Some of my paddling and traveling highlights during summer 2012 in Norway. Awesome rivers, amazing landscape and great friends made the perfect summer adventure in Europe’s kayaking mecca.
Big thanks to Evan and Fred from SMH for the footage, as well as Anton, Sweden for the pics, my bro for his support, Mathias for showing me around and being spec helpful, Martin for sharing his amazing place with me and Ali, and everyone I paddled with in my favorite European destination (only from May to early September though!).
Aleix Salvat, Jorge Thorsen, Martin Vollen, Mathias Fossum, Anton Immler, Alícia Casas
Shot on: Canon EOS 7D + Go Pro Hero 2
Photo by: Mathias Fossum
After receiving a call from some friends about good water levels in Galicia and Portugal we decided to pack and drive overnight to hopefully paddle on Monday. We left from Sort at 1am and drove over 1300km with a couple police controls and a little fine.
Panadeiro’s slide… Gracias David!
It rained so much during the night and morning the river had risen from 1.15m to 3.70m on the put in scale. That was a monster, so we decided to look for an alternative to paddle that day. We finally found the Mouro, another great one and on flood as well, but we managed to paddle an easier read and run section with great white water. We finished off the day with a low water park and huck 12m waterfall and an awesome dinner at Joao’s place with all our portuguese friends.
On the next morning we drove to the Castro Laboreiro again to paddle the last part of the day 2 section (waterfalls) hoping the water had dropped enough from the previous day. When we arrived to the takeout and started to walk up the water level looked ok, even low, however after 40 minutes walking the waterfalls were actually quite high. There are three waterfalls followed by a sick and crazy waterfall considered portage, a few big siphons and another big, nasty slide. The third waterfall has a really tricky entrance, and all the water was pushing you to the right agains the wall and even behind the curtain into the cave. Any problems or swims here could mean boats down the portage, etc.
Overall we had an awesome five days of paddling in Galicia and Portugal enjoying some of the best runs in Spain and having great fun. Ready for the next one as the Pyrenees are going off!
Photos by: Aniol Serrasolses, Aleix Salvat and Pinxo.
The DH6 was extremely comfortable in the water, looks good and it’s super safe.
After Uganda I went straight to Sort, a little town in the middle of the Spanish Pyrenees where I currently live. I was born and lived till I was 17 years old in Girona; 400km to the east, 100km from Barcelona and 40 minutes drive from the Mediterranean coast. There’s only one river there, the Ter, and I was lucky enough to live really close to it while I was young so I got into kayaking when I joined the local kayak club, the Salt-Ter.
Sort is now my home town, I have lots of friends there and I really like that place, specially after a while being away. The Noguera Pallaresa is our local river and has lots of fun kilometers of good kayaking. Right now the water levels are medium-low so we can paddle the commercial secretion, the slalom course and the white water park which has two holes right in the middle of town. We’ve also run some creeks at really low water and the upper section of the Noguera. There are lots of other activities to do as well in Sort; rock climbing, bouldering, partying, skiing, biking, trekking… it’s a good place to hang out! I can walk out of my flat totally dressed up, walk for 30 seconds and put in at the slalom course to paddle down to the freestyle holes.
Freestyle Kayaking in Sort with the Uno!
After some really nice days with warm weather it got colder now and it’s been raining for a few days now. Last autumn and winter were really dry with almost no rain or snow, so the current snow pack is almost inexistent in some valleys and low on most of them… this makes it a low water spring as all rivers here are snowmelt dependent. Hopefully it’ll rain loads and we’ll paddle some high water runs, fingers crossed!
As said, we’ve been paddling a bit of everything, here are a few pics of the freestyle spots in downtown Sort, some little creeks and other runs we’ve done. More soon with all the expected rains!
A couple days ago I got home from my first 2012 trip, Uganda. After missing going to Mexico and South America together with my brother Aniol last autumn due injuries, it felt great to go away for a while. After a boring autumn and early winter with lots of rest, rehab sessions and lots of medical expenses, I was finally getting better and could start with some skiing, however it was only man made snow. After some good times skiing I started to get better and I decided to go to Uganda for a month.
