Alpine Paddling Holiday 2011

    LCC Home  
 Site Map 
Page last updated

  News items or reports on club activities should be sent to

Archived Newsletters 
Major Trip Reports.…

22nd July to 7th August Club Alpine paddling holiday 2011




Total Kg





























Anthony V








Anthony B




Michael B




David B




Ian B


Turned up late ?





More than forty (41) of us were due to meet up in L’Argentiere La Bessee and were booked onto the campsite at the Whitewater course.  The Minibus and trailer headed out from Liverpool at 7pm on Friday 22nd July driving overnight to arrive 23 hours later. 


We had all spent over an hour loading our gear which all had to be weighed first.  (Last year the trailer was far too heavy and only just made it over the Col du Laurent).  Some had perfected the technique of “supporting” aka lifting their boats and bags while on the scales, others had sneakily given some of their bags to those coming out in cars or vans!


Ian came up with all sorts of excuses for being late but we all know that it was to avoid the weigh in, those that loaded his gear estimate the weight to be 63Kg,


Anyway, the trailer was far lighter that last year and we made good time on our way down through France.





Keith and Emma`s group headed for Paris to spend a day at Euro Disney.

Our problems started the day before though on the approach to Eurotunnel. Engine warning light appeared and after quick assessment realised a split water hose. So the decision was made to do temporary repair to make our train and to sort once in Calais. After a 7 hour delay we finally reached our hotel at 4am. Next day we set off for Eurodisney only to find our repair still hadn’t worked so a detour to another DIY store followed and we finally made it to Mickey in the afternoon. A good afternoon/evening was had by the group before returning to our hotel to rest up before our 10hr drive to meet the posse at the campsite. This also involved a late night drive trying to find the items that had fallen out the back of the van after we left the rear hatch open after a short stop. We finally reached the campsite at approx 11pm and set up the tent...


How I had a woody when I went to see Micky Mouse and his crew at EuroDisney

Luckily the guys forgot to bring my reigns and so I was able to reap havoc at Eurodisney !!! I spent most of my time in the gift shops and the rest of the day stalking Woody and pushing all the young children away so I made sure I could get my time with the characters. I was so happy after getting my picture with my best pal (see picture to the right) and that’s how I got my Woody !!! Myself and the rest of the group thoroughly enjoyed the Light Parade and the fireworks at the end of the day. After a few beers and last minute shopping, we helped a group of French people jump start their car, communicating on hand gestures and pointing then bravely continued are journey back to the hotel. The detour was well worth it and gave us a chance to stay clean and forget about car mechanics.


Mark Garrod    More Photos…..

24/07/11 Middle Durance
- Day 1


The first day kayaking, a Sunday, on the Durance, was brilliant! While some of us tested our steele on the slalom course the rest of us prepared to leave. We started from the campsite at L’Argentiere La Bessee at a leisurely 11OClock.


Although it was still the Durance, it had evidently changed since last year and several eddies were washed over, their defending rocks moved and submerged by this year’s floods. The water level was lower and once we had to pick between two channels divided by a gravel bank, whereas last year on this same section it was possible to ferry glide all the way across!


The gravel banks with their various channels caused some confusion, when John (spelling??) found himself going down a different channel to the rest of his group, while those he was stranded away from found themselves facing a tree across the flow. Thankfully Iain navigated his group successfully around the tree.


Mark and Jim took swims in the early stages of the paddle, no doubt to cool off in the hot July sun. Surprisingly these swims gave them some contentment and helped get them back in the swing of things.


Reaching St Clement provided more opportunities in the form of a slalom course. John capsized below the first wave, and that night enthusiastically relayed his story of falling headfirst side on into a ten foot (query?? two foot, I might have misheard, but this sounds better) stopper he hadn’t previously noticed; that must have been a nasty surprise!


Anthony also managed a sneaky swim, sneaky only in that no one else other than himself seemed to know about it! Anthony, that could have been today’s best kept secret!


All in all a good day’s paddling to reintroduce us to the speed and volume of Alpine kayaking, providing a good warm up and an opportunity to practice our skills, including rescues! Anthony (Dad) even got to use his throw rope!

Michael Brockway    More Photos…..


