|Stretch:||From Sogn Og Fjordane to bridge over the river|
|Difficulty:||Class IV to V|
|Distance:||3.7 to 4.5 miles|
|Gradient:||185 fpm in the upper section, 211 fpm in the last 0.8 miles|
|Put-in:||Lake 500 meters above the toll at the entry to Sogn Og Fjordane|
|Take-out:||Bridge over the river or 0.8 miles further upstream to reduce the difficulties|
|Shuttle:||4 to 4.5 miles (10 minutes one-way)|
|Season:||June to August|
|Featured in A Wet State #102 and in A Wet State's contribution to World Kayak's Video Guide|
Norway 2015 – Day 9
Camping near the 30 foot falls, we had plenty of time the night before to scout the falls. That night I only looked at it from the lip and though 1) it looks tall and 2) it looks like a reasonably soft landing. I didn’t scout much more though as at that point in the trip I was getting sore and wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to run a 30 footer the following day. I figured I would check it out the next day. That night, we fell asleep with the sound of the river and the rain coming down with thoughts of the following day in our head.
The next morning, as usual I woke up earlier than everyone else. I walked down to the falls to give it another look and this time walked downstream to look back up at it. The falls was definitely tall and also had a huge boil. 1) I think the water had come up some due to the rain and 2) downstream views tend to look worse than the lip. It was around this time though I basically wrote off my interest for the falls. I needed to be fired up for it and I just wasn’t. Daniel Stewart on the other hand had spent the entire night thinking of it and craving it. It turns out he had that fire and was set on running it.
Driving to put in we get to the toll road and pay our 100 kr (I think this one was the 100 kr, maybe it was 50) and then no more than 300 meters down the road hit a snow block that stops our progress so we park and unload. We found out later than just a few days prior the snow was 300 meters before the toll road. Regardless, we slide down the hill side and into the bottom of the lake, which is essentially the put in anyways. Moving downstream the action begins immediately with some fun rapids including slides and boofs and a 12 foot falls. The main drop of this section is immediately above and below the road bridge that you crossed on the way up at the toll. Downstream the river eases up with occasional class IV leading to the lower road bridge. The slide and following holes provided some excitement at our flow, at low flow they would just be class IV. Downstream we scouted the lead in falls and the 30 footer. I quickly ran the 15 foot lead in falls as I knew I was just going to get out below. To my surprised I ended up running it backwards and was oh so grateful to get kicked out upright and was able to quickly paddle to shore before the 30 footer. It isn’t like it is super close together… but it is close enough to be nervous about being upside down above it at this flow!
The rest of the group decided quickly they too didn’t want the 30 footer, all except Daniel. To do the hazardous pockets on the falls we set up a complex daisy change of ropes so we could hit him with a throw bag but still have a good angle to extract him if need be. 10 minutes later Daniel came over the lead in falls and charged into the biggest boof I have ever seen. Landing dead flat he was instantaneously back-endered by the boil lifting his bow straight up as if it is a toddler in his father’s hands. He was slammed to the right, which was the safer of the two sides, but was held against the wall. Needing to use the wall to roll up he had to let go of his paddle and as he floated upright downstream into safety his paddle took off. As Diane and Harry took chase we were relieved to see it catch the very first eddy before heading downriver into the non-stop class IV to IV+ action that await downstream… of course leading to the unrunnable gnar downstream of that. But it didn’t come to that.
30 minutes later we were at take-out with big smiles on our face. We estimated that we had 15 cms. At take-out we met some Russians who told us the previous week they had been there and it was even higher. They did the run but did not run the falls. They did run the falls this day, 1 successfully, 1 broken paddle, and 1 swim. So… yea, it is legit. And the walk is easy!
That night we drove over to Sjoa to visit a friend of mine who was living in the area. Driving through the fjord country, through a 28 km tunnel, and over the summit of a mountain range was the prettiest driving of the whole trip. What a lovely country. Even if you don’t boat, you should go to Norway just to drive around and admire the scenery. Due to some pit stops along the way for scenery, we got to Paul’s around 10:30 pm that night. After a brief discussion we decided with the impending heat wave that was due to begin the next day, if we wanted to do the Store Ula, the next morning would be the ticket before flows got too high. So we went to bed, excited for one of the runs that lured us to Norway.