I left Spain on February 1st, and after a few hours I was in Uganda, away from the cold, skiing, snow… Such a nice contrast! The level was high, so all the rapids had a nice flow to paddle them, and the waves were working well. Special was big and foamy sometimes, but green and nice on the evenings. Malalu was also pretty cool. There were so many other kayakers as well… it was hard to get some quiet times on the wave.
However it’s lost a few good rapids after the Silverback dam project, Uganda is still one of the best winter destinations to paddle big water rapids and surf big waves. The weather is more than great, and however staying on resorts/campsites is quite expensive, you can go different. More and more paddlers are starting to stay together with the locals on their villages. It’s quite easy to get some good local fruits (papaya, avocados, tomatoes…) and it’s a good way to help out the locals and they. The kids can bring them from their home trees, and they are really tasty and fairly cheap. You can easily get everything else on the bigger villages not far away (eggs, rice, flour, sugar, bananas, potatoes…). This makes for a nice experience with more than kayaking, so you are entertained for the whole day. After 5 weeks of paddling I was really sore and ready to go back home for some rest and start the Spring season. There’s no water yet, but it’s coming soon and can’t wait to start paddling here with all my friends and our local runs.
During my stay I used the Uno, the new slalom helmet from Predator. After using it during the Sick-line extreme race, I was looking forward to use this helmet again on some big water. The helmet is extremely light which is a great thing after the whole day in the water, and it fits perfectly so even after the biggest beat downs from Special or Hypoxia, the helmet stayed in place without problem. So glad I took it with me to Uganda, good choice. Now looking forward to the new FR7, it’s looking sick!
My 2011 season started late in February with my firsts sessions at Rock Island, Tennessee (USA), where I was finishing my Final Project for University doing an internship at Jackson. I got there mid December after a serious injury on my ribs in July and after crashing with my bike turning out had a torn ligament on my wrist and couldn’t kayak. After some pain and almost seven months without being on the water, I was more than happy to be finally healed up and kayak a bit.
How is a Rock Star made video, shot at the JK Plant in Sparta, TN
I flew back home early March and went straight to Sort, where dam releases had just started and me and my brother could start to paddle in our local river, the Noguera Pallaresa. The season started slowly at the hole and paddling some classic runs, but quickly got better as it started to get warmer and we could enjoy higher flows and some of the local creeks, which are great. The snow pack this year wasn’t great or as good as previous years, however we did what we could paddling around the zone during early Spring. We attended a couple freestyle competitions as well, such as the FKT (French Freestyle Cup) at the new slalom course in Pau, which is great! And the Spanish Cup in Millau (France) and Sort achieving some great results. After qualifying for the Spanish Team to attend Worlds later in June, we went for a little creeking trip where we weren’t fortunate as the snow melt had stop and the rivers were super low. Anyway we had some fun, and straight after that I went to Plattling for a week with the rest of the Spanish Freestyle Team to train for Worlds in Germany. That was during Easter, there were quite a few paddlers there from Norway, GB, Germany… however, the water level during our whole stay was pretty low… It was still cool and really warm so we had great fun and tried to train a bit despite the possibilities (really shallow!).
freestyle sessions Sort 2011 video
Rock Star promo video shot at the 1st FKT at the new slalom course in Pau, France
After that I went to Canada! White Water Grand Prix in Quebec! For two weeks, I traveled with some of the best paddlers around and great friends to compete and mostly paddle and have fun on the six stages comp tour. The competition didn’t go quite as expected, mostly due of my lack of wave paddling skills (and big wave, which however you might think it’s easy, it’s not!), some unfortunate runs and races and a few little injuries during the trip. After all though, it was a great wicked time, and looking forward for next edition in Chile!! Cheers Pat, Julie, all the helpers and volunteers, camera Team, competitors… Overall I got a 7th place that could have been a lot better with a little bit more of specific training and a lot of good memories that make me want to go back so bad! After the WW GP I stayed a bit longer in Canada, so I got to surf Mini Bus and a few other cool places.
WW GP overall edit… speechless!