25/07/11 Upper Durance – Day 2

After yesterdays swim I was a little nervous about today’s adventure but with my safety crew of Team Brockway. I set off shaky but determined to enjoy it. The Upper Durance was a different type of paddle than yesterday’s, being shallower, faster and rocky with lots of obstacles to try to avoid. Jim S took a nasty tumble on a tight bend resulting in a bouncy swim, safely recovered from his team mates of that day. I was taking lots of helpful advice from Anthony and practiced my ferry gliding, eddying in and out as my confidence grew I started to really enjoy this section of the river. Billy from Team Ireland took it all in his stride. I’m now looking forward to the next paddles, but I will still be clinging to the shirt tails of my mentors.  

Mark Moore    More Photos…..


25/07/11 The Gyronde  – Day 2

Second river of the day and a more serious challenge at Grade 3 plus, 21 paddlers met at the put in, Les Vaudois Camp site, We split into 5 groups, each group lining up on the bank, in turn, to launch together into this fast flowing, narrow, boulder strewn river. Keith`s group went first followed by Helens, mine, Marks then Ian`s as the rearguard.


My group consisted of Jim, Billy and Steve, we lined up, launched and picked the best route through the numerous rock hazards making the occasion eddy that was just big enough for the group to fit in. We had the occasional boat broached on a rock but all credit to Jim and Billy, they sorted themselves out and slid gracefully back into the flow. In what seemed no time we were ushered into to an eddy at the top of the dangerous weir. Once all groups had portaged the weir it was off again, navigating the boulders and twist and turns of the river. As the river eased we entered the River Durance and eventually arrived at the Slalom section adjacent to the camp site. This was the time to play, making eddies or not, rolling or the odd swim and those that wanted repeating the experience for further practice with most of the others watching on with cameras and throw lines should there be something embarrassing to capture, alas there was nothing worth reporting.


Over our evening meal it did come to light that Helen had popped her deck above the weir and paddled with most of the river in her boat, their was a dispute as to whether this was a swim but I will leave it up to the reader and you can quiz Helen.

Anthony Brockway    More Photos…..


26/07/11 The Lower Guil – Day 3

This was my first time on this river in France, filled both with a little anxiety at what was ahead of us and excitement at trying something new.  And what a river to do! For me easily the best river so far, not for difficulty rating but for the views, which with each twist and turn of the river offered to the paddler more and more.


Around 26 of us turned up to try out the Lower Guil from first to ‘several’ time. As we split up into smaller groups to run the river we enjoyed an easy paddle down, with views that were just ………….? (well you would just have to come and see for yourself).


Have a look at the photos for today, and seriously think about coming out next year just for this river alone.

Daz Hale    More Photos…..


26/07/11 The Lower Durance  – Day 3
After a mixed session of great ferry gliding, wave playing and a few capsizes we got out for a midday break and rest at the café at St Clement. Seeing the same 2 dogs stalking the few fish in the swimming pool brought back memories of the year before. Following a pair of paddle boarders (a first sight for many of the kayakers on the bank) we set off on the second part of our journey down the Lower Durance in four groups. Travelling down, the river soon became more rapid flowing and the waves began to grow as we got closer to the highlight of this section……. The Rab wave. Although not as high as last year, the wave trains provided great fun to bounce over whilst meandering through the mountains.


As we approached the “Rab Wave”, apprehension of those in our group new to this section grew and we eddie’d in a few hundred meters upstream of the first group. Watching Keith Steer go over first, paddlers were glued to watching his line and waiting for his signal. A second paddler successfully conquered the wave before a few took a swim, which along with jostling with the rafts who occupied our line caused a backlog upstream. The extra wait just increased nerves as paddlers thought more and more about their route rather just getting on with it. Setting off, keeping far left was advised and a gentle float to the crest before powering through enabled success. With everybody finally over the wave, we meandered down to our get out point in Embrun.  

Neil Moult    More Photos…..


27/07/11 Upper Guisane – Day 4
18 of us got on to the Upper Guisane with the intention of running the infamous S-Bend. As this was my first time in the Alps I had been hearing many stories of the carnage this rapid caused on last years trip, so I entered the water with more that a little trepidation! We had split into groups of 4 or 5 to run the river with my group taking up the rear.


