Spring melt is coming, but where is the snowpack best? Simon, from Gene17 kayaking, gives us the lowdown on which rivers will be up, and when in 2016.

Simon on the Codi – photo Jakub Sedivy


With early warm weather, this granite island in the Mediterranean is filled with steep, technical rivers, giving it a reputation as a creekboater’s paradise.

Time to visit: Late winter through to May, although it needs rain later. Lots of people like to camp on the beaches at the coast, so April is considered ideal. Going earlier than this can bring higher water levels.

Snowpack: Good in the north end of the mountain spine (www.meteofrance.com).

Simon’s tip for 2016: Right now – beginning of April.

Anne Hubner on the Vercasca – photo Michael Sommerauer

Ticino (Switzerland)

A small canton in Italian speaking southern Switzerland, Ticino is home to the world class Verzasca river, as well as many deep canyons and beautiful bedrock slides.

Time to visit: Normally May into early June is the window for the Ticino. High snow with periodic thunderstorms means that the high valley runs can come in as the lower rivers drop off. Watch www.rivermap.ch for details.

Snowpack: Looks only OK at 60-90% of normal, potentially better conditions in the Rhone Valley (www.slf.ch). The snow in the western Alps arrived late so there is little base and poor cohesion in the layers, meaning there is more potential for rapid runoff. The window for good paddling this season could be short.

Simon’s tip for 2016: Mid May is always a good bet. There is no sign of an early spring this year yet, so some good paddling for the traditional germanic invasion during Pfingsten public holiday.

Clean lines even when it’s low on the Egua – photo Nick Horwood

Piemonte (Italy)

Known for classy bedrock slides, endless boofs, and wondeful cuisine. This is one of the very finest places to go whitewater kayaking.Low water on the Egua – photo Nick Horwood

Time to visit: A very similar seasonal window to the Ticino, and this year’s conditions also much the same. Low altitude catchments often need spring rain to go, others with high mountains as their backdrop need warm nights and/or warm rain.

Snowpack: Runs in Gran Paradiso area to the west of Piemonte have better snow conditions, than Valsesia and to the east. Still much the same issue with late snow fall with little cohesion in the snow layering, may result in a short sharp window of paddling this spring.

Simon’s tip for 2016: During the Valsesia River Festival of course, 18/22 May 2016, and probably earlier too.

Sunshine and smiles on the Durance – photo Gene17 kayaking

French Alps

With cheap beer, great food, and a wide range of paddling, the French Alps is an ever popular destination for summer paddling fun.

Time to visit: The best time for alpine runaway fun is late May into June, with the levels dropping away sharply as sunny days with warm nights take their toll melting snow. Normally at some point from early July, the primo runs are dropping off.  Late afternoon glacial paddling, can provide entertainment for afternoon delights.

Snowpack: Not huge snowfall in the west of the alps this year, but enough for some fun from spring through to early summer (www.meteofrance.com).

Simon’s tip for 2016: Mid June, for this year’s Kayak Session Durance Valley Whitewater Sessions event.

Max Bilbow boofs the final double on the Mår’s Homerun – photo Nick Horwood

Telemark (Norway)

Telemark is the early season kickoff to Norway’s summer of kayaking. Arrive in May, before the melt has fully started elsewhere, and you’ll be rewarded with some of the best steep creeking to be found. Base yourself at the northern end of lake Tinnsjo, for a short commute to waterfalls, slides, big volume rapids and endless fun.

Time to visit: Early May to late June is always a fine time for the Mar Home Run, and Nearby Austbygdaai.

Snowpack: Plenty of snow around this year, as always (www.skiinfo.no)

Simon’s tip for 2016:  14th – 21st May.

Content retrieved from: palmequipmenteurope.com/blog/en/spring-water-forecast.