Kayaking & Canoe Sport in Ötztal
Dorado for experienced paddlersÖtztal is one of the last Alpine valleys where glacier water can still follow its natural way. The Ötztaler Ache mountain brook meanders through the landscape on a distance of 42 km. Depending on the water level, fairly different and sometimes very extreme technical challenges await you from May to October (seven sections incl. difficulty levels 3 to 6). On warm summer days, the mountain brook bubbles and rushes while it gets calmer in the fall - nevertheless boredom is literally unknown. Conquering the Ötztaler Ache requires a lot of practice and experience as it is one of the world's most difficult whitewater passages, therefore the rushing torrent is not suitable for beginners.
White water for real experts
Those who appreciate the variety in the kayak or canoe, love the Ötztal and its Alpine waters. On every kilometer the wild ride on the rushing waters of Ötztaler Ache opens up new nature treasures. Giant gorges followed by narrow gullies and rushing white water provide the ultimate thrill for adrenaline junkies.
Access points and infrastructures
A total of 13 access options are available, all of them are listed in the free kayak guide including regional details. Public toilets for water sportspeople can be found here:
- Oetz: central parking area, "Brandach" rafting access point
- Längenfeld: bandstand
- Huben: village center/ Ötztal Tourismus Information Office
- Sölden: Ötztal Tourismus Information Office at the entrance to the village
Suitable accommodation offers in all categories and attractive campsites for nature lovers are part of the infrastructure.
Free slalom course in Oetz
In Oetz there is a professional canoe route in cooperation with the German Canoe Association. On request, clubs and associations but also individuals can use the course for free by contacting Ötztal Tourismus Oetz Information Office (phone: +43 57200500, email: email@example.com) and paying a deposit. Infrastructures are available on the spot: right on the race track there is an administration building including telephone, internet access and electricity.
|Length||approx. 350 meters|
|Gates||42 transverse elements/42 gates which can be easily moved longwise and crosswise|
|Difficulty Level||VWW II-III|
|Upper Put-in:||Follow down a path on the left just below Martin-Bush-Hut.|
|Lower Put-in:||2.5 km above Vent at Diembach Creek. It‘s a difficult put-in because of nearly-impassable terrain.|
|Take-out:||Small wooden bridge above Vent.|
|Water level:||In late summer or autumn: 10 m2/s for the lower part, 5 m2/s (max) for the upper section.|
Niedertalbach Creek is a very beautiful and worthwhile section, set in a remote landscape and away from busy roads. There are only a few small eddies in the narrow gorges and sometimes portages are impossible. On the upper section, even in autumn, you can still find remnants of last winter‘s avalanches. Scouting is recommended! The lower part has one portage, but apart from that everything else can be scouted and is runnable. At high levels Niedertalbach Creek becomes very difficult and dangerous.
Tip: Water levels on the Niedertalbach can rise unexpectedly, even in autumn. You should only run it in a small group.
|Put-in:||5 km above Rofen Farm at a bridge below Hochjoch-Hospiz-Hut, 2412 m above sea level (you can also hike a little further up to Hintereisferner, where you can put-in right at the glacier gate).|
|Take-out:||At the suspension bridge close to Rofen Farm or - even better - 200 m before that bridge. Scout the take-out before you get on because the following gorge down to Vent is unrunnable!|
|Water level:||Low 10 cm, average 15 cm, high 20 cm (Vent). In peak summer or late summer. If you can run the entry passage at the put-in without hitting rocks too hard, then the water level is just fine.|
The Rofener Ache is a beautiful and ice-cold glacial creek in an amazing setting at the very end of the Ötz Valley. At high water levels it offers a very rough ride, similar to the Kalserbach in Eastern Tyrol, but a little steeper and in a narrow gorge. At low water levels it is not recommended to run the Rofener Ache because it gets extremely rocky.
In order to reach the put-in you have follow Ötzi’s tracks carrying your boats, but at least you can scout the river on the way up. The advantage of a putin at 2500m above sea level is that there wont be any tree obstacles.
After 1km the Rofener Ache enters a narrow gorge. The following canyon offers unimaginably good white water. Every section is runnable, you can scout and set up a safety cover. Watch out for the take-out! You can either take out on a right curve before a 2m drop or, at the very latest, under the suspension bridge. The following canyon, down to Vent, is absolutely unrunnable due to a landslide and wire cables.
Tip: Don’t run the Rofener Ache in spring, there are too many avalanche debris still in the gorge.
Upper Venter Ache
|Put-in:||Just below Vent at a wooden bridge. It is difficult to put-in at the village because of private parking.|
|Take-out:||First road bridge 6 km below Vent.|
|Water level:||30 cm low, 40 cm average, 50 cm high (Vent).|
Shortly after the put-in in Vent you enter a canyon with no major difficulties. From the road tunnel on, the gradient gets steeper forming a short cataract, after that it becomes easier again. Watch out for the take-out! The short canyon under the road bridge is not clean, so it‘s better to get out safely above it.
