Steep Creekin' Italy 2015
On May 19th myself and Wicklow paddler Dave Holden caught an early morning flight to Bergamo Airport in Northern Italy. We were due to take our Level 5 river skills assessment on the Friday of that week, so the plan was to get a few days of paddling in beforehand to warm up on the steep Italian creeks.
After a long sleepless night travelling we landed in Italy at 10am and collected the hire car. One kayak wedged in the back and one on the inflatable roof rack and we were on the road to Val Sesia within an hour. As we drove up the long steep valley towards the village of Campertogno where we were staying we decided to checkout the Gronda and Sorba slides to get an idea of levels.
When we pulled up it was a great surprise to meet a few of the Irish crew that were out already enjoying the whitewater! We hopped into our gear and walked up to the 'get on' of the Gronda - a short steep creek with some fun slides and two cool drops to finish. We ran the bottom drops twice and then paddled down stream to the Sorba. A not so nice section brings you down to the Sorba slides, probably the most photographed drops in Italy. Three impressive looking slide/drops right at the side of the road. After we blasted these it was time to go and settle into our accommodation.
On Wednesday we hooked up with the rest of the Irish crew that were in Italy for their assessment and we paddled the middle Sesia from Campertogno to Scopello. The plan was to go for ice cream afterwards but it poured rain and there was thunder and lightning. We ended up trying to get warm in a cafe eating ham and cheese toasties! It was still early in the afternoon so we headed back to the Gronda and Sorba for a quick blast.
On Thurday myself and Dave decided to take it easy and prepare our equipment for our assessment. In the afternoon we took a spin up to the Egua. A classic steep creek with lots of drops and slides and one of the most popular runs in the area. I had only been on this river once before in very low water and had to portage most of it. Dave knew it well so I followed him and we flew down it in about 20 minutes!.
Friday was assessment day. Myself , Dave Holden, Simon Cadec and Derek Murphy were being assessed by Benny Cullen from Canoeing Ireland. We were informed the night before that we would be going to the middle Sermenza. A section of class 4/5 that is not run that often so we had little knowledge of what to expect. It turned out to be a great section of river. It offered lots of variety to show off our paddling skills with long rapids with multiple moves, as well as read and run.
After we finished the middle section we continued on to the low Sermenza for the rescue scenarios and more class 4 whitewater. Working a a team we had to deal with unconscious casualties, dislocations and entrapment. The day flew by and it felt like a great day on the river even though we were being assessed. We finished up about 6pm and were all relieved to hear that we had all passed our level 5.
Myself and Dave didn't have much time to enjoy the celebrations though as we were flying home early the next morning. The rest of the lads were staying on and the other group had their assessment on Saturday. Congrats to Laura Griffin, Susan Doyle, Ultan O'Kane and Frank Carr who all passed as well.
Another successful mission complete!
Kayak instructor, athlete, business owner and outdoor enthusiast from the west coast of Ireland.
Paddle & Pedal Blog HERE