Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Clore Canyon, BC - Canada

Bryce Shaw heading up the quality control in the Clore Canyon, BC - Canada

The Grand Canyon of the Clore remains a fascinating series of topographical lines on the explorer's map. It has repeatedly sparked the interests of paddlers within and beyond the local northern BC paddling community.

Chris Robberts and Scott Feindel.

Local adventure boaters Shane Spencer and Natou Kurtz have led many of Northwest BC's creek discoveries for nearly a decade, all the while the Clore being one of their hometown specials. Access to the canyon however, despite being just upstream of the normal 'flintstone' section, was one of those special places requiring the use of jet fuel.

Getting the green light in the morning mist.

In the late summer of 2007, Corey Boux and Shane Spencer among others, had the luck of a courtesy drop by a heli being used to shuttle workers around in the area. Not only did the helicopter open doors to a 1st D, it dropped them right above 'goods central' and eliminated the more probable float plane route via Bernie Lake, which includes 25 kilometers of scenic class II.

A year later word on the street was the Clore Grand Canyon was certainly a sweet place. Most notably was 'yes' it could have taken more flow, but unfortunately 'no' the heli guys were not doing anymore drops to kayakers on someone else's wallet.

Kavu day heading into the Howson Range

This autumn the stage was set for another local attempt by Natou, Roger Fehr and Pat Colgan. All 3 were more than happy to land on floats in Bernie Lake, cruise the upstream scenery and paddle stern heavy with beer and steaks for an extra day or two. They would soon welcome partially unexpected additions by myself, Scott Feindel and the KWest boys fresh off their Dean adventure. Instantly our flight load tripled in size as we met on an early September morning in Smithers BC.

Roger Fehr making sure the 12 pack is handy before pushing off - Day 1.

Out of the lake and into the previously unrun stretch of the Bernie River, the current took us faster than expected and provided our group 2 full scenic afternoons of eating and drinking away our excessively deluxe camping cargo before entering the looming gates of the Clore Canyon.

White man camp at Bernie/Clore confluence - Day 2.

With more flow than the 1st descent, day 3 started loud and heavy as the Clore's towering walls closed around us in a spectacle of class IV and V boulder fields. Once committed to the gorge proper, over 10 kilometers of classic BC canyon stand between you and the exit.

Chris Robberts charging away on day 3

The first rapid at the canyon entrance is an easy river left scout and could be considered your determining gauge to the difficulty of the run from this point on. If the rapid is nothing more than a ledge boof into the runout, the rest of the canyon will provide.

On point.

If the rapid requires a challenging left to right through pushy class IV then the canyon is prime and by no means a booze cruise anymore.

Sean Allen first to agree with the perfect flow.

It's safe to say that if the entry rapid to the Clore Canyon appears to be showing fangs of concern, you will be in uncharted waters if you continue around the corner.

David Faubert emerging from the sweet long corner rapid.

The Clore Canyon is another example of premier adventure boating in the remote BC wilderness. Flights with Alpine Lakes Air will put a 7-seat Turbo Otter into Bernie Lake headwaters within 25 minutes. In finding the takeout drive far up the Clore FSR as far as you can or ask someone in town. Thanks to the Terrace paddling community who live life far from the maddening crowds and continue to explore the wide open spaces of Northwestern Britsh Columbia.

Canadian Pilsner wrap-up at the take-out with the hosts.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Lower Myrkdalselvi - Norway

Daniele Tira critically amassing the abundant flow on the Lower Myrkdalselvi, Norway

Andy Phillips - Karma Cow 2 at normal Flow. May 2010

Creek ninjas unite for another take on Voss's classic whitewater scene. In Norway there are two types of heart pumping Grandiosas - the 10 dollar fatty pizzas that keep the budget creeker nourished while on tour, and the supersized triple combos complementing the full-course stuntman buffet known as the Lower Myrkdalselvi.

Always waiting for devotees come early/mid summer, the Myrkdal is the savvy creeker's bread and butter in Voss. A large catchment in a wet scandic wonderland, a valuable internet gauge, a 30 minute drive to the show.... and there you are - front row seat with a whole lot about to go down.

Michele Ramazza skips the previews when at the show - entry boof.

With sunshine and perfect flow for the taking as we finally had the other day, it was no wonder myself and the Italian Paparazzi had their wide angles exposed. Fortunately the Michele/Daniele duo also brought their craving to run-the-shit with them. With hardly an appetizer into the run the Myrkdal cooks up the first 3-course triple slide, which at high flows is easy on the eyes but hard on the stomach.

