Val Sesia is home to some of the finest granite creeking in Europe and the most complete paddling destination in the Alps. It offers a great variety of styles, from pure bedrock steep creeking to pushy bouldergarden-style rapids as well as some deep and committing gorges. The Sesia Valley contains an river system unlike anything else in the Alps, with one main river with multiple sections and a number of tributaries that as a stand-alone river would attract paddlers from far and wide. We are talking of course of rivers like the Sorba, the Egua, the Mastallone or the Sermenza. The granite bedrock makes the water crystal clear and exhibits a stunning turquoise color under the sunshine that invites paddlers to venture in the many sections this superb are offers.
There isn't much here for the class III paddler. Val Sesia is a destination for intermediate to advanced paddlers with no shortage of stouts to run. Most runs in the area are classed at grade IV, many of which contain some V highlights or even portages. Most of the rivers in the Sesia Valley are still free-flowing meaning that the snowmelt provides a reliable window of time to find good water levels. The valley is at its best in late spring and early summer, we planned our trip accordingly.
Our base camp this time will be in Mollia, at the very heart of the whitewater action in the Valley, right next to the take out of the Alpin Sprint and the put in of the Middle Sesia. Our friends from ARC (Alpin Rider Center) will host us and make sure we have the most pleasant stay organising drop offs at the river, organising evening barbecues and providing us accommodation. They may even join us for a lap or two as they are superb paddlers with unmatched local knowledge.
Expect nothing but steep creeking for the whole week, clear skies and water and a ton of action.
FLY IN/OUT & PICK UPS – Book your flight to Milano-Malpensa Airport (MXP) where we will pick you up. You should look at flights landing on the 29th of May before 1:00PM. We will need to drive about 1,5h from the airport to our base in the ARC HQ in Mollia. We might have time for a short paddle!
DROP OFF – We will drop you off at Milano-Malpensa (MXP) on Sunday the 4th of June. Aim to book your flight back home departing after 8:00PM. Please let us know if such option is not available to organise an alternative solution.
GAME PLAN - This is just to give you an idea of what we're planning to do. Be sure we will most likely not stick to this plan as we'll need to adapt to water levels and the level of skill of the group.
Day 1 - Pick up from the Airport and shuttle to our base camp in Mollia. We will try our best to run a short section of the Sesia. In the evening we will settle in and have a welcome meeting to get to know each other for those of you who are new to the EWWS or have a quick catch up with those of you who are EWWS veterans. We will also split in groups for the daily tasks of house keeping and we we lay out a plan for the start of the week.
Day 2 - Lower Sesia. We will kick things up with a couple laps on the awesome Lower Sesia where we will have a chance to warm up. This section is meant to feel a bit like paddling in the Himalayas, with big boulder rapids and a generous flow with many eddies to get vertical and playspots. For those who haven't had enough action we can consider a lap on the Alpin Sprint in the afternoon
Day 3 - Park n Huck around Rassa. Here the two main attractions are the famous Sorba Slides as well as the Gronda, a steep bedrock creek. Actually the two sections are successive and can be ran multiple times. The road up to Gronda is closed so a bit of hicking will be needed giving us a great chance to look at the stouts on the walk up. Steep, yet friendly whitewater.
Day 4 - Lower Mastallone is a run that will forever remain in your memory. It is a varied run that offers gorged in sections, bedrock and boulder-gardens and a few must runs! Both the whitewater and scenery are stunning. Alpin Sprint in the afternoon definitely in the books for the freaks.
Day 5 - Egua Drop&Pool Adventure - if the level is right. This is going to be one of the highlights of the trip, a short but notorious run with a good number of photogenic drops. This is one of the rivers everyone posts about when paddling in Val Sesia. We hope you wake up with your A-game mode activated.
Day 6 - The Lower Sermenza, the final test of the week. We're not gonna make any spoilers about it.
Day 7 - Maybe one last lap on the Sesia early in the morning followed by a rally to the Airport! Until next time Val Sesia!
TRIP FEE - 1395,00€
· Loco Parentis (24h supervision) from point of drop off until hand over or check in completion at return airport.
· All transport from agreed pick up and drop off points.
· Accommodation in ARC base.
· World class, personalised, low-ratio coaching led by Quim Fontané, Agata Sobieraj & David McClure.
· All meals included except one eat out and meals during travel.
YOU WILL ASLO NEED
· Flights, in case you need to fly in or out at the beginning and end of the camp.
· Your own kayaking gear. If you don't have a creekboat the EWWS has a complete fleet of recent models for rent. Boats can be rent starting at 25€/day.
· A suitable travel insurance.
· About €70,00 spending money.
VAL SESIA SOUNDS LIKE A DIFFICULT DESTINATION. SHOULD I JOIN ?
Indeed, most of the sections in the Sesia Valley are very technical and require precise lines and moves. It really isn't the place to learn to boof from 0, as this technique will be required from day 1.
Instead this is a destination for solid class III-IV with some creeking experience. The quantity of water and type of rapids can be a bit reminiscent of the whitewater in Scotland (though with very different colour of the water) as most of the stuff is bedrock and drop&pool, the main difference is that everything is much closer together and that instead of pools there is continuous whitewater between the highlights! This is why we would rank the region as a whole as a harder destination.