After a few small rapids we felt warmed up and ready to face the main event! A majority of the group decided to run the rapid, with a few (the sensible ones in my opinion!) opting to walk around. Keith took the lead with his group while some of us scouted the rapid watching his lines. By the time we got back to our boats, a number of rafts had appeared and taken over the rapid, blocking our way. My group waited until the rafts had passed and then headed onto the s-bend. Unfortunately, the rafts weren’t as clear as we had hoped and we rounded a corner to find a raft wedged on a rock in the middle of the rapid! The other members of my group expertly avoided this obstacle, I however decided that I would like to see the underside of the raft, which resulted in a short but memorable swim! Many thanks to Ian for the advice on how to remove a boat from a rock pin!


I was not the only swimmer of the day, Helen, having run many rapids during the trip, decided to hit a rock on a relatively flat piece of water and take a swim. Her boat went a good way downstream before Kirk and Anthony managed to rescue it.

Fortunately, no harm was done and we all made it back to the campsite in one piece.   

Justin Cooper    More Photos…..


28/07/11 The Lower Durance – Day 5
The Lower Durance was a new experience for me, as last year when I was here I didn’t paddle it. The threat of the Fabled Rabioux wave put me off participating. But this year I plucked up the courage and to be honest, I’m glad I did. After getting in at St Clements, I immediately noticed the sheer size of the river compared to the upper section. The water is huge and full of wave trains, which suddenly cut off into flat water without warning. It was a very strange river after paddling in England and getting used to scrappy, rock garden filled rivers of home. This was basically big, open, and completely rock-less.


We paddled down as a single, large group of twelve and looked after each other in pairs, since the river was easily wide enough to fit us down as a mass. We bounced down the river and managed without a single issue (except me falling in on the easiest corner ever, and then failing to roll…twice) and after so long we knew we where approaching the wave. There was a couple of ways to tell we where near, one being the roar from round the next corner and two was the rafters casually flowing in to bob down the drop.


We pulled into the eddy and Keith went down first and got set up to guide us down. I pinned myself to the rocks, and after my complete failure of a roll coming down, I didn’t really want to do the wave but since my father John Cooke had come out of the wave mere days before in a spectacular endo. I had to beat him. So I waited my turn and went for it. Shooting down the left I got my line perfect(ish) and then really went for it. I shot into the wave and suddenly felt the force of the water. It snapped my paddle from my right hand and as it pushed me out I was on an awful lot of edge. So here I was, falling out of the Rabioux wave on edge holding my paddle one handed. If this was intentional, I would be so proud. I somehow stayed upright and eddied in, stunned I was still there. I ferried out and held up my hands to John Cooke to signal 2-0, first the slalom course and now the Rabioux wave. Even despite a swim I was very happy and not too fussed I was soaking wet and shivering. Still wish I hadn’t come out on that stupid corner though.

Ben Cooke    More Photos…..


A swim on the lake

Mark Garrod thought it would be a good idea to try John Cook’s little LL Biscuit on the lake when the others paddled the Lower Durance. So although I was more keen to hit the slalom course I bowed down to pressure and decided to join him for a bit of rolling practice and a play through the slalom gates. It wasn’t long before Mark was getting the Biscuit up on end and he seemed very happy with the boat but soon tragedy struck after Mark thought it would be a good idea to film his technique !!! he set his camera rolling and attempted his next trick which unfortunately ended with Mark upside down. I sat and waited for Mark to roll up with ease as he normally does but something was wrong… Perhaps an unusually strong current must have swept through the lake or something much worse ! All I can say I had a very broad smile on my face when I saw Marks head appear at the side of the upside down boat. A very unexpected swim had occurred.


Mark quickly stated various reasons/excuses for this swim, swallowed water/felt a bit warm/ boats too small/ Jaws was advancing through the depths etc etc but the fact was Mark Oliver Garrod took his 1st swim in several years on the most tranquil piece of Alpine water/pond known to LCC. Needless to say he very quickly deleted the evidence from his camera but myself and Emma can give anyone who wishes a first hand account.

Keith Scott    More Photos….(Deleted)

29/07/11 The Glacier Blanc  – Day 6

After 5 days of kayaking, we needed a change so headed for the mountains.


Leaving the campsite early, we drove to the car park at Pré de Madame Carle (altitude 1874m), and started the climb to the Glacier Blanc.


