After coming back from Chile and subsequently Corsica, I got back to Piemonte for spring season guiding for Gene17 and festival organizing.
The first out of the festivals was third annual Val Sesia festival organized by Gene17 and I took my Raptor straight to 2 races the long distance race and also to the evening boater cross. The long distance race is one of the best stretches of whitewater to have a similar race on. Great fun, multiple possible lines and long enough stretch to make the technical parts stand out over just powering it down the racecourse. Afterwards in the evening, there was a time for the italian Sweet rumble boatercross race in Campertogno. It went quite good for me until semifinals. Following the boatercross, there was a prizegiving and following party until early morning hours.
My second race of this season was unplanned but fun event of the EXO tour cup. I just finished a week of guiding for Gene17 and as we rolled back into the campground Ihad just enough time to sign up for the race, get in my gear and onto the water. I finished third in the long race, second in boatercross behind Michele Ramazza and third in the Sorba slalom, so I took home third place.
Last race of the spring was King of the Alps in Meran for me. Formerly I did not plan to go, but as the weather in Val Sesia got better after almost 4 weeks of rain I decided to stay to soak up soime sunshine before rainy Norway. It turned out to be cool event. I did not have a time to check out the long marathon race and so I just turned up in the morning with the intention to give it as much as I can and hope for the best. I finished seventh and due to some delays I was also able to race in the evening boatercross where I ended up in the semifinals- well still have to do some training for those final runs:)
After the boatercross it was a time to head to Czech for a week before leaving for Veko.
years ago to get here and see it for myself. The mediterean island with pitoresque medieval towns,
amazing cheese and salami becomes a whitewater creeking paradise for a few weeks in April
almost every year.
During the last two seasons there had not been much snow on the island and so the rivers were pretty dry. I heard many of my friends complaining about no water and felt like this is becoming a stereotype of Corse.
DIFFERENT STORY THIS YEAR! A big snowpack looks like this is going to be amazing Corsica season. I heard this and also all the social media updates of various groups traveling around the island made it pretty clear. Corse is going to be a place to be. With a spare week and coming up Gene17 trip to Corsica, I was keen to check it out for myself. My friend from Matias from Argentina happened to have time and hung out around Genova, so we met up in Livorno and sailed to Corse on Monday. After catching up with the Czech crew and Thomas Rogenmoser, we went to paddle some of the best classics and it has been amazing. Two years ago Corse was fine, sliding over the rocks and going through cool granite canyons. This year the rivers are full. Here is a quick update of the paddled rivers
Tuesday- Middle Vecchio: amazing bouldergarden run with quite a few sives and portages but so
Wednesday- Codi: there was quite a bit of water this year and much better than I could remember it.
Thursday- Rizannesse. Even though there is a dam on Riza now, the flow was around 110cm and
high but amazing.
Friday- Travo at 145cm
Pretty much all the creeks here feel like super cool river, I more used to from Piemonte and Ticino
Hope to check out more soon and btw. the sun is shining!
I am not exactly sure where to start. 2012 was one of the busiest and at the same time amazing years I remember. I will try to catch a bit of the atmosphere here.
