Tag Archives: bella italia valsesia creeking

Late, but here, Spring 2013

Sorba Slides in the sun

As the title suggests spring across western Europe was very late this year, almost a month be hide normal, which meant we had cold dry days in Valsesia for May. The snow only finally started to melt late in the month. The runoff was a strange pattern of occasional rain storms bringing higher water for a day or so, and then levels dropping off with every cold night with clear skies. This cycle pretty much went on and on all month. This meant that although flows were Ok to good, there was always a sense that we were waiting, and waiting. Thankfully in the late week or so, then into June, the warm weather finally brought the goods and for those heading out to the Alps in June were surely very surprised with fine Piemonte and Ticino conditions.

Coaching on the Gronda
Gronda reflection on paddling

The steep creeking weeks in Piemonte are getting incredibly popular, Gene17 now runs 3 weeks of trips, plus the Valsesia River Festival. Valsesia is an iconic destination, and we all love working there for the quality of paddling and fine food and local culture. The work focuses heavily on the technical aspects of paddling on drops and slides. This can mean actually getting right to the drop, and helping with the tactics, to ensure the paddlers are in the right place to apply the technique. We use a lot multi shot stills images for feedback, as it’s possible to zoom into the specific areas for detailed observations. Jakub got a great shot however of myself running the last drop of Gronda being reflected in a window of a traditional river side house in Rassa, Valsesia, nice!

Ed & Kates wedding party

A short intermission, was a weekend in the UK for a wedding party with the family. We headed to Topsham near Exeter, for a blustery affair. The short boat crossing to Double Locks had the ladies in their finery shivering in the stiff breeze. Still once in the amazingly decked out party tent, with its open fire, a great time was had. Old friends from a far mixed in with the Devonshire locals, an excellent wedding occasion at a shunning location on the Exe estuary. The weekend was all too short, as I needed to get back to work in Italy, and an early morning train stole me away.

Boys having fun on Gronda
Start ramp at the Sweet Rumble

More kayak coaching work and then the Valsesia River Festival, now in its third year, with momentum now gathering to create a well established event in Italy. Dealing with local politicians is every bit like you’d probably think it would be like, in Italy, boringly problematic, especially compared to my Sjoa in Norway experiences. Still with a great partner in the event in the form of il Gatto e la Volpe Camping, I do not really need to concern myself with the frustrations of the local mayor. Over 100 paddlers took part in our race programme, with the team race being the most popular. Teams of 3 charge the Sesia Alpin Sprint, a classic Class III/IV boulder garden section, fun lines and lots of moves to enjoy. Gene17kayaking runs clinics during the week, which are popular and provide a great taster of what we do.

The little ones first sea kayak trip on the home lake

After the chaos that is the Valsesia pack down, Soča turn around and then the long road north to Norway, all in a week, I was happy to be at home for a few weeks before the summer starts in Sjoa. These days I spent a lot of time with the little lady, and we managed a sea kayak outing with friends on the lake at Lillehammer. My daughter would help with the paddle strokes, we stopped for a classic summer grill en route and afterwards she was very happy to get back in the boat again, to my relief.

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bella Italia

Campertogno at night

The years come and go, and the perfection of what is Valsesia in Italy just keeps on giving. It’s simply an amazing spot to hang out, enjoy and go paddling. This year, I was there for 6 weeks, we had lots of work with paddlers coming in from all around the world and also ran the second Valsesia River Festival at the end of the stay. Asides the work though, is the destination, there are few places I enjoy so immensely than my time in Campertogno in Valsesia. The range of food, selection of dishes at the restaurant and the sublime air of mountain living. Whilst my hosts, have become old friends, where the conversation can range from Berlusconi’s famed bunga bunga parties to local fine wines to building model airplanes, yet always the culture observations of people visiting from across Europe and beyond provide insight and enlightenment, of where we are all very different yet mostly the same. This year we had a big amount of work with Gene17kayaking, our biggest year to date, and of course, there is great enjoyment and wonderment coaching paddlers to run slides, drops and the alike, plus show the very best of Valsesia to all the visiting paddlers.

After several weeks of trips we headed straight on into the Valsesia River Festival. This event we run, and is very much based on the highly successful Sjoa River Festival in Norway, which has just completed it’s 16th edition this summer. The event is a grassroots whitewater gathering, with clinics, competitions and entertainment laid on. This year we added the Palm Throwbag Olympics, which was over ran with keen rescue rangers trying to win a Palm Amp or Luna PFD. PLus we placed the Sesia Alpin Sprint at centre stage for the racing, with over 70 racers, gunning for the action on the 3 km boulder garden of Class 3/4 rapids. The Team race provides a lot of entertainment itself, and Gene17’s guys made for some great images….. Also we bought in Ies of Fokiwa fame to fire up the crowd and start the party, following on with DJ’s. Great stuff and a wonderful festival. We’ll do it all again next year, although I may urgently need my 3rd lesson of Italian Politics.

Sesia Alpin Sprint 2012 Team Race
party time

My time in Valsesia was a personal highlight too. This year, the new Mamba has bought a new weapon to the river, and I like the way she moves, faster, cleaner and easier to paddle, which is of course what progress in design should be about, well at least at this point in time. Great works guys, thank you.


Gronda kicker