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Outdoor

Perfectly prepared for the coming Rafting & Canyoning Season

Ötztal’s Outdoor Sport Companies start into the new rafting and canyoning season exactly on the 1st of May. To take a closer look at the preparation works and the training of outdoor sport guides I met the two “feel free” outdoor pros Michael and Florian Amprosi – they told me many interesting facts about deep ravines, white Alpine waters and the latest trends of white water rafting boats.

In closest touch with water

In the immediate surroundings of the Ötztaler Ache mountain brook in Oetz you’ll find the „feel free Adventure Center“, where Michael and Florian give me a warm welcome. Already since 1984, this outdoor sports company at the entrance to the valley has been organizing professional river rafting & canyoning tours – plus many more sporty highlights. This is the right place to satisfy my curiosity!

Right at the start of the new season Michael explains the check of all canyoning ravines, which are part of their tours, in late April. For example, the Auerklamm – one of Europe’s most frequented canyoning routes. Each outdoor company makes a separate inspection.

Action beim Canyoning - Canyoning und Rafting im Ötztal
© Feelfree Touristik Outdoor Erlebnis GmbH

Important information is shared afterwards and forwarded to the responsible authority of the Tirolean Oberland Region. High water or floods can damage steel ropes or loosen hooks. All to-dos are reported to the responsible office that takes care of the route’s professional maintenance.

This winter was a mild one in Ötztal’s canyoning hot spots like the famous Auerklamm ravine. Therefore repair works were quite easily manageable. Also because the whole gorge was newly renovated last year. Michael also talks about the extremely heavy windfalls and fallen trees the year before, damaging the ravine considerably.

Thaw in May strongly influences the summery canyoning tours: meltwater forms so-called pools which can be very deep and full of sand – it happens that a 4-meter deep spot becomes a shallow area. Therefore it’s very important to check the ravines immediately after the melting of snow and ice but also during the summer season.

At the start of season all sets of canyoning equipment are examined as well. About 20 helmets and harness sets are also checked weekly and on a regular basis during the whole season.

Of course, also the rafting equipment is examined carefully at the beginning of the spring season. Rafting boats need a certificate issued by the national Tirolean authorities, and receive a safety sticker. Lifejackets and helmets are checked by the pros of “feel free” themselves.

Spaß beim Rafting - Canyoning und Rafting im Ötztal
© Feelfree Touristik Outdoor Erlebnis GmbH

A rolling stone gathers no moss!

All rafting guide in Tirol have passed the official exam held at the national Tirolean Rafting Association. The intensive training comprises a 14-day instruction unit, followed by a difficult exam after 60 practicing hours on the river.

Greenhorns at “feel free” are not allowed to guide a whole group alone. At the beginning they are always accompanied by an experienced river rafting guide – just to be on the safe side. Florian is of the opinion that a tour strongly depends on the group, especially if you are with other rafting guides or with holiday makers.

Weekly training and refresher courses for 12 to 15 participants are held by the rafting pros on the Ötztaler Ache mountain brook – a white water area graded 4-5. Michael knows that the line can strongly vary depending on the water level. Only 5 centimeters of difference change the whole situation. Also worst case scenarios are simulated: one of the trainers jumps into the water and the new guides must manage this hazardous situation on their own. First aid units are on the weekly program as well.

How to become a Canyoning Guide

Canyoning Sprung - Canyoning und Rafting im Ötztal
© Feelfree Touristik Outdoor Erlebnis GmbH

… It’s a long and rocky road from April until late September. Provided that the future guide has passed the entrance exam at the Tirolean Mountain Sport Association, varied theory, first aid and practicing lessons and several demanding exams are an absolute must. The last instruction unit take place in Switzerland.

“feel free” also has a canyoning professional and trainer who organizes monthly refresher courses including worst case scenarios like complicated mountain rescues etc. What’s best, all “feel free” guides are also certified mountain rescuers or canyoning rescuers.

New on the river: smaller boats & river bugs

I was eager to know all about new trends in outdoor sports and river rafting. Michael shows me the so-called “power raft boats” for a maximum of 6 people, designed and developed by a renowned US company.

Compared to normal rafting boats they have much less volume (a third) which results in even more action & fun: “The smallest wave promises ultimate fun!” The power raft boats are made to measure for the white water areas between the Imster Schlucht river section and the Ötztaler Ache queen’s stage.

Raftinggruppe - Canyoning und Rafting im Ötztal
© Feelfree Touristik Outdoor Erlebnis GmbH

A brand-new sporty highlight from New Zealand is called “river bug“, and it has already found its way to Ötztal. This one-man boat is just perfect for adventurers who are sitting in the small boat, equipped with flippers and special frog gloves. It sounds great fun! So much fun that the water-shy writer added it to his summer bucket list.

Facts

  • More details on river rafting in Ötztal can be found HERE
  • Information about canyoning in Ötztal is available HERE
  • Take a look at all Outdoor Pros in Ötztal HERE

Rafting vs. Canyoning: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CHOICE?

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Benni

Author Benni

When it comes to activity and motion, Benni pricks up his ears! He is a passionate snowboarder, mountain biker, climber & hiker and he knows no better playground for outdoor sports than the Ötztal. He is not the type to sit still - therefore Benni can be often found on the valley's most exciting bike trails and pristine powder snow slopes.

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