Friday, July 07, 2006

French Alps Day 3: The Ubaye River

Raph On His Home River

Next stop the Ubaye River which is home turf for Raphael.
The Panda took Raphael and I back to his home in the Ubaye Valley. Raphael and his family live in a beautiful little village with about 10 other families on the canyon rim of the Ubaye river.

The Home Village

He works with a rafting company there and teaches kayaking, and takes photos. The whitewater pictures in this story were taken by him.
We ran into some other paddlers for our day on the Ubaye River. See if you know who they are. One of these guys runs a paddling program in The UK and Europe called Gene 17, and the other well hes just psychotic.

Simon Westgarth On Safety Patrol

Irish Dave, He Doesn't Drink You Know

There are miles and miles of the Ubaye to be paddled. I think we did about 8-10 miles. It is super scenic with views of some incredible mountains as well as some tight gorges and one waterfall coming in on top of your head in the river. Its the kind of day you just walk away smiling.

The Ubaye Shot From The Road Above

Bridge That Napolean Used On His Shuttle

Paddlers Shower

The biggest section is most of the way down the run. There are really three main rapids that I remember. Of course the names of the rapids elude me but they were both good fun. The first one was a nice boof in the middle of the river and then a quick boogey over to a small slot that the entire river goes through that tries to throw you on your head against the wall on the right. The second big rapid had a really cool boof on the right side of the river over a huge boulder in the river followed by a quick move over to the left through a few holes. These rapids were super classic easy class 5. I would imagine with more water there would be quite a bit of juice in this part of the gorge. With the water we had it was very well defined and padded so the water level was sweet. I believe the water level was chest high on a duck to be exact. Here are some shots of the main couple rapids.

Thats Me In The First Big One

The Sweetest Boof on the Run

We were up late with the locals the night before the run and the boys were telling me how much they love it when tourists come to paddle the Ubaye because they always find good gear down at the bottom of the river in the lake. It makes them feel like pirates.

I had a great day and long weekend paddling with the French paddling pirates. Can't wait to do it again.

Here is a video of the day on the Ubaye.
The Ubaye River in France, Click It

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

French Alps Day 2: The Guil River and Congratulations to France in the World Cup!

Zindane Is The Man!

Congratulations France for making it to the finals of the World Cup! I wish I could be there to party with you all.

Gotta Love Espresso, The Morning After

The second day of my trip in the Alps started a little late for some reason not really sure what happened. It had something to do with the Briancon Festeveal de Kayak. Thanks for that BFK, and Malique (Don't know how to spell his name). After a nice sleep and much needed coffee Raphael and I took off for the Guil river to paddle a classic. Its not very often in the U.S. that you get to put in in the shadow of a castle. Very cool.

Typical Normal Everyday Castle

Normal Castle Put In

The water was low because of the cool weather we were getting, but still a great time. The best part was the classic folks we ran into at some of the bigger sections. You have to love the playboat, kober paddle, motorcycle helmet combo. It was awesome. I will say one thing they were not afraid. The first part of the run passes through a tight gorge directly underneath the castle in the picture. The first canyon is tight enough that you do need to pay attention to not hit both sides of the river if you turn sideways.

Raph Boofing The Guil

Then the river opens up with a few bigger rapids, and then we dropped into a fun series of rapids right along the highway. There were a couple cool ones. I remember a triple drop and then this on that I think they called Anaconda. Not a super hard run but super fun, beautiful and crystal clear water.

Cool Anaconda Rapid

After the run we headed over to Raphael's house near the Ubaye river. Raph informed me that this was the ultimate shuttle vehicle in the Alps. Good gas mileage, 4 wheel drive, and stylish too. The only problem I had was the roof caving in from the boats being tied down only on a blanket.

The Ultimate French Shuttle Vehicle

The Village Where Raph Lives


Monday, July 03, 2006

The French Alps Day 1

Okay back on track! No really I swear. Its been a while since the last update. I kind of let it slide there. My fault.

Where was I... Oh yeah I was in France at the Lyon River Festival, but before the festival happened. I had a few days to be able to get away and paddle some in the French Alps.

David Arnaud, Creator of the Video In-Flux

I met up with David (Dah Veed) Arnaud and took off for the mountains. Its pretty amazing how the mountains just come out of nowhere there. Lyon is really down in the flat lands and you go through a fair bit of flats before you start getting close to Grenoble and then all of the sudden it all changes.

Church on the way up L'Onde

I love the bread in France. Notice the Bread Co. Year Started

The Alps are like Colorado but even bigger where we were. Maybe its just that we were further into the mountains on our way into the Briancon valley but it seemed to me that all the views were extremely large. One of the things that was really cool about the drive was driving over a route that is often part of the Tour de France. It was a super small road winding its way up and over a huge pass. I could see the bikers givin' it up there.

We ran into Raphael Thiebaut near the town of Briancon. Raphael is an incredible paddler who lives in the Alps with his family, and pushed his paddling on the creeks around the area. We checked a few options out and settled on an incredible run on the Onde river. We drove up above the popular run and put in on a tiny super steep technical run just below a big snow bridge over the river.

These Paddling Photos Were Taken By Raphael Thiebaut.

About 5 strokes and here you are

The landing from the first drop

L'Onde was pretty much like paddling moguls. One rapid lead right into another and the eddies weren't really eddies. Most of the time we just paddled ourselves on shore to stop. It was incredible paddling, super steep, with great moves, and fun boofs for a couple kilometers.

Thanks For the Photos Raph.

The photos and video speak the best about the rapids themselves to here is the video of: The Onde River in France, Click It

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