After that was WORLDS! So back to Spain and straight to Germany in order to prepare for Worlds and hole paddling! It was a good difference to be back on a hole, but still great. We had good water levels and weather, so perfect time jut living by the river and paddling till you get so tired and sore… then cook some food, chill and sleep! I went to Lienz for a competition as well, we left Plattling at 1pm together with the irish and made it into Lienz at 10-11pm it took us twice the time due to a flying roof rack and boats at the autobahn plus a broke down car plus a battery change… which turned out to be the alternator… At the end we made it and after an ok night of sleep we got to paddle a bit on Saturday morning. The spot was almost the same as last year during Europeans. Big, powerful, a bit trashy and hard… and cold water! The comp went well for me; from good to better, getting a couple good rides in the finals and a second place finish for the judges. Good weekend and good comp training. Back to Plattling on the back of Adam’s van, no windows, 4 dudes, a lot of stuff, hot and long…
Worlds started, and however I struggled hard to get some good rides compared with training I managed to get a spot in the finals qualifying 4th. I did my best in the finals, but wasn’t until my third ride that cooled down and put some moves together, which unfortunately weren’t good enough and had a 5th place finish. At the end pretty happy about this result due the high level of good paddlers and competition at the event, and mostly after being paddling for only four months after my winter injury break.
Straight after Plattling I went home, and the next morning I was in Norway ready for a full summer of creeking and working. Things were great, running great rivers around Voss at great levels and with good company, and even with sunshine sometimes!
Unfortunately one afternoon I had an accident while paddling a new river. I hit the wall while landing and bruised/broke my left ribs pretty bad. From then on I took it easy and rest, thanks Terje, Benji, Jakub, Andy-Mariann, Anton-Rachel, and Julian for helping me out those days! After a while I moved to Sjoa where I stayed at my friends Miguel and Santi’s place, a nice little house up in the mountains from Heidal Rafting. After a while I got better and I started working at Heidal Rafting. Summer went by, and it was time to get back home. In September I finished off University, which felt great, and got my ribs checked.
During all that time I had the Sick-Line Race in my mind, I knew I was injured but was sure I could recover in time to still have a bit of training and do better than last year, which is funny cause I had the same injury but on my right ribs… However I tried, my ribs weren’t healed and with a bit of paddling got a lot worse… I decided I would attend, however my physical condition at that time wasn’t any good after almost three months of pain and no good-strong paddling.
After the race, which by the way went worse than ever due bad qualifying runs and the worse start off the ramp ever… That’s all past though, and it’s time to look forward. After the Sick-Line Race I decided the 2011 season was over for me so focused 100% on healing myself from my ribs and a horrible tendinitis on my left shoulder.
Today, almost five months since Norway’s accident I’m still doing rehab everyday in order to heal my ribs. As for my shoulder, I’m doing an expensive therapy that’s not working out as it was supposed to, but still gotta keep working on it and look forward, as better times are not far to come.
2011 season was short, way too short, but it was good and fun! Paddled in lots of new places and enjoyed my paddling. Looking forward to next season!!
Thanks for the photos: Pringle, Katya, WW GP Team, Miles Clark, Benoit Meslé, Benji Hjort, Terje Sorgjerd, Laureta, Gorka Martínez, Michael Newman…
Thanks to my sponsors, family and friends for supporting me on what I do and enjoy doing the most, keep paddling!
Check http://kayakgerd.blogspot.com/ for some more videos of the season and pics!
I had the pleasure of paddling the brand new Predator Uno early October, during the Adidas Sick-Line Extreme race World Championship in Oetz, Austria.
I got it shipped there and couldn’t wait to try it out. Once out of the box I was surprised by it’s size, really low profile, super light and comfy. A couple fit pads and the helmet was perfect in my head; no movement at all!
In the water the helmet was really nice to paddle, so light almost felt without a helmet, and fresh thanks to the vents that you can actually block in case it’s cold. Looking forward to paddle it more next Spring! Definitely going to use it for slalom, racing, teaching, freestyle… Great comfy, super light nice helmet!
A few pics from the event wearing the Uno in Austria.