Austbygdåi (California Section)
|Stretch:||Wooden Bridge to the lake.|
|Difficulty:||Class IV+ to V (some V+ depending on flow)|
|Flows:||15-30 cms (more portaging over 20 cms). Check the current online gauge: here.|
|Gradient:||152 fpm average (sections well over 200)|
|Put-in:||Wooden Bridge 1 km below Spånemfossen Falls|
|Take-out:||At Rd 364 at the lake.|
|Shuttle:||8.0 miles (10 minutes one-way)|
|Season:||April to June|
|Featured in A Wet State #101 and in A Wet State's contribution to World Kayak's Video Guide|
Norway 2015 – Day 2
The next morning we woke up feeling surprisingly refreshed. Living on the East Coast and the resultant 6 hours of jet lag is certainly much more manageable than the 9 that we are used to living in California and traveling to Europe. The plan for the day was to check on the Gøyst and hope for some endless bedrock slides. To our disappointment however the river had literally no water in it. Really too bad as that river looked great.
Instead, we planned B over the Austbygdåi to do the California Section. The book had this rated as class V to VI… and I am not entirely sure why that didn’t make us more nervous, especially with the obviously high flow.
Putting on we quickly got to the first bedrock drops, and it was then that the realization really set in that we had high water. Taking turns hoping out for a quick scout, occasionally the team would all get out to take a look at a particularly spicy hole and set safety. As we got to the “classic double drop” that had two horrible caldrons, boiling, and frothing with the hunger of a starved Olympic athlete we took the first of our more than usual portages. Working our way downstream, our progress was slow due to the pace of the river and power of the holes. We got to a huge two tiered cascade that looked oh so tempting but just a little to spicy for us, downstream we were greeted with one of the best sections. Full of slides and just spicy enough holes to be fun, this section certainly put a smile on all our faces. Downstream the action let up for a little while before once again, the river tilted over and the difficulty picked up. This section is not overly clean. Several mean and somewhat junky drops caused us to hit the shore with only one member of the team being fired up for some of the drops. We probably portaged 3 or 4 times in this section. As we run one rapid with a bit of a hole in it I paddle to an eddy to scout the next rapid. When I hop out I see the river plummet into the darkness of a committed gorge and realize we are at take-out… and a very high water “Poster Drop.” I think if we had known this we would have taken the rapid upstream more seriously as it did give a quality surf to one of our team members.
We had 28 cms on the digital take-out gauge) literally the gauge has a digital display that you can see from the bridge. The recommended flow in the book is up to 20 cms. I thought 28 was a fine flow, but we did have a few extra portages of drops that are usually runnable. The river was also definitely class V. Without knowledge of the run it took us close to 5 hours to run the river. Though Sven Lammler ran 2 laps in that same time… solo… that was sobering.
Anyways, that night we went back to our camp at the take-out of the Mår with plans to do the Upper Austbygdåi the following day.
Thanks to Harald Glanz for sharing photos.
Last: Norway 2015: Day 1 - Mår (Home Run)
Next: Norway 2015: Day 3 Morning - Austbygdåi (Upper)
- First Slide (IV). The run starts with some mellow whitewater… take some strokes and get warmed up before it gets hard! There is one cool slide here as the river recombines, we went down the far left on both tiers. From above it looked like there would be a mean hole but it was good to go!
- Getting Started (IV+). We scouted the first real drop on the left. The entry was right of center moving back to the far left. There were some pockets and holes here. We then boofed the exit on the left basically wherever the water put us.
Slide (IV to IV+). This slide was good to go, a big hole on the left but a nice line on the far right around it. However just downstream was the “Classic Double Drop Combination” that the book mentioned… at this flow it was super gnarly and looked too burly for any of us. With that in mind, 2 in our group ran the slide, the rest of us just went ahead and started portaging from here as the access to the trail on the right was much easier from above this drop.
Classic Double Drop Combination (V and P). At our flow, the double drop and the pinch exit combined into one rapid with two huge, boiling, recirculating holes to start it off. They were a no go at the high flow so we walked them. The exit is also apparently normally walked as the pinch is bad and then feeds into a slide that slams some rock. Putting back in involved balancing against a tree and sliding down 20 feet into the water.
Another Double Drop (IV to V). One or two small rapids led to the next good size drop, This one was also hard to scout due to lack of places to store boats, but we made it work on the right. The two holes had windows on the far right, you did not want to be left. The first one was a slide that you had to drive across on, the second one was more of a pot hole.
Footbridge (V). The last big drop of the first section comes under a footbridge. The lead in ledge was best run far right which dropped us right in a nice eddy. The rapid itself needed to be run on the left as the middle melted off into a crack that looked brutal. The line was to enter driving right to left and getting just the right amount of the hump. Not enough and you melt off, too much and you get a pocket on the far left wall. Will ran it first and was just an inch too far right but cleared the crack. Daniel S went next and somehow eddied himself out on the left just before the final move… he had to be vertically extracted and didn’t try again. Diane went and got into the last few feet of the crack and went deep. Harry and I were not sold and walked it easily on the right!
