Archive for December, 2010

31
Dec

Snow melt on the Mellte

Wales received its fair share of white and fluffy precipitation over the last few weeks and what better way to make the most of it while curing a turkey tryotphan hangover than to go snowboarding on boxing day. Chris C. and I shredded some of the pow up in Brecon Beacons and followed it up yesterday with a good run down the Mellte as it melted.

We met our group (of 7) at the iced up get in and hiked down. It always takes a while to get the boats down to the get in but when we got there I was pleasently surprised by the levels- EA gauge was running at 0.48 m when we got on. Yes!

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Photo: Chris and Nicki lowering the boats.

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Photo: Shane getting ready to launch at the get in below the big one.

It was good to see that the levels were high enough to allow us the run the first drop-ie the ledge was covered. A few paddle strokes warm-up and bam, straight into the 15 fter. No brainer; I’ve heard its shallow (I didn’t check) but its a real easy boof.

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Photo by Shane: Me boofin’ the warm-up drop.

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Photo: Chris C. on the second drop

Fun times. About 50 meters further on is the 25 footer. We inspected and Rhod was first down again. We all went for the pencil and oregon tuck. I’ve spoken to a guy who gorge walks this area and has brought scuba gear to this drop and checked it out. He says its really deep river left, but goes down to about 8 ft on river right. Nice drop. Rhod ran laps on it…

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Photo: Rhod atop the fall

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Photo: Nicki tucking on the 25 fter.

After this drop, its was into the gorge and some really cool icicle scenery. I always like this section at this level- classic pool drop class 3+. Then there’s the looping pool which was uneventful at this level and then the drop that nearly always hurts my back, even with a great boof.

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Photo: Chris on the drop that hurts your back

Finally there was the last shallow weir, which is a lovely boof spot. Again, i’ve been told that it’s super shallow (I failed to check if this is true) but the slightest of boofs will keep you right.

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Photo: Jonny on the last weir drop

A fun day on the river with Sam, Rhod, Nicki, Shane, Jonny and Chris. A first no portage run with put in just below the big waterfall (Sgwd Isaf Clun Gwyn) for me. I heart kayaking, I heart kayakers and I heart the Pontneddfechan area of the homeland. Video up in a little bit…

19
Dec

The Upper Dart in ELF conditions

A few weekends ago some friends and I went to Mr Westgarth’s G17 Adventure Paddler’s weekend. Temperatures were low; very low. River levels were low; very low. Did we care? Not one bit. Tonnes of people made the effort to get down to River Dart Country Park and Friday evening kicked off to a great start with a talk by Olaf Obsummer (which I missed), followed by a late night of socialising in the bar. Saturday we ran the Upper in extremely low flow (EFF) conditions (probs about 10 inches below the slab). The run in and out were scrapey, scrapey but the middle section was still fun and fairly technical.

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Photo: Stu on the s-bendy type drop

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Photo: Our Crew

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Photo: Brrr….

I had a lot of fun at Euthanasia taking photos of nearly everyone crashing into the rock on river right side. Too bad I wasnt filming- there were some belters in there.

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Photo: Moxy chipping away at the rock

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Photo: Hardy with the Hero line…Also had a chip at the rock shortly after the photo was taken

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Photo: Andy styled it!

Suprise, surprise was a bit of a bash down the river right channel, but defo the way to go as river left looked icky. We got back to base in time for food, beer and a great talk and video by James Flemming on his recent trip to Japan. More beer and jagermeister later, I stumbbled into bed after throwing shapes till about 1 am.

The next day many of our group decided not to paddle and so Chris, myself and a freind, Graham paddled the upper again. I defo was not on form and maybe should have refrained from boating. It was actually fairly amusing, looking back. Even though all of us have paddled the upper many, many times, I managed to get pinned trying out a new flare line, Graham found the surprise at surprise, surprise and Chris subluxed his knee while getting out of his boat to help Graham out of the surprise. We must have looked right numpties because a very kind gentleman offered to escort us down the rest of the river; showing us the lines….How embarassing…hehehe

06
Dec

2010- A Photo Paddling Summary

2010 has a been a bumper year of paddling for me. During January and February I made the most of the remainder of the UK winter whitewater season notching up some courses (AWWS&R and 5*T) and new runs including the Mellte and middle Tawe in South Wales. I revisited oldies but goodies such as the East Lyn and Upper Dart in the southwest.

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Photo: Chris at the get in for the Mellte, South Wales.

Springtime rolled on but there was a  distinct lack of water in this country and so I headed to pastures new in the form of Corsica. To summarise the 5 days of boating in a paragraph would be impossible;  it was simply brilliant.
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Photo: Andy on the Upper Golo,Corsica.

No sooner was I back from Corsica but 6 weeks later I was off to the Sesia Valley in Italy. Campertogno proved to be a whitewater kayakers wet dream. Many, many rivers all within 30 minutes drive of our base camp and most being the style of river I love i.e. low volume with boofs and flares. This combined with the cheap wine and beer, excellent food and social campers made for fun times indeedy.

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Photo: Tom on the Sorba slides. Sesia Valley, Italy.

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Photo by Mark: Me on the Gronda, Sesia Valley, Italy.

After Italy we made a swift stop off for a few days in Switzerland and a change of pace to more mellow runs

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Photo: Loading the boats into the shuttle train, Switerland.

Summer provided a dearth of kayaking venues due to lack of water and holiday time available to me. But…there was the saving grace in the form of Cardiff International Whitewater Centre. Many a weekend was spent playing in the holes, trying to perfect that loop, blunt and backstab.

Early Autumn and time for my second annual pilgrimage to the Wet West Paddle Fest. 7 sections of rivers in 3 days and my appetite was satiated for a month or so.

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Photo: Andy on the left line of Pinball on the Alt a Chaorainn, Scotland.

Late Autumn I headed out to my old stommpin’ ground of the Pacific Northwest. I spent 4 days paddling some of the old runs and also heading out on new ones. I finally put big brother to rest.

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Photo: Yee-haw on the big brother, Truss, Oregon, USA

The rain came down in the UK a week after my return from Oregon and the full circle was complete when I managed to get on the East Lyn again, but this time taking in Hoaroak Water too.

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Photo: Chris and Dave on Hoaroak, south west England.

What can say, except that I am thankful that 2010 has been one of my most prolific years of paddling. I love kayaking and I know that 2011 will throw up more of the same.

THANKS TO ALL MY FRIENDS FOR SHARING THESE WONDERFUL EXPERIENCES WITH ME!

03
Dec

Not Boating but Boarding

To my delight, it snowed on Wednesday night and I packed my snowboarding gear into the car before work. It very rarely snows in southern England, let alone deep enough to carve some turns. And it’s hard to find a hill of any significance in the flatlands, but yesterday during my lunch hour I managed to find one. It was really pretty in the forest and the scenery more than made up for the lack of gradient of the slope. Probs the best lunch hour I ever had in Hampshire! I made a short video…don’t expect the gnarly, but do expect some pretty snow covered trees.

http://www.vimeo.com/17414438