Thursday, July 17, 2008

Taith i'r Alpau 23-30 Mai 2008

Rwyf wedi bod yn esgeulus o'r blog yma eto. Fel rhyw baratoad i fynd i'r Alpau es â dau o'r meibion i Afon Tryweryn, tua'r 3ydd o Fai. Mwynhaon ni'n hunain. Hwnnw oedd y tro cyntaf i'r ddau fab fynd ar yr afon. Gwnaethom ddau dro ar ran uchaf yr afon. Aeth yr un cyntaf yn ianw heb broblem ond yr ail dro roedd Mei'n fwy mentrus ond wrth geisio cyrraedd edi cynta'r Fynwent fe drodd drosodd a chafodd taith boenus i lawr - er heb ei anafu'n ddifrifol. Roeddwn i'n teimlo fel newyddian ar yr afon hefyd gan nad oeddwn wedi bod arni ers bron dwy flynedd.

Beth bynnag, taith gyda chanolfan Arthog i alpau'r Swistir oedd bwriad eleni. Fel arfer cwrddais â nhw yn Dover a dalion ni'r llong tua  y bore. Y cwmni y tro hwn oedd Andy, Karl a Louise, Dan - hyfforddwr llawrydd gydag Arthog, Kier - bachgen 26 oed o Awstralia, a Paul, trysorydd  clwb canwio Marlow.

Ymddiheuriadau am y newid iaith, ond isod mae darn o e-bost anfonais at Badlwyr y Ddraig ar ôl i mi ddychwelyd:

I was meant to be kayaking in
the Swiss Alps last week but when paddling on the
Dranse in the French Alps our minibus was broken into,
and our leader lost his passport and money (and me
just a bag) so we had to stay in the French Alps. One
of those on the trip - Paul Crichton from Marlow Canoe
Club knew some of you - though John O'Connell was the
only name he remembered. The middle section of the
Dranse (Grade 3=+) was nice - a bit like the best
sections of the Upper Wye. On two runs I capsized in
exactly the same place - but rolled both times. It
wasn't serious anyway at that point. The water level
was medium high but rising - and chocolate coloured.

On Monday we then moved to the Isere where the water
was much higher - bank full and dark grey chocolate.
The run we did on the first day (Grade 3 normally) was
about 5km - and took less than 30 mins. It was
stonking. Easy paddling - although one swimmer and
boat travelled maybe 2km before being caught. Around 3
eddies in the 5km.

2nd day on the Isere saw the same conditions. I
attempted the national slalom course before tripping
on about the 3rd eddy - 1st roll attempt just failed
as I went down a shoot as I came up - two further
attempts were miserable and I took a massive swim. Two
throw lines fell short so I was down about 200m of
Grade 4. Boat again travelled 2km.

Moved to the Severaisse for Wednesday. This was twice
as steep: 20 m/km gradient. Again the bit we did was
graded 3 normally. Actually it was still pretty easy,
just very fast with virtually no eddies. Again around
4 to 5 km long, it took less than 30 mins. An
adrenalin packed run, we did it twice.

On Thursday morning we ran the Drac Blanc. This was
even steeper than the Severaisse: 26m/km with long
sections like Tryweryn's ski slope. The river bed was
wide and although there was a lot of water the river
only filled a small part of the bed so generally it
was very shallow with plenty of broaching potential.
The river was dark grey and thundering - the rocks
under the river making a continuous deep rumbling
noise as they were tumbled by the water. The guide
notes it wouldn't be funny to swim and when I capsized
I was more scared in a river than I've ever been
before. Where I went over though was the section with
the roughest - and importantly deepest water - and, as
our leader said, I pulled the roll (a reverse screw if
you want to know) of my life. I wouldn't have drowned
but I would have had an extremely long and very rough
swim. An incredibly exciting run which again only took
about 30 mins. max.

As we got off the river, we were told by a man that
they were about to blast a chunk of the the mountain
alongside and that we must not kayak. He said kayaking
was banned! Just after that, we met another group of
kayakers from Britain who confirmed his story:
kayaking in the area had been banned since Monday
because of the high water levels which had already
drowned one kayaker and some others. We'd obviously
avoided the worst of the water.

Naturally, we then moved to the river Buêch near Gap
and did another section - really only Grade 2 but
virtually in flood. A JCB was pulling some trees out
at one point. One of our group who was having a hard
time was nearly arrested when, having withdrawn from
the trip, he was spotted on the river bank.

Thousands of miles travelled for relatively little
time on the water, but an experience. Big boats ruled
by the way: we had 5 Burns, an Eskimo Salto, and my

No comments: