Lodrino – the King of European canyons

Can you imagine a more than 100 meter deep crack in the middle of a mountain, which is, in some parts, even narrower than 1 meter? And crystal clean water, which flows through the crack and vividly searching its way through to the valley? That is exactly how the king of the European canyons – Lodrino, looks like. Lodrino lies in the Swiss canton of Ticino, just 5 hours away from our little Slovenia. But although it is relatively close to us, it is not suited for every average Joe out there. For a safe canyoning in Lodrino you have to have many years of experience, suitable weather and summer time. Many canyoning experts agree that descent can be even directly compared with some of the hardest climbs in the Alps.

Radovedni soteskarji
Curious canyoneers
  I myself waited for the right time to come for over 5 years. First I lacked experience, the next few years I also couldn’t go because of high water level. Lodrino is one of the rare canyons in Ticino, where the water isn’t taken away by hydro-powered plants, so the water levels are constantly high. But this year we have conquered the grumpy king at last. In the longer summer vacation we spoiled ourselves with a 3-week long canyoning expedition to Switzerland, France and in Italy. When it was time to finally visit Lodrino, we stopped for a bit. We compared the photo of acceptable water level in the guidebook with the actual water level in the canyon. There was more water than recommended for experienced canyoneers. But fortunately for us, we had experienced members in our team that had already done the canyon and they didn’t seem to be that worried. And because you don’t have to ask twice when it comes to canyoning-lovers, we all looked at each other and said: In we go!

Čudovit slap primeren za skakanje.
A magnificent waterfall, ideal for jumping in.
  The 4-man-team was dressed in tight neoprene suits and equipped with 150m of rope, food supplies (2 chocolate bars for each of us) and emergency supplies (1 more chocolate bar for each of us). We entered the water in the middle of the canyon. And the first surprise was already waiting for us as we jumped in the pool. The falling water was coming down the canyon so fast it created a backwards flow, which was pulling us back to the waterfall. The edges of the pool were very slippery because of the growing seaweed, so getting out was like a real lottery. And as always I didn’t have luck even this time... But out photographer Andrej had a really positive day, by imitation of a sea lions movement he managed to climb out. He also helped the others getting out and we could descent to the next 45m waterfall. The canyon started to narrow in the following sections of the journey and the elegant curves of the water banks were even more beautiful than any Swedish supermodel you could ever see.

Zožanje soteske. Foto: Andrej Hliš
A narrow canyon. Foto: Andrej Hliš
  Abseils were really the challenge of the day. Not because of the height of the waterfalls, but because of the strong water current, which pressed on your body like a bulldozer. That is why we tried to use anchorpoints that enabled us to do the rappels outside of water current, if it were only possible. But many times we rather jumped in the next pool. On the lower part of the canyon we were also accompanied by our doctor Tina, who quickly checked our our vital functions and physical health. She decided on the diagnosis pretty fast: “You are all sick anyways, so you have to continue with descent.” And the last part of the canyon waited for us, the beauty of which I can hardly describe with words. I hope the photos will be enough to make it justice. The hours canyoning went by as such, just as if they were minutes. 5 hours, that is the time we needed to travel down the middle and last part of the canyon, but it happened all too fast for my liking.  

Hrbtolomna količina vode.
Backbreaking amount of water Foto: Andrej Hliš

Impozanten spust po vrvi izven vodnega toka.
A breathtaking descent down the ropes outside of the strong water current. Foto: Andrej Hliš
  And what say the impressions? Lodrino has justified its title of Kind amongst the European canyons. I visited over 100 of different ones in my lifetime, but this canyon offers a unique combination of respect for the strong water, untouched nature, crystal clean water, beautiful descents down the ropes, amazing jumps and just a bit of climbing over big bolders. Personally, I was so touched by this whole trip that I had to visit this canyon again the very next day. And I guarantee it was not the last time I did.

Včasih oponašamo tudi pse. Foto: Andrej Hliš
Sometimes we also imitate dogs. Foto: Andrej Hliš

Zadnji spust po vrvi na dnu Lodrina. Foto: Andrej Hliš
The last descent down the rope to the bottom of Lodrino. Foto: Andrej Hliš