21 members of EUCC have just got back from our 2018 summer Alps trip. We went to Slovenia, then Italy and finally France. We had great weather, some fab paddling and pretty good company as well. Below is the Alps logbook, as written by various people throughout the course of the trip:
Friday 8/6/18 and Saturday 9/6/18
We left Exeter at 8am for Dover. Some small issues with the concept of a convoy to Dover and confusion about ferry times, but eventually everyone made it to France. We drove through France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy and finally into Slovenia. All in all, it took us around 28 hours from Exeter to Kamp Koren. Claims are alive and well amongst the group, but everyone is being very careful. On Saturday afternoon, once we’d set up camp, Safety had their first run of the Otona, whilst the rest of us went for a swim by some rocks near the get-out of the river.
We all woke up nice and early and the club along with Florrie, Felix and Anderson paddled the Cesoca (a nice easy flat warm up). After a little incident involving a parking fine we had lunch, then paddled Srep 1 (Srepenica) and most of the club also paddled Srep 2 with the fresh doing very well! Dan won the award for most dead-man rolls done on one river – 3 dead man rolls on Srep 2 for Yoyo! The Safety and Advanced Inters had time for an Otona lap before dinner, whilst the rest of the club went for a swim at the Otona get-out.
We paddled the section above Bunkerji (Velika Korita) and then Bunkerji, which we sessioned until lunch, where we met Brearley, Lauren, Megan and Sarah. Willow got heatstroke. Nicco was on a livebait as he thinks he’s the real hero. We then went to do Srep 1 and Srep 2 again with a lot of the inters leading groups down. A group then went down the slalom course and then to the Otona – which was Joanna and Ella’s first time. We all cooked dinner and then Tent Crawl began. Alpserol Spritz from the veggie cooking group won (Niamh, Willow, Elis, Anna and Esme).
The ‘big bois’ woke up early with their big boi pants on and went to paddle Siphon Canyon (Brindo, Nicco, Adam, Dan B and a token Cardiff representative Tristan). While they were paddling, the club walked to a pretty waterfall (Kozjak) 10 mins from the campsite and all went for a little dip, which was freezing. At 11.30am we all set off for Bovec to get Jufka for lunch and then off to Lake Bled. At the lake the heavens opened and some people went for a swim in the storm and others found a coffee shop. After a few hours, a lot of soggy people drove home, some on the adventure line through the mountains. At the lake was the big club reveal of Brearley and Felix’s bright pink speedos. We got our first speeding ticket of the Alps at some point today.
In the morning we went to the Koritnica and paddled our first gorge which was gorgeous, and there was minimal carnage and we even got Lauren to paddle with us! After lunch and saying bye to Lauren we went to Bunkerji and paddled down from there through another gorge. There were a couple of swims on the gorge bt minimal carnage. A small group bombed the Otona to get back in time for Stag and Hen social.
Stag and Hen social:
The girls and boys split up into their two halves and headed to their respective restaurants. The girls had lovely pizza and were told by a woman married three times that we shouldn’t get married. The boys spent half the night in a field chasing drunk Harvs and jumping over electric fences. All in all, much alcohol was consumed. The ceremony was drunk, short and beautiful. The (not so) happy couple shared a kiss and a dance and merriment was had by (nearly) all. As always, Chris did a speech to finish the night. The bride ended up in the arms of someone else… Ella and Brearley were legends and stayed sober for the night to pick up the pieces.
The day of infamous 10 roll Lowri. In the morning the safety and intermediates paddled the Otona with few problems. After a lovely lie-in, everyone else met them to head to Bovec. After a cheeky Jufka lunch, we headed to Bunkerji to re-paddle the gorge. Everyone smashed it (with just a couple of swims including Felix’s ‘swim’ by choice) and then we headed to Srep 1 and 2 again. By this point everyone was exhausted but most people paddled anyway. On Srep 2, Lowri took 10 rolls (!!!) followed not far behind by Niamh who took 7 (tbh she lost count). That night we all packed the boats and most of camp ready for a very early start in the morning.
4am wake up with a 5am leave for our journey to France via Italy. Stopped to pee 1.5 hours in #weak. Ivan managed to hold his breath for a 5400m Italian tunnel. Most people slept most of the 6 hour journey to Italy and woke up in the beautiful town of Varallo. We stopped for a bit of G5 tourism – a massive Grade 5 feature that looked terrifying. The safety paddled the Gronda and Sorba slides while the rest of the club watched and took photos. It was hilarious trying to keep up on foot with the boats on the river and quite scary watching them complete the ‘sick gnar’. We said bye to Megan, Sarah, Felix, Anderson and Florrie in Italy. Chris saved the day by realising that we were headed in the wrong direction when we left Italy for France and also found us somewhere to have dinner. After our stop in Susa for pizza, we crossed the Italy-France border and made it to the campsite (L’Argentière-la-Bessée). We set up camp quickly and headed to sleep ready for our first day of French paddling.
Got up ridiculously early (although not 4am so better) to start the day’s paddling. Safety and advanced inters paddled the Gyronde river before the club joined for a very sunny Sunshine Run! Stopped for lunch midway at St-Clement-sur-Durance where we bumped into Bath Uni before ending up at the Rabioux wave with a mega train! CARNAGE! Four rolls and Izzy and Yoyo swam. Some very impressive boat rescues by safety. That night Bonney and ABCKayaking ran a BoaterX at the slalom course at the campsite. Exeter were well-represented. Advanced: Brearley, Nic, Dan B, Dan H. Inters: Sam and Tom. Ladies: Niamh and Anna. Everyone tried hard. Brearley and Nic scored 2nd and 3rd place and despite their swims, Niamh and Anna were pleased with their efforts. Everyone was exhausted and caught an early night.
