Thursday, July 20, 2006

Black Sea Creeking

After dropping Steve off at the bus station; Matt, Dad, Amir Housain, Rob Hind and I loaded up into Dave Manby's van and made the 6 hour trek over the Kackar mountain range to the Black Sea Coast

One thing we noticed on the way over was how thick the snow pack still was this late into the Summer.

We stopped at this castle on our way up to scout the first river

After the tourist stop at the castle this is what we found:

So stopped for chai with some locals:

And Rob and I went Mt Biking instead...

The next drainage over provided a more manageable level and two days of great creeking in a deep granite gorge

We also went to a local festival up in the mountains where there were Turkish Bull fights. Bull vs Bull, not Man vs Bull

Matt scouting the line on another creek

And me probing it.

The crew from the Black Sea Coast trip from left to right Rob Hind, Matt Risch, Dave Manby, Amir Housain, and Jake Risch with Al Risch behind the camera

After 16 great days in Turkey, Matt and Dad headed back to the states, Rob and Dave back to Europe and Amir(above) went back to Iran. I returned to work in Istanbul and started to figure out the next trip.........

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bahal Mission

After the race was over a bunch of us headed up the Bahal Valley to see what we could find. The Upper Bahal is a classic alpine style run with near continuous class IV whitewater, strainers and low foot bridges, where eddies are few and far between. After a stop for Chai (tea) on the way up the valley Steve, Matt and I decided to put on.

The next day was Steves last day in Turkey so we headed up to Tortam Falls for some sightseeing and then put on the Tortam river below which was a great class III-IV read and run river.

With Steve headed home, Matt, Dad and I along with Amir, Rob Hind and Dave headed to the other side of the Kackar Mountains to explore the steep creeks and gorges of the Turkish Black Sea coast...................

"Coruh Extreme" 2006

The first stop on our tour of Northeastern Turkey was the Town on Ispir. This is the put in for the premier section of the Coruh River, and the start point for the first leg of the 2006 Coruh Extreme Kayak Race held June 1-3, 2006.

Day 1: The Mass start downriver race and The "Joan Collins Set"

In Ispir we stayed in a building being used by the UN for a Recreation and Tourism Development Program. Around 5 AM Race Day I was woken up by the sound of bells and mooing. I got to the window just in time to snap this photo.

The first leg of the race was a 11 km long mass start down river race through a CLIV section of the Coruh. Steve Van Den Heuvel from Belgium won this leg. I was 6th and Matt was 7th.

After the race we paddled 19 km further down stream including this rapid the first of the three CLV rapids that make up the Joan Collins Set:

The group enjoying a well earned Efes Beer at the end of the first day.

Day 2: 60 km of whitewater and the individual time trials

Matt got a chance to do a little raft guiding. Taking dad and the crew from the UN program out on the Class IV section of river above the race rapid.

The second leg of the Coruh Extreme was an Individual Time Trial down a 500m Class V named Perfect Portage. Amir Hussain from Iran won this leg, Matt finished in 3rd place and I was 7th

Matt (above) on his bronze metal line and Me (Below).

After the race on Perfect Portage the group continued on down the Coruh finishing 60 km of whitewater in just over 6 hours (including race time).

Day 3: Yousefeli Gorge and the Extreme slalom

On the final day of the race the group completed the 110 km prime stretch of the Coruh by paddling the Yousefeli Gorge. In the town of Yousefeli the Bahal an major tributary comes in and just down stream two more are added doubling the volume of the Coruh. During the first week of June this section offers truly world class big volume paddling.

The final leg of the race was an Extreme slalom race on the Bahal River a tributary of the Coruh that flows through the town of Yusefeli. Paddlers had to touch 5 panels strategically placed in difficult eddies, pass their paddle over a paddle hanging mid stream, roll and catch the finish eddy. Steve won this one, Matt posted another 3rd place and I was 7th.

In the end Belgian Steven Van Den Heuvel won the race, Amir Hussain was second, Matt finished 5th and I was 7th.

The next day Steve, Matt and I went on an Upper Bahal mission......

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Turkey 2006 - Getting to the River

In June this year Matt and I along with our father Al, headed to the northeast corner of Turkey to paddle the Coruh River and explore the creeks of the Black Sea coast. Matt had to be in France the last two weeks of May to attend a business school seminar the last requirement for his MBA and I was working in Kuwait. Turkey seemed like the perfect place to meet to go paddling. Coincidentally, after we started planning the trip my company assigned me to a project in Istanbul.

For Matt it was the most traveling he had had to do with his boat to get to a river. He had to fly with kayak to Paris, lug it across Paris and around Europe on train, bus and taxi, while he and the rest of his classmates attended the business seminars in Strasberg, France; Basel, Switzerland and Baden Baden, Germany. After the school work was over he had to get back to Paris, to catch a flight to Istanbul where he was linking up with Dad and me. Dad was bringing my boat in from Boston. We all linked up in the Istanbul Airport and flew out to Erzurum in Eastern Turkey.

While we were planning the trip we learned about an international Kayak race that was going to be held on the Coruh River by Dave Manby. I emailed Dave and signed Matt and I up for the event.

The "Risch boys" along with Dave and the van in Erzurum

When I was e-mailing Dave about the race and asking advice on the logistics of eastern Turkey. He told me not to rent a car as transport to and from the event was included in the entry fee, that there would be people headed to the Black Sea Coast afterwards, and that the Bus service in the region was great if it came to it. So when we arrived in Erzurum Dave was there with his Ford Transit Van and Amir Husain an Iranian Kayaker who he was also picking up for the event. As it would turn out the van would be our transport for the next two weeks up and down the river valleys of the Kackar Mountain Range. The whole trip there was only one scare with the van, when shortly after leaving Erzurum headed up the Euphrates Drainage on our way to the Coruh it overheated. It turns out that the mechanic who serviced it forgot to fully close the radiator cap and it had boiled dry. We were lucky to catch it before any permanent damage was done.

Over the next 16 days we would paddle amazing big water, great alpine style runs and explore committing gorges and creeks……………..