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20th July to 5th August Club Alpine paddling holiday 2012
a newish minibus from Nationwide and it was delivered exactly on time. The LCF trailer was then picked up
As usual people tried to smuggle extra items on to the bus or trailer (there was supposed to be a strict weight allowance of 50KG). Stuart and Anthony did a good job in customs and loading.
extremely good time down toa to catch the Eurotunnel train and arrived on the
campsite a good 3 to 4 hours earlier than usual.
21/07/12 The campsite Slalom Course – Day 1
After a record 21 hour journey we arrived at the campsite around 5pm and began to set up camp. Mark Garrod, Paul Flaherty and I had already decided to share cooking duties so pitched our tents next to each other. Once the tents were pitched we decided that we didn’t like how we had arranged them so we took them down and pitched them again.
Paul and I then decided to have a quick blast down the slalom course which was running fast and high in the late evening sun it was a great refresher after such a long drive whilst we were eddie hopping down the course we bumped into a Kiwi paddler who we ended up chatting for a while and finished off the run with us.
After we had got changed we met back up with mark and went for a pizza then chilled out with the rest of the group. Roy McHale More Photos………
22/07/12 The Campsite to St Clements - Day 2
River Durance, the first river
paddled on the 2012 Alps trip and my first ever
The river is 19km long and very wide which made it a great
river for beginners. Additionally,
the width of the river assisted with practising eddying in as it provided lots
of big eddies that made allowance for my wide eddying turns. Feeling a little more confident I
decided to have a go at eddying out although this is when I made my first big
mistake, for in anticipation I turned before crossing the eddie line and took
Further along we came across an old dam, where it was discovered that the old weir had been washed away in the floods and now in its place was just one long easy rapid. Soon the river became narrower with different obstacles to avoid, such as overhanging trees and ripples indicating lots of shallow pebbles beneath the water surface. After another long stretch of relatively flat water we came to the slalom course. Determined to complete the whole of the trip I gave the course a go. After the first rapid I practiced my eddying in skills and watched the others play in the waves. Finally, we all paddled down the rest of the slalom course and to the get out point at St. Clement.
Kathryn Wilson More Photos…………
22/07/12 The Gyronde – Day 1 Tuesday
The Gyronde back to our camp site
For today’s trip down the Gyronde we put in about 4 km above our usual start point. Thankfully this was our second river today so we had already had a chance to get used to the Alpine white water. This was just as well as this high up the river was demanding right from the start, with no warm-up opportunity for the first few kilometres.
By the time we reached our usual put in we had become accustomed to the more demanding upper section and so the rest of the river became a more relaxed paddle. The weir, which is normally portaged, had a line down the central left closely missing the large boulder in the centre of the weir. Some of us boofed the concrete weir sill while others took the slot, all without incident.
We joined the Durance in Argentiere and paddled down to the Slalom course. This left us just 500m of continuous rapids down the course to the camp site get out and the end of a fantastic paddle with a good mix of features and no incidents among our group.
Thanks to all for a top day
Tony Vaccaro More Photos………
For our second Alpine river a small group of us were dropped off at our get in near Les Guibertes for a short wait while the rest of the gang headed off to paddle the more difficult upper section from Le Casset.
We were entertained by watching the tiny kids set off in their rafts and other forms of floatation devices along with building small dams at the rivers edge, skimming stones and playing rock Jenga.
Soon the gang appeared and we were introduced to our river leaders. We set off into fast moving water. It took a little while but we soon became accustomed to it. This river was a lot narrower than the first with more rocks to manoeuvre around. This proved good practice for keeping you alert and it helped to try and relax in the boat in order to avoid them.
We travelled down stream to the town which was quite picturesque and gave a good sense of the Alpine ski resort we where travelling through. With that in mind the water was a lot colder than the previous day, however, apart from a practice roll in an eddy there no swims on this section of river.
Before we knew it we where at the get out at Chantemerle ready for lunch.
Sarah Gille More Photos………
23/07/12 The Lower Guisane - Day 3 Monday
After a four year break, LCC
revisited the infamous
After we had crashed our way down the weir we pressed on along a nice bouncy, graveyard – like section with lots of chunky rapids weaving their way through rocks. Further down there was the killer weir which we had to portage. As we were getting back into our boats a bunch of nutters in full face helmets appeared over the aforementioned death weir, and were still alive by the time they reached the bottom.
The river was now getting harder and harder and we had to leapfrog from eddy to eddy as we picked our way down. Another hazard on the river were a bunch of young gutter snipes who were throwing stones at Keith from the bank, they must have been put up to it some welsh fishing club. :P Proceedings became progressively more intense and you really had no time to relax whilst thinking about your next move.
