Archiv für den Monat: Dezember 2009

frigido – a hidden gem embedded in white marble

dario boofs the weir at frigido creek

dario boofs the weir at frigido creek

yeah, guys, back at the computer after a long-slept morning at dario’s.

yesterday was a great day. the rain wasn’t as much as promissed so we went to tuscany home run two highway exits south of lerici. just a few kilometres from carrara (the place where the famous marble comes from) the valley of frigido awaited us near the town of massa.

just a short cut into the alpi apuane the frigido is rather hidden between the costal towns. narrow slopes, sometimes cliffs, marble factories and stuffed mountain villages don’t leave much space to the river. the scenery reminded me to the guiers mort in french chartreuse mountains in its lower classic section. probably because both of the  runs end with a high vertical dam which can be run. 

to all lyon veterans laughing out loud now: the white water is much better than on guiers mort. and of course 12 degree and no snow!

we started the run on a side affluent crossing a deep and narrow canyon. it looked so nice. the drops between the undercut walls looked like one metre high or so. my friends seemed having this paddled  many times so i went into my kayak very calm.

once in the gorge my confidence dwindled. low water, cliffs and rocks everywhere, no space to put the boof strokes. of course the drops were not 1 but rather 2 metres.

i melted the fall completely, plopped back like a bouchon, flipped to the front, pulled the paddle like hell and hoped to be out of the tow-back. luckily, i was. to set up rescue would have been a hard task.

afterwards, i was told that this was just the second descent of this gorge. 

joining the confluence around 8 cubes filled the river bed. the run is just about 4 km, but a never-ending boulder slalom, small drops up to 1,5 m, a crazy slide in the middle of the village forno, and and and.

the most spectacular “rapid” is a 5m artificial dam where all the water goes together just 3 m wide. the boiling pot with a big mushroom is intimidating. dario showed us the line while we prefered to take the safe road next-by.

the colour of the water is turquoise green, the rapids consist partially of marble. perfect day!!!

ok, guys, i should finish now.

in ten minutes riccio fetches us at the house and we are going to the bagnone.

check the photos here:



high water greetings from liguria

ahoi verfechters!

seems that this winter verfechters are dispersed over the globe quite a lot.

while anna and jules explore the rivers in chile, most of us seem to wait in freezing germany for the last days melting in black forest or for the perfect powder in the alps.

people knowing me me, know that i hate winter sports.

except it is winter paddling!!! this “season” more than other years as my sick shoulder kept me to the physiotherapists for a couple of months.

so salome and me took the spontaneous plan to go south after surviving santa claus. we decided in the morning of dec 25th, made appointments in french central massive, just to change the plans in the late afternoon and to start to liguria in the evening.

until my first and only apennine trip together with anna on our way to corsica (must have been 2002 and was 100% dry, like the next 2 weeks on the island…), i never payed attention to this rather “easy” destination. most paddlers only know the northern rivers like trebbia and enza which offer mostly class 2 and 3.

we checked, believed in the 10 degrees promissed and went with the odd dkv guide book.

another “go there!” was the short distance from tuebingen. google maps showed just 650 km to arrive at the first med river between genova and la spezia.

after 7 hours of driving we slept the first night at the scrivia river south of pavia. next morning showed us brown water and high level, but also zero degree.

so we drove over to lavagna river, watering to the mediterranean sea. water level looked medium to high and we met also creekboaters who attempted an affluent (neirone). it looked like pitzbach in low fows, but considerably steeper. i rejected the invitation to join cause i thought taking my shoulder from class 2 straight to class 5 is not the option of the day.

finally we decided for a section on middle lavagna where we could paddle both. well, it was a “nice” run… salome will tell you more…

yesterday brought us to the vara, one of the big classics in liguria. the river bed seemed like spate occured just few days ago, sometimes the river was just on the search for its new bed.

water was fast and getting bigger while driving downstreams. so i decided to see on a solo run through the classic gorge. in the afternoon sun was in its full power and  i paddled quite blind towards the rapids. 25 cubes were pushed through a remote gorge similar to soca’s graveyard section. i recognized that my shoulder is stable and i enjoyed a lot the long wave trains and the boulder slalom.

btw, local kayakers are active when the water is fine. i met two commercial rafts and playboaters on vara gorge.

today the weather changed. still 8-10 degrees, but after noon it started to rain. i was checking out the aullela, a tributary to magra. crystale clear water in the beginning and nice class 3- with three vertical dams. the highest jump (5m) showed that the shoulder is boofproof.

in the afternoon we drove over to taverone valley, surely the most famous ligurian run among german kayakers. camp fire tales remember an isolated canyon-like gorge with marvellous rapids, but also a runnable 6m dam followed by a 5m-wall where all the water goes under it.

to be a good camp fire story the river is in a gorge whole way long and you barely can scout the infamous “dams and walls”. 5 cubes is indicated as good flow where you can inspect and portage all rapids. well water is clear so it is hard to judge. but it was rather 12 than 5 cubes. i was just considering the pro and cons regarding a solo run as we met ricco and dario unloading their van.

dear readers, it was great luck to meet these guys. paddling alone into taverone gorge in this level is not a good idea. tricky class 4+ rapids, too many blind corners, small slots, some holes, and of course only very few access points to reach the road.

we had a great run! yeah, it was the best run since lech in summer. probably because it was the only 4+ since then. it is so good to be back in the boat, guys!

portugal is an amazing winter destination when there is water. because of the big drops and the hospitality of the iberian paddlers. liguria is about to compete.

dario invited us to his friends house, showed us bathroom and computer and went to shop for dinner.

yeah, good memories to all the winter trips. paddlers seem to be most hospitable in winter. full season.

see you soon.