The route was well marked, and suitable for walkers of all abilities – some chose to stop half way to the Refuge du Glacier Blanc, some had a well-earned lunch at the Refuge (altitude 2542m), and a few continued on to the glacier itself.


The weather and scenery can only be described as magnificent, we even found a friendly Marmot out looking (or begging!) for his breakfast on the path.


After about 5 to 6 hours of walking we finally made it to the Glacier Blanc itself, strapped on crampons, and walked a few hundred meters up the glacier. The views from the glacier across the mountain peaks were incredible.


Seamus O’Mahony & Paul Heffernan    More Photos…..

30/07/11 The Ubaye Jausiers to Les Thuiles – Day 7


A pleasant but uninspiring run which makes its way down through the town of Barcelonette in a man made (canalised) section past the airstrip to a little weir.  This was much easier than I remember it in the past as the levels were still very low.  The river then flowed through many gravel beds with wide sweeping bends and it was difficult to choose the easiest channel.  Over the last km or two the river steepens as it drops down through the wooden valley sides. These are marked by a campsite on the right bank.

There was a small rapid with a massive house sized boulder on the river left, no sign of the “dangerous siphon” on the river right but there was a grade 4 climb out next to the road bridge and the waiting minibus at Les Thuiles.


Helen Siertsema    More Photos…..


30/07/11 The Ubaye – Race Course – Day 7

After months of anticipation and excitement we finally set out for the Alps on the evening of the 28th July. Chris Murphy, Dave McLoughlin and I travelled down in Chris’s car and we arrived at the campsite around mid afternoon of the following day. The rest of the day was spent tent erecting and setting up camp and we even managed a few runs of the Slalom course to whet our appetites for the following day on the Ubaye River. We paddled the middle section in the Morning as a warm up for our afternoon’s journey down the racecourse section of the river. Guide book summaries of this grade 3-4 section state “that it is one of the classic white water racecourses in Europe with a variety of large rapids, an unspoilt and natural flowing river in a beautiful valley”.


The put in is by the old road bridge at le Martinet and before we started our journey we had chance to grab a sandwich and coffee from the small café at the site. This section of the Ubaye River is fast flowing and rocky in most parts and due to the time of year the water level is quite low and care was needed by the party of LCC members which numbered around 20ish that was split down into 4 smaller groups of 5 or so to avoid getting pinned or capsized by them while paddling down the section.


I can confirm that the guide book summaries are correct with the rapids being long and the surrounding Alpine scenery beautiful, well it is when you have time to take a look up from picking a  half decent line down the rapids which seem to come up every 500m or so. Names of the rapids on this section include “La Salle a manger” (the dining room), “Champanastais” and Sharks fin to name a few. The journey was a successful one for the group with only a few LCC paddlers having to reach for the spray deck and take a swim (I am not going to disclose any identities) I personally managed the journey with just a few rolls and think it is one of the best Rivers I have kayaked on to date. The end of the run has a great finish as you go under an old Roman bridge into a high, sheer sided gorge, the river in the gorge is quite slow flowing so you have a chance to admire both the gorge and the Roman bridge high above. The get out is about 500m after the gorge on the left of the river next to a campsite, beware if you miss the get out you go down into the dreaded Ubaye Gorge which is a grade 5 section. In summary a great afternoons paddle on a technical river.


Roy McHale    More Photos…..


31/07/11 The Campsite to Embrun 35km  – Day 8

Two of my interests are geology and engineering structures the significance of this being that in the morning I swept into an eddie that wasn’t’ and came face to face with a lime stone undercut cliff which continued to flip and pin me against it’s rather craggy features.  Having escaped with only some minor cuts and scratches we paddled on. The other was during the afternoon paddle where negotiating a tricky drop under a road bridge I took a line to far right against the ravine side which meant I slew nose first into a jutting rock which formed the abutment of the said bridge causing the rear end of my boat to submerge and flip me backwards upside down.  A couple of valiant support strokes and two failed roll attempts meant I enjoyed another swim.


The day started with almost a complete compliment of some 24 paddlers moving off from the bank adjacent the campsite in groups of 6 down the river Durance, a grade 2 river. First impressions – turquoise fast flowing waters scattered with white tops formed by protruding rocks but encapsulated by panoramic scenery of steep ravines and forested mountains, A truly beautiful environment. The river twists and turns, the main aim was to spot the main flow of the river avoiding the gravel banks that have been re-shaped.


