Nov. 2000 - Nov. 2003 - wins Forbes Magazine's ""Best of the Web"" for Adventure Travel.
  • May 2000 - Eric Hertz and Steve Mahan ran conservation awareness trip on New Foundland's Main River, threatened by the clearcutting of it's old growth forest.
  • July 2000 - Eric Hertz organized conservation awareness trip through Headwall Canyon threatened by clear cut logging. Expedition members include: National Geographic, Actor, Richard Dean Anderson, Chief of the Klahoose First Nation and the Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Nov. 2000 - National Geographic Explorer television features Earth River doing Headwall Canyon.
  • Jan. 2001 - Discovery Channel special "Don't Forget Your Passport" airs, featuring Earth River on Futaleufu.
  • Feb. 2001 - American Airlines Magazine (American Way) features Earth River on Futaleufu River (see Futaleufu library).
  • Dec. 2002 - National Geographic Adventure Magazine features Earth River on first sea kayaking expedition into the remote Lakes of Patagonia, Chile (see library).
  • June, 2003 - wins World Web Award for adventure travel.
  • Oct. 2003 - Outside Magazine feature on Earth River's Futaleufu trip. (see Futaleufu library).
  • Aug. 2004 - Eric Hertz organized and led conservation awareness trip on Magpie River threatened by a series of dams. Participants included; Robert Kennedy, Jr., Canadian Media, Canadian environmental groups and National Geographic Adventure Magazine.(see library).
  • March 2005 - Ran conservation awareness trip on Futaleufu River with, Robert Kennedy Jr., celebrities (John Mcenroe, Julia Louis Dryfus and Dan Aykroid), members of the Chilean business community and Chilean Senator Antonio Horvath (head of the Chilean senate environmental commission).
  • Nov. 2005 - Town and Country Magazine features Earth River on the Futaleufu (see library).
  • May 2006 - The New York Times features Earth River's Futaleufu trip (see library).
  • May 2009 - Ran first raft and commercial descent of Peru's class 4 Yavero River. 
“Eric Hertz has devoted his life and his company’s resources to saving some of the world’s last great white-water, wilderness rivers.".
"Earth River is the premier river runner in the world. Their staff includes the finest guides to be found."
“Earth River is more than a great whitewater outfitter. Their contributions have made a real difference in our efforts to preserve some of the world's most beautiful rivers in Chile and Canada."
"I want to personally thank Earth River for helping us stop the hydro-electric projects on our land preventing the destruction of one of North America's last great wildernesses.
“I’ve rafted with Eric Hertz down some tough rivers—the Futaleufu in Chile, the Colca in Peru. He's one of the best in the business—obsessed with safety."
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