Defereggenbach (Tunnel Run)
|Stretch:||Gortschach to Plon|
|Difficulty:||Class IV to V|
|Flows:||50 to 65 cms (53 felt medium to medium low). Check “The River App” (Listed as Schwarzach)|
|Gradient:||213 fpm for the first mile, paddle out is less|
|Put-in:||Bridge near Gortschach|
|Take-out:||Bridge in Plon|
|Season:||Spring to Summer|
|Featured in A Wet State #114 and in A Wet State's contribution to World Kayak's Video Guide|
Austria & More 2016: Day 8 Afternoon
After doing the Taurenbach, Jim and I hadn’t quite had our fill of kayaking yet and opted to do the Defereggenbach’s Tunnel section that we had scouted the day before after doing the same river’s Waterfall section. We were going to do a low water lower section as well, but Reiner and Ali were waiting for us to finish before they were going to drive back home for a few days of work, while we would drive to South Tirol with Reiner’s car. So with that, we decided to just do the Tunnel run.
The run doesn’t look great from the road when you look into it. But I assure you, it is actually much more fun that it appears. Things are steeper, holes fluffier, and the scenery nicer. Overall the run is really nice. Putting on we quickly got to the first rapid, which we had to sneak due to a log. Below, you quickly get to the section above the bridge prior to the tunnel. This section was fluffy, steep and fun. After the realization that that rapid was bigger and more fun that it looked from the road, we hoped the fun would continue. Downstream, we got to a busy section of class IV to IV+ that then quickly found us scrambling for microeddies to scout again. The next rapid had a road blast look to it, but once in the water, boated rather well. It too was fluffy, channelized enough for clean lines, and long… this rapid had to have been at least a quarter mile long. To that point though, there were no pools on the run, just crecendos where the fevered pitch of the gradient hit high notes and the adrenaline in partnership did as well. I think that last big rapid was my favorite. Downstream, the river turned class III but stayed a very high quality class III full of really fun boofs to entertain ourselves on. Before we knew it we found ourselves at take out.
After the river, we headed back to Lienz to meet up with Ali, get a pizza, and say our goodbyes for a few days. After, Harry and his family, and Jim and I then began driving to Italy and South Tirol. Something I did not know when we set out though was that we would pass directly by the Dolomites, a wonderful mountain range and National Park in Italy. Needless to say, on the 45 minute drive to where we planned to camp, Jim and I spent at least 30 of it with our heads sticking out of the car looking at the scenery, trying to take pics and not crash. That night we camped essentially in the park, with grand mountains rising around us, and rain falling on the roof of the van.
Thanks to Harald and Reiner Glanz for sharing photos and for making the trip possible!
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- First Major Rapid (IV+ to V-). The first major rapid was the easiest out of the bunch. At our lower flow it would have been IV+ or so, but I could see at higher flows it getting harder. It was all for moot though as there was a river wide log down across the line. So we had to bang our way down a side channel to sneak it. You can get a glimpse of it from the road or eddy out on the left near the lip.
- Above the Bridge Part 1 (IV). The first part of the Bridge sequence was some nice boofs that we ran down the right. Stay on your toes as it all quickly picks up.
Above the Bridge Part 2 (IV+ to V-). The rapid visable from the bridge just upstream, this rapid is bigger once on the water than it looks. The holes are more powerful, and the gradient steeper. We entered right boofing two holes before exiting through the final cascade down the middle. Scout before putting on.
Under the Bridge (IV to IV+). Just below the bridge is a nice slide that goes into a fluffy hole and then leads to a long section of hole dodging.
Boogie (IV to IV+). This pick up after a brief lull and you find yourself boofing numerous holes. These would be pretty bad to swim in as this section is fast and leads right to the final rapid. Seriously, the eddy at the top of the next rapid was slack water and was a struggle for two of us to get out in. I would scout this one before putting on too…
- Final Major Rapid (V). We entered far left before then driving back to the middle. The entrance has more power than you would expect and the ledge just as you drive back out to the middle is the crux. From there, it is busy boofing and hole punching down to a constriction 100 yards downstream where we went right. At high flow, this section would be on!
Boogie (III). Downstream is non-stop boogie to take out. There are some fun moves, some fun little boofs, and no real hazards to discuss.
Take-out: From Lienz, take B108 (Iseltaler Str) North West along the river. Follow this for 19 km to the town of Huben, where you will turn left onto Defereggental Landesstraße. Follow this for ~9 km up the river. Near the town of Plon, there is a bridge directly next to the main road, which is over the river. This is take-out.
Put-in: Continue up the valley for 2.6 km. You will go through a covered but open tunnel (worth scouting near the entrance as you drive up), over a bridge (again worth scouting here) and then the next bridge you come to is the put-in. Parking is on the far side.
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