This river was an adrenaline packed roller –coaster, scary yet enjoyable at the same time. Everyone made it down to Briancon safely though Helen had made a couple of nerve-enduced schoolgirl errors. Also Rescue Roy was determined to make a meal of the fact that Andy Wrigg missed this particular paddle and was going to enjoy rubbing it in.
Helen Siertsema More Photos………
I stroked a donkey….. After Keith drove off without me in the minibus, I managed to hitch a lift from twinkle toes (Andy W) at the gate to the campsite. Off we drove over the Col de Vars (2100m). We stopped at the top and the temperature felt freezing!!! After a further 30mins journey we arrived at our get in and unloaded all of the boats. Looking at the dry river bed a few people carried their boats down to the river bank while the minibus took the others a bit further down to another get in. A phone call was then received… change of plan! The river further down was empty and a long scrape along the river bed. Therefore the minibus returned and we re-loaded the trailer and set off to another get it. Luckily for myself this new get in was a better choice and good timing with a heard of goats, donkeys, dogs and a horse arriving along the road. One of the donkeys certainly wasn’t camera shy, resulting in some good snap shots of my mate and I.
Shuttle sorted… of we go!
We split into two groups of 7 and descended down the bouncy
Mark Garrod More Photos……
24/07/12 The Race Course - Day 4 Tuesday
Having turned in a pathetic performance the previous year on my first attempt at the Ubaye Racecourse I was determined that this year everything would be different. After a large, but light luncheon of baguette, cheese, salami and fruit, we set off in the early afternoon.
Straight away it was fast and furious with rocks everywhere,
though by ignoring the odd spasm of fear, we successfully made it to the calm
of the first pool at the end of the first rapid. Our team consisted of Keith, Andy, Paul,
Roy, Sarah (doing her first
With all the encouragement, support and flexible hips things were going swimmingly, when an optimist told me I was paddling really well and no way would I capsize on this trip due to my obvious skills, fitness and positive mental attitude. Next I struck a rock which flipped me, causing me to swim, losing boat and paddle. The boat was easily retrieved downstream, but the paddle seemed to have vanished into the rushing depths. All of the team scoured the riverbed for half an hour or so, before finding it wedged beneath a rock. See, the team never gives up. After a short rest back in my boat and the fun continued. I recognised several places where I swam last year but got down them all by continuing to paddle, relaxing in my boat, and letting the river take me. I was now beginning to enjoy the excitement. Soon we were bouncing down the gorge near to the get-out and we could relax at the end of the adventure. Almost at the get-out I dropped and lost my paddle for the second time as a bevy of French ladies in bathing suits were distracting us by waving, but luckily Andy was nearby with his boat to guide my kayak to the bank. Sarah did brilliantly, taking a swim or two on the way down but getting off the river fresher than a newly baked baguette, garnished with a crisp, green salad. It was six o’clock and the end of another brilliant day on the river in warm sunshine with great people. Thanks to all the group.
Dominic Buckley More Photos………
25/07/12 The Durance to Embrun - Day 5 Wednesday
We drove down to check out the
We stopped and had a play on the waves at the slalom site before moving on to the famous “Rab Wave”. Last year we were apprehensive about this as it is very steep and powerful. This year however a squad of us spent half an hour throwing ourselves in it and styling play moves. Everyone who surfed the wave was very successful especially Paul who nailed it.
Paul then had a great idea; to swim through the wave. Most of us stripped down and jumped in the water above the wave. Unbeknown to us, Cathy decided to join us at the last minute and took the hero line over the rocks before getting sucked in the stopper and spat out!! We carried on down through the wave trains. We started to entertain ourselves by spinning on the waves and rafting up and floating through them. This was going well until 4 paddlers rafted up on probably the hardest wave train of the lower section. Olivia went over and hand rolled but unfortunately her paddle did not resurface. It was stuck on the river bed and despite our best efforts was not recovered. The now famous LCC split paddles unfortunately had their first use as we paddled down the last few kilometres to the get out.
Cheers to everyone who paddled
Andy Wrigg More Photos………
26/07/12 Châteaux Queyras - Day 6 Thursday
Day six and the river that
myself, Roy, Andy and Mark have been talking about for months to paddle had
finally arrived. The famous Châteaux Queyras gorge. After a long days
paddle the day before some of the group had decided to have a day off paddling
which left nine of us still wanting to kayak. It was another early start and
Mark, Roy and I were having second thoughts about the day, not because of the
river we were about to paddle but due to the fact we were still very tired and
Andy’s power of persuasion we were all fired up again and we all clambered into the minibus. After a short journey we finally arrived at the get in looking up the ancient fortress of “Châteaux Queyras”. It was another hot day and we couldn’t wait to get out of the minibus. At the first look at the river we were all starting to feel a little nervous. We inspected the river from a minor road that runs the length of the gorge from the get in to the get out and it was a lot shorter than first thought and also the river level lower than expected. Châteaux Queyras is a grade 4 section the river and a committing run due to the fact if you take a swim, you’re swimming the whole gorge because of the sheer sided walls and no bank support. After the inspection me, Roy, Andy, Mark and Keith changed and prepared ourselves whilst Fiona, Tony, Sarah and Kathy walked up the gorge to take photos.