John Pegram:   More Photos…..

01/08/11 The Upper Guisane – Day 9

This mornings paddle saw four vehicles set off for the upper Guisane described in the guide book as “a fast flowing non stop scenic paddle in a high Alpine valley. We split into four groups and set off in the freezing water at the put in near le Casset. Almost immediately we had three paddlers in the water as the first drop claimed its first victims. The groups continued down through the valley passing the town of Monetier les Bains and we all climbed out of our boats to scout the infamous S bends. I was about to find out why they are regarded as a class 4 in all water levels but more of that later.


After a brief description of the line to take, Keith S took off first. Straight away we realised what we were up against when he got pinned on a rock, managing to free himself before carrying on. Ian went next followed by Mark G who took an interesting line which involved a couple of 360’s which he claimed were intentional! Next up was Kirk who styled it with a near perfect run. Obviously he must have been paying attention at the discussion at the top of the rapid.


The rest of the paddlers then made their way through and somehow the whole group got through unscathed. The last group of three, Roy Mc, Andy W and myself were the last to run it and my luck was about to run out. I torpedoed a boulder and then managed to get pinned in the same place that Keith had earlier. Despite best efforts I went under and spent the next few moments attempting to set up. It was a battle I was always going to lose but I didn’t give up without a fight. Eventually I was ripped from the boat (believe me if I could have reached my deck I’d have pulled it!), and Keith and Ian helped me to the bank and back into my boat.


Breathless very battered and bruised, but happy to be in one piece I carried on with Keith until we met up with the rest of the group. Naturally they we all very concerned with the condition of the Gopro camera that had been attached the front of the Kayak but after five minutes someone did remember to ask me if I was ok!


We all meandered down through the pretty town of Villeneuve checking out the flower decked hotel balconies overlooking the river and the campsites and sunbathers along the way. The paddle ended at Chantermerle and we headed back to the campsite to get ready for the 3 star assessments that were planned for the afternoon.



Chris Murphy    More Photos…..


BCU 3 star Assessment (White Water) – Day 9

Anthony B had usefully applied for a course number to run a BCU 3 star white water assessment on the River Durance over the second week of the club trip to the Alps.  10 of the group put themselves forward and duly demonstrated each element of new syllabus under the direction of 5 club coaches and a raft of onlookers.  This proved extremely usefully in terms of standardisation across the club and enabled us to provide some usefully feedback on the new syllabus.

Draw strokes.  The wording of the new syllabus gave some debate.  The old 3 star referred to static (braced) and dynamic (moving) strokes.  The new syllabus refers to “Moving sideways, both Static and on the move”.  Clearly the use of the word static refers to the boat and not the stroke but did lead to some confusion and may have been better dropped or changed to stationary.

The assessment notes also seem to require a sculling draw of 5m from a stationary boat and a draw stroke on the move.  Much debate revolved around this.  Did this mean a hanging draw (a static stroke) or a power (dynamic) draw stoke on the move to simulate the avoidance of an obstacle?


Throw line rescues.  The syllabus is not clear whether this should be on moving water.  The allowance of 1 minute could be confused with the old CST syllabus where you had 1 minute to recoil and throw again.  The first time element should be enough as on moving water if you miss the swimmer they are off downstream.


Possibly because of the history of the award it does seem to be a little confused in some areas between a flat water or a moving water award.

Ian Bell, Anthony Brockway, Keith Steer, Steve Bond, Mark Garrod.    More Photos…..


02/08/11 The Lower Guil – Day 10

The day began with us driving down a dusty dirty track to our get in point. Once at the river side we decided on the groups for the day. Following the three star assessments the night before several paddlers went with Ant Brockway in order to pick up some hints on improving their boat handling skills. I was in the first group with Keith Steer. He provided us with some coaching and tips on river running skills.


We paddled through some amazing scenery including a magnificent waterfall and some impressive cliff top buildings. The get out was a pebble beach area were some local children were playing. The sight of us paddling down the river was more than enough to scare them away!!


Fiona Wrigg    More Photos…..



