- Last Updated on Saturday, 01 January 2000 00:00
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Norway Paddling Guide
Last update: October 2002
by James Farquharson
The fact that Norway contains - without a doubt - the best white water in Europe is becoming well established. Videos such as Mothership Connection, Sick Line and Full Circle, plus various articles written by dedicated part time Norwegians such as Hannah Paul, Simon Westgarth, Debs Pinnegar and Ed Cornfield have certainly helped. The number of British kayakers visiting the country seems to at least double every year. The scene in Norway would no doubt have developed even quicker if up to date practical information on the rivers were published. There is one 1987 guidebook written in English, "Elvepaddling". It still has its uses, for example the maps are still good. But, it now looks distinctly aged and many new runs have been discovered since it was written. I have heard that various groups are in the process of writing new guidebooks in the English language. Until these actually materialise I hope the following notes will help you find your way around the fabulous creeks and rivers of Norway.
Why to come. Who should come. What to bring. When to come. Etc.
Norway is visually stunning. The Norwegians are gentlemen and scholars all. The days are long. The rivers have easy access, they are just the right length, always seem to have about the right amount of water in them and rarely have any disagreeably long flat bits. New Zealand's South Island is the only place I have been that compares for quality but Norway is far nearer and much cheaper to get to!
Typical jawdropping scenery in Norway.
White Water Paddlers who are truly class IV/V paddlers will, without a doubt, love Norway. There are steep creeks and high volume rivers just everywhere. They are along every main road that you travel on, under every bridge that you cross, up every valley you explore, falling off every single cliff and mountain you cast your eye on. It is truly exceptional.
On the down side I have seen many class III/IV paddlers terrified out of their minds. Waking up in a cold sweat, begging not to have to run waterfalls in isolated gorges the next day. It's not that class III/IV rivers without class V drops on blind bends don't exist (I'm sure they do), it's just that no one seems to have bothered to go out and find them. Myself included. Most boaters who have the experience and are adventurous enough to seek out new runs, aren't interested in gentle class II. Many people who visit Norway may have perhaps had more fun and not spent so much money, river running in the French or Austrian Alps. I know people will be cursing me for being elitist, but I don't think I am alone in holding this opinion.
Plenty of scary things hide behind corners in Norway...
Norway is two boat country. All the Norwegians have a creek boat and a play boat. Most people who follow their model come back with less fireside tales of epic adventure and escapes from near certain death. For clarity, when I say creek boat, I mean something like a Dagger CFS, not GT. There are some rivers for which river runners, such as the GT, are ideal but most of the really good stuff warrants a proper creek boat. If you can blag your mates into letting you bring your playboat, bring it along as an extra. There are some amazing park and play sites.
The season in Norway is very long. Apparently any time from late May until late September will see you with plenty to do. We have found that there is always something that is at an ideal level, no matter what the water is doing, some rivers are better high, some low. Having said that, late July or early August is probably the best time to go. The weather tends to be warmer, the high flows of the spring have run off, the days are long and there are more paddlers around. The Sjoa Festival occurs during mid to late July. The Sjoa Kajakksenter organises the event (www.kajakksenteret.no). When the event is on, the Kayak Camp at Sjoa is a great place to share river information and tall stories until the sun doesn't set.
Getting there from the UK:
Via Newcastle and the 24 hour Fjordline Ferry to Bergen - www.fjordline.co.uk. Attacking the land of Vikings via ship has its attractions (especially if you live in the North of Britain), the trip through the Fjords to Bergen is just beautiful, and you can be paddling in the Voss area the same day as arrival. The ferry is relatively expensive so the car is better full. There is a 25% discount if you can book three months in advance of travel. You need to take the ferry company's height limit seriously. The car deck on the ferry is very low. However, with careful planning you can get at least 4 boats and 4 people on, or in, a normal sized car, and stay below 2 metres,
There is also a Ferry from Newcastle to Kristiansund. This is cheaper, but takes you a bit out of the way.
Doing Dover-Calais, then driving, looks blinking miles. I wouldn't bother unless you want to pop into Amsterdam or something.
If you are taking the ferry it is well worth buying tons of food in England, as it is cheaper than in Norway. Booze in your average British supermarket is also cheaper than that found in the shop on the Norwegian Ferries. They have some stingy alcohol allowances and they can get shirty if you over-do your limit. So don't get caught.
Flying to Oslo's Gardermoen airport, is a good option, especially if you don't have the time to waste cruising about on a ferry. We paid 138 for a BA flight in 2002. It may be better to fly with someone like BA rather than some Scooby Doo cheapo airline, as some airlines don't fly into Gardermoen airport. This airport has a train station underneath with direct express trains to Otta (70 return - Otta is 5 minutes from Sjoa). Car rental can be expensive. Herts quoted me 850 for a Ford Ka for two weeks. However, www.rent-a-wreck.no can be ridiculously cheap, especially if you don't use the airport branch. We hired a 1984 VW Passatt for two weeks from Otta for just over 200 all in. Roof racks are usually available - Norwegians love to Ski.
Rent-a-wreck cars can take a lot of abuse!
Life in the fast lane, Skjak campsite.
My all in costs, on both the 2001 and 2002 trips (ferry and plane respective) were less than 500 for two weeks. I could have probably done it a bit cheaper. Another Group from England took the Kristiansund ferry and spent 320 each. I couldn't vouch for how much Reindeer stew their budget allowed for. Norway is expensive by Alpine standards, but is very cheap for the quality of the paddling you will experience.
