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Autumn Team Van Tour

At the end of August the Team Van set out for Europe once again, bound for the Czech Republic and the Devils Extreme Race; but on the way we took a bit of a detour and many adventures ensued…..

Our mission, if we chose to accept it, was to find some suitably picturesque rivers to paddle the new Nano on and make a promo video. So we gave Dr Robin, of fame, a call and asked him which good rivers he thought would be running in northern Austria. He suggested a few around Matrei and said he would take a few days off and meet us there.

Matrei turned out to be perfect, if very cold and rainy for the first few days; so much so that the cameras didn’t come out very much and all we took was video. We found some great rivers though, paddling the Isel and the Schwarzach and got some great footage for the Nano film which will coming to a computer screen near you very soon!

From Matrei we headed North East towards the Czech Republic, stopping on the way to run a short, stunning gorge on the Salzach and paddling through the biggest natural syphon we had ever seen.

We eventually made it to Lipno in the Czech Rep. and decided the van needed a good tidy out, but got a bit distracted playing boat jenga..

The following the morning the dam began releasing water for the first time in over a year, the start of a six day release. We had planned to get on straight away but the smell was so bad, we decided there was no rush. We spent the next few days getting used to the river and paddling the race course, with many a go down the awesome launch ramp and then just as many rides back up on the train!

The competition was tough, with a number of big names being knocked out in the qualifying round and Pete and I along with them, leaving us free to take plenty of pictures of the rest of the Pyranha boys putting in storming runs.


The final was a gruelling 6km race down a challenging section of  grade 4/5 white water and with the day cold and wet and the river disturbingly warm, it made for an eerily misty paddle. The prizes were awarded that night at the party, where at one point it seemed like  a child was going to get sacrificed to the god of Jagermeister, but he turned out to just be Czechs’ youngest slash metal fan.


With the kayak racing over we could watch the end of the European Rafting Championships and support the GB teams, in particular, Pyranha paddler Fran Kohn, who is on the Ladies GB 1 team. There was also plenty of carnage going on with joe public taking out their own rafts and just giving it a go!

With the end of the competitions came the end of the water and so it was time for us to move on. Heading back to Austria our heads were full of ideas of what we could paddle, but frustratingly everything was too high!


After looking at several different rivers we opted for the Rofener Ache, essentially the upper upper Venter Ache. With pictures in the river guide spurring us on, and with visions of starting our paddle at the glacial gate, we drove up the valley as far as we could and then started hiking.


Pete had the raw end of the deal as he was carrying the Shiva, but after two hours of hiking and the glacier clearly still miles away, even Bain and I, with our little, portage friendly Nanos, had had enough. We opted to use the earlier put in, walked down to a bridge crossing the river and set off into a beautiful, sheer sided gorge.

Unfortunately, not long afterwards, things started to go pear-shaped. The river was low and bony and approaching the first real drop, Pete snapped his paddle. Due to our weight saving tactics on the hike in and our confidence that the river wasn’t going to be that hard, we had left our splits in the van. So using a combination of C1 with half the broken paddle and hand paddling, we managed to make our way far enough along the gorge until we found a spot where Pete could climb out. With Pete urging us on, Bain and I opted to carry on and finish the section. It turned out however, that Pete had climbed out at the get out, which we found out a few minutes later, when we came across the suspension bridge that the river guide stated we should not go beyond. To cut a long story short, about two hours, much sketchy climbing/scrambling and hauling of boats up vertical canyon walls later, we emerged sweaty and muddy at the suspension bridge that Pete had arrived at an hour and a half before.

With evening drawing on, all that was left to do was to charge up the laptops at a convenient restaurant (the establishment we used had some very funny ideas about tea) and start the long drive home.

Check out the video of our trip, that Bain and Pete made on the drive home, here

Happy Paddling!