We finally got on the water with Keith leading the group down the first rocky rapid which lead into the gorge and a sweeping left–hand bend to where the gorge starts to narrow and the water accelerated us into several tight cork-screw drops leading into boily water where we used the cushions to keep straight and off the walls. Then we came to a right-hand bend and the gorge opened out a bit. We paddled a flat stretch down into a must run ledge drop which we all styled. After this we popped out into the open and we could see the bridge at the take out with the last rapid a little rocky and technical. We paddled to the takeout. We had all made it down with style. It was a short section but well worth the wait. Click to see the Video…..
Paul Flaherty More Photos………
26/07/12 Middle Guil - Day 6 Thursday
We arrived at
That left the five of us who had completed the Châteaux Queyras gorge run earlier that morning to test our skills on the rest of the river. Keith led the group and we set of at a cracking pace eddy hoping and reading and running rapids from our boats the back drop to this excellent river is a stunning high mountain range and when out of sight of the road it feels like you’re in a remote location.
I had done part of this section on last years trip then we went from the same put in down to “le tunnel” where we got out then we portaged the most difficult section which is called the Staircase which is classed as grade 4+/5. This time we ran the Staircase rapid. We got out and inspected the rapid which was a series of drops, the most difficult of which was only just over a meter but had a bit of a nasty looking stopper below. We decided it looked okay to go so we set up safety and all ran it. After that the river was a continuous boulder garden with huge rocks around every twist and turn.
The five of us paddled the river really well and I had been really happy with the lines I’d chosen until near the end of the run we reached one of the final major rapids and I made a bit of a mistake that resulted in a swim through the rapid luckily enough I didn’t get any injuries and thanks to the team; including bank support from Fiona who helped me get me boat and paddle back by climbing down into the gorge to release it from an eddy.
The final run down the barrage was done at high speed as we raced the minibus to the end, this was 3 or 4 km of high-class grade 4 rapids in glorious sunshine. In conclusion even with the swim this was definitely the best days kayaking I’ve had to date thanks to everyone involved with the day.
Roy McHale More Photos………
26/07/12 Lower Guil - Day 6 Thursday
The sun was shining, sky was blue and we were ready for our last river of the day. We arrived at the get in down a gravel track however the boys were getting a bit tired after their epic morning.
Keith soon mustered them together and once they had dawned their paddling gear where ready to roll.
A short paddle this time and most of us dared to be cag free due to the heat.
We set off down a shallow gravel river where Fiona decided we must take 2 pebble friends each on the journey too. So we all placed 2 pebbles on the front of our boats to see how far we could carry them. I ended up with 1 at the end.
A few small bends with some rocks to manoeuvre was ideal practice for breaking in and eddying out. The scenery as billed was amazing with steep pointing erosions as a back drop.
Before we knew it we where at the end.
Another good day on the river.
Sarah Gille More Photos………
We set off at 7am, with barely enough time to enjoy a light tea and coffee before hitting the road in the minibus. Along the way we picked up breakfast from the bakery and ended up at the trailhead (car park) for the climb up to the Glacier Blanc at 8:30am.
We were met in the car park by the first of many suspiciously friendly marmots who modelled for a few shots and were more than happy to degrade themselves for the chance of a bit of food, then we started off along our trek. The sun finally reached us about a third of the way up, so we slathered ourselves in sun cream and carried on along our merry way. Reaching the bridge crossing the glacial stream at about half nine, which was apparently some sort of record. We settled down for a little rest (and a glamorous team photo) before all of us charged off to the refuge higher up. From this point on, certain sections were getting a wee bit steep and we had to hang off guide ropes and metal fixtures to continue our ascent.
When we finally reached the refuge at the top we rested our weary joints for a while. Looking down past the way we had come you couldn’t help but feel a little bit queasy at the height we had come. We grabbed a table and a light lunch, followed by large chunks of brioche which Tony had brought up with him. After sunning ourselves for about an hour we began the descent back down. There were a fair few families making the walk up as we were coming down, seemingly oblivious to the scorching heat. A number of people carried their children in rucksacks, which is probably normal behaviour for the French, we wouldn’t know! Just as we reached the bottom again the skies opened for the first time that day and we barely escaped a drenching by cunningly scampering into the restaurant for some shelter and light refreshments (booze, aaah!) before piling back onto the bus and heading back into to the relative civilisation of our noisy little campsite.
