I first became inspired to enter the outdoor industry on a trip to Val Sesia with Gene17 when I was working for a bank, feeling pretty lost in life and confused by what my future held.
An (almost certainly) off the cuff comment from one of our coaches at the time saw me on an intensive outdoor instructor training course less than a year later, and I haven’t looked back since.
Each year Gene17 invite applications to come and join them on a week of intensive training aimed at those wishing to improve, or enter high end whitewater guiding. This year Me, Bastien and Matt were all lucky enough to be offered a place, along with another six paddlers from the UK and Europe.
A super early start saw us boarding a flight to Amsterdam, a transfer to Venice, followed by a train to Cividale to meet Simon and gang to drive to the Soca in Slovenia.
The Soca offers almost year round world class whitewater of class II-IV (and some harder), with breathtaking scenery, delicious food and friendly people; it’s a location I can’t recommend enough.
World class coaching, complimented our world class classroom and Simon, Chris and Jakub certainly gave me a huge amount to think and work on. Throughout the week we covered subject areas such as personal paddling, coaching and leadership and safety and rescue, all aimed at guiding in the high end environment, as long with ome excellent extra curricular chat over beers in the evenings!
We managed to squeeze in a half day of skiing in what reminded me of Scotland! Soaking wet, poor visibilty, but huge laughs!
What made the week so special though was the other folk on the course. I can honestly say I’d be happy to paddle a big expedition with any of them any day, collectively some of the nicest and most fun people I have ever met!
The course has definitely re-ignited my drive for whitewater kayaking and I will be working in Nepal this Autumn for GRG, which I am incredibly psyched for!
On our return, we had a few hours to kill before our flight from Venice and so we spent it doing what tourists in Venice do, taking photos, wandering aimlessly and eating a lot of icecream washed down with a lot of coffee! An incredibly beautiful place and was the cherry on top of an already brilliant cake!
Article by: Luke Partridge