Rivers towards Eastern Europe
Paddling in Slovenia and Austria
On an Easter trip in April 2000, a small group of kayakers were in the Salzburg region, Eastern Tirol and the North East of Slovenia
All of the rivers in Eastern Austria were high (including the Kelsauer Ache Brandenberger Ache - See Pete Knowles' North Alps Guidebook), the weather in Austria mixed but not that warm, Slovenia was hot. The Easter weekend is popular on the Soca with German kayakers.
The Kaiserklamm on the Brandenburger Ache.
The lower Brandenburger Ache.
High flows, about 240cm on the gauge mentioned in the North Alps guidebook.
The "Tony Ford" guide to Austrian Rivers (small A5 folder) was useful and the descriptions below relate to his access points.
The Rivers we ran
The area was almost devoid of kayakers, apart from the slalom course on the Saalach.
The Saalach was running very high, a good powerful run and I belive that it is still runnable in summer. The Slalom Site (3/4) is accessed from the car park by the tourist information office (centre of the town on the main road) by a path. Below this is the Lofer Gorge (4, (5, 6)). This has several difficult and dangerous drops. In high water a swim would be dangerous. The run begins at wooden footbridge after slalom site, on a right hand bend. The whole run is easily viewed from the path on the river left. The difficulties are easily portaged on the path on the LHS.
A tributary if the Saalach is the Loferbach/Strubach (4). This is a small boulder stream. Run begins at a road bridge, above which the river is flat. Portage the first weir left and egress at the second weir (3m high and visible from the road). It is possible to continue all the way to the Saalach, however the river is canalised through the town with several weirs.
The Weissbach (4 (6)) is just accross the border with Germany. It has a very deep gorge with a path (river left) alongside and accessible for almost the entire length. It is mentioned along with the Schwarzbach (5) in the Northern Alps guidebook.
Salzburg and towards Slovenia, Austria
We used Terry Ford's Austrian Rivers guidebook. All of the rivers that we saw were high.
The Salza had many sections, the Lammer Gorge (4+, 5) was very high, however, all of the deep gorge was easily viewed from the path high on the river bank (starts river right from the road bridge at the egress). This beautiful river would run in summer.
The river Liesa (3/4) was a nice run with big water, never very difficult and finishing at a slalom site We started at the petrol station just downstream of Gmund and finished after the slalom site above Spittal . The upper river Isla (3/4) (from hinterbichl to bobojoch) was a good paddle on a small mountain river finishing above an unrunnable gorge. It is probably best early in the season and on a sunny day. Playak.com has information on a playhole on the lower stretches of the river.
Soca Valley, Slovenia
This is a fantastic unspoilt area, not really expensive. A trip must be made to the 'source of the Soca'. Paddling on the upper stretches of the river is restricted by the National Park.
The Soca has four main sections. The upper Soca (3 (4)) is an open run with one narrow gorge at about half distance. You can either egress at 'Tonis Camping' or continue to Cesoca which is 2/3 with some playspots. It is now flat as far as the main Soca gorge (3/4) which ends when you see the old wooden bridge and slalom site. The Slalom Site (4) is easily inspected from the path on the river right. Beware to finish before the very dangerous 'Graveyard Canyon' - you see a metal cross on a midstream rock. The Soca Graveyard Canyon (5/6) is a dangerous run with many undercut boulders and sumps. The rapids are continuous. An initial hard section (IV/V) - viewable by walking down the river right from the end of the slalom course -, then a short flat section and a harder section to finish (V). A swim here would quite possibly be terminal. When we were there, all of the rapids could have been protaged, with difficulty. The Lower Soca (3/4) is a lovely section, well worth the walk down from the road, with a playhole (see Playak.com) and it finishes in a scenic grade 3 gorge.
The Kornica (2/3) is a tributary of the Soca. It is a beautiful fun section with a narrow gorge near the top.
We were told by local boaters that the Tomlinka had an upper (5?) section and that the lower gorge (4/5) was nice but could become hopelessly choked with trees (someone had spent 6 hours carrying out!).
Also within reach was the Raccolanna lower gorge (3/4) across the border in Italy. It starts with a very narrow gorge, grade 2 with one tricky narrow fall above the bridge (3/4 but very tight). An open section followed by a deep but wider gorge at grade 3/4. Be very carefull with anything above minimum flow.
Bled Area, Slovenia
Although this area did not have any hard white water paddling, it was worth the effort for the visit to the town of Bled and Bled Castle.
The Radovanna (2,(4)) from the village of Radovanna to start of Vingtar gorge is a small flat river with one good grade 3/4 rapid half way down. There were 5 or more weirs at the end, all were runnable bar the final weir (2 stepped boulder basket and spike weir!). Finish in the carpark for the Vingtar Gorge. The Vingtar Gorge (4+ (5, X)) is easily inspected from the (pay) walkway on the river side (recommended). It finished in a very unpleasant looking fall. We were told that it was not permitted to kayak in the gorge, but later saw a group kayaking the entrance rapids.
The Radovanna is a tributary of the Sava Dolinka (2). We paddled this from below the Vingtar Gorge to the campsite in Bled. Although they run rafting trips on it, it does not come recommended. The Sava Bohinjka (3) is runnable from the dam to second road bridge. It is to the south of Bled lake and had nice rapids with crystal clear water.
We were told about the
Kokra (2+,4+) near Kranj and that the lower section had a final 700m gorge at 4+.
the upper Kamniska Bistrica (3-4) from Kamniska Bistrica to Stahovica
the upper Savinja (3-4). From Solcava to Radmirje
Upper Soca, grade 4 section, entrance, picture taken from the second (lower) footbridge marked on the map.
Upper Soca, looking downstream from the same bridge.
Cross at the top of the 'Soca cataracts', looking into the start of the Soca 'cataract', grade 4/ 5 section.
Bottom of the slalom site, immediately upstream of the 'Soca cataract'
Running the entrance to the 'soca cateract' (you can see the cross!) at the get out for the slalom site.
Playing at the confluence of the Soca and Kornica, by 'Toni's' camping.
Upper Soca, grade 3 section below the first marked footbridge.
By Neil Farmer.