A note on the weather!
A lot of people are put off from coming to Norway by visions of themselves shivering away in an igloo trying to defrost their thermals round a seal blubber candle. This is not a realistic picture at all. The sun never really sets in the summer and the Gulf Stream flows round the coast. All three times I have been, the Tevas and shorts have been broken out pretty damn quick. To give you an idea as to what to pack for, the weather is very similar to Wales in the summer. Between 13 and 25 degrees during the day. Between 7 and 15 at night. Could be raining, could be overcast, could be sunny etc who knows?
All notes are based on trips taken in the summer of 2000, 2001 and 2002. The map used is red covered and called Cappelens Kart 2, Sor-Norge nord 1:335 000. It is widely available - often in petrol stations.
Where sensible I will try to follow the format:
" Name of River
" Class of Difficulty
" Water level indication
" Brief Description
I personally cannot stand blow by blow river descriptions, as they take too much of the adventure out of the river experience (and give you something to hang your fears on). Sometimes I will mention individual severe drops if they occur in otherwise class III/IV stretches of river. Less often I will mention individual drops on Class IV+ and V runs and only if they are extremely hard to spot and/or pose a significant hazard. People running white water at this level will probably want to spot, and be capable of spotting, hazards for themselves.
Given the nature of my memory, these notes are bound to be raddled with errors and probably open to various interpretations, so don't trust them. Expect BIG and DANGEROUS drops around every bend. River experience and, moreover, common sense are vital to do the runs described safely. A lot of these trips take place in beautiful, remote and inaccessible places. Adventure is available to those who crave it. Mis-adventure is also available, but is probably easier to come by
Mark Rainsley on the Lower Rauma.
Mark Rainsley and Jo Lucas, Lower Rauma.
Voss is one of the bigger towns you will come across in Norway. It enjoys a scenic location on the banks of a large lake. If you drive up the road to the airport and keep going, eventually you will come across the property of the Voss Sky Diving Club. There is free camping here. Showers and a bar are available in the clubhouse. The club is well known to kayakers, so it is a good place to meet people.
Water levels need to be fairly high for this to work.
If running, it is at the outflow of the lake at Voss. 10 Minutes drive towards Bergen.
It should be a large glassy wave with some foam pile in the middle
Upper Strondaelva (Class III)
Best run in mid or high water levels.
Runs along the E16 out of Voss. Probably about 10km out of town, put in at a lay-by near a red and blue truck shed. Take out at, or just upstream, of the (cheap, if you're in need of somewhere to stay) campsite you will see from the road.
This section is often used for kayak clinics. The run is short, maybe only 1 or 2km. Above the put in there looks to be a good, similarly short, class IV run. We didn't do it, so wouldn't want to comment further.
Lower Strondaelva (Class IV (V))
Best run in mid or high water levels.
Runs along the E16 out of Voss. Put in about one kilometre above a sign posted and obvious lay-by/car park with a toilet. If you are staying at the campsite mentioned above, this is an ideal put in. Take out is at the second road bridge below the put in, and up the bank into a bus stop 1.5 km below Tricky Drop.
There is a good rapid behind the toilet and a further 200 metres downstream, just below the road bridge, water vapour rises above the horizon line of "Tricky Drop". You can see Tricky Drop being run in several kayaking videos. More importantly, Messrs Farquharson and Yates ran this drop with panache and almost overwhelming critical acclaim in the summer of 2001. For those who prefer, the portage around is probably class II at most. There is another 3 metre drop 500m downstream best taken down the channel extreme right.
Raundelsaelva Mjofjell Section - The Tunnel (Class V)
We did it in low water and it was fine. It should be mostly OK in higher water, apart from the gorge below nose breaker. It's definitely worth a look for the stunt value of paddling through the tunnel.
Drive way up the Raundelsaelva road - perhaps 30km from Voss. Go through the town of Mjofjell. Soon after the town, you cross a bridge over a major tributary. Take the tarmac road to the left before the bridge, and take a dirt track to the right after 50 metres. After about 300m, you will be above the railway line. Carry the boats down a track and put in above the tunnel through which the river runs. For the take out, drive back down the road past Mjofjell. After a while you will come to a big open grassy space next to the river. There is a concrete underpass for the road. A little further downstream (1km?) is the best take out.
There are a number of large drops and slides on the tributary before you hit the main river. Between the confluence and the grassy area mentioned above, there are several good class IV/V drops. There is also a good deal of flat. Soon after the grassy area, things get more interesting. Pretty soon you come to a fall called Nosebreaker. This drop is in excess of 10m, and comes complete with sketchy lead in. We have learnt that most people take out just past Nosebreaker and walk back to the car. We carried on going until we were stuck in a gorge and had to climb out. I have heard from some Norwegians that if you don't go too far and make the portage on river right you can put back in to this gorge and enjoy yourselves all the way down to Reime Station.
Raundelsaelva - Reime Station to Skiple (Class IV (V))
Definitely goes in low or medium water levels. I don't know for sure, but I would be concerned that some of the drops would get a little feisty in higher water. They are within a tight canyon and portaging/stopping may be an issue.
The take out is at the bridge put in for the Skiple run (you may as well do that at the same time). The put in is over the platform from Reime Station, 4-5km upstream.
