Notes on Austria Rivers

by Robin Scott

Below are brief notes of a week's paddling around Landeck in July 2006.

Landeck is a good late-season alps destination as there are many low water options in the Oetz valley (e.g. middle Oetz, upper Venter ache, Gurgler Ache). Most of the rivers we paddled are in Pete Brantock's guidebook, so I only present notes of rivers which have changed, or are described briefly and poorly.

The Sanna: This has been spoilt by recent floods. Most of the run is now bimbly grade 2. The only rapid of any merit is the Pians cataract, grade 4-.

The middle Oetz: We found that the gradient of this section decreases significantly where the road crosses the river twice in close succession. Strong paddlers can paddle from here down to Umhassen at normal flows. It is similar to the upper Oetz in character, but more intense, grade 5-, easing below the Kofels bridge.

The Pitzbach: This is mentioned briefly in Brantock's guidebook, and I can't understand why it isn't described in more detail because it can provide several days of excellent road-side boating a few kilometres from Landeck in June and July. We paddled it in the two sections described below, but there are any number of put-ins and take-outs as the river is never far from the road. I also suspect there is more whitewater further upstream, but we didn't investigate this.

Upper Pitzbach: Get in at Hairlach, and take out the next time the main road crosses the river. The section is 10 km of continuous steep bouldery 4+, definitely creekboat territory. There are multiple little drops, including a 2m man-made weir.

Middle Pitzbach: Put in at the take-out for the upper, and take out the next time the main road crosses the river. This section is a pretty gorge with some power and tricky inspections, again continuous 4+.
Inspect the gorge for trees using the path on river left before getting on. There is one grade 6 on this section, easily portaged river right. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PADDLE THE REMAINING FEW KM FROM THE TAKE OUT TO WENNS. We found that this section is grade 6, and had to hike out. There is often no water in the river below Wenns due to a hydro scheme.

Dr. Robin.

Photos show the upper Pitzbach...