WHAT BOAT SHOULD I BE BRINGING WITH ME?
A creekboat or a puffy halfslice are the only right choices for Val Sesia.
I DON’T HAVE A CREEKBOAT 🙁 WHAT NOW?
Not to worry, we can rent you a boat – We have a few Rexys, Zions, Black Jacks Tuteas and Queen of Hearts you can choose from. Let us know your body weight and dimensions and we will bring the one that will suit you the most. Rent starts at 20€/day.
WHAT SORT OF STUFF DO I NEED TO BRING WITH ME?
A dry suit or alternatively some kayaking gear meant to be used for cold weather – a dry top combined with some dry pants, a thick wetsuit… the water in Val Sesia comes straight from the snowmelt and the gorges can be deep and shadowy with no access to the road if you do get cold.
Documents (ID, passport…), some pocket money, your favourite board game, a book, an open mind, lots of motivation… oh, and your kayaking gear might be useful too 😉
MY ENGLISH IS NOT THAT GOOD… IS THIS OK?
Can you think of any better opportunity to study English without even noticing it? Sessions will be run in English but in case you don’t understand or you have any questions, our coaches do speak French, Spanish and Catalan. Other Burners may be able to help you as well. Don’t worry, we will find the way to understand each other and your English will improve by the day!
HOW DO I BOOK MY KAYAK ONTO MY FLIGHT?
It is generally easy to book your freestyle boat onto most airline companies. However, some companies have length limitations that would exclude most creekboats. It is important to read the sport baggage policies of the companies you are considering to fly with before booking your ticket. Here is a quick breakdown of the fares of various popular airlines:
Ryanair - 35€ for the regular Sports Equipment, 55€ for a Large Sports Item. It is possible to check in up to 2 Large Sport Items per person per flight. The maximum weight allowed is 20kg, but you might be allowed to fly paying an additional fee of 11€/kg up to 32kg. In general quite a friendly company for both freestyle and creekboats.
EasyJet - The fee is 55€ and only one item per passenger is allowed. You can check in your kayak without problems as kayaks are amongst the items that are allowed on the airline's sports baggage policy. Up to 32kgs. Friendly for both freestyle and creekboats.
Eurowings - Up to 32kg allowed, it has a cost of 50€. Generally a friendly company for both freestyle and creekboats.
Vueling - Kayaks are not on the allowed item list, but surfboards are. You will most likely not have any problems convincing the employees your kayak is actually a paddleboard. The weight limit is 32kg and the maximum length 270cm, which is good for all freestyle boats and many creekboats. The cost is 45€.
Lufthansa - Kayaks are not on the allowed item list, but surfboards are. You will most likely not have any problems convincing the employees your kayak is actually a paddleboard. The maximum length allowed is 3,15m and the maximum weight is 32kg so this is a creekboat-friendly company. The cost is quite elevated, at 70 - 150€ depending if it's a domestic flight or an international flight.
Aer Lingus - Kayaks are not on the allowed item list, but surfboards are. You will most likely not have any problems convincing the employees your kayak is actually a paddleboard. The maximum weight allowed is 23kg and maximum length is 240cm, so freestyle boats are a go, but it is not a friendly company for creekboats. The cost is 40€.
Wizz Air - Kayaks are not on the allowed item list, but surfboards are. You will most likely not have any problems convincing the employees your kayak is actually a paddleboard. A slightly odd company as the price depends on the season and it's higher during the summer months and lower during the winter. Not the most kayak friendly company so better to be avoided if you travel with your boat.
We highly recommend that you book your sports equipment in advance to avoid higher fees in the airport check in, or even worse, finding out that the flight is full and not being allowed to bring your kayak with you on board.
Also, packing your kayak nicely in a bag or using a "sock" for surfboards will maximise the chances that everything goes smoothly and that you don't have any problems.
I AM UNDER 16 AND TRAVELLING ALONE. WHAT COMPANIES ALLOW U16s TO FLY IN THEIR OWN?
Ryanair - This company does not allow unaccompanied minors under 16 years to travel. U16s can travel only in case there is a responsible adult over 16 years of age.
Easyjet - This company does not allow unaccompanied minors under 15 years to travel.
Eurowings - This company allows minors as young as 12 years old to travel unaccompanied. Children between 5 and 11 can also fly if they are accompanied by a sibling over 16 years of age. The company also offers an unaccompanied minors service at an extra charge for passengers younger than 12 years of age. DIRECT FLIGHTS ONLY!
Vueling - This company allows minors as young as 12 years old to travel unaccompanied. Exception - Italian kids must be at least 14 to be able to travel alone.
Lufthansa - This company allows minors as young as 12 years old to travel unaccompanied. Children between 5 and 11 can also fly if they are accompanied by a sibling over 16 years of age. The company also offers an unaccompanied minors service at an extra charge for passengers younger than 12 years of age, although it is also possible to book for up to 17yo. DIRECT FLIGHTS ONLY!
Aer Lingus - This company allows minors as young as 12 years old to travel unaccompanied. DIRECT FLIGHTS ONLY!
Wizz Air - This company does not allow unaccompanied minors under 16 years to travel. U16s can travel only in case there is a responsible adult over 16 years of age.