02/08/11 The Middle Guil – Day 10

The afternoon river began with a shuttle up to the get out.  Unfortunately Fiona and I were the back markers and we only made it to the first junction before getting left behind!!  The next half an hour was spent guessing the right directions and broken phone calls due to poor reception.  We finally met up and drove up the river.  Looking down on the river as we drove along the road we all realised it would be an exciting afternoon.  We split into four groups and were straight into a continuous section of grade 3 rapids. 


Anthony B led myself, Roy, Keith and Antony V down without incident for the most part.  We eddied out just above a bridge to see the first group emptying boats and stood on the side.  News reached us that there was a nasty drop around the corner that had claimed two swimmers!!  Tentatively we carried on with a few people getting out at this point.  This was due to the wise words “it only gets harder from here” from Keith. 


The next section was a continuous grade 4 that my group ran successfully, bar one incident.  We were running short of time so we grouped closer together and Roy went upside down, I lay on his upturned boat before also going upside down and was hit by Keith Scott who also over turned.  This hilarity was followed by three well timed rolls!!! 


A great day was only marred by news that Justin had got out after hurting his hand having been pinned on a rock.  Luckily after a visit to hospital it was confirmed that there was no break. 


A great day and a true alpine adventure!!!!


Andy Wrigg    More Photos…..

03/08/11 Verdon Gorge – Day 11


Seven of us set off at 7am to the Verdon Grand Canyon to walk/swim through the first part of the canyon in low water. It was a nice day but the water was cold so it`s better not to wear just speedos or swim naked which Michal has noticed the Brits usually do when on holidays (and Germans – and Kirk - when kayaking!).


We started swimming at Point Sublime and looked out for rocks, logs and obstacles to climb up and jump/somersault off – an excited Steve led the way leaping off everything he could find. We also came across a rope across the river to swing from and some people had a few goes whilst Roy, shivering in his shorts, warmed up on some sunny rocks. As well as the jumps, we had to swim through the current watching out for siphons where the water disappeared under rocks or trees. We finished safely a few kilometres downstream and headed back to the path out from the canyon through some dark tunnels which were drilled when the water companies were looking to dam the canyon back in the 1950s.  John had forgotten his torch and we almost lost him in the tunnels (remember a torch & all the right equipment when you’re planning to visit the Verdon canyon!).         


After some lunch back in the sun, we drove around the route des Cretes stopping at a few viewpoints to look down into the breathtaking gorge. We stopped for ice cream and coffee before the 3.5 hour drive back to the campsite full of excitement after our day in the canyon.


Sara Bergqvist and Michal Giezgala,   More Photos…..

03/08/11 Descent from Refuge C
èzanne – Day 11


On our free day my brother David and I decided to borrow Kirk’s bikes and cycle up to the café at the base of Glacier Blanc, called Refuge Cèzanne. Getting there was a hard cycle, continuously up hill with steep gradients. Well what did we expect? It is the Alps after all…


Our first departure from the campsite lasted a grand half hour, when we were distracted by the Boulangerie (5 minutes away) and then came back to the campsite having forgotten David’s mobile phone, an essential piece of kit!  On our second departure we did reach the refuge, climbing at least 900m over km in 3 hours. We arrived to enjoy lunch and were watched over by the magnificent mountains and a marmot or two...  As the saying goes what goes up must come down, so with trepidation we began the most interesting and exhilarating part of the trip; the run down.


The first part down was initially gentle with an obvious line (a grade 2) and few tight corners. However the run quickly became faster and steeper, requiring much more energy and attention to break out of the traffic flow. The increasing number of tight corners and speed of traffic flow made it difficult to inspect the line down. Here the road became crowded with other users, with us getting stuck behind a large white van. We could not over take due to the narrowness of the road, and we feared being pinned against a rock by the cumbersome truck if we did! Our feeling of frustration grew as we followed the van down through Ailefroide campsite, the run temporarily levelling out before resuming a steady grade 3.


At this point David noticed an alternative line (off road), which led to a narrow stone strewn path obviously grade 3/4 with lots of bumping and banging against rocks. At one stage I had a wobble but a well placed foot to push off the rock made for a good recovery. Next we encountered a steep almost vertical drop on our immediate left and larger boulders ahead. Without safety cover myself and David decided to portage this section, as the consequences if things went wrong on this section of the path were most unpleasant to contemplate; a definite grade 5 in our opinion.