Lots of very high quality class IV in a tight gorge. It is a more difficult, and better quality run than the Skiple-Urdland section. There is a major, though not really difficult, portage at the end.
Raundelsaelva - Skiple to Urdland (Class III/IV (V))
Goes in most water levels. More of the drops will have to be portaged in higher levels, but the in between rapids get a lot better.
Drive up the minor road that leads out of Voss going east (see map). The take out is at the pool below the bridge just off the main road upstream of Urdland. The put in is approximately 8 km upstream. Follow a tractor track off to the right a little way upstream of the village of Skiple. There is a toll barrier. Drive down to the bridge and put in for lots of IV+ and a couple of bigger drops. Or, to extend the trip by running the canyon above the bridge, drive back up the track 500m to a small lay-by. If you look straight into the woods from the lay-by, that is 12 o'clock. You need to walk towards 2.00 o'clock. You will soon come across some power lines. Follow the power lines down to the put in. If you don't like the looks of the canyon from the bridge, don't bother with the excursion through the woods.
All the big drops below the bridge can be easily portaged allowing relatively mixed groups on the water. Also the run can be divided up depending on the group as the river is generally easier the further downstream you put on. When you drive up the road between the take out and put in, you will come across a church. On the river nearby is a playwave. You can shove weaker paddlers out into the current here with less chance of them hating you as most of the difficulties (though not all) are over.
Chris Wheeler on the Skiple to Urdland section.
Lower Raundelsaelva Canyon (Class V)
Do not attempt this in anything other than low water.
Below the take out at Urdland on the previous section, and the put in I will describe here, there are some portages that would make this trip a little too full on. So to avoid that, drive up the Raundelsaelva road from Voss. Look out for a sign saying "Norheim". This is about 4km below Urdland. To the right of the sign is a farmstead. Ideally you would park slap bang in the middle of their farmyard and yomp through their fields down to the river and the put in that is slightly upstream of their property. People have done this to them in the past and they are now becoming a little Welsh. Try and think of some way to avoid annoying them. The place to leave the shuttle car for the take out is by the bridge at the rifle range. There are two ways to find this bridge, one fast but possibly closed, one long but guaranteed. The fast way is to drive back down the valley until you see a green and white painted wooden house on the left with a dirt track leading under the railway line. Follow that track down into the woods and eventually with luck you should come to the bridge. Alternatively, you have to go all the way back down to the main road turn left and then left again where you see a sign for "Bjorkemoen". Follow that road all the way to the rifle range.
Committing Class V in a deep and beautiful gorge. There is no doubt that there are several things in this run that would kill you if you got the lines wrong. Sumps, siphons, sieves and undercuts are all there to catch the slack. The portages are pretty hard work too, as I'm sure a few of our group would be happy to tell you. However, if you are up to it, the gorge contains many of the things that make white water kayaking great
Braundalsaelva - "Fun Slalom" (Class IV (maybe V sometimes))
Everything else probably needs to be medium to high for this to have enough water to run
Take the E16 North of Voss, drive up the Strondaelva and keep going. Just past the second lake out of Voss (take a look at your map if unsure) take a road to the right signposted Ljosno. The take out is at the bridge over the river. Take a look at the river and put in as high up as you feel like. We put in 500m upstream of the take out. You have to walk through the woods a bit for a good look.
This was the site of an extreme race that was held a couple of years ago. It looks perfect for the job, as it is not as difficult as the gradient would normally imply. The river is steepish and low volume. A bit like the Etive, but not frozen over.
Myrkaldaelva (Class V)
Best run in low-medium conditions. From the take out the flat bits should look too low. If there is too much water then you have to portage loads of stuff. The portages don't look easy.
From Voss, drive up the E16. At the Vinje roundabout turn left up the 13 in the direction of the Vangsnes ferry. Soon you will come across a lake. At the upstream end of the lake there is a small town with some shops and a road bridge over the river. You will see some big drops upstream. This is the take out. Continue driving up the hill. After about 7 km's there is a turning right with a yellow and a white road sign. One of these signs says Myrkdalen. The other apparently contains the letters A and O (though, alas, we cant be sure of it). Anyway, you can see the bridge from the road. Drive down to the bridge, put your kit on, walk to the top of the 11 metre drop, get in, and fall off it. Great.
Pool-drop. Lots of big waterfalls and slides. Goes on for miles. Perfect.
Si Wiles on the Myrkaldaelva.
Chris Wheeler, final Myrkaldaelva waterfall.
A large town half way between Voss and Sjoa. A good campsite is over the bridge and about 2km down the road to the ferry that gets you to the huge road tunnel. Right by the lakeside, good views.
Sogndalsaelva (Class IV/V)
For the lower section you need quite low water. As you drive over the bridge in town if the water covers all the pebbles in the riverbed, you are in trouble. There is a gauge downstream and river right of the third bridge over the river counting from the bottom bridge up. We did the lower at 120. You could do it with more but not too much, maybe up to 130? The gauge only goes up to 150, If you cant see any numbers above the water, the river is definitely too high! The upper would probably still be ok with more water than is viable for the lower.
From Sogndal drive North on the 5. Turn left at the first roundabout after the town bridge and park up for the lower take out. Keep going up the river on the 5. The river is first on your right then for a long time on your left, just after you cross again, turn right off the main road and find a bridge. This is the middle point. Go back to the main road and continue driving for about 4km up the main road. Take a right onto a dirt track just after a sign saying "Kolsette". Drive down to a bridge and put in for the upper. If you miss the first turning take the next right signposted "Kleiv" and go back down to the river.
