Fiume Verzasca (Middle)
|Stretch:||Bridge to Lucifer’s Slide|
|Difficulty:||Class IV (with 1 IV+ and 1 potential V)|
|Gradient:||145 fpm average|
|Put-in:||Downstream of Brione, at the bridge below the uber steep cascade.|
|Take-out:||Parking area near Lucier’s Slide|
|Shuttle:||3 miles (10 minutes)|
|Season:||Spring from rain/snowmelt|
|Featured in Video A Wet State #92|
Piemonte / Ticino 2014: Day 6
The Middle Verzasca is a very popular section of the Verzasca… the put in is below a massive cascade that plummets from the takeout of the Upper run down a boulder pile reminiscent of the Bottom mile on the Ashlu… only less runnable. The run starts off with several challenging boulder gardens that should keep you on your toes. We had a situation with one where one group member, not realizing the two boat scouters were in the only micro eddies available trying to see over the lip, bombed into the rapid and had a sizable surf just above a sieve before working out of it and dropping over a ledge blindly. Certainly a good learning lesson that’s for sure! Eventually the run eases up before entering bedrock. The first slide has a sizable hole in the middle and at the bottom. Some people choose to take out here. Below there is a sneak around a jumble before you get to Lucifer’s slide and the lower take-out. Lucifer’s is a large class V rapid which flipped most of our group… myself so hard I broke my gopro off and severed the string it was attached to my helmet by. That is also not to mention that skin on the knuckles that was lost and poured blood nor the popped blood vessel which caused my other hand to instantly swell up like a balloon. Needless to say, my day ended early and I did not get to enjoy the Verzasca this day.
The Middle is certainly less classic than the Lower, but still worth doing. The water quality is superb plus the views of the Alps rising around you, and waterfalls tumbling into the creek from seemingly the peaks of the Alps makes it very worth the effort. We just didn’t have the time to revisit the section as each of our Lower Verzasca laps later in the week were in the evening and time was of the essence.
I don’t know this for a fact, but I feel that this run could handle a fair amount of water. The nature of the rapids may require a sneak here or there, but there is nothing that constricts that I would envision getting too powerful. Similarly, I bet this can be run pretty low. I feel that we were on the low side for it actually… estimating maybe 1,000 cfs. For the Lower though, it felt like a fine flow… perhaps even medium.
Also check out the Glanz brothers' (Harry and Reiner) blog for more outstanding pics from this trip
- Put-in (III to IV). Just below put-in the rapids start. You can scout before putting on from the bridge or shore, we started far left and ended far right.
- First Scout (IV). The tricky part of this rapid is the first move, boofing a small pinch that grabbed our back ends a little. Below the river splits around a rock, either side is good and cascades down towards some more rocks, error left.
- Blunder (IV+). A bigger and blind rapid full of rocks and a few bad spots that are in play. We started eddy hoping down the right getting ourselves into micro eddies where we could see that we weren’t willing to go any further. Right then one in our group who wasn’t paying attention blew past us not seeing we had stopped progress. That person ended up getting surfed on the right, just above a sieve pile before working out and running the ledge. David gave chase and reported back the line to us… it was a close call for sure. Goes to show you that you always need to watch those in front and behind you while working down a river no one has done before. Anyways, the line was down the right at the top and then quickly working back left. With full momentum coming downriver the hole that surfed the person is not a big deal.
- Ledge (IV). A nice double ledge was next. I vaguely remember moving the top part in the middle. After that we eddied out on the right and drove back to the left to boof the sticky hole.
- Slide (IV+). This is the big rapid for the run. The slide has a powerful hole at the bottom that gives people problems. Drive left on the slide to hit the edge. Below, there is another hole that you want to drive back right for.
Sneak Right (IV+). Just a quarter mile downriver (if even) is a rapid you want to sneak. The lead in is a slide into some rocks which you want to drive into. You do not want to go with the bulk of the water off to the left. Once amongst the rocks in a small micro channel sneak down to a 8 foot boof on the far right. It is a little undercut so be careful.
- Lucifer’s Slide (V). So, few doing just the Middle will run this rapid. It is much much harder than everything else on the run and is more characteristic of the run below. But the take out is right here so I included it in this write-up as well. Just be aware, the next rapid is the waterfall which most will portage… so set safety lest a swimmers boat may continue downriver. The rapid can be run driving hard right or down the left into the fold. Either goes… and can go poorly.
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: As you drive up the valley, you will pass the town of Lavertezzo which is river side right in the meat of the lower section of the river. Continue just a short ways upstream to the large gravel parking lot. This is take-out. Make sure you pay to park…
Put-in: Continue up the valley until you cross the river. Park on the far side. On Saturday parking was limited here due to the popularity of the run. Again, make sure you pay to park… and make sure you look upriver from the bridge, really cool vista!
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