Tadhg shares some thoughts on what he learnt as a seasoned paddler in the Alps…
1. Don’t follow my line …. maybe NEVER in fact!
Click the image to view the line in “live action”
2. I always pack too much!
With my clothes taking a holiday of their own, I only had the clothes I was wearing for the first few days on the Alps trip. I had my kayaking gear which most of the day is spent wearing, so really the only thing lacking was clean underwear! Thankfully le faff at riverside allowed some laundry time, and Krzysztof’s car dashboard drying service was five stars (Kris even folds)! When reunited with my bag, I realised how ridiculously over packed I was. Next year, my eyes will be more firmly fixed on a bag one quarter the size!
3. Leading is tough!
Mostly playboating and not having been on a river for quite some time, I rarely think about lines or eddies in the same way creeking paddlers do. Let alone trying to find eddies for more than one boat on Alpine rivers! Leading is my least worked on kayaking skill, so the inevitable faff occurred. But what I did learn:
- Having a strong paddler (coach) number 2 really helps!
- Understand and trust the ability of others
- Know your river signals, and keep line of sight!
A lot more leading practice is required!
Some people have different methods of leading than others…..
4. The Guisane is my favourite river!
Both upper and lower Guisane are stunning, in particular at the end of the upper I loved kayaking through the village with balconies and trees overhanging. The lower is probably the toughest river I’ve paddled but when I did look around it’s such a pretty river running through a forest, even the boulders and other river hazards are pretty although you don’t want too close a look! I’m already looking forward to next year, to be more technical on Guilberts and the lower section, focusing on picking lines and catching eddies and not just making it out alive!
5. Thank you drivers!
Cars are put through the wringer loaded up with kayaks, passengers and their weeks kit driving over alpine mountains. I’m not surprised more often than not there seems to be car trouble on the Alps trip, much more so that trips to Wales etc. Unfortunately Bob’s car this year was hit with a pretty expensive bill. I was travelling in it at the time, it seems I was the common denominator in many mishaps this year.
That said, I’d a fantastic trip, really really enjoyed it. Thanks to all those on the trip for making it so, and in particular Sean and Gemma!
Images by Sean, Tommo & Olga