French Alps 2019 paddling trip – Day 9b The Upper Gyronde by Aleksander Ford

French Alps 2019 paddling trip

Day 9b The Upper Gyronde by Aleksander Ford

The Gyronde was alpine great volume grade 4 – river which started from Valloise to Les Vigneax . It is formed from the Gyr and Onde which meet at their confluence at the barrage in Les Vigneax where we got on and set off. The Gyr and Onde water is normally taken off through the hydroelectric power station and re-enters the river Durance some 11 km downstream. They had been doing work on the barrage and consequently all the water down comes down the Gyronde and when came out of the raised dam barrier it was lot faster.

There were ten people on the river in two groups of five today. The first group was Keith, Aleksander, Sarah, Neil and Ian. The second group was Kirk, Ron, Mark, Aaron and Helen. The start was at the Barrage which had an enormous wave which was right next to the weir. We had a difficult river with lots of hidden rocks.

When we got to the most difficult part of the river there were two ways to go. Our group went first. The left side of the river you had swerve past a large boulder and immediately go river right to avoid a rather smaller boulder, which everyone missed but Mark choose to go over the rocks a different way and go back river left. The other way was down between two rocks and you could carry on straight and go left. This route was called the chicken chute which Aaron and Kirk took.

When we came to an eddy after the bridge section there was a `boulder choke` in the middle of the river. Keith confidently described the route for the next part of the river; ‘Go right of the largest boulder then left around the corner’ but on setting off he made a sudden decision to go left as there were too many boulders on the right!!!!

When we all got through safely our group carried on and there was continues rapids which were a bit easier.. There were a few rocks we had to dodge but overall it was fine. We had to prepared when our get out was insight as there were only few eddies to stop. If we missed, then it as all the down to a grade 6 rapid five hundred metres ahead. Everyone was fine but I got a little lost and needed some help from Ian. Afterwards we went to a little café in Valloise next to the river Gyr and the waiter there made my mum order in French. The waiter asked if we kayaked and asked which river we had paddled he was very surprised when we said the Gyronde.

More photographs……….