The upper has fairly open and continuous class IV rapids with some ledgy drops. The lower has a number of class V drops, including the now famous triple drop (a total fall of about 24m). It probably wouldn't be worth getting on the lower section if you didn't intend to run the big drops as some of the portaging looks a tad arduous. Altogether or separately, this is a classic run.
This video clip is a compressed version of footage by Jay Sigbrandt...for the full quality original (14 megs!), see http://www.yucc.org.uk/jay/videos/sogndal.hires.mpeg
The first of the triple drops, Jay Sigbrandt in trouble.
Dan Yates dropping off the second (biggest?) of the triple drops.
Joe Boote, about to bottom out on the third fall...ouch.
Kevin F, yet another wipeout.
Chris Wheeler in trouble on the lower Sogndal near the takeout.
Boyaelva (Class IV+) - Mark Rainsley
Goes at any water level. Always water, it flows directly from a glacier.
You'll find this straight up the valley from the Sogndalsaelva; go through an expensive tunnel and you are in Fjaerland (Fairyland!), the most gorgeous spot in Norway. Drive up the valley along the river and turn off right just before the road enters a second tunnel. You won't fail to notice that you are directly below a massive hanging glacier. Park and launch onto the small lake at the mouth of the glacier and head downstream. Takeout is a bridge across the river just after it goes flat, visible from the main road.
You can't fail to love thismind blowing scenery, continuous grade 3, with two sections of steep meaty drops, grade 4+ or 5 depending on how hot the day is. The second section is longer and trees are a hazard. The true purist will paddle on past the takeout into the sea fjord, source to sea
UPDATE JULY 2003 - The Boyaelva has seen a tragic fatality. A Dutch paddler drowned in an unseen undercut on the very final tricky slot rapid. Treat this innocuous looking rapid with extreme caution. Portaging it is simple.
From a member of the group...'I do hope that many other kayakers will paddle this river because it lies indeed in one of the most beautiful valleys of Norway I have seen...There are still some pieces of rope and a steel pole in the rapid from the rescue operation. This is potentially dangerous for paddlers.
I also paddled its main tributary, again direct from a glacier. Can't recall the name, but it sucked anyway.
Jolstra (Class III/IV) - Mark Rainsley
This is always paddleable, capable of holding huge volumes. It gets rafted daily. I did it in low water levels.
Go through the tunnel near the Boyaelva put-in and head on to Vassenden (an hour at most??). Put in where the river flows out of the lake in the centre of town. I took out at Flatten bridge. Downstream of the take out, is apparently a deathfoss and some allegedly paddleable big drops.
This is that rarest of things in Norwaya river which a mixed group can possibly all enjoy. It has long, powerful grade 3+ and 4 rapids with big holes and waves, as well as a few drops. That aside, the hazards are obvious, and the pools long. A playboat wouldn't look out of place on the Jolstra, there are some good spots lurking around to rip up.
Jostedalselva - Gjerde Section (Class V), Andy Jackson
The Jostedal is a massive volume river that drains half of the Jostalbreen - the largest glacier in Northern Europe. There is some classic white water on this major river.
Water levels - make up your own mind when you get there.
The two canyons upstream of Gjerde contain the best sections on the river. Driving up the valley the best takeout is a km or so beyond the confluence with the Krundalselva (Class IV in its upper reaches). Follow the road upstream past Gjerde. The road crosses the river at a bridge between the two canyons. Continue upstream on the main road (not the Nigadsbreen track) until you reach the put in at the obvious flattening above the gorge.
It is vital to stop en route and scout both canyons in advance, as you cant easily do so once you are in! Specifically you need to locate a high river wide ledge that forms the crux of the upper canyon. A pushy lead in brings you to the ledge. The ledge may have a weakness on the left. If you don't fancy this drop it wont be worth running the upper canyon, as portaging is a bugger. The second half of the lower gorge is also well worth checking out beforehand. The two canyons have a powerful and serious feel about them. Cold glacial melt water, surges round within deep canyons, presenting few opportunities to scout, or bail out. Andy Jackson last ran this river on a cold and rainy day in August 2001, "It was scary and committing paddling with a very consequential edge to it." A great trip for a strong group who are prepared to invest the time in scouting.
Chris Wheeler, high up the Jostedal valley above the final road tunnel...a 3 km section of grade 4+ with portages
A mellow campsite, with special cheap rates for kayakers. It comes complete with a great playwave, and acts as an excellent base for exploring the multitude of high quality creeks in the area. From Lom, drive up the Otta River on the E15. Just before the road crosses the river to move over to river left is the Storoya campsite.
Skjak Play Wave
Seems to go most of the time. You can probably hear it from the campsite.
This was the site of the 2000 Euro Champs. A classic wave/hole, not to be missed.
The Skjak wave.
Leira/ Bovre - Sagasoyla to Boverdal (Class V) - additional comments by Mark Rainsley
Appropriate levels for this run?
The Bovre and Leira, flow along the 55, South West from the town of Lom. The put in is near the massive stone column topped by a man on horseback at Sagasoyla. The put in is on the Leira. The take out is on the Bovre, below the Leira/Bovre confluence at Boverdal campsite and shop.
