Tag Archives: Valsesia piemonte steep creekin’

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.

Valsesia, a home from Home

As you probably know or not as the case may be, I am away from the UK for all but 10 weeks of the year, and with the house in Slovenia now fully stack with what could be summed up as my worldly lot, I still travel on tour all Spring, Summer and Autumn long. By late April every year I head to Valsesia, more specifically Campertogno to visit and stay with Anto & Alberto on the island in the middle of the Sesia River. It’s like a small paradise, the food is great, the beer and wine very fine and the company, travelling paddlers and locals a like good value too. Of course I work for several weeks when in Valsesia, the Steep Creekin’ is by far the best you’ll find in all the Alps at Spring time. It’s like a warm up for the main event of the Summer, that is going to Norway where adventure paddlers go.

At home on the Sesia

Om arrival I get my fix of Papadella con Leppi, thick ribbons of pasta in a Hare sauce, this is such a wonderfully simply yet delightful dish, washed down with buckets of the dolcetto wine of Piemonte. I love Soča, she is a prefect place, the most prefect of places to be, but Sesia is also in my heart, a Spring sweetheart for a season, but what a season always to behold.

Getting ready for the action

The work soon started, its a great job, but hey you knew that all along, but every year goes by and I enjoy the work ever more, I love it, mainly because I can see the enjoy my coaching brings to individuals, you can shape their outcomes, their mastery of paddling to arrive at a new comprehension of white water or take them beyond their aspirations to somewhere else in their paddling, at times it’s an amazing job. Occasional it rains and for this early May for 2 weeks, and it was cold too, but even under a grey sky, with snow down to 1800m, the water level conditions prime, only happy days could be had. Here is some of that high water and dull day action….

High water fun on the Mastellone
Haavard on the kicker drop Gronda
New Boy Jakub on the Back Hammer Egua

During the first week, the sun shone on occasion, whilst at another time, the ford to island was almost covered it was a mixed bag on Spring conditions and with only rain fall in the river’s we had not seen any snow melt, as all the low mountains were white topped around. The Norway crew left and Team Jock arrived, well a day late as the ash cloud provided a delay and re-routing for them. The rain did not stop, but the party continued, as more levels dropped to make way for some prime steep creekin’.

Heading for the lip of the next drop
Tim McAfee on the double drop Egua
Pete heading into the Mastellone Canal

The week passed well, the sun appears on the last day and everyone fired it up for Gronda Boof clinic and Egua action. There is always much to do on technique development, and the last week was no exception, nice how it is to change the outcomes, more time is always needed. Over the Summer I will write a number of technique articles to accompany the Genotype 2 DVD release from last year, that should go into CKUK this Autumn. Until then you can always get the DVD, or post questions on here or on Gene17 Facebook Group Page or Page. If you like what you see remember you can join us in Italy or elsewhere, see G17K for details.

Saffron is my colour!
Spring delights
Matt having a moment of joy

At the Valsesia River Contest, Satu entered us into the Topo Duo BoaterX. As I had not been in this boat since 1994, when guiding a female member of Plymouth University Canoe Club down the Chateaux Q on the Guil in the French Alps, I was uncertain to how this old school log for two would run a line. In the prelims of 3 boats, we had a paddle tussle with another crew and made second place, which for a 6 boat final meant avoiding any locking of paddles, so we opted for the outside line, and fired up the guns for a straight charge into the main rapid, ahead of the pack, after sharply getting my wife to keep tempo, I had time to realise how much the topo duo disturbingly flexes through the waves, alarming indeed. I can only hope Jackson’s duo effort is a little better…. Oh we won a big box local wine and fine cheese, that’s what I call a fine prize to share with one and all.

en route to a box of fine Cheeses & Wine with Satu

After that, we had a few sessions on runs, the weeks have past by and the delights of the Piemonte & Ticino Spring are all soon over. I have a few more posts, one of which will address a central flaw in boofin technique promoted in this article. In the mean time here is my wife enjoying the Landwasser waterfall in Valsesia.

Satu on Landwasser Waterfall