Alpine Paddling Holiday 2020 Day 11

Alpine Paddling Holiday 2020
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Day 11a Glacier Blanc

An early start was made to try and avoid the heat of the morning sun. We rolled out of the campsite at 7:00am heading up the Vallouise Valley for the heart of the Ecrin Mountains.

We went for an amazing hike up Glacier Blanc on Wednesday morning. After a wriggly drive up mountain roads we arrived at the car park where Clara spotted a ‘mole-badger’ which Keith told her was a marmot, thereafter, known as a Marmite! The kids investigated the snow which was near where we parked.

The start of the path wound up through the trees and over a fast-moving river. The scenery was beautiful. We quickly split into two groups, with the Murphy’s, Oscar and Alicia moving faster and aiming for the refuge. Alexander was amazing and walked with the youngest, Clara who chattered, continuously without a breath the whole way up! Gabrielle and Clara played a bizarre duck game, and everyone was included in their duck family. We enjoyed incredible views and spotted many little flowers and succulents tucked into little gaps in the rocks.

After our hard work we arrived at the bridge for a well-earned packed lunch with the glacier in view and some geography lessons from Keith!

The older kids led off back down the path and were soon well out of view. Clara bounded down the path with Keith to help her. It was hot-hot with the sun on us. Gabrielle found some mountain streams and waterfalls to dunk caps and water bottles into. We finally caught up with the teenagers on a large erratic rock at the bottom, with some rather suspiciously wet trainers…

The biggest surprise was the snowball fight by the car park, where we all finally saw a marmite. An amazing morning out. Thank you everyone! From Amy

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Glacier Blanc (like 90% of the worlds glaciers) has been retreating (Shrinking) over the last 100 years due mainly to global warming.

Glacier Blanc is on the east side of Barre Des Ecrins the southernmost of the 4000 m peaks in the Alps. It is the largest glacier on the peak. The glacier began a sustained retreat after 1870, that ceased in 1895-1900 , 1915-1920, 1935-1940 and 1980-1990 (Cossart et al, 2006). The glacier has shrunk by 5-10% of the total glacier volume during 1981-2005 (Rabatel et al, 2008). The series of images below are used to examine the retreat over the last 12 years of Glacier Blanc. The first image is a 2008


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Day 11b Other activities around the campsite

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Day 11c Middle Durance to Airfield

While some when to Le Lac and the inflatables adventure others decided to paddle down from the campsite to the airfield where the gliders land. The paddle started with a really fast set of standing waves alongside the campsite. The river was a little high with all the meltwater from the day and hardly any rocks could be seen. The turbulent water was handled well by all as we paddle down to

grade 2 section after the first road bridge. The waves were really big, and you could paddle any route with all the rocks covered.

We paddled on past the Usine (factory get out) as this was little hard to spot amongst all the piles of gravel and workings. The river now opened up below La Roche-de-Rame with large sweeping bends. The old weir gave a little more white water and then on down negotiating some tree roots mid-stream. With a final few rapids we followed the gliders in on their flight paths to the bridge at the airfield. We quickly loaded the two pre-placed vans and headed back just in time to meet the returning inflatable slides group. A perfect end to a very busy day.

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