Mike Buckley More Photos………
27/07/12 Lilo Race - Day 7 Friday
Today saw the first ever official LCC lilo race!! It took place
on the Campsite Slalom course. 9 people took part in the race in 2 groups.
There was a variety of lilos in different shapes and colours. Most of us had
‘normal’ lilos apart from Kurt who had a Crocodile and
28/07/12 Upper Durance - Day 8 Saturday
We met up in the Raft lay-by on the N94 just on the outskirts of Briancon. 4 groups of 4 or 5 headed off down the river which while low was icy cold. Numerous little rapids led out of town and down to an island with a tree across the left hand channel. Most took the right channel but there was room on the left, the rafting companies had used a chain saw to cut up the main branches.
The main series of rapids gave lots of bouncy water and numerous opportunities to practise breaking in and out. We pushed on past the usual get out by the bridge and on down to the barrage at Prelles. The new (2012) guide had photos of the dam and warned that if you saw it you had gone too far. We slowly made our way down river past a number of fun rapids with large boulders. Around the last corner the water calmed and it entered the barrage. We took out immediately and carried our boats up a small 25m long path to the waiting minibus. Andy could not help having his photo taken to illustrate the barrage – see opposite.
We arrived at the car park around half twelve for some lovely lunch in the rain, (which was followed by some people having a trip to the “star wars” toilet). After the guys got back from the shuttle (that took ages !) We got onto the river; Myself, Stuart, Tony, Mark and Sarah led down the gnarly river by Mark.
The first section of the river was a mix between wave trains and boulder gardens which put everyone’s dodging skills to the test. At this point there were no swimmers, no carnage and no bruises, but we all thought they would happen sooner or later. ( Hopefully not to them.)
Before we knew it the “
The rest of the river was mainly the same as top but with some amazing scenery on the way down and few ‘bonjours’ from the locals as we carried on down the river. With the get out round the corner everyone seemed relived to call it a day after a long course of paddling in the French alps.(ahhh).
Kurt Toulson More Photos………
29/07/12 Lower Durance (The Sunshine Run) - Day 9 Sunday
We set off from St. Clement in three groups. I was with my dad, Keith, Lucy, Cathy & Stuart. Unfortunately the river was quite low compared to previous years but there were still a good few waves. In hardly anytime at all we arrived at the seal launch place. I and a few others got out to jump into the river from a small river cliff 3 times; it was fun but the glacial water was a bit of a shock when I went under.
At last we arrived above the Rabioux Wave and I was pressured by Keith to give the wave a go. I agreed to run it but with repercussions if I didn't make it….. I had the right line coming up to the wave but I think I paddled too much or too little because as I hit the lip of the wave I capsized...thus earning myself 10€. Well that was the bright side.
After a short crêpe break for me and a play on the Rabioux wave for the others we set off again. I really like the run down to Embrun because the waves are big and bouncy which is great fun. It was a little tiring towards the end as my legs were going numb and my back was hurting but I tried more to focus on paddling rather than the pain :p
We arrived at the get-out below Embrun bridge and it smelt like dead fish but other than that I was happy to get out.
Over all I like The Sunshine Run but I think next time I do it I'll skip the Rabioux Wave.....
Emily and Mark Benson More Photos………
29/07/12 The Gyronde - Day 9 Sunday
The afternoon trip for day nine was the Gyronde, to run this river the paddlers split into two groups according to paddling experience. The more experience paddlers get in was nearer the top of the river and the less experienced paddlers waited further down the river by the toilet block for the experienced paddlers to run the top section. The groups for the rest of the river had been determined before paddling commenced, therefore once the paddlers were reunited again they split into two groups of mixed paddling experience. After a successful morning paddling, I was beginning to feel more confident with the basic paddling strokes and this narrow river with fast flowing water was the perfect opportunity to practice.
This middle section of the river had a rock garden therefore I found using stern rudder really useful to weave between the boulders. After passing through several of these rock gardens we came upon a weir, were we promptly portaged to inspect this feature. The conditions were relatively difficult with lots boulders visible due to low water flow therefore it was decided that only the more experienced paddlers should run this feature, the less experienced paddlers had a very short portage before another easy get in.
Soon after the Gyronde was completed and we came upon the transition into the campsite Slalom course, having never run this slalom I was feeling slightly apprehensive. However, after lots of words of encouragement from the rest of the group I found myself following Keith’s line down the course. Having mastered the first top two waves I was beginning to believe I was going to have a successful run, but unfortunately the last wave hit my kayak side on and I lost balance and took a swim. With the fast flowing water and few eddies I found it difficult to swim out of the flow. However, somehow I managed to swim the side and walked down the side of the course were I met all of the other paddlers at the end.
