I am not exactly sure where to start. 2012 was one of the busiest and at the same time amazing years I remember. I will try to catch a bit of the atmosphere here.
Stage 1- South America
New Years Eve day 2012 has caught me in the plane landing on the Santiago Airport shortly, where I met David Ernst and Flo Petry on their Boundless trip around the world. After crazy New Years eve celebration I headed south to guide the Gene17 trip in Pucon for couple weeks. The trip was great and we paddled most of the classics around Pucon, while also taking couple trips to Rio Fuy. Great weather, good water and just being in Chile made it amazing. After the trip I spent the following 2 months travelling and kayaking in Chile and Argentina taking trips to Rio Puello, Bianco and Manzo in Bariloche in Argentina and wrapping up the trip on the Rio Futaleufu in Patagonia. This years Futafest 2012 had been an amazing event with great vibes and fun. I finished 4th in the Bridge to Bridge race and 3rd in some of the boater cross races. After the Futafest it was time to pack my bags and head back to Europe, while quickluy visiting the high water Nevados in Pucon
Stage 2- Europe
Landing in Czech I did not have much time to get bored as shortly after my return I was driving to Slovenia to lead the Gene17 staff training week. The levels has been ranging from very low to very high but the weather had been awesome. I took a drive home through Austria to get onto some of the classic runs in the Alps and meeting my friends on Wofsteiner Ohe on the Czech/German border I made it home just as the snow at home started to melt. The next week or so I spent kayaking at home, while waiting for Jake Holland to turn up in Prague for the next adventure. As soon as he arrived the rivers got some water and we were off for a cold snowy trip to the rivers on the Czech/Polish border. Having Jake in the car I was ready to pack my stuff for the spring in Europe and we headed to Italy through Austria visiting and paddling some of the best classics like the Lofer Gorge and Brandenberger Ache visiting Versasca that was still covered by snow. Unfortunately Val Sesia was also still frozen so we got to paddle only low water Sermenza and Jake had to head home. Dropping Jake at the airport in Milan I went back north to Piemonte to meet up with a Czech and Slovakian gtoup of my buddies and hopefully paddle some rivers in Ticino. This region is amazing but I never had good levels here so I hoped to have have more luck this time. This time it was raingin as crazy for change so we got onto very high water runs with Strona being the highlight class 5 gorge run. After a week I said bye to the boys and headed back to Val Sesia and Milan airport to pick up paddlers for the first of the three weeks of Gene17 adventures in Val Sesia in Italy. This year in Italy had been amazing for water levels and finally also weather so we had a great season crowned with a short second trip to Versasca and Rovana in Ticino and organisation of the Val Sesia River festival. Helping with organisation, running clinics and competing at the same time had not been easy but it was great fun and and the festival was big success this spring. Right after the Val Sesia festival I headed couple hours southwest to Ivrea for the European Teva mountain games. Unfortunately there was not much water but it was nice to compete and meet many of friends all over Europe and NZ.
Stage 3- Norway
After the Teva games I had a quick run on the Ayasse river and headed back home further north to Voss Noway for the Ekstremesport week. The Veko is my favourite week in the year and it was not different this year. All the friends from all around the world came to compete and enjoy the amazing Norwegian whitewater. The Branseth race was awesome and managed to squeeze a Teigdalen run with the infamous double drop as well. Very happy times. Right after Veko I was back to guiding the Gene17 roadtrip around Sjoa and Valdal and helping Simon with organising of the annual Sjoa River festival and Ula extreme race. Another Valdal this time with Benjamin Hjort and toni George followed straight after the festival. Getting runs on the Valldola, Myklebust and my new favourite in Norway the Stordalselva. This river is just amazing. Super quality whitewater with cool drops. Afterwards I was back to Sjoa to take over from Simon guiding the Gene17 Sjoa Progressive courses and also one big Gene17 roadtrip. Overall an amazing Gene17 season with loads of fun in Norway. Again I didn't sit still for the long and soon I was boarding a plane back home for a short trip to the Devil's Extreme race which I had writen about. Simply a cool stretch of whitewater in homeland, where all the Czech and this year also many European kayakers turned up to race or just enjoy the atmosphere and unique and easy train shuttles. Back to Norway I met up with the Kiwi crew and we rallied to Voss to run the Myrkdal and Raundalen which are my favourite rivers almost anywhere. The levels started to rise and we got an unusual early Early September run of the Teigdalen on our list. Tired and cold we retreated back to Sjoa for some sickline training and chilled days on Amot and shortly after leaving to Austria for the Sickline.
Spending week at the Austrian alps is always good, but when you add the best kayakers in the world and fun atmosphere it gets even much bigger. Cars loaded with kayaks were zipping up and down the valley and despite the high water levels the course was always full of training kayakers. The race itself was a show and it was interesting to see some of the best slalom kayakers and extreme boaters competing in the same event. Great event, great atmosphere and show of the skills.
Stage 4- Nepal
Sometimes mid summer Ron Fischer invited me to my biggest expedition yet. We hiked with 8 sherpas for 9 days in high altitude himalayan trail to get to the put in of the Langu Khola river. I have never been to over 5000m altitude and it was quite a sight to see kayaks there. It was cold, exhausting and amazing at the same time. The most beatiful views and landscape in the reomore part of the planet. Breathtaking sceneries and a culture we all could learn a lot. We finally put on the river at 4 530m and paddled all the way to 190m to the first bridge in Chisapani. It took us 19 days and we covered around 540 kms. Mostly of deep canyons and technical steep class 4/5 whitewater. Simply put the hardest, the longest, the coldest and the most amazing of my life so far. But more about this one in a separate report.
......and after coming back home from it was 3 weeks to Christmass and my ticket to Chile for another Gene17 trip and learning spanish experience. As I write this, I am sitting on the shores of Rio Trancura, it rains outside and I am wondering if the Nevados is going to come in.
Thank you guys for an amazing year. Without you all this would not be possible. Your gear kept me dry and comfy all year.
Salud and gracias
Photo: Jakub`s archiv, Raphael Thiebaut, Benjamin Hjort