Looking back at our 2015 Teaching Trip Season

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From Gene17Kayaking this year, the season has been long and far reaching with trips and adventures across all our destinations throughout Europe. The year starts with a bunch of UK based courses in winter, then the whole operation heads to Slovenia for mid March every year. With the uptake on our trips growing year on year, we took the plunge and purchased a new van, meaning we can run trips at different locations concurrently.

One of our first trips is the Next Generation Training course. This course is invitation only once a successful application has been made, we look to rapidly develop the paddling expertise of young paddlers who are focused on getting into the coaching and guiding industry. It’s also chance for all of our staff to get together to share ideas with up and coming paddlers. For the last years, we have selected a summer intern from our Next Generation Training course. Applications open in January for our 2016 positions…..

Chris Eastabrook during March 2015 Next Generartion Training in Slovenia
Chris Eastabrook during March 2015 Next Generartion Training in Slovenia

By April we are running trips in Greece, Slovenia and Corsica at the same time. Greece a popular Class III paradise with every valley etched into some ancient mythological tale. The remote canyons are the perfect location to have an adventure and not need to be a hard core paddler. Whilst qualification training goes on in Slovenia, the prime early spring location is Corsica. This fabled isle has a place in the history of white water kayaking, with wonderful pool drop paddling, fine food and great scenery. Every year we’re expanding the season here, with the accessible Class III/IV Corsica Road Trip becoming increasingly popular. A great Easter get away.

Chivers in Corsica
Steve Chivers on the Upper Golo in Corsica

Our major destination and home from home every May is Valsesia in Piemonte, Italy. With over 40 seasons experience in the 4 principal Piemonte Steep Creeking Trip coaches this year, the experience be hide these great trips is unprecedented. In 2015 we rolled out our new Intro to Creeking Trip in early June, which proved hugely popular, selling out in the first year. We are anticipating that the Intro to Creeking Trip will rival the long established Steep Creeking Trip in Piemonte, such is opportunity to coach and develop paddlers in Valsesia.

Matt Blackwell getting air on the Sorba slides
“Matt Blackwell getting air on the Sorba slides

We also entertain the close by destination of Ticino in Switzerland, as a step onwards from Piemonte. With deep gorges and more committing runs, the Ticino Steep Creeking Trip has delightful white water in a near pristine setting.

Middle Verzasca
Terry Freil skips a boulder on the Middle Verzasca

Central to our spring residence in Piemonte, is the Valsesia River Festival. We started this event in 2012, and after four editions, we have a regular spring creek boaters gathering. In 2016, we’ll look to refresh this event with more activities throughout the festival week.

Amy Elworthy on the Sesia Alpin Sprint
Amy Elworthy on the Sesia Alpin Sprint

Spring soon gives way to summer, and at the heart of our new summer programme in Slovenia, is a trip to Montenegro. This small country has the famed “Black Mountains” that are it’s namesake. Within the peaks are deep canyons that provide a great destination for modest white water. The most attractive of these rivers runs through the Tara Canyon, providing an accessible multi day trip. The blue waters, cascading springs and fair rapids, make for a great holiday for paddlers who are learning white water. Sunny days are the norm as the rivers are close to the southern Adriatic Sea, and the great balkan fare means good food is a plenty.

Tara Canyon Montenegro
Tara Canyon Montenegro

Further north up the Adriatic coast is our summer residence in Slovenia. Both our logistics base and location for the start and end of the season, the Soča is now home to our summer long programme. This year we decided to roll out a 3 month residence in Slovenia, as requests for summer trips there have been demanded. Deb Pinniger with Tomo Andrassy headed up the Soča All Summer Long programme, with fine weather all season long. So successful was 2015, that we’ll be back in 2016, some dates are already online.

Soča Summer in Slovenia
Soča All Summer Long programme in Slovenia

Meanwhile in the north of Europe, our Norway season is ever longer, from mid summers to early September. At the height of the summer is the Sjoa River Festival, where we co-host the event and run the Ula Extreme Race as part of the festival. The Ula Extreme Race takes place on the Ula Slides, with great spectator access and fast lines to enjoy. This year’s event was another great one, the 19th edition. In 2016, we’re starting to put together a bigger event to reflect the 20 years of fun summer paddling in Sjoa.

Ula Extreme Race 2015
Ula Extreme Race 2015

Norway is well known for its slides and drops, and a run on the Upper Jori during our Norway Creeking Trip is a major highlight. Well over 100m long, this broken slide means the paddler is busy throughout their descent. A major photo capturing location. This summer many of the local creeks ran on well into August, meaning that we could enjoy a wide range of runs in the Sjoa area.

Upper Jori
The first big slide on the Upper Jori

The Upper Rauma, is another golden run to be enjoyed in Norway, and is on the route to Valldal. Our Valldal Road Trip takes in the major highlights on the tourist route in central Norway, Troll Wall, Troll Road, Geirangerfjord to name a few. In 2016 we’ll add the new Sjoa Creeking Trip to the programme, and drop a few of the departures on the Valldal Road Trip, as we feel for many paddlers more focus on their paddling located in one locations, is likely to ensure a stronger outcome. Come back in November for more details.

Upper Rauma Valldal Road Trip
Upper Rauma Valldal Road Trip

Well that was our summer, nearly 200 paddlers in 6 months of action packed river running, white water kayaking. Currently the team is resting up before courses start in Devon, whilst Jake has headed to India and Jakub is about to go to Chile. A short pause before the skiing season starts and the UK short course programme restarts a new. Dates for 2016 are now in the main all online, skip on over to our trips and adventures web pages. See you on the river.