Overall I had a really enjoyable day paddling.
The day after the night before!!!
The previous evening the team had decided we should have a
group meal in the old town of
So it was decided in order for certain members to recover, a late start would be in order…….at 08.00 the convoy departed the campsite. Although doing her best to smile Helen was feeling the effects….we feel your pain, we feel your pain!!
When we finally arrived at the put in the sun was blazing
and spirits were high. Having split into three teams myself, Kurt, Sarah, Mark,
Tony and leading us in his Gok wan shades,
River levels being low it was a bumpy ride on a gentle gradient with mainly gravel banks through pine forests. As the morning wore on and headaches cleared, we arrived in the outskirts of Jausiers, our take out and lunch stop.
Stuart Toulson More Photos………
30/07/12 Ubaye Race Course - Day 10 Monday
We arrived at the Get in of the race course around 1pm for our second attempt of the river. Everyone was ready to begin the adventure spot on 2pm; Our group Myself, Stu, Mark, Tony and Sarah. We were lead down the river by Roy (who did a very good job until he jinxed us by creating the team name “The no swimmers” and a minute later half the group went for dip.
As we reached the eddy at the bottom of the rapid and
getting the swimmers back in their boats, Andy’s group came storming around the corner
after running the line of the ‘Germans’. Andy’s leadership
skills were starting to get ‘reckless’ (as quoted by
Kurt Toulson More Photos………
31/07/12 The Drac - Day 11 Tuesday
We started Tuesday with a mystery tour. Keith had promised us a surprise; so 13 of us boarded the minibus and Andy's car with no idea of where we were headed. It turned out to be the beautiful Severaisse valley with two rivers in mind; the Drac and the Severaisse itself. First up was the Drac, which the good book describes as running best in good flows. Unfortunately this wasn't a good flow day and the river looked very low at the put in. As we had come all this way we had little choice but to press on regardless. Before that though there was the little matter of the weir to run.
Directly under the bridge at the put in the weir had a rock slide that finished with a boof off a rock in the centre of the slide. While myself and Helen scoped the line, Keith sped passed us with shout of "what s up with you, just run it". Realising that it was perhaps easier than we first thought we all followed his line. First Stuart followed by Helen, Andy, Paul, Myself and finally Lucy all ran it with no hassles. (Except me, who having ran the worst bit managed to trip up on the eddy line and almost came a cropper!)
The rest of the run was, to be fair, a bit of a scrape. It involved lots of beached kayaks and traffic jams as we bumped along all fighting to find a line that ran. These were few and far between. At one point Fiona suggested that all the “fatties” stayed at the back and let the “thinnies” go first. At once there was a rush for the front!
We reckoned that if we could have collected all the plastic that we lost on the rocks and cobbled them together we might have had enough to make a new boat! Eventually we came to the end of the run and with a sigh of relief we headed for the bus hoping that the second river would provide a better run.
Chris Murphy More Photos………
31/07/12 The Severaisse - Day 11 Tuesday
After collecting the Wriggs car we drove up to the head of the Severaisse valley and had our lunch in a very dramatic setting. The steep sided the valley is dominated by the glacier with spectacular waterfalls cascading down the valley sides. After a quick shuttle, 8 of us got on to tackle the top section, which was a grade 3 read and run river with one section, la cassette, that elevates it to grade 4. Keith, Andy, Stu and Helen went in the first group followed by Roy, Paul, Lucy and myself.
After the mornings run this was much more like it, although again this river could have done with a little more water. At La Cassete we had to choose a line to the left of the a large boulder river centre, then down a chute and into a boily pool. This was harder that we thought with a couple of people heading right instead. Helen committed a school girl error (wrong way and then a capsize) in the pool. We headed off again and once through the rest of La Cassete the river dropped a grade and eventually came to a bridge where we picked up the rest of the group. The rest of the paddle was a pleasant run down to the get out with no more mishaps. We came home via Gap and stopped off at the E.Leclerc hypermarket for a quick shop and ice creams provided by Keith.
Chris Murphy More Photos………
01/08/12 The Verdon Gorge - Day 12 Wednesday
Verdon gorge is situated in the Parc Naturel regional du Verdon. It is an area
of outstanding natural beauty. A 13
person group from LCC braved an early start and set of at 7:20 am for the
After a safety talk from Keith we quite literally jumped in (off a 10ft rock) to the water. Cold but nothing us kayakers are not used to. We then simply floated down on our backs looking up 1000 meters to the top of the gorge above. Words can not describe the view. The pictures must simply be viewed to get an idea of the atmosphere.