Finally we rejoined the road, making our way comfortably down through Vallouise at a gentle pace taking in the scenery all the while.          But not all the excitement was over yet! David gave the signal to eddy out so I broke out of the traffic flow in order for us to attempt a bike track. After observing David run this twice successfully I was convinced to attempt it myself. I began well taking the smaller drops and jumps with ease. However after a tight corner I came up against a larger ramp and drop. I went to shoot it but the ramp held me and I began to roll backwards. As my bike flipped backwards upon itself I lost confidence and decided to bail!


Thankfully the rest of the run passed fairly uneventfully as we glided back through L’Argentiere, the flow of traffic carrying us nicely back into the campsite for a cuppa.


Michael and David Brockway


04/08/11 The Ubaye Race Course Re-visited – Day 12


The Race Course… what can I say? Fantastic, fast and bumpy. Straight from the off it was for me quite intense and a big step up from Grade 2/3 to Grade 4 Alpine, luckily I was supported by Anthony B, David B, Kirk W and Mark B. Things were going well until a pretty big drop were I buried myself into a larger than necessary stopper-see above for swims, although in my defence it was a big piece of water. Lots more bumps and scrapes ensued without incident. Though I noticed other groups also had swimmers!!


The Race Course consists of some continuous rapids, some flat sections and some notable technically challenging runs. We all conquered the ‘Shark’s Fin’ section. And the rest of the run was mostly uneventful but really good fun. Approaching the last drop David informed me that this was the biggest drop on the run! How bigger could these things get!!! I gave it my best shot but took a poor line and got dunked, after a heroic but unsuccessful roll I decided a dip in the refreshing waters of the Alps was the order of the day.


Just as an end note we did have a couple of other swimmers in our group but to save any embarrassment their identities will remain hidden.


Many thanks to Anthony B whose constant coaching and advice made a very challenging day for me one the most enjoyable I’ve had so far.      



Jim Slater    More Photos…..


04/08/11 Ubaye section from La Fresquiere to Le Martinet – Day 12


Having paddled the upper river with us, Ade (who often paddles with Liverpool uni) hoped for the opportunity to paddle this grade 4/5 section of the river. As we reloaded the trailer a small side plan came together and it was agreed Keith and myself would join him. Keith borrowed a larger volume boat and asked Anthony to be driver. They would drop us off at Fresquiere on the way to the top of the race course and we would paddle the section meeting them there for lunch before we all paddled the race course section. I think some of group did not realise what was happening until we unloaded only select boats at the get in. We sorted out our order and plan as they assembled on the bridge to watch us down the first grade 4/5 rapid which started the run.


We set off eddy hopping down the rapid looking good according to the group. As we left their sight I got my line slightly wrong over a large pour over and had to test my roll. We carried on down and rested where the river changed to grade 3 for a short section. Then the fun started again, the second grade 4/5 rapid started with a small drop between two large boulders which turned you to the right whether you wanted to or not into a large eddy pool. From here the rapid steepens and eddies are faster and harder to hold so we changed group order as we continued down and in no time at all arrived at the raft get in where the others had just finished unloading the trailer and were having lunch.


Thanks to Ade and Keith for giving me the opportunity to join them on this great section of river.



Ian Bell    More Photos…..

04/08/11 The upper Ubaye – Day 12

Fort Condomines to Jausiers

The Upper Ubaye is a very picturesque, grade 3 paddle and the get- in is overlooked by a spectacular fort built into the cliff.  It was an extremely hot day and the water levels were quite low turning grade 3 into grade 2. Despite the low levels it was still a pleasant little run with nice bouncy rapids and lots of opportunities for breaking in and out for those fairly new to running rivers. Down from Condamines you come to “la Rapide des Parisiens” which is a scenic little gorge of boulders.  A further 2km down the river brings you to the “Pas de Gregorie” which is another little gorge with a nice bouncy rapid within.  No epics and no swims, we soon arrived in Jausiers for lunch and off for the second paddle of the day.


Helen Siertsema    More Photos…..


05/08/11 The Camp site to Embrun – Day 13


The day started at 10.30 with a review of the 3* assessment, 8 members met the standard and were given action points on areas to develop. At 11.00, 20 members assembled at the bottom of the slalom course for the 40K paddle down the Durance to Embrum. We had one swimmer who unfortunately was paddling in summer kit and found that the glacier waters rather chilling, resulting in a retirement at Lunch. 