I have only ever seen this section in high flows. There is a short grade 4+ section on the Leira, and then you'll almost certainly want to take out at the confluence with the Bovre (enters from river left). Below is a heinous canyon which is obvious from the road. There are many rapids within the canyon that would certainly kill you if you made a mistake. I have heard the same about low flows. Ugly sceptic death, I refused to get on.
Visa (Class IV+/V) - Jay Sigbrandt
Glacier fed, and best at high levels. The Skjoli (also glacier-fed) was at 170 on the gauge the day Jay ran it.
From Lom drive 15km up the 55 (if in doubt the Visa is clearly marked on the map as a tributary of the Bovre). Take a left onto an unpaved road. Follow this track to Spiterstulen. Put in below some very pushy grade V+ bouldery rapids. The take out is approximately 5km downstream at a bridge.
The run initially consists of continuous class IV rapids, but soon enters some short gorges with powerful IV+/V bedrock rapids. There's even a waterfall thrown in. Portage a powerful S-bend rapid that risks a severe undercut. The rapid may be runnable in lower water. River left is the easiest portage. The whole run is given 5 stars on the Sigbrandt scale - highly recommended.
More sections downstream, but these are low water runs. Ask the locals if you are around in these conditions.
Upper Bovre (Class IV) - Mark Rainsley
Not exactly a classic in low water, not sure high would be an improvement??
Put in where the Bovre flows from a lake. Take out beside the road just before it drops away into a deep gorge leading for a kilometre down to the confluence with the Leira.
A series of grade 4 drops that are often surprisingly unpleasant; bad undercuts abound. Two drops in particular stand out; an undercut slot and a powerful 2-3 metre fall. In between the few drops, the river flows in varying degrees of flatness.
Lower Bovre (III+ (V))
Different water levels are good depending on what you want to get out of the run.
Take out is in the town of Lom. The put in is at the first main road bridge upstream of Lom. This is a long section and could maybe be shortened, but I don't know how as I have never done it.
Generally considered a play run, offering high volume big waves. There are however several super gnarly Class V's en route (which are mostly portaged).
Skjoli (Class IV/V)
Just before the tollgate described below take a track down to the river on the left of the road. At the very end of a narrow canyon is the Gauge. Ideally this should be between 1.20 and 1.45. I once put on at 1.55 and walked off again almost straight away. The highest it has been run is at 1.75 by one of the psychotic Norwegians.
Flows into the Otta just above the Skjak play wave (this is the take out). For the put in, almost opposite the campsite turning, fractionally upstream, but before the bridge, follow the sign to Lundegrundi. Then take a left hand turn onto a dirt track sign-posted Lundadalen. Carry on up this toll road along the river left bank of the Skjoli. At the road head, put in.
Don't miss this river, excellent. High quality continuous rapids. Take care; there are some innocuous looking nasties round some blind bends.
Astre (Class IV-)
The Astre is probably best done mid to high. In low flows it would be too dull and short to contemplate.
From Skjak play wave drive upstream. The road is on river left, then river right. Just before it goes back to river left (the major rapid "Donfoss" is downstream of the bridge) turn off left. Keep driving to the bottom of the lake and the old wooden bridge. Put in. Take out is 2.5 km downstream at the bridge.
Easy class IV rapids. Once swimming, victims often travel a long distance, as the rapids are continuous. Beware of sharp rocks under the surface. There are some major rapids downstream of the take out, somewhere in the woods. These may go in specific water levels or they may not.
Andy McMahon on the Astre.
Tundra (Class IV)
Avoid when rivers are generally high, otherwise it's probably worth taking a look
From Lom drive up the 15, pass Skjak, and keep driving for maybe 6 more km. Look out for a blue sign that say "Donfoss 800m". Thirty metres past the sign, take a left up a dirt track. At this point set the trip counter of your car as the place to park the shuttle is difficult to find. Keep driving straight up the road. Ignore any turn offs and all the "Privat Veg" signs. If you want to leave a shuttle vehicle at the take out, park at 4.3km from the main road. In 2002 there was a red sign nailed to a tree, a small ditch and a two foot long length of 6 inch diameter concrete pipe to mark the spot. You might be tempted to scramble down the hill to look at the take out, but it is a lot less effort to find it from the river - as I shall explain later. If you don't have two cars or you just can't decide where to leave the shuttle vehicle, you could not bother with a shuttle at all, and walk back up. It's not too far. 3 miles past the take out there is a small collection of houses and an old wooden bridge. This is the put in.
Shortly after the river enters the deepening valley there is a class V waterfall followed by 200m of slightly more difficult water than the rest of the river. In high water the following gorge contains a river-wide closed out hole, and the portage is not easy. From here on in emergency egress becomes difficult. The river is characteristically one of continuous class IV rapids. You will instantly know the take out when you see it as the river ploughs into a 6 foot wide gap in the cliffs and disappears underground. Pull up on the level ground to the right; walk directly up the side of the nastiness, then maybe 300m through the shrubbery to the road, and hopefully a waiting car.
James Farquharson on the Tora.
Liz Bell on the Tundra.
Tora (Class V)
Everything has to be low to consider this
Take the 15 out of Lom and drive past Skjak. Keep going for about half an hour. You will start noticing a long section of steep water on the river Otta on the left. Look up to the right when you drive over the Tora and you will see much steeper water. Walk in, and put in as high up as you dare. We did about 6 drops. Take out near the bridge somewhere.
This was the highlight of my trip in 2002. 700m of large class V, rough cut steep slides, some of which flow directly into each other. Very, very exciting.