We encountered rapids, syphons and strainers, but nothing we couldn't handle. After about 3 km we made our way from the river up to the trail and then followed some old engineering tunnels through the limestone rock back to the start. We emerged into gorgeous sunshine, ascended the gorge and made our way back to the minibus.
After a quick lunch we headed down to the "lac de sainte croix" where the Verdon gorge ends. A nice cool down in the lake was enjoyed before we set of back to camp. Stopping for a fantastic meal in Mezel (just before Digne Le Bains) and were looked after by the most attentive and friendly staff it rounded the day of perfectly. A long but amazing day. Not to be missed if you ever get the opportunity.
Steve Hitchin More Photos………
02/08/12 The Middle Guil - Day 13 Thursday
The group experienced a little bit of faff this morning, with one car getting lost, despite it being one road. This resulted in a slight rush to get on the water, however with rushing usually comes mistakes, this became clear when one member of the group forgot his spraydeck, don’t think Keith will ever live that one down.
Before long we were split into 4 groups, ready and raring to go on the middle Guil. This section of the river was rocky and technical, getting progressively harder downstream. Most of the group ran down to the ‘Surprise Drop’, not so much of a surprise because the group knew it was there this year. Half of the group exited here and they were kind enough to run the shuttle for those staying on the river.
Eight paddlers remained on the river from this point onwards and the boulder garden became bigger and faster. We were allowed a small breather at the beginning of the ‘Staircase’ rapid, where Helen, Chris and myself took the grade 5 portage line. Keith proceeded to lead Mark, Andy, Roy and Paul down the infamous ‘Staircase’. The first drop saw a bit of carnage as Mark got caught in the stopper, temporarily lost his paddle and had to pull his spraydeck (while his head was underwater), this resulted in a swim despite what he tells you.
The group reformed at the bottom of the staircase, with the guys still buzzing from the staircase section. We were warned to “stay switched on” because it wasn’t over yet. We continued down to ‘Le tunnel’ twisting and turning through the boulders, Helen and Chris caused a bit of carnage, deciding to choose the sideways and backwards line through one section, but both came through unscathed.
At ‘Le tunnel’ the group was buzzing but we decided to exit here in order to run Chateaux Queyras in the afternoon, after the all important lunch break.
Lucy Stuart More Photos………
02/08/12 Châteaux Queyras Gorge - Day 13 Thursday
The group assembled at the car park below the beautiful fortress of Châteaux Queyras. After lunch, those who were paddling the gorge, kitted up and heading down the steep river bank. Luckily Keith was able to borrow a spray deck!
We split into two groups to tackle the gorge, Keith, Andy, Fiona and myself led the way, closely followed by Paul, Roy and Chris. Keith, Andy, Roy and Paul ran this section the week before; therefore they tried to reassure Chris, Fiona and myself that there was nothing to worry about it, and to enjoy it. Fiona and I were still a bit concerned and when we asked Keith where the line was, he replied simply with “just follow the water”. That didn’t really prepare me for what was to happen next! We dropped into the gorge at full speed, it was such a blur, my heart was racing and I just tried to keep my boat upright and pointing downstream as we raced through the narrow, winding and extremely fast white water gorge. This section was really short and soon enough we were able to take a breather in a pool after a small drop. As we caught our breath we made sure to look up and around us, as the view of the gorge and the fortress from below was unbelievable.
The group faced a couple more rocky, winding and fast sections of the gorge, none of which compared to the first. Before the final rapid section the last words I heard were from Paul, something along the lines of “watch out for that tree branch I got pinned on last week”. Sure enough, 2 minutes later, as I wondered whether the tree branch I could see ahead of me was the one Paul was talking about, I too became pinned! My boat wasn’t going anywhere as the branch was pinned at the front of my cockpit. I had a little rest here, trying to stay calm, before realising that an extended bum wiggle would free my boat from the branch. With the first group all down safely we watched the last three come down the final section.
Chris managed an interesting hand roll/roll off the floor and came up much to the delight of his team mates as we whooped and cheered. At the get out, the team was buzzing, still high on adrenaline, everyone felt like they had pushed their paddling during the days activities.
But the fun didn’t stop here! The whole group
regrouped at the Chateaux Queyras car park, and after a short drive we went for
an evening swim at the
This day, by a long way, was my favourite day of the holiday.
Lucy Stuart More Photos………
03/08/12 Rabioux Wave - Day 14 Friday
The day I surfed the Rab wave and won!! (well almost!!!)
Andy, Sarah, Chris, Lucy, Roy, Paul and me decided that we didn’t have the energy to run the whole of the sunshine run so we went to Saint Clement to play on the slalom course. Chris styled the top wave along with Sarah, who side surfed the wave, went over but hung in her boat forever for a T rescue from Roy (Gille indeed!!)
