|Stretch:||From Niva to Collinasca|
|Difficulty:||Class IV+ to V+|
|Gradient:||302 fpm average|
|Put-in:||At the bottom of the hill in Niva, on a small tributary of the Ravona|
|Take-out:||At either of two road crossings downstream|
|Shuttle:||4 miles (10 minutes)|
|Season:||Spring from rain/snowmelt|
|Featured in Video A Wet State #91|
Piemonte / Ticino 2014: Day 9
With a section called “The Cali Section” our hopes were high for this run. David and I had it mistaken for another Cali section elsewhere in Switzerland… this one in fact I had never seen a picture of nor heard of other than a circle on a map that an Italian friend had written down for me. And with a story from Jonas about his trip a few days prior with the Lammlers and Suttons and A gamers that resulted in 4 swims… our excitement began to temper. Even more so once we got on the water, noticed the water was not low… or even medium for that matter, and then quickly had our own first swim.
Arriving at the Cali Section we immediately noticed it was stinking huge! And continuous with powerful hole after powerful hole, all leading to the exit which is the stoutest part of the rapid. Needless to say, only Jonas and Reiner stepped up. The rest of us easily walked the quarter mile section in the woods on the right. I have since seen video of the run at normal flows, much easier. Eddies between each ledge in the Cali Section and holes that allow you to boat straight through. It is too bad we didn’t get to see it at those flows as it looks awesome.
The rest of the run was challenging, certainly class IV to V. And depending on where you take out, it can be serious. The normal take out is the upper most bridge. Our day one in our group said to take out lower so we all did as we didn’t know better… we didn’t know that there was a mandatory class V rapid in there that ended up leaving two of our paddlers stranded in a walled out gorge without boat or paddle, necessitating them to swim the exit rapid to the pool below. That take out is at the next bridge downriver. Just make sure you don’t miss this take out as just below the river goes Richter as you see just upstream and downstream of the bridge itself.
The run was chalked full of boulder gardens as well as bedrock. Really a nice mixture of both. And the water quality was crystal clear. At one point we actually got a little sun and the water just simply shinned blue. That coupled with the scenery made for a special day. A lot of folks in our group walked away with a sour feeling of the day, but it wasn’t because of the river. In the middle of our vacation group dynamic issues were bound to come up… these were caused by an external group member who left our team as quickly as they joined the team… 2 days. I think though if folks had clear opinions on the day, they would agree that this was really one of the better rivers we did on the vacation, I know I would love to go back… hopefully a little lower water next time so that I could give the Cali Section proper consideration .
- Confluence (III). There are a few small rapids before and below the confluence with the Rovana. We portaged the last one on the tributary because of wood. As the river picks up, stay on your toes.
- The Hole that Ate the Group (V). So at lower flows this hole is not a big deal, at these flows it handed out beat downs for the third of the group that was out front. The other two sub groups walked it. There was an eddy just above on the right to portage from. Action continues immediately downstream.
Straight Away (IV+ to V-). This is a long straight away with several moves to make. We started right away from the sticky hole in the middle. Then went down and eddied out on the left. We then pealed out and run down the middle boofing over a ledge and eddied out again on the left. We then pealed out and ran the left side of an s-turn with a good hole at the bottom. We then eddied out right. The last drop was best run far left on the wall and had a folding hole, you wanted to stay on the cushion on the wall.
Keeps Going (IV+). The previous rapid keeps going around the next blind corner. Scout left. We ran right and moved left through a nasty folding hole. The runout was then class III down to the lip of the pre-Cali Section.
- Pre-Cali Section (IV+). The rapid just above the Cali section should be scouted, on the right. I have seen video of folks running far left. We all ran far right into the big cushion. Then get out of the current and eddy out left to scout/portage the Cali Section
Cali-Section (V to V+). At high water (which we had) this thing is huge! The entrance is huge, the middle has a bunch of massive holes, and the exit is almost always a portage… and safety is hard to set (it is easy, but you need like 12 ropes on 12 spots) and there are no pools. We all hit the game trail on the left and put in below all of it. Jonas and Reiner ran the two 2/3rds though, impressive to watch.
- Read and Run (IV to IV+). The run then lets up and you get to some fun read and run. A few ledges, a nice boulder garden or two and then you get to the optional take-out bridge rapid.
- Optional Take-out (IV+ to V-). We got eddied out and walled out and wanted desperately to set safety here. The hole at the bottom looked bad. But there was no way down to the hole for safety. Then Jonas rolled through and ran it and proved the hole wasn’t so bad and got out for safety below. Reckless perhaps, but also really helpful! The cleanest line was staying right to be right at the bottom. Being left caused folks to bite off more of the bottom hole. The hole is in a pot hole so it is really recircy if you do have problems.
- Slides (IV). I don’t remember the specifics other than we were reading and running again and got to some nice slides. This leads straight to a huge rock sitting in the middle of the river, which you want to go left around and line up for a hole. There was an eddy just in front of the rock on the right.
Pre Mandatory (IV+). A few fun rapids lead up to the mandatory gorge. I remember going right, then left… bout-scoutable. Make sure to eddy out before dropping into one that had a tree across it just above the Mandatory gorge.
- Mandatory Gorge (V-). I wanted to make this only class IV+… but we had two good boaters swim… so I gave it an extra bit. The entrance was run either left over a boof or middle down a slide. If you end up too far right, you might swim… which from here would suck. The second part was around a 90 degree corner on the left and boof a small pour over with a mean hole… the site of another swim and another near carnage flip. Then there is an eddy that you can set safety from… but even if you rescue them… their boat is likely continuing down the gorge requiring a sketchy climb out or swim through depending on where you got rescued. Luckily below is just a few small ledges before it opens up.
Fun Rapids (IV to IV+). Some great boogie then leads to take-out. Just don’t miss it as it goes into a class V+ to U gorge just below (you can see that from the take-out bridge). The take-out is before you see the bridge, so scout it.
Directions: Use the GPS locations to get yourself to put-in and take-out… below is just the extra little info you may need
Take-out: After climbing steeply up from the valley, you will cross the river. Park on the near side of the bridge. The trail up is 100 yards further up the road. Scout the take-out as you REALLY do not want to go past it! Parking is limited. An alternate take out is at the next bridge, parking area is more plentiful and this takes out the teeth of the run.
Put-in: A little more complicated. Follow signs to Niva. You end up dropping down a small road into a meadow that loops by a house. Park here. The trail is just ahead in the woods. Walk down to the river, cross the river, keep walking and drop down into the tributary at the base of a cool 100 foot falls. There is also a way to get down above the gorge on the Ravona for a few extra rapids, but I don’t know how.
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