Good for a day off?
Takes 45 mins to get there from Skjak. Drive up the Otta River and turn left at Grostli. The lifts open from 10.00 and close at 16.00. The all in costs in 2000 were 450 kr.
The Sjoa Kayak Camp is the best place to stay. It is a great place to meet other kayakers and is the start of the fantastic Amot gorge. To find the camp drive 2km (ish) west of the town of Sjoa along the river of the same name. The camp is on the other side of the river from the road and is well sign posted. The campsite is free to kayakers. There are toilets but no showers. On a sunny day the river is better than a shower anyway (?).
Sjoa - Ridder Spranget Section (Class III/IV (V+ dependant on level))
This appeal of this run changes dramatically with water levels. We have run it very high. At these levels it is good high volume river running with several (too many?) portages. At lower levels some of the portages become possible but the in-between rapids become less challenging (fun).
Drive up Sjoa road past Heidal village. When you see the river down in the valley sweeping off up to the left, take the next yellow sign posted dirt track. Keep going until you see a sign for Nordse Trodafoss. Follow it. This is a rafting put in (with toilets) but it is the take out for this section. To find the put in drive back to the main road, drive up the valley until you come to a T-junction. Turn left and keep your eyes open for signs left to Ridder Sprangett. Follow the track down to the car park. Follow a footpath down to the river.
I think I've covered most of the description when I was talking about the levels. If you have a mishap on the river, there seems to be various forest tracks back to civilisation.
Upper Canyon (Class III/IV) - Mark Rainsley
Most water levels are good.
Most water levels are good (best at high flows).
Put in just below Nedre Trodafoss, i.e. the take out for the Ridder Spranget section described above. The take out for the section is at the bridge in Bjlstadmo - or if you are keen on Class II, keep going to the put in for the play run section described below.
Big, continuous class III with plenty of play spots. The river flows through a typically Norwegian, beautiful canyon. There is one big class IV section of several hundred yards. Some of the holes within the run have been given names to aid confusion (this is a rafted section, remember). The run takes a few hours to complete and is reputed to be "too long" if you carry on to the play run put in.
Sjoa Play Run (Class III/IV)
Seems good to go in most water levels.
The put in is about 4 km's above the Kayakcenter (shop). Drive from the main road over a bridge to a big gravel lay-by on river right. This is the main rafting put in. Take out is either just past the big steel girder bridge near the kayak shop or at the Kayak Camp.
This section is perfect for practicing all the very latest kayak stunts in the playboat of your choice. There are a variety of holes, waves (the kayak shop wave is international class) and powerful seams, with hardly any nasties to put you off. Most of the good stuff is over just past the kayak shop bridge but for convenience some groups carry on to the kayak camp. The final 200m before the kayak camp sees heavy class IV water. Swimming here is probably only marginally more pleasant than swimming Amot.
Sjoa - Amot Gorge (Class IV+ - possibly V in high water)
Goes in most water levels. The rapids just move around a bit.
Put in at the Kayak Camp. Take out is at a bus stop lay-by 500m down the road from the turning for the kayak camp. Make sure you paddle down a small left hand channel at the end of the gorge. You will spot an eddy, a slalom pole and a small shed.
The Sjoa at the Kayak Camp.
Upstream of the Kayak Camp bridge, Mark Rainsley.
An excellent high volume river running treat. Once you know the lines, you can bomb down the gorge in 10 minutes whenever you feel like it. A few hundred metres above the road bridge there is one slightly dodgy undercut wall on a corner. Keep right. Below the bridge there are big, generally flushy, waves and holes that, I would imagine, would be a nightmare to swim through.
Ullafoss (Class IV+)
Low to medium for the slides. Low for the falls.
From the Kayak camp drive to Otta. Just before Otta Bridge, and nearly opposite a petrol station, follow the road signposted to Rondane up to the right. Keep driving until the tarmac runs out turn left. Go up through the toll road. After about 1 or 2 km's. The road enters the moors. There is a left turn down to the river. Drive as far down this track as you can (usually a locked gate). Walk to the river.
Chris Wheeler on the Ulla slides.
Mark Rainsley on the first two Ulla waterfalls.
Joe Boote on the third Ulla waterfall.
The extreme race site. The run is steep and low volume. Class IV+. About 200m below the put in are the famous rockslides (site of the annual extreme race). After which there is some mucking about and finally 4 big drops. The last one being considerably bigger than the 3 prior. Hence, rarely run. Take out and walk back up to the road that starts to the left of the tollbooth. In low water the slides may not be worth paying the toll for, so just walk into the falls.
Finna (Class IV+)
Look over the bridge in Vagamo the riverbed should be covered but the river should not look high. To look at the Gauge drive up the valley on river left. After a few hundred metres take a left hand dirt track. Drive/walk to the bottom of the gorge to see the Gauge. Unfortunately I have forgotten what the gauge should ideally say. You will have to ask someone else.
Retrace your steps to the road going back up the valley. Eventually you will have to pay a toll. When you cross a major tributary (Skerva) put in. You may want to take out just below the gauge, as there are some unpleasant looking metal spikes in the riverbed on the stretch to the main road. If they don't bother you, keep going to the bridge.
