First descent of the Teigdaleselva for this season! With the sun shinning and snow melting hard we gathered a team of 10 to 'huck our meat' on the mighty waterfalls and slides that lay in the Teigdale valley just down the road from our summer home of Voss - Norway. Tylor Curtis and Mariann Saether happened to be in town with their crash-test dummy, Logan Grayling and we had the latest addition to Voss Rafting Senter, the 'Italian stallion' Michele Ramazza ready for initiation!
It always seems to be some time of year we become brave enough to head up here. It may have something to do with the feeling that summer has well an truly arrived and the river is running, or that we have new people to introduce to one of the greatest days out in the Voss area, either way it is always a nerve racking drive from Voss down to Evanger and up the Teidgdale.
As we drove the narrow road to a most impressive take-out, all the stories of prior runs came out and butterflies rose in our bellies. Speculation of the river level was in full flow as we approached the take out, and already you could see mist rising from the valley ahead. The take-out, our meeting point, just happens to be at the grandstand view of the 'Double Drop', a mighty combination of 9 and 12 meter waterfalls with a pool just large enough to roll in, in between.
After much discussion of the water level we were on route to the top, up through a quaint farm and up a set of rather steep switch backs. Just about 4km later at the end of a Troll infested tunnel you could be under the impression this is a short run as it doesn't feel like you drove very far, but then the driver reminds you they have just been driving in 1st and 2nd and 'did you notice the 50 footer?'
With towering valley walls all around we climbed down to the bony looking creek, those who have been before sporting a knowing grin, those who have not, a look of skepticism. At the put-in things look rocky, and for about 150 meters you bounce around quite out of control until the horizon drops away down a deep, dark canyon.
The action begins, Drop No1 - the entry falls - a technical entry leads you to a 7.5m waterfall into a narrow canyon that 'someone' inevitably always has to go first on, as it always looks like too much effort to climb down to set safety. Mariann asked 'has anyone ever ended up in the pocket on the left?'. As I explained that 'NO ONE has ever been stuck over there, its no problem...', Mike, Andy and Greg proceeded to prove you could get stuck 'over there' but none of them for too long so we all followed like lemmings off a cliff. A few roles and pocket experiences later we were boofing drop No2, a blind 3 meter drop into an eddy right above drop No3, a bouncy slide with a few things to miss at the bottom.
At this point we started to noticed the river was rising, rocks that were usually there were not, slides were smoother and the holes stickier! Always an exciting piece of knowledge at the back of your minds, especially when you remember what the last drop at the take-out looks like!
After slide/drop No3 you are a few ledges away from a narrow fast slide and drop combo No4, that usually manages to clean out your nasal passages or peel back you eyelids. This puts you into a section of great boofs and moves leading to the next waterfall - No5. This one always gets my blood pumping, its a 9 meter fall with a tricky hole just before the lip. This hole really wants to shove you far left off the edge where a rock outcrop waits to catch your bow or ass, depending on how you fall off it. This is another fall that as you scout from directly above the lip, you know the first to run will only have the backup of the second chasing as backup. Climbing down to cover is way too much hassle and there is a huge pool! What could possibly go wrong??
With that thought in mind I wanted to get it over with, I always mess this one up by under estimating the size of the guard hole and getting shoved far left into the void where the landing is green and rock ledges await. After entering with all my might, boofing the right end of the hole, I opened my eyes to find myself flying off the desired point completely flat trying to push the nose down to soften the landing! As I drifted to the pool below I spotted paddles on the brink and Mike came flying through the mist, landing in what could possibly be the end of the rainbow! Pure gold!
With a flurry of paddles and several exploratory lines later we entered the next section of sweet rapids and drops down to a pretty much definite portage. Drop No6 = 7 meters straight onto rock, leading to a slide , but I am pretty sure I heard Logan say something about 'I think it might go dude!' A scenic walk later we started again on a section of open slides, drops and ledges that take you to 'Notter Falls', drop No7.
Notter Falls is has been run, but only 3 times as far as we know. I watched Andy Notter fly off it perfectly in May 2000, and Mike Abbott at high flows in 2001, all good. Andy Phillips watched some guy fly off it in 2006, smack into the wall on the way down, flip and then swim the exit falls ass first, then go to hospital with with internal injuries. I had no problem wandering past to the meadows below, maybe I am getting old, maybe I'm brave enough no longer, its a beautiful day, who cares anyway.
So to the mellow stretch, a km or so through farm land with but a single 3 meter boof to get you back in the mood before the final frontier! I guess thats drop No8!
Shortly after No8 the valley closes up and you notice another misty horizon line ahead. This is No9, slide, brace, roll. About 6-7 meters down a slide, disappear into a large fluffy buffer off the right wall, roll up and 'hey presto' your at the bottom. On scouting you really think maybe you should try to avoid the billowing buffer, but plugging it seems to work just fine!
Right after No8 you have a wee drop boof that always seems to dent the end of someones boat, you then find yourself in an eddy that feels like the edge of the world, as downstream all you see is mist.....
Drop No9 and 10! The mighty 'Double Drop', any which way you look at it, its a long way down! By the time we reach here the river always seems to have risen and today was no exception. The first fall has a perfect lip but at this flow the pool is now basically a boil, churning and dumping straight off into 12 meters of free fall!
It seems a little odd to be planning to boof the hell out of a 9 meter fall, but thats pretty much exactly the plan to make sure you are in control for the main event waiting below. Without further ado Mike came flying off the lip, perfect form, nose slightly down, disappearing into the mist, he then appeared at the lip of the second and in seemingly slow-motion, plunged to the storm below. Several seconds later Mike emerged from the mist without a paddle but wearing a grin from ear to ear!
The others followed, with varying degrees of success. Tylor and Mariann had great lines, how romantic. Logan styled it, Italian stallion did well and Benji had a great flight! Greg maned up and hucked his Everest of the mountain, Andy and Mark gave us a show!
Andy ran hard left, planning the left line on the second drop, his stern caught some water and he flipped, but with lightning reflexes he did the fastest roll ever just in time to fall off the second drop pretty much sideways and flat - bugger! Andy couldn't smile for a week, with 5 stitches where his teeth went through his lower lip and nose was swollen like balloon! Later the Chiropractor said she was amazed he had such minor displacement and booked him in for several more appointments...
After Andy's show Mark really wanted to impress, so he decided to boof the first, roll in the pool and free-wheeled off the second (he may have been just finishing his roll, but we'd like to say he was in control). He drifted away unscathed whooping and yelling like an American! (he assures us he is really Canadian, but I am yet to be convinced)
And that was the best day ever with:-
Photos from Benji -CHECK HIM OUT