If the water level isn‘t too high you can paddle a little further to the next small bridge. But again watch out for the take-out: Due to the current you might be washed down into the Heiligkreuz Canyon. The eddies are very small, it‘s for experts only!
Tip: Watch out for the take-out. Due to the current you might be washed into Heiligkreuz Canyon, the eddies are very small.
|Put-in:||Wooden bridge close to Winterstall, 200 m below the second road bridge in the Vent direction.|
|Take-out:||At Lehen farm, which is the put-in for Lower Venter Ache.|
|Water level:||In autumn: 1.70 m low, 1.90 m average, 2.10 m high (Tumpen).|
The Heiligkreuz Canyon should only be run by experienced kayakers and in small groups. You can judge the river by checking from the road bridge. At low water you can reach the river, at the entry to the gorge, by following a small field path. The first section is a good warm-up run (class III+). You enter the gorge after the big bridge and are now facing a steeper gradient and drops of up to 3m (class IV+ to V). Be careful, there are siphons! Climbing out of the gorge is nearly impossible. But there are numerous small eddies to help you master the gorge step by step. As soon as you can see the church of Heiligkreuz you’re, more or less, through and the river gets easier towards the end.
Tip: The difficulties rise with the water level.
Lower Venter Ache
|Put-in:||Small bridge at Lehen Farm.|
|Take-out:||At the confluence with the Gurgler Ache at Zwieselstein.|
|Water level:||1.70 m low, 1.90 m average, 2.20 m high (Tumpen).|
At low water it’s a class III to IV run over cataracts of medium difficulty in short gorge-like canyons and wide open sections. At summer water levels it‘s a bit more difficult. After about 200m you will approach the first difficult passage, the »Pyramid«. You should follow the main current to start with and then carve right at the last big rock.
Further highlights are a narrow gorge-like rapid, as spot where there is a small tributary and finally a drop in a left curve at the end of the run. These rapids and the Bodenegg Cataract should all be scouted before putting in – especially at high water level. The Lower Venter is also run in peak summer when the river turns into dangerous class V big water.
Tip: Don’t run the Lower Venter in playboats at high water. It‘s a bad place for a swim.
|Put-in:||Small wooden bridge above Obergurgl (leading to Ramolhaus).|
|Take-out:||Top of unrunnable waterfall combination at ski lift parking.|
|Water level:||50 m left of the put-in bridge you‘ll find the gauge. Ideal water level: 1.10 m. Over 1.10 m heavy-duty big water!|
In the first 2 km the Gurgler Ache offers easy white water, surrounded by amazing mountain ranges and the perpetual ice of the Ötz Valley Alps. Then the gradient increases and a double S-curve with a rock face on the right marks the beginning of the following canyon of 1km class IV to V water. The entry only is 2m wide with a tricky drop. After this there are narrow passages, drops and stoppers and some must-run rapids.
Unfortunately, the Gurgler Ache is canalized from the end of the canyon onwards. Down to the take-out it‘s 2 km of class III. Below the ski lift parking there is an unrunnable waterfall combination.
Tip: If you want to paddle the following 2km to Sahnestüberl you‘ll have to carry your boat around the waterfall combo and take a steep path leaving the road. You can put in again just below the waterfall. Steep cataracts and short gorges follow, class IV to V. The remaining 2.5km to the confluence with the Venter Ache were first mastered by Bernhard Mauracher and friends in summer 2004. This breakthrough section is one of the most difficult white water sections in the Ötz Valley (class VI at 6 m2/s). Experts only!
|Put-in:||On the river right at the end of Zwieselstein.|
|Take-out:||Wooden bridge below Sölden ski lift, next to a skate park.|
|Water level:||At low water levels in autumn – low 1.80 m, average 1.90 m, high 2.00 m (Tumpen).|
After putting in the Ötztaler Ache soon invites you to enter the gorge, as it gets more and more narrow. But be very careful, as all of a sudden the whole river disappears into a siphon! Only at low water can it be run. The section that follows should be scouted too. There are very difficult drops and 300 m further down there is another siphon. We recommend that you to take the hiking trail on the right at the first siphon, and carry your boat until you can climb down a steep slide. At low water levels you could do the portage along the river bank – but scout before attempting this!
After having put on the river again there are some cataracts ahead, before you come to a flat rock with a 4m drop. Unfortunately, part of the water leads into rocks on the left. There‘s a portage on the right here, but it is very difficult. This waterfall can be scouted from the road high above. The following 500m needs to be scouted and may need to be portaged, which is no fun at all!
The last part of the canyon can be run smoothly with one exception. There is a rapid on a left curve, which enters a tricky cataract. Scout before you run it!