Classic, good, good, good. There are usually 2 "portages". These are of the best type, in that you don't need to get out of your boat. The first involves sliding over some rocks out of a pool, river left of a particularly nasty undercut fall. The second involves sliding over some rocks that drain an eddy river right of some river left nastiness. There is another big fall in the gorge that will need inspecting before you are obliged to run it. If you do come unstuck on the river, climbing out of the gorge looks very difficult (impossible).
Upper Skerva (Class V - several portages)
If the Finna is ok, the Skerva will probably be ok too.
For the put in see the Finna above, but when you are driving along the road up the valley you need to bear away to the right. Take out for the upper/Put in for the lower is where the road crosses a tiny creek and there is a pond on the right. The river is a hundred metres below and you should familiarise yourself with the take out if you intend to only run the upper. Drive up the valley a further 7-8 km (ish) until power lines cross the valley and you see a discarded concrete pipe lying to the left of the road. Walk across the moor to the river and the put in. Above here there are apparently some massive (un-run) drops.
A rocky ditch that is for once very good. Plenty to keep you occupied. Lots of problems to solve. Recommended.
Lower Skerva (Class V - several portages)
If the Finna is ok, the Skerva will probably be ok too.
The put in is described above as the take out for the upper. The take out is the put in for the Finna.
Highly recommended. If you are only going to do one section of the Skevra, do the lower. Compared to the Upper, the logistics are easier, the river is of a broadly similar nature, there are less portages and more quality white water. Ideally you would do the Upper, Lower and Finna in one long and fulfilling day. Emergency exit, especially from the lower, is too difficult to contemplate.
Lagen Canyon (Class IV/V)
Can be done in surprisingly high water, though chances of doing more of the drops increases with lower water.
From Otta drive along the E6 in the direction of Dombas. For the take out follow the signpost from the main road to "Vaga" and "Sel". Drive down to the large bridge over the river. To find the put in, return to the main road and drive up the valley. You will be able to see the canyon down to your left. Drive a further 1km up from next road bridge to a tiny lay-by at the top of the canyon, river right of an obvious 3-4 rapid next to road.
A short run, containing lots of variety, and some possibly slightly dodgy portaging. I would love this river to be transported to the Chilterns.
A town largely consisting of petrol stations and supermarkets. It does however provide a good short term base for some exceptional rivers. It's possible to bivvy at the take out for the Lower Jora.
Lower Jora (Class III/IV)
Best done when the river is at least medium. Would probably go in higher and lower waters though. Look over the bridge at the take out for levels.
Drive from Otta to Dombas on the E6 just past Dombas the road passes over the river. Just downstream of this bridge is the take out. Keep driving for probably 10-15 km's until you see a sign off to the right to Svartalsetra. The correct road goes under a railway bridge 30 metres from the main road. There is also a toll. Drive up this road for ages (essentially you are doubling back on yourself). Eventually you cross the river. This is the put in.
Continuous class III/IV rapids. Quite long.
Upper Jora (Class IV/V)
Low to medium levels are best.
Keep driving up the road past the put in for Lower Jora. I can't exactly remember what the take out looks like from the road, but it is certainly several kilometres higher than the put in for the lower. As you drive up the valley you will catch glimpses of waterfalls in the woods. Put in at the top of these. If you get to the road head you have gone too far. The take out from the river level is at some battered down old wooden footbridge thing. The river has obviously gone flat at this point. Only the most fanatical flat-water lover would go further. Walk out along a path on the left to the road.
Highly Recommended. A large array of drops and slides in a beautiful open valley.
Upper Rauma (Class IV/V)
Water levels are best if they are generally low
For the put in, take the E136 West from Dombas. 500m past the Petrol Station and Supermarket at Bjorli, park in a lay by marked with a campsite sign "Misjonsenter". The take out is 3-4 km downstream at a bridge just off the main road (follow the sign to "Bostre").
About 10 class IV and V rapids/drops with flat pools between. Portaging the drops or bailing on the whole trip by walking to the road, would be easy.
The last fall of 'Mini-Huka' rapid on the upper Rauma.
Lower Rauma (Class V)
Dog low is best.
Keep driving down the road that follows the Upper Rauma. Pass the signpost for Bostre that marks the take out for the upper. Maybe 2 or 3 lay bys later pull in on the left for the put in. The correct lay by is quite small, has a large table top boulder filling most of it, is just uphill of a distances road sign and has a path going down to the river. The place to leave the shuttle vehicle for the take out is maybe 2km downstream on a sweeping right hand bend. There is a gap in the crash barriers on the left and through the gap a long piece of tarmac that parallels the main road for 50m then goes nowhere.
Big drops and slides needing close inspection and plenty of bottle to run. The number of drops that won't go will depend on the water level and your willingness to take risks. This is a big run. There are a couple of class V waterfalls/ slides before the confluence of the Ulvaa and many more even bigger ones afterwards. Eventually you will arrive at a gargantuan and totally evil drop that falls 10m, bounces off a slab, then falls another 10m onto rocks and into a huge dark cave. This has actually been run Take out river right, bash through the bushes until you find a path that takes you up to the awaiting car. Pretend to crack open a beer in celebration.
Jo Lucas on the lower Rauma.
Dan Yates on the lower Rauma.
Do you feel lucky? Inspecting.
Dan again (top left of fall).
Ulvaa (Big looking Class IV and possibly some V)
Water levels are best if they are generally on the low side, especially for the new section. The difficulty would definitely increase with more water. We blasted straight through the middle of some river wide holes in low water.