We all went to a big supermarket this morning to buy our ingredients for ‘Ready Steady Cook’ or as Chris called it ‘Ready Steady Hangover Part 2’. There was a bit of faff after Greg and Yoyo realised that the canned duck they had bought cost 26 euros, so they recruited Esme to help them return it. After that we paddled the Upper Guisaine. A couple of people portaged S-bends and there were a few swims. Adam helpfully throwlined a boat after Esme swam (it turns out boats can’t hold onto throwlines) and Niamh got lost when she got out of the river but was saved by some friendly Kent Uni kayakers who drove her to the get-out. Safety and inters then did the Gironde whilst the rest of us went to le lac (aka Roche-de-Rame). We took Jennifer the inflatable pegasus, had a swim and had ice creams. Jennifer basically died on the lake – it turns out 5 people can’t balance on her at once! When everyone had got back to the campsite, Ready Steady Cook began. There were some interesting dishes made – there was a meat medley made of duck sausages, steak and kidney all mixed together, poached eggs (basically turned into mashed eggs) with peppercorn sauce, pickles mixed with lentils and a whole fish. But the vegan group won (Esme, Niamh, Greg, Anna and Brearley). Claims court was opened with a failed accusation of x-ray vision for Tom and a successful claim for Adam for not going the whole day without speaking to Anna. An eyebrow slit was taken to appease the river gods.
We tried to go to the Fournel early to paddle the drops and avoid the road closure, but the road was still closed and we came across many diggers so we had to turn around, which involved the AU bus getting very close to the edge of a cliff. Whilst the safety and inters paddled Briancon gorge, the rest of the club went to Briancon old town to have a wander. Elis loved the crystal shop, we found ice creams and we all got to survey the Alps from a vantage point on the fort . In the afternoon we went back to Rab wave and paddled that again, then carried on from there onto the lower part of the Sunshine Run. Some of us did a sick seal launch and Willow swam on one of the big wave trains and got lost from her group. She ended up catching a lift in a raft with 3 rafters down the river. A club game of volleyball at the campsite after dinner turned into a massive interclub social with Cardiff and Bath joining us for the volleyball and loads of other unis joining for the drinking. We got pretty close to finishing Stubby mountain but eventually gave up when it collapsed after several attempts. Some inflatables may have been borrowed from other unis and hidden in trees, and some people may have fallen out of hammocks when they snapped. The Alpine Fox made an appearance and ravaged several people’s tents in our campsite.
Carnage day…. We tried to paddle L’Ubaye. It was a long 1.5 hour drive with stunning Alpine mountain scenery. When we arrived, within about the first 100 m of the river, 6 people swam and several people got very bruised/injured. So there were many swimmers, boats and paddles all in the river at once. We had a really long walk-out from the river through a wood back to the road, and Dan dropped us off in the bus at the get-out to wait for the safety and inters to finish paddling the river. The safety cleared up the mess – Brearley and Adam both rescued two boats each and Nic livebaited a boat. We had a really late lunch about 4pm after all the faff resulting from the carnage. We eventually all got back and had wine and cheese social. Most people went to bed early after a tiring day, some did not (*cough* Sam and Tom *cough*).
After the utter carnage of yesterday we had a rest day whilst the safety and advanced inters paddled some the Romanche, Lower Guisaine, Durance Gorge and Gyronde. We went to Embrun to have a wander round the market. Some people bought ice cream. Then we went to Serre-Poncon lake near Embrun to relax in the sun, have a swim and play frisbee. We ate lunch next to a group high people dancing to D&B in the park…
Our last day of paddling in the Alps. We went back to the Upper Guisaine and paddled that again. Chris and Sam attempted to take Jennifer down S-bends but didn’t get very far before falling off. Chris sensibly got out before the main rapids began, Sam committed to the swim and got very bruised. The safety and advanced inters then paddled the Lower Guisaine. Ivan lost his paddle whilst attempting a paddle throw. Nic re-paddled the river to try and find it, but Chris was the real hero and waded out into the river, finding it underwater underneath a tree. Some people then paddled the Gyronde and then we did the Slalom course at the campsite a few times. We had our end of trip dinner at a pizzeria near the campsite. We accidently left Brearley in town so had to come back and pick him up, and then we lost Chris after he fell out of the bus. After a bus trip back into town to try and find him, he turned up in the campsite toilets. Then Nic, Esme and Ivan presented the Alps Awards, and we packed up camp and our boats before an early start the next morning
A 6.45am start for our long journey back to England. We managed to stay in convoy nearly the whole way and everyone got onto the same ferry this time! Results came out via email… We got back to Exeter about 3am on Saturday morning.
When we arrived back in Exeter at 3am we cleaned up the bus, van and hire car and unloaded all the boats. Most people got back to their houses about 4am. Graham was the B&B for the night – about 6 people without their own beds stayed there. Everyone who hadn’t already gone home from Exeter met up for Impy breakfast after a short sleep at 10.30am.
Alps crew 2018:
Sam, Joanna, Nic, Ella, Adam F, Brearley, Ivan, Elis, Lowri, Niamh, Dan B, Anna, Greg, Chris, Willow, Esme, Adam E, Izzy, Dan H, Yoyo, Tom (plus Megan, Sarah, Alex, Felix and Florrie who joined us for all of Slovenia and Italy, and Lauren who joined us for a couple of days in Slovenia).
A massive massive thank you to the whole Alps committee for organising the best Alps trip, and especially to Sam for waking us up every morning in time to paddle our next river and for being in charge of the whole thing, and to Nic for planning all our rivers and river groups. Also, a huge thank you to our Safety for clearing up the mess and carn on all the rivers and for rescuing many-a-swim (including me multiple times)! Without them, this trip would definitely not have been possible.
Until next year…
(More photos to follow)