Main dish triple slide - pumping @ 20 cms+

After the triple slide comes a short break before leading into the second triple whammy. Here the Myrkdal serves up another well packaged drop times three. Here you're looking for a center right on 1, either way on 2 and righty boof on 3.

Triple D - second set

....and then mo'

Two more slides high on the satisfacto-meter await just downstream before you're faced with an easy portage around the Myrkdal's biggest drop. A beautiful fossen typicaly found in Norway's Hordaland region. Skirt the grass pasture on river right and look for the well worn trail back down to the river.

Immediatley below the portage awaits one of the nicest boof to slide combos anywhere. High water forms an easy line down the left but almost any line off the top will go and have you grinning at the bottom.

From start to finish the Lower Myrkdalselva hardly takes a break in between the whitewater that the run is so famous for. The final drop before the takeout is less of a dice roll than most consider, however the hole at the bottom will always be ready to turn you inside out on the way through. Overall a kavu day over here in Voss with team Italia and the sunshine.

Ramazza - last dose before takeout

There are mentions of 15cms being enough but the river certainly goes with much more. Portaging the triple slide at certain flows on river right can be a wise choice and hardly detracts from the overall Myrkdal experience. Myrkdal guage can be found here

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Teigdalselvi - Norway

Mariann Sæther reminds us of what whitewater dreams are made of -Teigdalselvi, Norway

NONE of these incredible photos would be possible without the determination and eddyless probing of many drops from the Norwegian creek slayer and fine photo g Benjamin Hjort.

Those who have made the journey or have been born lucky can fully attest to Norway's epic whitewater ownage. Yet almost no other creek in Norway truly represents this fact more than what is found up in the Teigdal valley a short distance from the town of Voss.

Andy Phillips firing the day off - entry falls.

Norway's Teigdalselvi is what class V paddling really exemplifies. It's that steep gleaming Rolls Royce of-a creek that grabs your utmost attention on the first paddle stroke. Blazing adrenaline within 300 meters, huge slides, clean waterfalls and a world famous 60 foot conclusion to a day that renders your body at least comfortably broken, if not more.

Greg Dashper waxing the second slide.

And so one of the best Monday missions ever took place under perfect blue sky with an international and renowned cast. With Tyler, Mariann and Logan racing down from a flooded Sjoa valley to join the annual "once we were warriors" gathering, this years Teigdal pilgrimage would prove sizeable and include 5 new raw huck-meat faces. As the magical 'double drop' came into view at the takeout, the question would remain whether anyone would give in to the ultimate double plunge sacrifice when the big moment arrived.

Tyler Curtis looking to rejoin the crew just above the second falls.

Oddly enough, Norway's awesome guidebook hardly mentions what lurks above the takeout falls. Without the double drop even being thrown into the mix, the Teigdalselvi is still creek perfection. Loudly strumming a tune in between continuous technical class IV to something that goes a little like: box-entry 25, slide 30, slide 45, boof 20, wee-boof, portage 35, possible slide 50, drop a-many, damn ugly 35, auto 10, disappearing act 25.

Logan Grayling readys the pose for big expectations downstream.

TC staring into the face of the nasty 2for3 Notter drop.

As the afternoon sun beat down good lines and big smiles were across the board. However the flow was recognizably higher than when we had put on. This became quite apparent on the near vertical slide before double drop as each slightly different lead-in approach produced a similar go-deep-and-wonder result.

Heading into the 5 count cavity-clearing abyss.

Mikey Abbott - Multiple Teigdal descents and a sweet line leader above double drop.

Ultimately the misty gates to an unforgettable horizon line were before us, and the time of reckoning had come. As fresh meat dangled on the doorstep the legendary Mike Abbott and Benji Hjort took care of business early and rode the express elevator to the bottom in style. Original drop claimer Allan Ellard found a perch and pressed the media button and so it was time for the rest of the circus to take to the air.

Basso first six of sixty - got boof?

Highlights to a memorable double drop huck extravaganza included a BIG duffek stroke, 2 nail-biter left lines off the top, flying pigtails, Michele Ramazza's Italian precision, some bloody facial hair, the worlds fastest combat roll, and an unintended brace to freewheel demonstration from a po-dunk Canadian with an ugly van.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Osola - Switzerland

Time to stay left on the Osola - Switzerland

Having to throw the kayak on the shoulder and spend an hour or more hiking to access the creeking goods is quite unheard of in the road developed backcountry of Switzerland. Yet for the Osola, hiking is defnitley worth the price of admission when the road stops and the bedrock slides appear up the valley.