That’s a strange sight, no it can not be, Keith Steer on the bank, emptying his boat, yes it is. The reason behind this incredible sight was Keith`s boat had split and he was sinking, fast. He had to empty the boat many more times before reaching the lunch stop at St Clements and was able to use Keith Scott`s boat after the lunch.


Lunch at St Clement consisted of either butties or a meal in the café which is apparently tasty and value for money. Mark B caught us up here following a late departure, then rushed off to take the Holly and Emily horse ridding. A number of members took their leave and 14 off us continued on route to the infamous RABIOUX WAVE.


Briefed by Keith Steer we eddied out at the top of the wave then following on at 20 meter intervals we shot the wave on the left hand side, Roy and Chris rolled whilst both Jim and Mark M completed the wave but got caught out by the vicious boils, eddies and rocks below. Mark actually spun in the wave and managed an incredible backward surf out of the wave, unfortunately this was his undoing as he was not quite sure where he was. All credit to both of them and hopefully a success next year.


The rest of the run consisted of a series of large wave trains linked by flat sections, the wave provided some aerial fun and some good low and high braces ensured no mishaps. We shared this section with the rafts and hot dogs negotiating our way through them as they played pirates and tip the raft over. A tired team arrived in Embrun after a fun and wavy paddle.


Anthony Brockway    More Photos…..


06/08/11 The Gyronde – Misty River – Day 14


9 of us turned out for the last paddle of the trip.

An eerie mist hung in the air at the get in as the river Gyronde flows down through the pine forested hills behind Argentiere.

We all made it through the boulder infested first section to the broken weir without any drama not bad considering the time of morning.


The next section down to the Durance flew by.  Having merged into the Durance at the top of the town of Argentiere all we had to do was run the slalom course next to the campsite.  Again none of the group had any problems and so the end of the paddle and another fantastic Alps trip.


Anthony Vacarro    More Photos…..

06/08/11 Three Star White Water Assessment on the Durance

Prior to the trip a 3 Star White Water assessment had been registered with the BCU and offered to any members present. Due to the packed itinerary of rivers we had to make space on the programme. The assessments flat water elements were conducted on the lake adjacent to the slalom course and the white water elements used water at the top and bottom of the slalom course. The afternoon was warm and many spectators gathered to watch and learn. The assessment was conducted by Ian, Keith Steer and myself to the BCU new syllabus. A number of common and specific issues were identified and the candidates were given some action points to develop and skill training whilst out on the river trips. The skills were reviewed on the Friday and 8 members had made the standard.


Congratulations to Keith Scott, Chris, Roy, Andy, Justin, Neil, Michael not to forget Noel from our Irish contingent.


Those that participated felt that they had learnt from the experience and their paddling had improved as a result. The coaches also benefited from discussing the requirements and gaining a mutual understanding of the criteria and ideas on providing 3 Star skills training and assessment in the future programme.


Anthony Brockway   More Photos…..

06/08/11 The Journey Home


The minibus headed north around midday for the 23hour journey home.  We stopped at supermarche where possible to fill up as fuel is much cheaper here.  The new road (bypass) around Reims meant that we missed out on our meal in the heart of the cathedral city but we did make the 4:20am boat from Calais.

It seems that Team Kirk who stayed in a hotel near Calais mislaid passports and had to return to the restaurant and hotel to find them.  As this was only and hour from the port they were lucky to loose only a couple of hours.


Dom Buckley and Helen Siertsema    More Photos…..


Keith Steer, Steve Bond, Dominic Buckley, Michal Giezgala, Jim Slater, Mark Moore, Helen Siertsema, Anthony Vacarro, John Pegram, Anthony Brockway, Michael Brockway, David Brockway, Ian Bell, Sara Bergqvist, John Cooke, Sue Cooke, Ben Cooke, Darren Hale, Clare Hale, Kirk Williams, Gerry , Williams, Karen, Seamus O'Mahony, Billy O'Mahony, Paul Heffernan, Mark Benson, Emily Benson, Holly Benson, Keith Scott, Emma Lowe, Mark Garrod, Neil Moult, Justin Cooper, Chris Murphy, Roy McHale, Dave McLoughlin, Fiona Wrigg, Andy Wrigg, Anne Roberts, Evan Roberts, Noel O`Flynn