Sickline Race and Rivers Around Bound to Disapear?
Several dam project endanger some of Europe’s finest white water kayaking – by Anne Stevens & Bernhard Steidl The Tyrol region in the Austrian Alps offers some of the finest, hardest but also most diverse white waters in Europe, the Ötz Valley is somewhat an epicentre of European kayaking. It ranges from rather easy white water on the infamous Imster Gorge, with its thousands of rafters, where every white water beginner can get their hands on a first big water experience, to uncountable hidden gems, deep cut gorges and waterfall sections. On the other end of the scale there is the Ötz Valley, with no less than 13 sections to paddle on the Ötztaler Ache and its tributaries, almost all of them ranging around class 5. One of them happens to be the setting for the yearly Sickline world championships in extreme kayaking, one of the most important events in extreme white water kayaking.
The Ötz Valley is one of the last valleys in the Northern Alps without dams, where the river still flows naturally. The Ötztaler Ache can be paddled throughout the year. In summer, when the melted glacial water roars down the valley, the river offers big water at its best. When water levels drop, the Ötztaler Ache calms down, gets more technical – but never boring. This makes the whole region so special, there is something to paddle almost all year round. Water levels change naturally with the seasons and the weather, making different rivers and sections attractive for kayakers. But all of this is endangered now by several dam projects, and the plans paint a gruesome picture: the minimum residual flow levels the planned hydropower plants will leave behind will not only severely effect wildlife and nature in the but also have devastating effects on kayaking in the region. If these projects go through as planned, most of the rivers will not be runable anymore and even what is left will not be much fun anymore on minimum levels.
We cannot and will not accept this, there is a lot of resistance within the residents, the tourism boards, the rafters, the kayakers and also, unlike with other projects, we still do have a chance to change something! So please, help us to protect this gem – inform yourself, stand up, do something! To raise awareness on the cause, we organised a kayak festival on the 04th – 07th of June we would like to invite you to. For more information on the festival and the dam projects please go to: www.kajakfestival.com For the latest info follow the facebook page Rettet die Sillschlucht