Interview: What’s next for Mariann Saether?
What’s next for Mariann Saether? The Norwegian pro-kayaker has been in the spotlight for more than two decades, and her passion for whitewater is still burning hot. Known for both big waterfalls and big water skills, first-descents and big-wave freestyle steeze she can hold her ground to most young-guns. Add into the picture a two-year old, a teacher position at the local university and plenty of hours on the water and you know life is busy. Mariann and her partner Ron Fisher split their lives between Norway, where they run, among many other things, a rafting operation in Northern Norway, and the winters in Chile in their home on the banks of the Futaleufu. There they are offering guided trips and camping spots at rather affordable rates. We caught up with Mariann as she gets ready to move south.
Where is home?
Ah… Tricky question! We keep thinking that “this is it”, but then find ourselves moving onwards a while later. We have not yet found the ultimate HOME, so we spend the European summer in northern Norway, some time in Voss in between seasons, and the rest in Chile for the winter season. We obviously miss Switzerland, and want to try to change that soon.
Is it not tricky to manage all these locations?
Well, yes… It sounds amazing, right? But truth is that everybody needs a base. We think that maybe it is time to try Switzerland- and then we can decide where we will find a home – Norway, Chile or Switzerland. I think the real problem is that we have a luxury problem – too many options!?
« I love the river. Whatever I do in life, whether I am out on missions or working a 9-4 job, the river is always my playground. It is where I can make peace with the world.»
So – tell us about Chile
Chile is our soul. It is where we met, and where we have a second home by the river Futaleufu. It is nothing short of magic, and we have been paddling in that valley and on that river for 20 years. It is home as nothing else.
And we hear that you are running a business in Norway and Chile?
Yes! We started a rafting and kayaking business in North-Norway two years ago, just south of the Arctic Circle. It is called RiverNorth Rafting, and is right in the middle of an amazing whitewater region, unknown to most foreigners. We provide kayak rentals, guiding and instruction in Norway, as well as in Chile .
We have plenty of kayaks, and can offer shuttles and guiding if needed. In the end it is nice to share our Paradise with others, and as Chile is not a cheap country, a little additional income for maintenance and further development is good.
Tell us more about this new idea you got to offer camping facilities and guided trips on the Futa starting this year at your own house…?
Last year we bought some more land from our neighbors, so that we now have quite a lot of space! We offer basic camping by the river, or the possibility to rent a small cabin. We have plenty of kayaks, and can offer shuttles and guiding if needed. In the end it is nice to share our Paradise with others, and as Chile is not a cheap country, a little additional income for maintenance and further development is good.
One of the things that needed to get done was to spread Lulu´s ashes in a place she and us had gone together, which she declared was paradise on Earth.
We know you went to do a lulu love tour this summer – want to share?
Yes, we did. The past five years have been very hard – we lost almost ten friends to rivers and mountains. One of the things that needed to get done was to spread Lulu´s ashes in a place she and us had gone together, which she declared was paradise on Earth. The Glomåga in north Norway. You paddle across a like, hike over a mountain and then descend for two days to get the river done. We halted mid-way and emptied her ashes in the most beautiful spot you can imagine. And I have to mention my friends Fernanda Suarez, Florent Duval and Fidel Moreno who hiked in to the spot from the bottom of the river with our son… They dropped us off at put-in, then drove a whole day to take-out, slept with him in the van and then hiked him in almost ten hours to come and meet us for Lulu´s ash spreading… Then they hiked him another six hours out the next day with us descending the river. I am not sure how to convey the amazingness of the entire journey… but it was very worthy of her memory.
How can do you do it all, now you have a job, a kid and still plenty of paddling days? How much longer will you do this you think?
We try to be open about what we need to be happy. I need activity to be happy, so Ron tries to accommodate that with opening up for me get river time as much as possible. And the other way around I try to do my best to let him get his time as well. Anyways, my job is only 50 % and the students are online-students, so I manage! I think I will be doing this for ever – and more and more with my son which makes the future even more excited.
More info on camping & cabins, gear rental and guided trips on the Futaleufu: HERE