Alps 2008

Alpine paddlingExcellent week of boating in the Alps!

I think there was quite a lot of snow on the mountains still, which made for unusually high water for this time of year (as the sun melts it all off). In fact we were arriving just a few days after a too-much-water kayaking ban had been lifted, and the rivers were indeed a little more bouncy and pushy than my memories of the same runs on previous trips.

This turned out to be a good thing. Plenty of challenges forcing rolls here and there, but I got into the zone pretty well. No swims, and I came away with a good feeling of paddling achievement. Our day on the Guile was perhaps the only exception. My nerves were on edge for some reason. Triple-step was looking too fearsome for me, although I would have loved to conquer this after fluffing it back in 2005. And when we got to the “slandslide” section (A.K.A. “staircase”) I bottled it and portaged. However there was some vindication when Ralph, despite being in the hugest creekboat known to man, got an absolute munching in the stopper at “letterbox”. He took a swim and was left looking a bit shaken. Apparently the hole almost stripped his shorts off him!

As I said before, we were staying in a posh chalet, but we’d met up with Ralph some of the other guys, who were slumming it on the campsite in the valley bottom, and we took pity on them on a couple of evenings when it was chucking down with rain. Everyone came round to the chalet, which along with James and his two mates, made for quite a gathering.

After the first three days of cloud/rain downpours, the sun came out. These are the conditions which make French Alps so enjoyable. Baking hot sunshine and blue/green glacier water to jump in and cool down. This picture is a nice tributary of the Ubaye which was particularly beautiful.

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