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|Sweden: The Kultsjöån|
What's it like
The Kultsjöån looks like a rather lazy river for most of its way when you drive past but as you get closer to the put-in you will see some bigger drops. It is broad in places and this affords the paddler with a variety of interesting lines to choose from. You can run anything from two to maybe five or six smaller channels if you’re up to it.
The first couple of drops are small until you get to the first real drop. This involves a hole to punch, some fast moving water and then straight over a roughly three meter drop. Right has a rock about a meter from the base of the drop that you would piton into and then probably be taken into the hole at the base. Left is not as clean although it’s an option. The line to run is round about the middle.
Adrian Tregoning on the entry to the 3m drop. Photo by Tuomas Vaarala.
Adrian Tregoning boofing the 3m drop. Photo by Tuomas Vaarala.
Some smaller rapids follow and also a nice little slide. Moving down from here is a great four to five meter drop with an interesting curler on the lip. Scout it properly. Climb back up on river right for a second run!
Tuomas Vaarala on a slide along the way. Photo by Adrian Tregoning.
Adrian Tregoning on the 4 to 5m drop. Photo by Tuomas Vaarala.
Further downstream is a serious rapid. The line is fairly technical and not really one you want to mess up. Let me stop to explain. The rocks on the Kultsjöån are like knives. The sharpest rocks I have ever come across and they are really hard on the boat. Be warned, this rapid has hurt people already. There are two drops straight after each other and you don’t want to get caught in either of the holes that form beneath these drops. After these, paddle hard towards another hole and make sure you exit on the right, changing direction about sixty degrees. There is a big rooster tail on the left and you want to be right of this as you punch the diagonal next to it and ride on top of it, changing direction 90 degrees to the left. If you mess this up you will end up in the hole after the rooster tail and this can be a little tricky. The hole is quite sticky but at least it has an exit to river right as the main flow is right of the hole itself. Should you land up in this hole the chances are reasonable that you will come out bleeding.
Tuomas Vaarala at the double ledges of the serious rapid. Photo by Adrian Tregoning.
Adrian Tregoning about to miss the rooster tail on the serious rapid spoken about in the text above. Photo by Tuomas Vaarala.
There are many, many other rapids on this section and far too many to describe. Rated as a class IV and V run, you will have to scout quite a bit if you’re running with someone who hasn’t paddled this section before.
There is a narrow section that ends in a roughly two meter drop at the end with a bad hole. The lead in is totally blind and a feisty rapid precedes this with some small but sticky holes. As with any of these rapids, scout when in doubt! Shortly after this is a great rapid I call the Mini-Kalagala. After a bit of a lead in rapid, the drop ends in a beautiful example of a folded flow. On the right is a sort of a seam with a huge boil next to it. The hole at the base is really wild and powerful but shouldn’t hold you for very long. Be aware of the sharp rocks once again. They are everywhere.
Adrian Tregoning running the 'Mini-Kalagala'. Photo by Tuomas Vaarala.
Next up is a large river wide drop. Scout from the right and possibly portage if in doubt. The left line is fairly tricky and if you go too left, you will probably die. The water rushes strongly across the top of the drop and into a waterfall. The base looks really bad with huge boils and some rocks can even be seen. This is not the kind of place to you want to go. The next option is a clean drop in the centre that is about eight or so meters. It is quite a simple line, but definitely not the place to swim as access would be almost impossible to the bottom and one has to paddle very hard to get out of the pool below and past some rocks. It is easy to end up behind the curtain too as it is hollow at the back.
Adrian Tregoning with a probably first descent of this line on the biggest drop on the section. Photo by Tuomas Vaarala.
Within two hundred meters there is another big rapid. Quite a long one and it would be great to run but right at the end there are some very dodgy rocks that the final slide finishes off into. If you weren’t accurate, and you’d probably have to have more luck than anything else, you could have ankles/legs or boat broken. This is the only portage on the river. I don’t think it’s ever been run.
Tuomas Vaarala just below the only rapid we portaged. I believe that rapid has never been run. Photo by Adrian Tregoning.
There are some smaller rapids and then a narrow and wild slide of around fifty meters long. There is a nasty ledge hole at the end, right above yet another rapid. Be careful here. The slide is super fun and fast. A definite highlight.
Adrian Tregoning on the fast slide near the end. All these photos were taken late at night. We only got onto the river at 20:30 and climbed off at 23:40 that night, shortly after this photo was taken. Summer in Scandinavia is awesome! Photo by Tuomas Vaarala.
From here on the rapids are a little smaller. There is the odd exception and again, if you haven’t paddled the section before you will have to occasionally jump out to get a better from the bank before carrying on. The last two or three rapids have some stickier holes and require a good boof to get through. Then sadly, you reach the take out. I’ve only paddled this river once but I would do anything to go back again. It was just plain awesome.
How to get there
The Kultsjöån is near Dikanäs and ultra simple to get to. Drive 4,5km from Stalon in a westerly direction towards Klimpfjell. There is a lay-by on the left which is the take out. The put-in is about 10km further upstream where the river turns to into a lake.
Make sure you have loads of mosquito repellant. If you have to wait at the put in or take out for any length of time you will be eaten alive if you’re not prepared. The vegetation is fairly thick and typical Scandinavian style; trees, trees and more trees. The ground is super soft and spongy and your feet usually sink in as you walk on the lush undergrowth. This is an awesome river and a must for anyone in the area.
The Kultsjöån flows through some lakes and a dam upstream. This, combined with the fact that the catchment is rather large makes for a mostly predictable flow.
We didn’t see any paddlers in the surrounding area. It is a bit out of the way, so chances of encountering anybody are fairly slim. You'll probably see fly fishermen at the odd spot.
Adrian Tregoning, +27 82 656 0252
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