On the way to Slovenia – Ammer, Loisach, Rissbach

This report is about the “getting to Slovenia” bit, the rivers Ammer and Loisach (Bavaria, Germany) and the Rissbach (edge of Austria) are all very, very nice.

Team “suave silver van” and team “Phil’s girls” started out on a sunny or rainy Friday afternoon – lets go to Slovenia. Chips at dover, where the only other customer was a kayaker waiting for his lift to the Alps. Its the place to go.

Using different modes of transport (tunnel, ferry) ensured a 3 hour time difference between the teams, which we were careful to preserve throughout the whole week. Luckily Phil’s team love to spend 3 hours sitting at river get-ins dressed in neoprene.

The Ammer is described in North Alps book as clear and sparkling. Well, it had rained a lot on the way over there, so clear and sparkling it was not. One of the rapids can be seen from a very high road bridge. It looked, well, distant. And brown. And big. Not the clear sparkling water advertised. Hmmm. We were worried it might be too high to do, but actuallythe gauge was at 170. The guide tells us that 140 counts as medium and 180 as V high/spate, so there went any excuse.

The Ammer is one of the Classics in the N Alps book, grade III, full of interest, one of the most paddled rivers in Germany. Immediately we could tell that our spuds felt very happy here gambolling in the eddies of their spiritual home.

Brilliant river, starts by immediately going into a gorgy section, between tall brown walls, with several bedrock drops. The high water meant that there were big, pushy wavetrains, drops, and plenty of stoppers lining the route. Some nasty holes tugged at the back of my boat, and there were some other interesting through-stopper lines as well, but in the end, the rivergods chose Alison as their mermaid-of-the-day, so that the rest of us could escape. The river then eased off slightly for a while in terms of harder drops, but stayed full of interest and very pretty. Tint any photographs to the advertised clear-and-sparkly hue, and you can see that its a paradise river, very pretty and plenty of fun. Strange rock deposits on the incoming streams are presumably there for the goblins to climb up.

Very dingly dell. Just after halfway down, we got to the rapids we’d seen from a road bridge. Not surprisingly, they were somewhat bigger than they’d looked from 80m up, and quite entertaining.

Pretty much the last feature on the section is a large step weir, with a boat shute just left of centre. The towback looked nasty, so we portaged this – its easy to know when you’ve reached the weir, there’s a bridge, a large pool above the weir, and a water management building thing on the left. We did watch a lone boater line up and use the shute.

This river is grade III and a great warm up, lovely.

We then camped near the get out of the Ammer.

Next day:

Loisach III (IV-) – carved through limestone. Fabulous river. Starts at a gravel bed, similar to the get-on for the Upper Guil, but very quickly narrows into a bouldery gorge. Rock dodging, and twisty. Quite hard to see what’s coming up a lot of the time. Very very beautiful. This river is very popular at weekends.

The grade in the guidebook is given as III (IV-). Certainly there was plenty to keep me on my toes, and a couple of times I nearly came a cropper. It was not obviously clear which particular section or drop is a IV-, and there was nothing needing portaging at that level, but it does indeed seem harder than the Ammer. Towards the end of the river, a cheerful rainbow bridge shows that we are nearly home.

Rissbach. For almost the whole length of the section, the edges of this river are gravelly, so that its hard to park in any eddy – all the edges are moving.

There are plenty of interesting bits, and 3 or 4 times the river narrows through bedrock – the named rapids of this kind include an “S bend” and something else, can’t remember.

These are S-bend “spot the difference pictures” – one is cath and one is me.

The very last part of the section is the beginning of a gorge, and the usual get-out is an eddy on river left, quite important to catch, or else you go down the rest of the gorge (V/VI/X), so not worth doing that last bit unless you are 100% sure you’ll be the right way up and set up to get out, so I missed that bit out.

We repaired to an Apple pancake restaurant, where the portions are huge. Yummy.


Team “Phil’s Girls”: Sara, Cath, Penny, Phil.

Team “Suave Silver Van”: Moik, Clur, Helen, Alison, Dinny.


Driving – this was (apparantly) “not so bad”. France to Belgium to Germany to Austria, having got the evening ferry and arriving at the Ammer get-in at about 2pm the next day.

The campsite at the village nearest the get-out of the Ammer was fine: It has a good trampolene for playing “popcorn,” , “talentshow,” “last-man-standing” and “dislocation-for-the-nation.” But this site certainly wouldn’t suit big groups. Its more family / campervan / posh than we are used to. According to the guidebook, a more kayaky alternative is the campsite nearer the get-in to the Ammer, called nature lovers, or some such.

Rivers – Loisach, Rissbach and Ammer are all popular ones to do on the way/way back from Slovenia. Also the Isar, which we did not do, as this includes a taxi shuttle.

Bavarian food – tick, very nice.

Austrian applythings – tick, very nice.

In 2 days, we did 3 fun rivers, all “new to us”. Hooray!

Report by HelenH

Photos by AlisonH, ClaireL, Cath, Penny, Sara


4 Responses

  1. Fantastic account – thanks. I’m tempted to go there again myself on way back from Slovenia in August. Ade

  2. Myself, martin and lindsey headed north after everyone went home from the french alps… through italy, switzerland and austria (thats another story). but we finished up in germany and paddled the rissbach and the loisach as our final rivers on the last day.
    The loisach was stunning, but if it was in flood, i can imagine it being awesome, the real feeling of a gorged in boulder garden… very jealous, we ran it when it was almost empty, but still an absolute gem, i WILL be going back to it. Agreed.

    The Rissbach, completely different style (did you guys have to pay the annoying 3Euro charge to use the road leading to it!!!??), but me and martin actually paddled the last little bit of the gorge, it looked like a good idea at the time…. You know the final drop where it’s pretty essential to go right and avoid the god-awful slot. (about 20m above the FINAL beach on the left). Guess which idiot got confused and went left! At least we now know for the future that the slot does indeed go.
    Very deep and for quite a long downtime, to roll up and drop sideways into a huge grabby hole river right! looking at lindsey on the bank scratching her head, quite a frantic sculling to escape and a more frantic ferry glide to make the beach, martin swings in next to me and i coninue to lick my wounds (i can just about use my left hand properly again now).

    I reckon the next bit of the gorge would have probably gone anyway…..

    Walchensee gorge was on the list too….. we ran out of time. Did you guys have a look? hear of anyone running them?

  3. We did have to pay to go to one of the get-ins – yes, must have been that one.
    Ooooo that sounds a bit hairy, glad I missed out the gorge top bit.
    Hooray for new rivers.

    I’m updating this post to add some of Cath, Penny and Sara’s pictures

  4. […] Posted on July 17, 2008 by saraberg After paddling a few rivers en-route we arrived at Camping Kovač near Bovec where Sue, Di & Higgo, who had flown out & hired a […]

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