Stage 1- South America
New Years Eve day 2012 has caught me in the plane landing on the Santiago Airport shortly, where I met David Ernst and Flo Petry on their Boundless trip around the world. After crazy New Years eve celebration I headed south to guide the Gene17 trip in Pucon for couple weeks. The trip was great and we paddled most of the classics around Pucon, while also taking couple trips to Rio Fuy. Great weather, good water and just being in Chile made it amazing. After the trip I spent the following 2 months travelling and kayaking in Chile and Argentina taking trips to Rio Puello, Bianco and Manzo in Bariloche in Argentina and wrapping up the trip on the Rio Futaleufu in Patagonia. This years Futafest 2012 had been an amazing event with great vibes and fun. I finished 4th in the Bridge to Bridge race and 3rd in some of the boater cross races. After the Futafest it was time to pack my bags and head back to Europe, while quickluy visiting the high water Nevados in Pucon
Stage 2- Europe
Landing in Czech I did not have much time to get bored as shortly after my return I was driving to Slovenia to lead the Gene17 staff training week. The levels has been ranging from very low to very high but the weather had been awesome. I took a drive home through Austria to get onto some of the classic runs in the Alps and meeting my friends on Wofsteiner Ohe on the Czech/German border I made it home just as the snow at home started to melt. The next week or so I spent kayaking at home, while waiting for Jake Holland to turn up in Prague for the next adventure. As soon as he arrived the rivers got some water and we were off for a cold snowy trip to the rivers on the Czech/Polish border. Having Jake in the car I was ready to pack my stuff for the spring in Europe and we headed to Italy through Austria visiting and paddling some of the best classics like the Lofer Gorge and Brandenberger Ache visiting Versasca that was still covered by snow. Unfortunately Val Sesia was also still frozen so we got to paddle only low water Sermenza and Jake had to head home. Dropping Jake at the airport in Milan I went back north to Piemonte to meet up with a Czech and Slovakian gtoup of my buddies and hopefully paddle some rivers in Ticino. This region is amazing but I never had good levels here so I hoped to have have more luck this time. This time it was raingin as crazy for change so we got onto very high water runs with Strona being the highlight class 5 gorge run. After a week I said bye to the boys and headed back to Val Sesia and Milan airport to pick up paddlers for the first of the three weeks of Gene17 adventures in Val Sesia in Italy. This year in Italy had been amazing for water levels and finally also weather so we had a great season crowned with a short second trip to Versasca and Rovana in Ticino and organisation of the Val Sesia River festival. Helping with organisation, running clinics and competing at the same time had not been easy but it was great fun and and the festival was big success this spring. Right after the Val Sesia festival I headed couple hours southwest to Ivrea for the European Teva mountain games. Unfortunately there was not much water but it was nice to compete and meet many of friends all over Europe and NZ.
Stage 3- Norway
After the Teva games I had a quick run on the Ayasse river and headed back home further north to Voss Noway for the Ekstremesport week. The Veko is my favourite week in the year and it was not different this year. All the friends from all around the world came to compete and enjoy the amazing Norwegian whitewater. The Branseth race was awesome and managed to squeeze a Teigdalen run with the infamous double drop as well. Very happy times. Right after Veko I was back to guiding the Gene17 roadtrip around Sjoa and Valdal and helping Simon with organising of the annual Sjoa River festival and Ula extreme race. Another Valdal this time with Benjamin Hjort and toni George followed straight after the festival. Getting runs on the Valldola, Myklebust and my new favourite in Norway the Stordalselva. This river is just amazing. Super quality whitewater with cool drops. Afterwards I was back to Sjoa to take over from Simon guiding the Gene17 Sjoa Progressive courses and also one big Gene17 roadtrip. Overall an amazing Gene17 season with loads of fun in Norway. Again I didn’t sit still for the long and soon I was boarding a plane back home for a short trip to the Devil’s Extreme race which I had writen about. Simply a cool stretch of whitewater in homeland, where all the Czech and this year also many European kayakers turned up to race or just enjoy the atmosphere and unique and easy train shuttles. Back to Norway I met up with the Kiwi crew and we rallied to Voss to run the Myrkdal and Raundalen which are my favourite rivers almost anywhere. The levels started to rise and we got an unusual early Early September run of the Teigdalen on our list. Tired and cold we retreated back to Sjoa for some sickline training and chilled days on Amot and shortly after leaving to Austria for the Sickline.
Spending week at the Austrian alps is always good, but when you add the best kayakers in the world and fun atmosphere it gets even much bigger. Cars loaded with kayaks were zipping up and down the valley and despite the high water levels the course was always full of training kayakers. The race itself was a show and it was interesting to see some of the best slalom kayakers and extreme boaters competing in the same event. Great event, great atmosphere and show of the skills.
Stage 4- Nepal
Sometimes mid summer Ron Fischer invited me to my biggest expedition yet. We hiked with 8 sherpas for 9 days in high altitude himalayan trail to get to the put in of the Langu Khola river. I have never been to over 5000m altitude and it was quite a sight to see kayaks there. It was cold, exhausting and amazing at the same time. The most beatiful views and landscape in the reomore part of the planet. Breathtaking sceneries and a culture we all could learn a lot. We finally put on the river at 4 530m and paddled all the way to 190m to the first bridge in Chisapani. It took us 19 days and we covered around 540 kms. Mostly of deep canyons and technical steep class 4/5 whitewater. Simply put the hardest, the longest, the coldest and the most amazing of my life so far. But more about this one in a separate report.
……and after coming back home from it was 3 weeks to Christmass and my ticket to Chile for another Gene17 trip and learning spanish experience. As I write this, I am sitting on the shores of Rio Trancura, it rains outside and I am wondering if the Nevados is going to come in.