Tip: To run the Kühtrain canyon is like an expedition. Only recommended for experts at low water level.
|Put-in:||Below Sölden. Turn left at the second main road after Kaisers and cross the bridge until you see the marked put-in.|
|Take-out:||At a small bridge below Aschbach, or 800 m further down between Camp Site Winkel and a gravel pit.|
|Water level:||Low 1.70 m, average 2.10 m, high 2.20 m (Tumpen).|
Immediately after the put-in you reach the most difficult part of the upper Ötztaler Ache: the Sölden Cataract. The best line is from the middle to the right and then through the middle again to the left. Portage is easy on the river right, put in again at the sewage works.
Again and again there are big rapids, which are difficult to scout from water level. Be careful when rolling, a lot of accidents have happened on this section already. Locals and experts are known to run it at high water levels in summer.
Tip: Always paddle in a group and watch out for each other!
|Put-in:||Parking on a meadow just below Au (Längenfeld).|
|Take-out:||Bridge to »Köfels«.|
|Water level:||Late summer and autumn. Between1.80 m (low) and 2.00 m (high) at Tumpen.|
The Middle Ötz is one of the most famous and beautiful white water classics in Austria. At higher water levels, during summer, it is for experts only and big water heroes will have a great time. But in autumn, with dropping levels, this section gets easier and can also be run by normal paddlers.
Shortly after the putin there comes the »Schräge Platte« drop. Then you run some easier cataracts down to the gravel pit. The drop below this is run on the right. When you reach the first road bridge you will have arrived at »Zwischenbrückenstrecke« – the »between-bridges« section. The slide under this first bridge should not be run because there are dangerous wire construction cables jutting out of it. Next are two more cataracts, before you reach »Hühnerleiter«. This section should be scouted thoroughly before running it. After Hühnerleiter you reach a final heavyduty class V cataract. The take out is at the next road bridge.
Tip: For your first descent go for a low water level. Swims at high water levels can be fatal!
|Put-in:||Bridge to »Köfels«.|
|Take-out:||Wooden bridge at football pitch in Umhausen.|
|Water level:||Low 1.80 m, average 2.10 m, high 2.30 m (Tumpen).|
If you love big water you will be stoked on running this short section. In summer, if you wait until the water level is at its highest, in the evening, then you will experience the greatest big water ride in Austria. There are only a few evil holes, but huge waves and a fast current.
Right at the beginning, the Ötztaler Ache builds up momentum over a sloping slide to run down in big rapids towards the gorge. Only if the water level is under 2.20m you can land before the various rapids and scout them. At higher levels you should scout before you get on from the left bank. After 1.5 km the river gets easier but still thunders along at speed.
Tip: Run this at average water level first. Swims are very dangerous, and not only at high water levels.
|Put-in:||Old bridge at Tumpen.|
|Take-out:||Wooden bridge at Habichen.|
|Water level:||Runnable only under 1.60 m (Tumpen). Low water in spring or autumn.|
Steep falls only for experts! If you don‘t feel 100 % secure on the Wellerbrücke Section don‘t even think about the Achstürze. Siphons, narrow drops, high falls come thick and fast, without a break. Nevertheless you can scout every rapid and carry your boat around if necessary.
The ideal time is between March and April. There shouldn‘t be any ice left in the Achstürze and the melting of the snow should not have started yet.
|Put-in:||Wooden bridge below road bridge Habichen.|
|Take-out:||Wooden bridge at upper end of Oetz.|
|Water level:||In autumn: 1.80 m (Tumpen). At higher levels it‘s more difficult.|
Until a couple of years ago the infamous Wellerbrücke section did not see a lot of kayakers. But now, when water levels go down in autumn, more and more kayakers come to run this section.
The first two passages are usually run on the left. Next comes a difficult cataract with a kicker at the end. 100m further down you reach the core section of the run, right above the Wellerbrücke. Portage possible on the left.
Below Wellerbrücke you jump down a flat rock. Then there is an easier passage leading to a final cataract, which ends in a 3m drop. After that it is easy going down to the bridge at the take-out.
Tip: Scouting is absolutely necessary. Don‘t forget your safety equipment.
|Put-in:||Wooden bridge at upper end of Oetz.|
|Take-out:||Iron bridge at Haiming, which is the take-out for Imster Canyon, too.|
|Water level:||Throughout the year: low 1.90 m, average 2.10 m, high 2.40 m (Tumpen).|
The first kilometre is characterised by long, big rapids of medium difficulty. At the next bridge there is a short but difficult cataract. After that you can have a short break before reaching the next wooden bridge. This bridge marks the entry into a canyon, which is 500m long with lots of holes and waves, and difficult to scout from water level.
Now pay attention to a warning sign at a bridge. Once you see it, be prepared for the Brunau Weir, the stopper on this is extremely dangerous and has taken lives in the past. The weir‘s edge can be seen from above immediately after a right curve. On the right hand side there is a big eddy to take out and carry round. Shortly after the weir you have to master another cataract, the »Constructa«, it‘s just after a left curve and hides some huge stoppers. 1km further down the Ötz joins into the River Inn and there are only a few kilometres left to the take-out at Haiming.