The drive to Sjoa...
Thanks to Harald Glanz for sharing photos.
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Next: Norway 2015: Day 10 - Store Ula
- First Corner (IV-). Around the first corner is a riverwide ledge. I ran far right, I think far left would have been cleaner.
Slide (IV+). A hundred yards later the water splits around an island, I hoped out on the island to scout. The entry was a fun slide that was best run left of center. It then continued around another corner where a constriction with a fun boof off the right shoulder awaited before another slide led to a pool below.
Boof (IV). This rapid started with a ledge that ran parallel to the direction of the river, we ran right and eddied out. This then led to a fun boof off the mid river hump.
- Bridge Rapid (IV+ to V-). The bridge rapid had a few parts to it. The first part could be snuck far left at the higher flow. The main line was down the right over a ramp and boofing a large hole. The second part was a congested pile that had a clean line down the middle off of a boof rock. The third part was directly under the bridge where the river slammed into a large pilled and reflected right and through a good size hole. Some in our group ran through direct, others eddied out left and ferry off the cushion to avoid the hole. The runout of that move was a small drop into a descent hole. Just below was another powerful hole, more like a low head dam. Just run it far left boofing left.
- Slide Down the Right (IV). Not far downstream was a steeper rapid that had a lead in boogie into a slide that you wanted to be far right on.
- Slide Down the Middle (IV-). Another drop that seems like it will be bigger comes when large rocks form the shore. The line was just down the middle. Avoid the rocks on either side.
- Above the Bridge (IV+). At lower water I have seen shots of people running right, at this flow that was a mean folding curler into a mean hole. We went down the left, down a slide. This then led to two meaty holes located directly under the road bridge. The first hole you want to be middle with a little right angle. The bottom one you want to be far right. I am sure at lower water these holes are nothing to be worried about. Scout this on the drive up as it is a bit more tedious to view it all once on the river.
- Above the Falls (IV+ to V-). This rapid wasn’t all that hard, but it did have a hole just above a 15 foot falls that was then just above the big drop of the run. You wouldn’t want to swim here at high water. The rapid starts with some boogie down the left of an island. This then ramps out through a wave hole that you want to be punching center to then drop off the small falls center. I punched straight through the hole with a little right angle thinking it would fight a little, and instead clipped my nose on a rock behind it and spun around to drop the falls backwards. I was really glad to pop straight out and upright to quickly catch an eddy above the 30 footer. Scout right.
30 Footer (V). This is for real 30 feet. And is a straight falls. No ramp, just paddle off and land. At our flow there was a huge boil so you kinda had to boof the crap out of it to try to extend enough to clear. At lower flows I would 45 it. Scout right. Be aware of the somewhat caved nature of the left wall.
Boogie (IV to IV+). The next half mile is some really fun continuous boogie. We boat scouted our way down it. Hoping out only once. But I don’t recall rapid by rapid. This ends when the river opens up at Mi 3.3.
- Final Gorge (V to U). If the water is low, you can continue on another 0.8 miles for an additional 211 fpm gradient. This is apparently continuous and challenging whitewater. There is also apparently a falls in here that looks fun.
Take-out: From Vossevangen, take E16 North for 36 km. Just as you enter the coolest cliffed out valley you will cross the Jordalselva as it cascades down huge and unrunnable rapids (at our flow anyways). Turn left and then head up a dirt road on river right of the Jordalselva. This road climbs steeply through tunnels. If not one else is in the tunnel, stop and look out the occasional opening to see some gnar! Continue up the road for 3.2 km, it eventually tops out into an open valley, when the road crosses the river, this is the lower take-out if the water is low enough. Else, continue for 1 km further. As a small road comes in from the left, so does the river to parallel the main road. This is the upper take-out.
Put-in: Continue driving up the road, in 1.7 km is a bridge, the waterfall is just downstream 100 yards from here. Plus the rapid just above the falls as well as the one just above the bridge are worth looking at at this time. Continue up the road for an additional 4.4 km. You then reach another bridge and a toll over the bridge. The put-in is another 1.5 km up the road at the lake. Either pay the toll and drive or walk…
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