Toro Rogenmoser heading into battle.

The Osola is a major tributary to the legendary Verzasca River in the heart of Switzerland’s Tessin region. Over the years the Osola has lured the likes of many big names in padding to its slides and has sent almost everyone home with either big grins, big swims, battered boats or aching bodies.

Julian Stocker in transition on the Osola.

After being to both, one could almost compare the action-packed low volume Osola to Montana’s Big Timber Creek. The hike is beautiful, the volume wee-bity and the gradient more than average. Still this is the Alps, and if the surrounding peaks, wildflowers and ancient homesteads presenting themselves don’t convince you that you're in Euro-paradise, then following quality Swiss kayakers down high alpine runs for 2 weeks certainly will.

Lucas Wielatt finds the auto-launch.

Severin Haberling - Swiss Alp home turf.

Finding the Osola is none harder than driving up along Val Verzasca, crossing over to the river right side of the valley and hitting the small town of Brione. If the main Verzasca is flowing above 20-25 cms then the Osola should go. Even if the creek under the road bridge appears to be a scrape of only a few cms, it won't necessarily be a sign of the paddleable levels found on the narrow bedrock slides well upstream.

Michelle Basso having a go on another flume.

From Brione a very narrow road winds along river left for about 4 kms until it ends at a most probable takeout for the Osola in splendid Swiss postcard fashion. Continuing up the same side of the valley on foot past the goats and rock fencing will reveal some of the steepness the Osola booms, including a gonzo slide with a partial landing zone.

Lukas Wielatt getting a good view.

Please mind the cave below on the right.

Even if this drop isn't to be found in your daily bag of tricks, the Osola hides many more surprises upstream. Although the trail gets quite steep in a few areas, it's worth the trudge until you're well past crossing the footbridge taking you to the opposite side of the creek.

Julian Stocker losing altitude near the put-in.

Although most of the rivers in the Swiss Tessin make up a classic zone in the whitewater realm, the Osola is a standout for those looking to get a big dose of fresh air and altitude adrenaline while going up and certainly falling down the valley. A big thanks to Olaf Obsommer for the tales of woe and to Toro Rogenmoser for quality snaps and the temporary full-face loan.

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Injisuthi - South Africa

Chris Lee near the source of the Injisuthi - Kwazulu Natal, South Africa

South Africa's Central Drakensberg remains a fortress of cliff peaks backing up high against the mountain plateaus of Lesotho. Nightly thunderstorms in the summer are good news for paddlers when big drainages like the Umkomas, Bushmans and Buffalo rivers start pumping. Coming straight from the source as one big artery of the Tugela River are the quality drops found on the Injisuthi.

Grahame Henebry gets the goods at 7am

This highly rain dependent creek comes to life in January and February in a matter of hours when rainclouds creep over the peaks and position themselves low overhead. Getting on it early morning after a storm is optimal and nobody has this practice down better than Chris Lee and the crew from Four Rivers rafting nearby. As another day pushing rubber was in their midst, five of us bared a four am wake up call after listening to the rain rage for most of the night.

Sunrise and good views.

The drive begins with a windy road up the Injisuthi valley past numerous local villages. An easy reminder for the takeout is the washed out bridge which you cross just prior to the road climbing steeply. You can turn right across from the school and venture down a dirt track to park almost at the shore. Back on the main road continue until dirt changes to pavement again and stop when you can see the Injisuthi appearing quite steep at a "gorge pools" pullout sign.

Michelle Basso just below the put-in

It was still nearly dark when we launched out from the pools and straight into the first drop backed up by boulders on both sides. This first boof does not really represent the run as most sections turn into boulder mazes, short slides and narrow canyons. As sun broke over the hills we came to the biggest slide about a third of the way down. A big tree blocks most of the entry but the line works right to left.

A nice wake up hit at the bottom

After here keep an eye out for a steep boulder garden about halfway down the entire run. This rapid is backed up by two wide holes and a giant rock on the right with pin potential at the bottom. Our water level made this section a good place to scout. If the water is low you will become quite aware of more sieve/pin potentials in other places further on down. Also near the end are two easy portages around things looking no-so-nice. As the Injisuthi faded to the flats, the boys got to work late but still had the whole day ahead of them. If you are heading to the rivers of Natal keep the Injusuthi on the list when the rains are heavy. Thanks to Jackie Fourie and Chris Lee for the base camp in the beautiful Drakensberg.

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