Keep driving up the road for the take out for the Upper Rauma i.e. the one sign posted "Bostre". The place to leave cars for the newly discovered take out is just over a cattle grid, near to some houses on the left, with one house on the right with a sign saying "Staken" on it's gate. 500m later go through the tollgate and back down to a bridge over the river. This was the old take out. Keep driving up the valley on river right. Eventually you will come to a fork in the road at a car park. Down to the right is another bridge over the river. Up to the left is the way you want to go. Keep driving until the road meets the river. Find somewhere convenient to park and put in.
The river runs in a wide valley with good road access. In the section between the put in and the old take out there are two fantastic, big, though not very difficult water slides. There is also a lot of flat water, but that goes by fairly quickly. After the old take out there is a stretch of flat until just round the corner, where the river starts diving down the hill again. Continuous slides and drops all the way to the take out. You need to take out after the next rapid past an old wooden footbridge. Below here the river is alleged to be unrunnable. Walk off river left into the trees and find the shuttle car.
Hectic on the Ulvaa below the old takeout.
Dave Musgrove performs for the camera.
Driva (Class IV)
There is a gauge just over the bridge, up a track to the left, at the top of a large pool 200m from the take out. We did it quite low (I think 2.30) and the flat pools tended to drag on a bit. Could take quite a bit more water and still be a goer.
From Dombas take the E6 to Oppdal then turn left onto the 70. Drive for maybe 6-7 more km and turn left onto a dirt track sign posted "Viksetter". Soon you will come across a bridge. This is the put in. Go back to the main road and drive down the valley for about 14km. At the main road bridge park the shuttle vehicle.
Not the pushiest of runs in the water level that we did it. After a few km of relatively flat water the river enters a gorge. After this point emergency egress becomes unlikely, as the valley is very deep with no roads. There are some excellent class IV rapids with short flat pools between them stretching for a few km's. Then the gorge opens up with a lot of flat water, class III rapids and some class IV drops.
Grovvu (stretches of IV+, IV and III - depending on how high up you put on)
Would probably go in many different water levels, you would just have to choose where to put on. You could probably guess the level by looking at it, but if in doubt there is a gauge. This is (so Jay Sigbrandt tells me) 1km below the tarmac covered road bridge that is just upstream of the turn off for the upper put in. The level is best between 2.00 and 2.70.
Drive a few km's past the take out for the Driva until you see a grey metal bridge drive over this and up into the Grovvu valley. The campsite is the take out if you are intent on doing the not-really-worth-it lower class III section. 1 or 2km's past the campsite, in plain view down a dirt track off to the right is a bridge. This is the better take out. Keep driving up the tarmac road, without taking the other tarmac road up to the left and you will come to another bridge. Below here the river is easy class IV, above there are some good IV+ rapids. Go back to the fork in the road and take the tarmac road going up to the left. Eventually you will come to a small collection of houses, where there is a three car carpark and a footpath winding down to the valley floor. You will be able to see two or three tributaries falling an immense distance to the joint confluence where you will put in. It is worth the drive up there just for the view.
Rocky continuous rapids all the way to the take out. The most severe rapids appear in the first 500m. I expect emergency evacuation in the upper section is possible. In the lower sections the road follows the river.
Asbjornia (V) - Tim Trew
Water level unspecified.
Is near the Rauma, take the 136 from Dombas. Turn left at Airport sign to Bjorli. Keep going until the road becomes gravel. Fork left, then turn 90 degrees left. If you get to "Privat Veg" sign you have gone to far. The road stops at a footbridge. Hike up as far as you want.
It is worth the walk as there are some awesome drops. Pool drop in nature.
Numedalslagen (Class III/IV low water, IV/V high water), Jay Sigbrandt and Andy Jackson
Best Medium or High.
To get to the put in, find Geilo on your map. Follow route 40 for about 20km south to Dagali. A track on river left will take you up to the lake. The take out is at the road bridge. The Dagali falls section is relatively open so hiking off shouldn't be too bad.
In high water at the end of May it is likened to a tougher, colder version of the Zambezi! Definitely class IV/V. At most other times it is a popular rafting run. The local rafters are happy to give out river information. When not super high the river is entertaining grade III/IV (pool drop), and sports an excellent mini-gorge with some powerful water. It's quite easy to pick and choose the sections you may want to do as the road follows the river for much of its length. Definitely worth a visit if you're passing through.
Andy Jackson also notes: If you are in this part of Norway early season (May/June) then the creeks at the head of Tinsjo lake are awesome and well worth a weeks exploring.
Frya (Class IV)
Not too high.
I don't know where it is.
A classic, beautiful small Norwegian creek. Starts easy but works up into 7km of excellent, and continuous class IV rapids. The last drop on the trip is un-inspectable from the river as the gorge walls are vertical. This 3m drop must be run blind on the extreme left. Emergency exit from the river is possible for the length of the trip, apart from the last drop. Below the last drop there are even more drops, but these are unrunnable so make sure you don't miss the take out.
Lora (Class IV/IV+) - Neil Farmer
Still goes in low flows
The section Neil ran was from a rusty bridge down to a picnic site and small wooden
footbridge, before the 'Falls of Lora'.
An excellent and beautiful run in an amazing open valley. Free camping an option - very pretty.
With thanks to Mark Rainsley, David Musgrove, Jay Sigbrandt, Neil Farmer, Tim Trew and Andy Jackson for various additions and amendments.
Dr Evil himself.