Last year Kay & I had a great trip to Croatia where we would wake up with no idea where’d we’d be sleeping that night. It’s such a liberating experience, one I’d encourage everyone to do whatever you are into.
Our annual trip to Ticino and Piemonte in May is a similar experience, after many years we know most of the rivers and some ideal camping spots. Some better than others! Van life, steep granite and good coffee is the prefect combination for a week away.
Not visiting the familiar classics like the Euga and Verzsca would be an offense to white water kayaking and the region but every year I try to find something new and unknown to do, this year the target was the Isorno.
Just like a climbing guide book, a white water guide will give a rapid by rapid account of the river, allowing you to know what to expect. This can be a great aid when making a step into the unknown, but when confident in your ability and keen for adventure less information can be better. A quick guide in Kayak Session last year gave some info on a couple of unknown rivers in Ticino: the Rovana that we did last year and the Isorno. Rovana was an amazing day out and the Isorno was in a committing canyon, with mostly bedrock slides. The guide gave us a starting point and finishing point, an insight into the beauty we would expect and only a hint to the type of rapids and their difficulty.
Dan, Rich and I jumped on with what we thought could be marginal water levels but was actually OK, and scouted our way down 4-5km of quality white water. The canyon was everything that had been promised and must be one of the more remote rivers in the Alps with stunning bedrock sides, truly worth the long walk down and out of the river.
The white water itself will remain un-described, as far as this blog is concerned, a reward for those seeking a hard, steep adventure deep in the Swiss Alps.