A Kayaking Blog By Dan Simenc

Meet The Lammlers

Meet The Lammlers

Aug 21, 2011

Meet Switzerland’s “Jackson family” of class V shredders. Felix Lammler (46 years old), and his two sons Lars (18) and Sven (17) assaulted California’s “creeking circuit” this Summer on a hardcore kayaking binge/family road trip.

Instead of spending their Summer holiday lounging on the beaches of Cyprus, these kayaking heros headed across the pond to test their paddling skills on the many multi-day granite creeks that tumble out of the California Sierra Nevada mountain range.

The Swiss family arrived in the Sunshine State to a scene of swollen rivers; the mountain snow had managed to hold on into the Summer thanks to a cold, wet Spring. Undeterred the father and sons team proceded to paddle some of the most difficult stretches of river in the state at blazing speeds and high flows.

On their first visit to California the trio ripped off an astonishing tick list of gnarly runs: South Branch Middle Feather, West Branch Feather, 49 to Bridgeport, Love’s Falls, Royal Gorge, Golden Gate, Dinkey Creek Waterfalls, Super Dink, South Silver, Upper and Lower Silver Fork, Fantasy Falls, West Cherry, Upper Cherry, East Kaweah, and Hospital Rock.

Whew! If you’re lost by that list, all you need to know is that it is long and full of stout class V+ runs. Furthermore, they accumulated this bold resume in only about two weeks worth of river days.

Felix, Lars, and Sven Lammler.

Felix, Royal Gorge

Lars, South Silver.

Sven, Fantasy Falls.

The most remarkable feat of their trip was their one day family Royal Flush. Without ever having run the Royal Gorge before, the bold team put on and ran each of the five major drops in one day! Prior to their mission, only one person had run every major drop in one trip and it was done in two days. (See the above link for a post on our Royal Flush trip, which took place shortly after the Lammler’s descent.)

In the Royal Gorge, Felix led the charge off every big drop, with his sons right behind him. The family ran a difficult rapid in the middle of Heath Gorge that is normally portaged, and tested some creative new lines on Lower Heath Falls and Scott’s Drop. By the time they reached Wabena, a 70 foot waterfall and the final big one in the gorge, Felix and Lars opted to paddle over it without even getting out of their boats – they received only verbal beta from Sven who was on shore taking a peak at the monstrous falls.

By the time each member of the family had smashed into the pool below Wabena Falls it was 3:15 pm. They had just completed a single-day complete descent down one of California’s most demanding gorges in only 5.75 hours. Their trusty shuttle driver Dylan Nichols had hiked their camping gear into the canyon a few miles downstream of Wabena, and he was shocked to see them appear so early in the day. This truly impressive family feat may never again be repeated.

Sven runs down the center of Lower Heath Falls, Royal Gorge.

Sven styling the unique left line on Scott's Drop, Royal Gorge.

Felix forgoes scouting and takes a blind plunge off Wabena Falls, Royal Gorge.

The Lammler’s recent trip to California was not their first international kayaking conquest. Last Summer the team made a similar attack on the many challenging rivers of Norway. Another atypical family jaunt indeed.

I shouldn’t forget to mention the correct spelling of the family surname. The proper German spelling of Lammler calls for an umlaut (two dots) above the ‘a.’ On English sites an extra ‘e’ is sometimes appended to the ‘a’ that is meant to have an umlaut, hence you could write Laemmler. I was unable to include an umlaut, and also opted to forgo the extra ‘e’ in writing their last name in this article. Nevertheless, these guys shred just as hard no matter how you spell or pronounce their name!

Sven Lammler goes big in Norway.

Kayaking is a fantastic family sport, and most skilled young paddlers saw their introduction to the sport at the hands of their parents. I learned to kayak with my family, and we still enjoy paddling trips together. The Lammlers take it to the next level; the difficulty of rivers that Felix, Lars, and Sven can do together is truly remarkable.

The family is now back to its home base in Switzerland, but they’ll be staying fit through weekend paddling sessions and weekday handball games. Next summer, when School’s out, and Felix can get away from his consulting business, it’s game on all over again. They’ve already conquered the rivers of Switzerland, Norway, and California, where will their guts lead them to next?

Lars routes a stout one at home in Switzerland.

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