Saturday, October 30, 2010

Krutåga - Norway

Mariann Sæther headlines Norway's search-for-more tour on the Krutåga - Norway
All photos courtesy of Benjamin Hjort

There's no question that the secret is out of the bag. Whitewater in northern Norway has always been on the map waiting for the first paddle strokes to arrive. Yet exploration by the foreign crowd has been limited mainly due to the laden creeks and overloaded options in the known southerly regions around Voss and Sjoa. With a few exceptions, stories have been kept on the low by tight lipped Norwegians savouring too many good things up in these parts. In the summer of 2005, Simon Westgarth, Sam Hughes, Rob Coffey and few others headed further into the midnight sun than many had before. After a couple of weeks they returned beaming with great tales for the rest of us.

Northern Norway has it for sure, why not? The mountains follow this amazing country from the south up to its far reaches as sure as the summer sun stays long into the evening. With mountains as far north as 65' latitude, it was only a matter of time before these new paddling zones would be sought after by more foreign eyes.

This past summer, the missions were on in full. Tuomas Vaarala and Mikael Lantto from Finland arrived from the north. Their group hit the Tromsø - Narvik area and shared light on the very good situation around there. Another three groups headed up from the south with the maps in hand. First stop was into Susnadalen, Hattfjelldal, and the classic roadside Krutåga. With us came 3 token Dutchy paddle bums living out of their car, 2 Germans with an inflatable roofrack and of course the veteran lady huckster with her summer home on wheels.

With its headwaters trickling down from across the border in Sweden, the Krutåga is another example of an alpine creek quickly becoming the whitewater potential that keeps Norwegian kayaking legendary. With a late start in the summer sunshine, a few corners of routine ledges soon became high doses of vertical liquid consumption.

Benjamin Hjort leads the charge on the first big slide.

The Krutåga falls down the valley with beautiful rapids on the way down. One of the biggest slides goes off the charts and most likely requires a walk through the open forest around it. After a flat section along the road, the final canyon changes character and produces a few ugly cataracts in between more good lines down until the take out bridge.

Roy Hopmans gets it on in the Nord

Hattfjelldal is a small forested community with the basic services to keep you in the region as long as needed. The big Susna drainage will likely be the next on your radar with multiple paddling sections along its path. Head up the valley to Unkderdal for an amazing beach camp and another paddle option down the easier Unkerdalselva.

Midnight base camp on Unkervatnet

Surprises are many in this region but perhaps the biggest surprise of all was what it wasn't. Getting up to this classic area was hardly a suffer. Hattfjelldal is really considered the middle of the country and from the Sjoa area only requires 600 kms of scenic road. Breaking up the trip with a detour to the Forra just north of Trondheim is also a very good paddling idea. Discoveries still await in the numerous hidden valleys off the beaten track. Northern Norway is sure to become another special part of Europe's best paddling country. Come and get it.

View Krutåga (III - V+) in a larger map