Monday, August 27, 2007

Hemsila - Norway

Huck happy on Norway's rare flowing Hemsila.

Hemsedal is one of Norway's premier winter freeride resorts, but in the summer things quiet down substantially. This is the current home of the always impressive Jim 'farmer diesel' Cummings. Besides Motocross and Mtn Biking hard, he is out there making friends with the locals and trying to avoid the 1500 dollar speeding-in-Norway fines while on the prowl for quality class V. The Hemsila just happens to be a top 10 Norwegian creeking gem in Jim's own backyard. However a stingy dam and whole lot of rain this summer has made it difficult in finding the perfect 15-25 cms needed for a safe passage through its double canyons. South African, Hendri Coetzee brought the sun with him on his few days off from work and we converged in Hemsedal to make things happen.

Our first attempt at the Hemsila with a flow of over 40 cms resulted in consistent pucker factor and portage party along the canyon walls. But after 2 days of patient waiting in rare dry sunny heat, the level nearly dropped in half and we were in business as long as the dam kept their gates open for one more day.

The Hemsila starts off in mighty fashion with a tight slot drop to begin the first canyon, letting you know right away the importance on having water levels that aren't pushy.

One portage will probably happen in this warm up canyon before things open up again providing easy scouting to the many slides and drops that lead up to the REAL canyon.
At this point there is an alternative takeout bridge above a monster drop (portage), followed by a 100+ footer slide requiring a crucial left line to set you up for the final plunge.

From this point on the Hemsila turns into a class V box gorge puzzle that your skills and patience need to solve in the remaining 4-5 kms. Two must run rapids in this canyon still have eddies to slow things down and help you get a fix on the lines downstream.

In the final kilometer before the town of Gol comes a slide with a vicious hole followed by 3 waterfalls. If your body and mind decide to conquer these final drops make sure you are feeling invincible and there is plenty of safety. A water level in our opinion of less than 20cms would also make things easier. On our way back to Hemsedal came good feelings about the descent and our accomplishments. As we drove by the dam the water had already been turned off, meaning we had chosen the perfect day of the summer to paddle Norway's classic Hemsila.

Thanks to my beautiful wife for the awesome photos.

View Hemsila (V) in a larger map

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Myklebustelva - Norway

How I spent my summer vacation..... Jordie Mckenzie, Myklebustelva - Norway

The Norway whitewater experience is always an adventure full of sweet lines and surprises. This year has been no different except for the fact the tap has yet to be turned off. Many rivers are still banging out huge flows. With lots of water brings the search for new descents in a land where water runs down anything with gradient. Norweigans are proud of their land and those who go hunting for the treasure of slides and drops sometimes find secret spots right in the backyard. Øivind Kleppe and Nils Hjelme were kind enough to tell us of their secret after work spot. Having seen only a handful of descents, the Myklebustelva is a tributary to the classic Valdolla, lurking in fjords of More Og Romsdal.

Although only given directions by mouth, an hour's stroll through mossy enchanted forest revealed more than I had hoped for. A dozen or more drops packed into less than a kilometer of distance - a park and slide 5 star hotel. After 3 bombs down a run with only small pools keeping the drops from being one giant slide, safe to say the grin on everyone's face was wider than the crystal creek they had just paddled.

Just like back home, the Norway 'mission' will always be here.....long live the search.