Thank you guys for an amazing year. Without you all this would not be possible. Your gear kept me dry and comfy all year.
Salud and gracias
Photo: Jakub`s archiv, Raphael Thiebaut, Benjamin Hjort
I’ve been wondering what to take with me for the Langu Expedition and the Limited Edition GMER drysuit was exactly what I was looking for. I love the Rogue drytop, and this drysuit is developed with that in mind. I knew we will practically be living in our gear all day during theLangu Khola descent, and there will be a tremendous amount of abuse too.
photo Raphael Thiebaut
These were the ultimate test conditions, and the suit stood up to it perfectly. I knew we will have to portage through rough bushes and loads of sharp rocks, so durability was a concern. The bottom of any suit is usually the first part that starts to leak due to pinholes and hard abuse during portaging. The area of Upper Inner Dolpo, where we were heading was full of thorny bushes. I knew there will be loads of scouting and portaging during the course of 540 kms of our Langu descent. The bottom of this suit is made of Cordura, so it is much more resistant. The cut is great too, and I had no problem feeling the zipper whatsoever. I think the zipper is little bit longer on this suit, which makes it easier to get it on and off. Overall I have been super happy with the it, and at the end of the mission I was absolutely dry. In my opinion this could be the roughest drysuit on the market!
Last but not the least I had the short Neo Kayak Mitts with me, and those were truly “hand-saving”. Hand protection in the high altitude was crucial. You can have the best gear in the world, but your hands are the first to get cold, and it is easy to loose a grip on your paddle with your hands frozen. These mitts were great and worked perfectly. The mitts I had had in the past were either too long for easy manipulation with the paddle or just the opposite: too short. These mitts have a very good length and are easy to get in. This had been very helpful as you don’t have to keep thinking about every time you wont to let go of your paddle. - Jakub Sedivy, Kokatat Whitewater Ambassador
I have had tried many types of dry pants, but I have always found the connection between the pants and the dry top very difficult. Whitewater kayaking is an activity involving a lot rotational and other directional movements in a very large range. No matter how hard have I tried, the connection between the pants and the dry top came loose after some time. The dry top usually got pulled upwards and so there was a “cold connection” and I often found myself sitting in the water at the take out. Another disadvantage of the dry top/pant combo had been the amount of neoprene layers around the abdomen. This felt very constricting and uncomfortable, so I tended to use either the Rogue dry topand shorts or my trustworthy Meridian dry suit. The Kokatat Whirlpool Bib looked different immediately, so I decided to give them a go. I’ve been pleasantly surprised since that very first day when I tried them on.
GORE-TEX® Whirlpool Bib with Relief Zipper and Socks
Few points that makes it very special:
1. There is only a thin neoprene band around the waist and so there is no bulk of neoprene around my waist. Overall the pants are nice and loose and such there is no restriction in the movement. What is more, I like very much the roll in system of the Whirlpools. They fit perfectly with the Rogue Dry Top and such make a very dry combination. I found out, that even if I roll the neoprene band of the pants around the inner tube of top only once and cover by spraydeck it is sufficient to keep my dry. I mean so far I have always been bone dry and the connection holds all day.
2. The Whirlpool is the first bib I have had with a relief zipper, and it makes all the difference in the world. These pants have suspenders that keep them in the place, which is amazing because it keep the strain off the pant/top connection, but because of this very reason you WANT the relief zipper, or you would need to undress every time the nature calls.
3. There are reinforcements on the back and knees so they are pretty sturdy and withstand some rough portages
4. The pocket on the chest gets handy for keys, cash and such and I have even taken my cell phone there (no warranty given :), without any problems. The pocket sits above the cut of the Ronin PFD in such a way that unless you pack a beercan there, you will not feel it.
5. In combination with the Rogue dry top the combo gives you a very good alternative to the dry suit in the case you need to be more versatile and careful about the weight restrictions on a plane.
Overall I have been very happily surprised with the Whirlpool Bib, and to be honest, since I have gotten them in Norway last year I wore them for the rest of Norwegian paddling season. I know dry suit is still a dry suit, but the Whirlpool with the Rogue replaces a dry suit very well, and you have all the versatility you can ask for.
