- Corsica 2013 - Upper Vecchio -

This spring was the best time to be in Corsica in the last 10 years for sure. The snowpack was massive and at the same time it was warm and rained a lot. Some people were lucky enough to run the Rizzanese at 120cm with the new build dam overflowing. I went to the island quite late this year. The levels and the weather were ok, some nights were cold which lead to some days with "lower-water-than-everybody-wants". The Rizzanese had already fallen down to "lost-forever-mode". I spend 10 days on the island with my wife Hannah and our little fella Moritz.

Every Corsica trip starts with a little cruise

Moritz and Hannah enjoying the sun

What's the level?

Scenic tak out of the upper Golo and Calasima

When the rain gets caught in the mountains, the shore is always only minutes away...

Lots of snow

After running the upper Golo on arrival day, I met up with Michael Wutti, Michael Strömer, Otmar Resch and a group of visiting paddlers from California consisting of Roc Sribar, Darin McQuoid, Daniel Brasuell, Paul Gamache and Eric Petlock. We ran some runs on the east coast together before the group departed to run the Codi and the Limone on the west coast. I stayed on the east coast, since its a lot of driving to those west coast creeks and Moritz doesn't yet like driving so much. At the same time we could enjoy sunny weather on the coast instead of sitting through rain in the mountains.

Upper Vecchio

A couple days later we met up again and decided to run the upper Vecchio. I had run this section of the Vecchio only once before in 2006. Together with Jürgen Maier and my brother Reiner we had a long, long day on a hard stretch of whitewater without any good beta. For me personally it was too heavy stuff at the time. I thought I wasn’t fun at all and I wouldn’t run the gorge ever again. I’m now a better paddler than I was 7 years ago, and my idea of not running the upper Vecchio again has changed in the last couple years.

With a good group consisting of Roc Sribar, Darin McQuoid, Michael Strömer, Michael Wutti and myself I was really looking forward to do this run again. This year the flow was much higher than in 2006, which turned out to be great. Although some of the holes get bigger and the rapids get a little pushy, the higher flow cleans up things a little bit and makes the long and steep rapids much more enjoyable. Hundreds of siphons and undercut walls still remain in place... the upper Vecchio is a hard run.

Daniel made 2 videos of their trip. It also features some footage from upper Vecchio.
Video 1    Video2

His website www.awetstate.com might be one of the best sites to get some beta for Californian creeks along with Darin's site.

There is a little writeup with important beta of the Upper Vecchio below the photos.

Anyway, here are some pictures. Big thanks to Darin McQuoid for his Photos!

Getting ready at the Put in
One of the first nice drops - Photo Darin McQuoid

Sweet boof somewhere in the middle of a long steep rapid - Photo Darin McQuoid

Finishing up the same rapid - Photo Darin McQuoid

Michael Strömer - triple drop

Darin - same drop

Darin punching a hole to finish up the rapid. We had many different lines on this one, but the all went well.
Nice boof over a kicker - this drop is one of the last ones before you get to the waterfall - Photo Darin McQuoid

the group is having a break at the waterfall - This waterfall can be run, at our flow it looked way too nasty.

Roc and Darin enter the walled in section after the waterfall

Same rapid - view down the long rapid

Nice. This is the first rapid of the walled in section. The next rapid can be run, but it's full-on at this flow. The rapid after the next rapid is the mandatory portage.
For me personally, the upper Vecchio is the best run on the island. It may not have as many clean and fun drops as some other creeks, but it's a beautiful deep gorge with continous and committing whitewater.

Later, H.G.


Since there isn’t any good beta about the upper Vecchio on the Internet, here are some facts:

The upper Vecchio offers some steep and long boulder gardens with big holes and committing lines. In between there are nice bedrock rapids. There are also some walled in “New Zealand style” sections with huge boulders thrown into the mix. Many Siphons and undercuts on the whole run)

Put in:
here - At he bridge over the creek on the road to Canaglia

Take out:
here - Middle Vecchio Put in

Gauge: Noceta Gauge 
here -  2006: 150cm (low, but possible) 2013: 170-180cm (great flow)

Only 6km but it can take 7-8 hours or longer if you don’t know the run.

Difficult. Long sections of class 5 and it doesn’t let up until you are at the takeout. Only go if you are 100% sure about it. Getting out of the gorge midway is possible but not easy. You can climb up to the railway right before a waterfall where the creek makes a sharp turn to the left. Follow the tracks to the left to Vivario. You'll have to go through a tunnel, or keep climbing up to the top of the ridge.

There is only one mandatory portage, everything else is runnable (at least in theory). We portaged 6-7 times.

Portaging can be tricky at times. In 2006 it took us close to 3 hours to complete 200m of whitewater (3 rapids) because we didn’t have any beta where to go. Because of this, here’s a litte description of where to go in this core section:

We portaged the big waterfall on the right bank. (Nice spot to make a break) About 150m after the waterfall there is a big boulder, which blocks the entire river. At low flows it’s possible to go underneath the boulder, at high flows you can pass in on the left. Of course it's a nasty siphon and running the line on the left doesn't leave space for error. We decided to portage the whole thing because the left line didn’t look clean at all. It’s an easy walk from the waterfall until you get to the put-in after the siphon. To get down to the river you’ll have to do some climbing but it’s manageable. It’s also possible to do a throw and go and swim out of the little gorge.

The worst portages are in a walled in gorge about 200m after the big siphon This section starts up with a nice long walled in must run rapid. After a short calm stretch you’ll get to a steep rapid witch ends with a 3m drop right next to an undercut wall. This one goes at low water, but at 180cm it’s nasty. (Still runnable but nasty) You can portage this one on the left by climbing over huge boulders with sharp edges and deep holes in-between them. The next rapid is not runnable. To portage this one, one must get creative. You have to cross the creek and go through a very narrow slot on the river right side. (Get out on top of the rock in the slot and swim) After that you walk downriver on top of a big boulder until there’s nowhere to go. Look to the right – There’s a hole in the rock, which you can climb through. You’ll get down to the waterlevel one by one letting the boats down with a rope.

The next rapid is not scoutable (only from the top) and almost impossible to portage. (At 180cm you have to run it – in 2006, with low water ist was possible to get out on the left and we portaged it on the left – much worse than running the rapid) This rapid was good to go on the very right side from top to bottom in 2013.