We all carried on down the river and decided to raft up for most of the trip in order to gossip and sun bath, most enjoyable!! We did have a few problems, however. Chris managed to get pinned on a rock and need an actual full on rescue to get free (rafting is apparently never clever!!)
We carried on down the river to the Rabioux wave which we all styled. On the previous trip to the Rabioux wave I tried to play in it and immediately got binned; I had unfinished business! This time I approached the wave with instructions that when I got thrown upside down I was to wait for calm water before attempting a roll. I somehow managed to get the perfect line onto the wave and surfed it for what felt like forever. Unfortunately I had been given no instructions on how to cope with this scenario; so I had no idea how to get off the enormous wall of white water!! Finally the only way seemed to be to throw myself off and upside down!! I hung in for the role but … it never came hence, well almost won!!!
We all spent the next few hours ‘playing’ in and around the wave. What a fantastic day on the river in great company in the hot sunshine!! The perfect end to a great holiday!! Cheers guys!!
03/08/12 The Clock Face – Via Ferrata - Day 14 Friday
It was time to take a break from all of that cold water stuff. Every morning I had been looking up towards the clock tower which was on top of a small cliff above Argentiere. It was clearly visible from the camp-site every day and I was keen to scale its heights; so a plan started to form.
After a quick walk into L` Argentiere I found that the local sports shop would hire all of the equipment required for the Via Ferrata (climbing clipped into steel ropes and metal rungs). So after discussing directions to the start of the climb the long hot slog started. Ten minutes later, I was ready to clip onto the cable and “good to go!!!”
The climb started vertically upwards then sharply off to the left and at this point it began to get quite exposed, As the foot and hand holds disappeared, some scrambling and use of the little used “ Spanish eyelid “ hold were required. The climb then rose vertically upwards following a fault line in the rock. At the overhang, while I was executing the crux move, one of the crabs caught on the rock below and some foul words were uttered!! A few moments later, the summit was reached, only to find that I would have to repeat this backwards a few meters further along to climb down again.
A great afternoon out and a big thanks to the guy who put the steps and cables there.
Stuart Toulson More Photos
03/08/12 Campsite to Embrun (38km run of grade 2/3) - Day 14 Friday
As it was the last full day before we left, many teams were too knackered to kayak all day and instead headed off to Via Ferrata, (some climbing malarkey or just decided to have a poxy little paddle around from St Clement, whilst the “elite” team (Mark Garrod) stayed in bed. The rest of our plucky bunch (The Buckley Boys, The Benson Bunch, Anthony, Kathy and lastly Keith) decided for some unknown reason to do a marathon length paddle. We were all ready and set to go for 10am, just waiting for keith to get back from the Shuttle Run. After he finally arrived, we got on the water at half 10. The water was characteristically bouncy and friendly, ready to play. Behaviour which we’ve grown to love about our little Middle Durance. Marianne Davey and Keith made a striking pair in a purple tandem kayak. Kathy was her usual indomitable, unshakable, upright self. For the rest of us, the only thing worth commenting was that there was nothing worth commenting about us. Even though you might have a look at the length of the paddle and think “Holy Jesus!” the river was running at a fairly respectable 7 km/hour (All estimates from SteerCorp), and so even if we only added the paddling strength of an arthritic granny, we could’ve finished in about 5 hours (not counting rest, lunch, and faffing breaks; of which there were…. Many).
Early on in the day Pops decided to drill us on rescuing a
panicked kayaker suffering from an out of boat experience, nobly hurling
himself from the safety of his kayak to increase the authenticity of this
drill. Apart from this
‘rehearsal’ there were no other spills or swims from our crack team
of paddlers. After what seemed like
an eternity and a day, but was more like a couple of hours, we reached the
dreaded (at least to some of the more ‘experienced’ [as they like
to put it] members of our team) Rab Wave.
Dad and this wave have had history, and not an entirely pleasant one at
that. He was determined to leave
After we were all safely through, all the paddlers and frenchies waiting on the shore watched agog as I surfed majestically upon the Rab. I could go on the explain more but it would be like describing a cathedral as a lump of stones… part of the quintessential sense of awe would be lost with these ugly words, suffice to say it was a thing of beauty! After watching this, father was overcome with the purity of the moment he had just been privileged to see and decided to spend the rest of the day meditating on what it could mean, so we left him at the edge of the Rab and continued on down to Embrun. We rode through the waves as a school of dolphins or salmon would, gracefully and efficiently, with no false modesty at our skills, being one with the water. I can only assume it was shortly after, as time had ceased holding any meaning for us once we had started to listen to the song of the Sunshine Run, to dance the dance of the Durance, we arrived at the stone steps heralding the end of our epic paddle. A French fisherman sitting next to our get out, a lit fag hanging from his rustic lips, the meaning of which I have yet to puzzle out, watched as we lifted our boat out of the water. He said naught but ‘Bonjour’, a strange and eldritch epithet from this odd hermit, I only hope one day scholars can work out what it meant, though I freely admit I hold no hope of this happening within my time.
