Warming up for Russia


It has been a long year, stuck in the UK all winter. But with my PGCE course over and a job secured for September, I have a bit of time to play with…  So before my 5 week jolly to Russia, Emily and I decided a 2-week warm  up holiday in The Alps would be just lovely.


Rory Woods (above) paddles a particularly narrow and fun slide on the Sorba.

After a bit of a ‘chossy’ start in the French Alps, we headed over to Val Sesia, in Northern Italy, where we were told to expect high levels; even quite late in June… We were not disappointed!

After a quick look at the Sorba Slides, on the advice of a friend, we drove a few kilometres upstream on The Grande – a tributary to the Sorba – to find the gem pictured above. A 10 metre waterfall with an exciting run-in and a clean landing.  What more could you want? 2 hours of steep creeking back to the car? Snap!

Nothing but tight drops and slides all the way to the take out. I haven’t felt the need to wear elbow pads in a while but this run seemed worthy. (Above: Me on the lead in to the waterfall)

The above shot is the drop just below the fall. I opted to leave my cameras in the car for the rest of the run, hence why there are so many pictures of me.

Every time we reached the horizon line above a drop (which was usually at the foot of the drop before) our internal clocks would tell us that we had underestimated the descent time of this run.

The tree grind of joy!

But with a bit of look down stream we were amazed to see that yet another tight drop or slide contained a perfectly navigable line. Sometimes the lines were less orthodox than others, as Matt (above) demonstrates.

And of course it would be rude not to paddle the well-photographed Sorba Slides at the end of the run.

But it’s not all about the steep creeking. We had a great time paddling a few sections of the Sesia with Sheffield Uni.

And back in France, Triple Step (on the Guil) was going off with the massive water levels. (Above: Rory Woods, Below: Max Bilbow)

Though that is all well and good, The French Alps wouldn’t be The French Alps without the statutory trip to the Fornel for a boof and hammer work-out. (Below: Jake Holland throws his weight)

Too late for the Student Boater X (in more ways than one), we had a little race of our own. Textbook shenanigans, really (Below: Max Bilbow, Jake Holland).

All in all, a fine Alpine holiday that wouldn’t have been as great if it weren’t for all the lovely Brits we hooked up with over the duration: Students (and old boys) from Sheffield, Leeds, Warwick, Southampton and Bath University clubs; Jake and Danny and others.

I’ve got a big old sticker in my passport and am heading off to Russia on Saturday. So until next time, play safe and enjoy my latest podcast (below).

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Photos: Emily Bayne, Jake Holland, Danny Malkin, Rory Woods

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