After a busy spring in Italy I just had time to repack and throw some warm clothes into my bag before I was back on the road north to Norway for the summer. The longest days of the year mark the time for the Ekstremesport Veko in Voss, this year set for the last week in June. Every year it attracts a huge crowd of extreme sport athletes from all over the world, and kayaking is a big part of the Veko. Levels were good this year and all throughout the week cars filled with kayakers could be seen zipping up and down the valleys searching for rivers to run. Most of the runs were in and the weather was great. Thursday bought with it the more and more popular Brandseth Extreme race, one of the best race courses I know. Steep, technical and thanks to Veko also very popular with both athletes and spectators. The starting field was filled with top notch kayakers from all over the world and so the competition was fierce. The technicality of the Branseth means that even small mistakes made big difference. In the end Sam Sutton won the race, followed by Evan Garcia and Jamie Sutton (final results here:http://www.ekstremsportveko.com/Resultatliste_finale_kajakk_ESV_2013.pdf).
On Friday we met on the Myrkdalen carpark for the first ever (still unofficial) Myrkdal team race. We had six teams of two and reasonably high flows in the river. This race has been a dream of the local boys (Mark Basso and Ben Hjort) in Voss for many years and for the first time this year they managed to pull it off. The Myrkdal is one of the harder classic runs around Voss and one of the best anywhere. We paddled as a group past the waterfall portage and afterwards raced through the rest of the class 5 section in the teams of two all the way through the Holy Diver rapid to the lower bridge. Again the Suttons showed their dominance, followed in second place by Brendon Bayly and myself. It was a great race and many of us hope it will become a part of the Veko programme in the next few years. - Jakub Sedivy, Kokatat Whitewater Ambassador
Good times on the Rio Puelo
I was kayaking way down south Chile and Argentina with a group of European friends 2 years ago, scouting un-run rivers and first descent in the region. We spent over two month south of Rio Baker, which is usually the most southern trip kayakers make while paddling in Chile. During that couple of my friends mentioned Rio Puelo and talked about it in superlatives. It was supposed to be somewhere between Pucon and Futa and is said to be one of the best stretches of big water in Chile. Wow, that is quite a statement, taking in how many amazing rivers there are in this country.
Last year I met up with Sebastian Striebel, who was one of the only few who had paddled the river before and he took us south to check it out. Most of the guys said it is like the Futa Inferno Canyon, but longer and maybe bigger. Inferno Canyon on Futa is amazing, so I was looking forward to see what comes up.
To run Puelo is a bit of a mission. You drive to the end of the road, shoulder your boats and walk for about half an hour on a good path, at one point you get to see one of the bluest lakes ever and from there the scenery becomes amazing. You need to cross the lake to get to the put in, which takes around two hours, shoulder your boats again and walk over a small ridge to yet another lake that drains to Rio Puelo. Half an hour more and you are in the current heading down to the adventure.
I got two different river experiences in the last two years. Last year when we went there for the first time the river was lower, but it still had the big water feel. This year it was straight into game on mode. I would say even bigger than the Inferno Gorge – at some rapids I felt almost like being back on the Rio Baker. Big diagonals and holes keep you on your toes. The whole run is in the steep and inaccessible gorge that continues with rapids following closely each other. There is only one portage, which we run with lower water last year. Even after the portage the rapids don’t ease up, and you can breathe out after 10 or so kilometers when you reach a bridge and take out.
I was super happy to be able to be part of the crew and get to see this river again. It is one of the hidden gems in Chile, and it is not as far as Rio Baker or even Futa. Unfortunately, there are damming plans on this river, so you if you wish to visit this remote and walled in big water gorge, you should go soon! – Jakub Sedivy, Kokatat Whitewater Ambassador
“Lipno dam in Czech Republic is releasing only once a year and just downstream is a section of whitewater called the Devil’s streams. Annually there has been a race held on this stretch and so Devil’s race was born. This year was the 6th annual race and also part of the AWP series which attracted many world class kayakers and competitors. For me it was also a chance to catch up with many friends as I haven’t got to hang out much in Czech in the last years.
Honza from ZET kayaks supplied me with a boat and soon enough Willz Martin and I were off to the south of Czech. The water was releasing for 5 full days this year and so there was plenty to train or just cruise down the river. The accessible free train made it super easy to run the shuttles, allowing paddlers to get as many runs as you could handle.
The racing series this year has been fierce with a very high level of competition. After the initial extreme slalom and semifinal run, it was Mike Dawson who took first in the long race finals. Overall the event was amazing and big thumbs up to all the organizers!” Jakub Sedivy