Notes on Italy's Piedmont Creeks

by Dr Robin

(Taken from

Info IS tricky to find, someone really needs to write a decent guidebook to the area. Apparently, the neighbouring valleys also have good creeks, such as the Chiusella, and the runs near Laggio Maggiore. As I say, I spent one week in Val Sesia, so I'm NOT an authority on the area. But I'll tell about the runs I did, which will hopefully give you an impression of the place.

We stayed in the campsite at Campertogno, which is surrounded by beautiful scenery. The place is well set up for boating, with plenty of maps available, and even signposts and little changing rooms at the more popular get-ons. The runs we did were:

River: Sesia from Mollia to Scopello
Grade: 3/4/4+(5)(6)
Description: Medium volume run, varied in difficulty, with some ugly holes and 2 ugly falls.
Advice: Watch out for the pushy section below Piode!

River: Gronda. Drive to Rassa and then walk up as far as you like from there.
Grade: 4/5
Description: Ridiculously steep low volume creek, with some classic slides and drops.
Advice: Allow a plenty of time to do this run, as it requires a lot of inspection. (Continue into the Sorba if you like, but don't go into the gorge of doom.)

River: Egua. Section from road bridge to Molino.
Grade: 5
Description: Insanely steep low volume creek with mind-blowing slabs and drops. A gem.
Advice: A lot of inspection required. Also, it's quite cold this high up the valley.

River: Lower Mastallone, 6 km section from Bocciolaro to Varallo.
Grade: 4(5+)
Description: Reasonably straightforward creek (apart from the 5+) with a beautiful sheer-sided gorge section.
Advice: Inspect the gorge before getting on! (Upper sections of Mastallone looked a bit bony when we were there.)

River: Sesia gorge
Grade: 4/4+(5)(6)
Description: Short run, varied in difficulty, with a awkward portage.
Advice: Pushy in high water.

River: Lower Sermenza, from a km above Boccioleto to Balmuccia.
Grade: 4/5(6)
Description: The km or so above Boccioleto is tough, and requires much inspection, and probably at least 2 portages. Below Boccioleto the run eases into a section of 4/4+(5). As you enter the gorge in Balmuccia the difficulty increases again with some pushy 4+.
Advice: If you haven't much time or energy, get in at Boccioleto.

River: Upper Sermenza, from San Giuseppe to Rimasco.
Grade: 4/5(6)
Description: Very tight steep creek, with some lovely drops and slides.
Advice: Most of the hardest rapids are hiden from the road! Also, put in just below San Giuseppe to avoid portaging a horrible 6.

River: Sesia from Boccorio to Mollia
Grade: 4/4+(5)(6)
Description: Pushy medium volume creek which requires concentration.
Advice: Check out the rapids at Mollia as you drive up!

With thanks to Dr Robin.