Fiume Sermenza (Lower)
|Stretch:||From Boccioleto to Balmuccia|
|Difficulty:||Class IV to IV+ (class IV at normal flows)|
|Gradient:||127 fpm average|
|Put-in:||Parking area in Boccioleto|
|Take-out:||Bridge in Balmuccia|
|Shuttle:||1.7 miles (5 minutes)|
|Season:||Spring from rain/snowmelt|
|Featured in Video A Wet State #89 and in A Wet State's contribution to World Kayak's Video Guide|
Piemonte / Ticino 2014: Day 1
After more effort than anticipated in the Middle Sermenza section, we continued on down to the Lower. We scouted the main gorge from the road before driving up from our coffee shop meeting place. Perhaps that also added to the thought that the Middle section was not going to be as hard… if it was much harder, why would we go to the trouble of road scouting just the lower? Anyways, who knows. The Lower section starts off with a bang with a large ledge with a powerful hole at the base. We all started to walk but then Jürgen decided it looked good and surprised us by keeping his head dry straight down the middle of it. Some carried back up to run it, others just scratched there head and completed their portages… my head was one getting scratched. Below there is some fun boogie before you get to the final gorge. The entry is obvious as the river bends right and enters a steep boulder garden. It is worth scrambling for an eddy on the left to scout and set safety here. A swim here could cause major issues downriver as the gorge is walled out and opportunities to reunite a swimmer with their gear may be difficult. The gorge entry rapid has a bottom hole that is powerful though if you are straight it isn’t too stoppy. Below there are 3 more rapids that all have power holes in walled out scenarios. We were able to set safety on 2 of them. Luckily the one you can’t really set safety on is the least dangerous. Below, the river quickly opens up and you enter Balmuccia and the take-out.
This run is a must do if in the area. It is short by itself, so plan on adding other sections with it. Even after our long day with the Middle section above, some of our group went to the Grondo and Sorba for an evening lap. The rest of us went to camp in Campertogno and slept… for a few hours anyways until the jet lag caught back up and the rain started to pelt. And it was all too late when I realized in our exhaustion Diane and I put our rain tarp on upside down so by midnight we had a healthy puddle forming inside the tend from the water that was dripping through the zipper. Oops.
- Ledge (IV+). Right near the beginning, but I am actually not sure where since we put in above is a big ledge that is a portage for many. It looks horrible. But some in our group ran it and made it look totally tame. Perhaps it isn’t as hard as I thought? Boof the center or walk on the right.
Some mellower boogie for a bit
- Gorge Entrance (IV+). Probably the hardest (technically) rapid of the run is the first major test to enter the gorge. You can scout right or left. Left is better for safety at the bottom. Enter right of center and work right. On the left bend drive hard left for the mellower part of the hole. This drops you into the gorge… a swim here would suck unless safety is set.
Boof Left (IV). An easy boof over a big hole with lots of tow back. We set safety here as it had a lot of potential.
Ramp (IV+). Such a cool drop. Some ran down the middle and battled the meat of the hole. Others drove far left and hit a mellow part of the hole. This hole also had some tow back so I recommend going left. We again set safety… and of course he who went last had a close call!
Boof Right (IV). An easy enough rapid… run down and boof the right edge, but let your bow move back left as there is a funky not horrible pocket on the right just below.
Exit (III). Just down the middle, under the roman bridge. A nice scenic way to end the day! Take out is immediately below.
Directions: Use the GPS locations to get yourself to put-in and take-out… below is just the extra little info you may need
Put-in is at 45°49'46.3"N 8°06'51.3"E. As you enter Biocioleto look for a left turn on a paved road that drops quickly down to a packing area. If you make sharp turns in town then you went too far.
Take out is at 45°49'09.0"N 8°08'19.8"E in the town of Balmuccia. Just up the Sermenza from the main road look for a road and bridge off to your left. Cross the bridge and turn left and use the parking area as take-out.
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