June 1st - 11th
Following on from time in Italy, I took a couple of days driving back round the Italian Lakes and over the Passo dello Stelvio. The scenery was stunning but the roads are not great (certainly at the Lakes there’s just too many other cars in the way!). It got so late and I was going round hairpin after hairpin above Bormio that I simply pulled over in a layby at about 2300m ASL and got some kip.
The following morning, I was off down the other side through Santa Maria and on to the Austrian village of Prutz for breakfast.
I knew this area reasonably well so cruised around Landeck, Otz, and Haiming looking for other paddling buddies. The river levels were all high and it wasn’t really a time to do things solo. The Otz itself was really full and flowing fast, it was the usual slate grey colour of Austrian flood water - a little disappointing as I am always keen to do the Otz for old time's sake (I first paddled here around 1980).
I based myself at the campsite on the riverbank opposite Prutz, so the Inn flowed past my tent all night with a fair noise. Luckily 3 Brit paddlers also turned up and we did the introductions (in the Austrian rain). Great to have Cam, Suzy and Klim as minders on the river.
Wandering about Prutz, I even found a distillery (but it wasn't a single malt !)
Tosens-Prutz is a reasonable section of the Inn to start with, so that was the first 9 kms of grade 4 to do (Sunday 4th June by this stage). Monday saw us get up to St Anton em Arlberg to do the grade 3+ Rosanna, and then get stuck in to one of the best rivers in the region, “the Sanna”. We had been informed of the recent re-engineering of the Sanna below Pians so were circumspect and looked at a few things on the shuttle. As it turned out there were some features that were washed out by the high water levels and it became a great blast down a large roller-coaster. Grade 4+ I guess with exploding haystack waves, some holes and some wicked eddyline curlers from the new groins. We repeated the Sanna run a couple of days later and it was a little lower volume – the lines were a little easier to see and the fun vs fright factor was more positively balanced. I don’t recall having such fun on the Sanna in all my previous trips to Austria. However the levels did restrict my ability to take photos on the way down!
Thunderstorms became a feature of each late afternoon so the Inn river level was certainly staying up. The Otz wasn’t going to play ball so we set off on the Landeck Gorge section of the Inn from that little stoneworks at Nesselgarten. The get-on here is basically jumping into a river doing 20mph I guess, no timid starts this time. The run is pretty straight forward although very fast, very bouncy, and did cause us to eyeball one short section before just blowing straight through. By the time we floated under the glass-sided tourist bridge in Landeck town we were all grinning from ear-to-ear.
And that was the paddling done…. I went photo-hunting the following morning back at the confluence of the Rosanna /Trisanna and then simply pointed the car north and uphill over the Fernpass.
The drive back had better weather on the autobahn so good time was made to Belgium for the night, to Oxenholme Station Inn for a pint, and to sunny Royal Deeside once more.
All-in-all; paddled in 4 countries, 9 different rivers, and 20 river sections.