- The river then mellows out and is mostly class III with some class IV boogie. At mile 1.1 a sizable tributary with some spectacular looking falls enters on the left. There was one drop in here though that was a bit junky and bigger than the rest, it was spread out and we went down the left through several good sized holes.
- Lead-in (IV+ to V-). A good sized drop rounds a blind corner. You want to check this one out due to what lay downstream. It is roadside and you may notice it on the way up. The first drop can be run anywhere, then around the corner is a large river wide hole with windows on the right. Catch and eddy and scout below.
Double Drop (V). The next cascade is a steep drop that drops some 20 feet. The line I have seen video is down the far right sailing a big boof over the kicker and into the hole below. I think it would have been really tough to clear the hole at the high water we had, so we all walked.
- S-Turn (IV+). A few read and run rapids led to a small ledge that we boofed right. We then scouted the final S-turn move. Perhaps going far left would have been better, but we were on the right. So we boofed in the right and went around an s-turn. This then led to a balcony where the right melted off into a big hole, the move was to ferry all the way across to the left to exit on a smaller slide. Only one made it all the way, one made it most of the way, then three of us made it half way before falling off and boofing through the hole below. Luckily it went!
Big Slide (V). After eddying out immediately on the right and scouting, we ran this drop which was my favorite of all of Telemark. We entered the first slide center and punched a hole which then fed into the final big slide, we all drove hard left through some curlers to exit far left sliding down and punching one last fluffy hole. So good, so big, and so fun!
Left Ledge Slide (V-). The very next rapid was a good size drop that wanted to be finished far left. You could enter right or left, but the finish was on a slide that got narrower as you went with the right side of it falling off into another big hole. Really fun, just exit as far left as possible.
Boogie (IV). There is some fun boogie in here.
- Smaller Slide (IV). This slide is by no means “small.” It is just smaller. It drops some 20 feet but has an easy line up and is a straight shot. You end up carrying so much momentum the hole at the bottom is no problem.
Even Smaller Slide (IV-). A blind horizon looks intimidating but went just fine left of center.
Boogie (III to IV). The next two miles is full of fun boogie. I don’t remember anything other than one or two drops that we had to even boat scout. Soon though the river pics up steam for its last time.
- Island (V). We decided to portage this… The left line landed on rocks. The right line looked doable but had a significant undercut in play with a good size hole feeding it in tight confines. We walked on both sides.
Slide (IV). The next horizon line we slide down the far right of the main current (I don’t recall if there were two channels, if so this was the left channel).
Junky (V). Just downstream Daniel scouted far left and signaled us to scout far right, we delicately got out on the middle island and ferried to the right and again delicately got out. The right side went but had a folding hole with some dubious hydraulics so we were not sold. Daniel S ended up running the far left which went fine in two pieces, a small slide against the shore, eddy out, and peal back out to boof the middle.
Boof the Middle? (IV+). A small ledge that we ran far right led to a rapid with a big ledge and what looked to be a great boof in the middle into a fluffy hole below. At this point though we were starting to get tired and decided instead to run down the right side over a double drop with the second tier of it being a smear into the hole described prior.
Pinch Slide (V). The next big drop started with a big folding pinch before entering a shelved eddy. The far right side was a nice slide where the left side was a big hole. We did like the look of the entry pinch and slid in to the pool below it on the right and ran the exit far right.
Last Rapid (IV+). The last rapid was a big junky, Harry scouted on the left and signaled us the line. None of us greased it, one in the group took a brief surf in the hole. I am glad I didn’t know what lay downstream, otherwise I would have been much more stressed running the rapid first! The line was down the left and the hole was at the bottom. Setting safety wouldn’t be a bad idea here.
- Take-out: Most people take-out here, it is worth walking down the island to look down into the following canyon though! Or…
Pre-Poster Drop (U). I don’t think this has ever been run and I doubt it will. A slide that drops off to the right and is impossibly thin to stay on before the river then cascades down to the lip of Poster Drop.
Poster Drop (V+). A tight pinch requires a smearing delayed boof off the right to avoid the rough left landing. This then goes off a second ledge with a hole. One of the Lammlers got pushed left in the bottom hole and ended up in a totally messed up crack that required vertical extraction. No thanks. Boogie then follows down to take-out.
Take-out: Find your way to the town of Austbydi, Norway. It is on the northern end of 364. Take-out is on the river right of the bridge over the river. The gauge is just downstream and visible from the bridge. Take note, most take out of the river a short ways upstream and walk down to the car to avoid the final gorge.
Put-in: Cross the bridge to river left and take the first left turn, head up river for 8.5 km. A short distance after crossing a sizable tributary on the right with a bunch of steep falls, look for a turnout and dirt road that leads down to a bridge over the river. We put-in here. Others choose to put-in up at Spånemfossen Falls to add more spice to the day.
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