|Stretch:||Trnovo ob Soci to the Top of Camp Lazard Rd|
|Difficulty:||Class V- to V|
|Flows:||~15 cumecs to ~80 cumecs (It would be scary at 80 cumecs, locals run it up to ~200 cumecs). Check “The River App”|
|Gradient:||138 fpm average|
|Put-in:||East Side of Trnovo ob Soci|
|Take-out:||Turnout 1.7 km East of Trnovo ob Soci|
|Season:||Spring to Fall (Consistently low in Summer, but can go high off rains)|
|Featured in A Wet State #114 and in A Wet State's contribution to World Kayak's Video Guide|
Austria & More 2016: Day 4 & 5 Morning
One of the reasons for going on this trip and certainly the reason to drive out of the way down to the Slovenia from Austria, was the Cataracts section of the Soca. World famous for its water color and clarity, as well as challenging whitewater and grand scenery. The Soca is very worth the effort.
The year I went to Corsica, the rest of the group had more time to travel and had hit the Soca in their roundabout way from Munich to Corsica. They had 50 cumecs or so and my friends who were in Prijons for the first time reported that the run was scary and actually walked off of their lap at that flow. That certainly helped add to the legend in my mind and intimidated me that much more prior to my run.
The run is short, but from start to finish it is serious. I would highly recommend going with someone who knows the run. Many channels drop into dangerous sieves. It is important to know where to go. Additionally, there are good sized holes in there. And we only had lowside of medium flow (~35 cumecs), people run it up to 60 cumecs regularly and I can only imagine how big it all gets at those flows! As it was, the flow we had felt like an idea flow for a first time. It allowed for catching eddies easily, while still had some of the punch of the water. Some folks try to target lower flow as they think it is safer… however lower flow also comes with hazards of exposing more sieves. Regardless of the flow, you don’t want to be swimming in here, that much is clear.
The run starts off with some class IV that ends up in a boof over a big hole with a big sieve on the wrong side of the river. A few boogie rapids then leads to the start of what I think is the hardest section. It starts with a three tiered drop, we ran far right to start and then either far right or middle to exit. A large sieve was just left of the middle line. Around the corner, the river starts to fall quickly. Two of the bigger drops await just a few hundred yards downstream. Both would be worth scouting if you didn’t know the lines. Below those, things quickly ease up leading to surprise which is one last punchy but rather straightforward rapid that leads directly to the pool where the Otona section starts. Celebrate… and continue boating some class IV!
My first lap I was disappointed. I hadn’t been boating well on the trip and missed several lines (or at least didn’t ace them) and needed to get out of my head. That evening while the group ran laps and I ran shuttle for them, taking pictures from above I decided I would get good and drunk and get out of my mind. That night, joined by our friend Michael Wutti, we went to town for dinner and drinks. We also met my goal. The next morning we woke up and shook off our headaches, the last thing on my mind was that I had been boating poorly. Sliding into the river and as each boof came and went, to my surprise, my plan actually worked. It was a turning point for the trip. I still wasn’t boating great, but I didn’t feel like I was boating as bad!
I should also note, this river changes frequently, so always scout and make your own decisions. Also, at the lower flows most of the rapids were only class IV to IV+, but the consequences are real, and the non-stop nature of the run is what ups it to a harder rating. Also, people run this run really high, at those flows it is all much harder.
Thanks to Harald and Reiner Glanz for sharing photos and for making the trip possible!
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- Boogie (IV to IV+). There are a few smaller rapids that we ran with the bulk of the water. The last one is down the middle with some left angle to then catch an eddy on the right… just before it all gets obviously bigger.
Start Left and Work Right (IV to IV+). The first of the sievy rapids is run down the far left and working back to the far right. You want to eddy out before the next rapid to take a quick look if you haven’t run it before. There is a large sieve in play in that one.
Right Boof with Sieve (IV+). A straight forward enough boof down the far left of the main channel. Just be aware that the right side of the river goes into a large sieve on the right shore.
Boogie (III to IV). Some mellow boogie will lead you to another eddy to catch on the right shore.
Right to Left (IV to IV+). Run center with a lot of left momentum to catch an eddy on the left below. You want to avoid getting the meat of the hole on the right.
Down the Left (IV). A fun boogie rapid that we ran down the left moving back center. It looked worse that it was.
- Under the Bridge (III to IV). As a footbridge goes over head, there is a fun splashy rapid that is underneath it. We just ran down the middle.
Pre-Tiered Rapid (IV+). This lead in rapid isn’t that hard, but it is consequential because of the rapid downstream. I would say this is the start of the crux section of the run. Enter down the middle and exit right of center. Downstream, head right into one of the small 6 foot wide channels between large boulders. This will allow you to scout the next rapid. You would not want to be caught out in the middle… I am actually not sure if any of the center chutes are even passable at the top of the Tiered Rapid.
Tiered Rapid (V- to V). We entered far right for the first boof. Below, there are some options depending on the year. The most straight forward line was down the right of center chute and then exiting right. The more aggressive line was the left of center chute which had a boof flake and a pour over exit. Between the two, make sure not to get pushed left as a large sieve awaited.
Boof and Ramp (IV+). Downsteam you swing right and go down a very low angle slide. This then leads to a boof over a sizable hole, we went right of center. This then pinches down through a smaller hole.
Boogie (III to IV). This then led to a little boogie, eventually eddy out left above the next horizon line.
Stay Center (IV+ to V). From the left eddy peel out and drive to the right of center, punch the curler and going between two horn rocks. Be aware, if you don’t drive far enough and go off the left horn, there is a hole over there.
Cut Right (IV+ to V-). Just downstream is one last move to make in this crux section. We went down the main channel on the left side of the river. There is a pointy rock that is standing in the river with water just passing over it. We went to the right of it moving right through a tongue. Blasting through it and boofing is possible but there is a sizable hole behind it.
Mellow Boogie (III to IV). Read and run through a brief mellow section.
- Surprise (IV+ to V). As you see the wall in front of you, you know you are arriving at the last rapid. We entered center and then exited left boofing the left shoulder of a large boulder in the exit. Great rapid to end the run!
Take-out: 1.7 km East of Trnovo ob Soci there is a turnout on the side of the road. Park there. There is a trail down.
Put-in: Continue up the main road to the town of Trnovo ob Soci. Take the turn towards the river on the western most side of town. Just past the first row of houses turn right and follow past the houses to the first larger left turn. This leads quickly to another parking area which is take-out
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