Then we went to the supermarket and got burgers and cake!
Mike Buckley More Photos………
03/08/12 Via Ferrata -
Route 1, Chateau Guil Gorge - Day 14
After our leisurely paddle in the morning we headed back to the campsite to see what the crack was. Some people where heading into Briancon to do some shopping whilst others had headed to the lake to sunbathe on lilo's. Three of us decided that we hadn't quite finished thrill seeking and went into town to hire a harness so we could have a go at via ferrata. (Well one of us decided , and the other two fell in step or else we would have had to put up with Lucy sulking all night!).
Harnesses acquired, Paul, Lucy and myself headed back to Chateau Queyras to tackle the gorge from a completely new angle. Having never done any climbing of any kind at all , I was a little nervous but full of excitement as we stepped off the road and clipped onto the line. Lucy led the way with experienced climber Paul next and the complete novice bringing up the rear. The feeling of clipping the crabs onto the metal cable is not only reassuring but also strangely satisfying, and after only a couple of minutes I was hooked. We traversed across south face of the gorge before crossing one of three rickety bridges, each with progressively wider steps, and gazed in awe at the River Guil as it funnelled its way through the gorge. It was hard to believe that only 24 hrs before we had been hurtling through the gorge in kayaks, as climbers watched on from above, (not that I saw anything of them of course as I was solely focused on staying alive at the time!). The water seemed to be running faster than it had the day before but again this is hard to judge because when you run it in a kayak you don't have the time to stare at the power of the current. (Probably a good thing to or you would never get in your boat!).
We traversed the gorge twice more, climbing for another
hour, before heading straight up a tricky section with an overhang. Once clear
of here we were on top of the gorge looking forty meters or so down to the
river below. We had conquered the gorge, once by kayak and now by harness, and
the feeling of satisfaction as we finally unclipped from the line was immense.
We rewarded ourselves with a well deserved beer as we reflected on what we had
achieved, in this particularly beautiful spot, over the last two days.
Chris Murphy, Lucy Stuart and Paul Flaherty More Photos……..
04/08/12 The Gyronde - Day 15 Saturday “In the shadow of Les Vigneaux”
The last day of the LCC 2012
Despite the anticipated low level, the river was still entertaining and required concentration. A misjudged turn above a fallen tree gave me some valuable self-rescue practice and my dry cag its annual leak test. With me back on rather than in the river we carried on down, eddying in and out to make the most of the journey.
We approached the weir from the right channel to gain more
water under the kayaks. The low conditions allowed us to shoot the weir on this
occasion with either a small “boof” or slight right to left
diagonal line. We paddled on
through to the confluence with the Durance and in no time at all we were
working out way down the slalom course. Well, mainly Keith was working, trying
for every gate down the course. And so, another year's LCC summer
Mark Benson More Photos………
04/08/12 Via Ferrata -
Route 2, L'Argentierre. (The Clock Face) - Day 15 Saturday
The next morning saw people break camp and start to get
ready for a the long journey home. Whilst several people squeezed one last run
of the Gyronde in, I managed to pursued Lucy to have one last climb before we
gave our equipment back to the rental shop. It is fair to say that Lucy did not
have the same enthusiasm for this second climb as she had shown the evening
before. This however, had more to do with the late night beach party than an
unwillingness to climb, and in fairness I felt very much the same. Steve
dropped us at the base of the climb and putting our headaches and raging
thirsts aside, we clipped on and started up.
This was a completely different climb than the previous
evenings, in as much as it was straight up an exposed rock face with a
difficult overhang. The climb tops out beneath the clock that dominates the
view from the town of
Chris Murphy and
*(A via ferrate (Italian for "iron road") is a mountain route which is equipped with fixed cables, steeples, ladders, and bridges. The use of these allows otherwise isolated routes to be joined to create longer routes which are accessible to people with a wide range of climbing abilities. Walkers and climbers can follow vie ferrate without needing to use their own ropes and belays, and without the risks associated with unprotected scrambling and climbing.) -Wikipedia
Keith Steer, Dominic Buckley, Michael Buckley, Helen Siertsema,
Anthony Vaccaro, Mark Benson, Marianne Davey, Emily Benson, Mark Garrod, Chris Murphy, Steve Hitchin, Lucy
Stuart, Roy McHale,