Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bjørndalselvi - Norway

Eirik Øvreeide on Norway's first drop of the year. Bjørndalselvi - Norway

There are many undiscovered rivers around Hordaland's coastal region that would be all any kayaker could ever ask for in other parts of the world. But in reality, by the time paddlers reach Bergen, the final hour to the creek-mecca of Voss is usually too high one's list to explore the rain filled drainages here on the coast. The Bjørndalselvi is a great creek outside the guidebook realm and often overlooked.

Put in slide.

When that first stroke on the water comes to anyone hibernating in the Northern hemishpere long enough, its a warm feeling no matter what the temperature is outside. Norway's paddling season is finally back on here after a long wintry hiatus even here on the ocean.

Benjamin Hjort trying out the new helmet cam.

Here's how it's been so far... Voss - No snow until Christmas, super cold and only a few isolated dumps ever since. Mountain snowpack is brutally low in this part of Norway and has many of us wondering what summer will bring. Bergen should have been under rain clouds during this time but in fact had abnormally cold temperatures, clear skies and the most snow to stay on the ground ever.

So yes we got to go powder skiing even here in the rainiest town in Europe, but now all that is history after the low pressure weather systems are returning from the Atlantic.

doomy and gloomy is how we roll.

Getting on Bergen's local creek doesn't happen with much ease. The shuttle to the Bjørndalselvi takes less time from home than most people spend loading boats on the roof. However despite the distance, the real task is getting lucky with the levels. Even with an internet gauge, no one can be really sure unless your drive is attempted in the most dismal of rainy weather AND your house was shaking from the rainstorm the previous night before. Even then, its best not to sleep-in as the Bjørndalselvi spikes and drops in flows similar to the rain dependent runs in Scotland and Wales.

Taking pictures of this creek has especially been a challenge as I have yet to be on it without some sort of precipitation hitting me from various angles. However other than the stingy flow, the run is still pure Norway in a short blast.

Considered a lighter version of Voss's famous Branseth, the Bjørndalselvi is composed mainly of read and run slides and a few horizon lines worth looking at the first time down. Above and below the normal section are of course more good rapids to scout, but could often do with even more water. Enjoy the last of winter and we'll see you all coming up to Norway for another year of whitewater paddling.

Flows: An internet gauge on Dyrdalvatnet gives a basic idea of what is happening. Look for at least 1.5 cms and and rising. However the the best way is to check the flow at the put-in. A rock in the middle of the creek should be mostly covered. See map below for more details.

View Bjørndalselvi (IV) in a larger map