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Major Trip Reports.…
Day 12a Upper Ubaye
An early start for today (8:30am) as we had a bit of a drive via Col de Vars (ski resort) into the top of the Ubaye valley. Last time I drove this route it was very early in the morning and freezing cold at the top. Today could not be different, 100% deep blue sky, bright sunshine, and no wind. We stopped at the top to take photos and explore. The kids wanted to go to the top of a small hill. As we drove off, we nearly left Oscar who unknown to us had purchased a coffee and sat with the locals in the Col top bar as we drove off!
At the get in we met a group of German paddlers who were paddling the same section. We chatted a little. They had paddled this section earlier in the year with 10 times the amount of water – it was huge they exclaimed, and it surely would have been with massive wave trains. They paddled off as we got ourselves ready. As the three groups started their journey the water picked up and we could paddle down the river for a pleasant Grade 3- trip. There was more water than last year, probably from more snowfall over the winter months which had kept river levels high all week. Halfway along we met up under the old bridge and some played in the small play wave there.
The second half of the journey provided more fun but was relatively straight forward. The water quality is high, and this section is well deserved of its 3 stars. We all waited in the sun at the end for the shuttles, had a quick bite to eat before heading for the lake and bit of SUPing or for those brave enough for the Racecourse section.
Day 12b Ubaye Racecourse
The Racecourse is a grade 4 white water wonderland. For those with the inclination to take on this river, they were all in for a treat. 10
LCC paddlers with our river leaders Keith and Stuart set off at 2 pm. There is no easy start on the river its straight to work. The features start straight away. I was in the second B team at the helm of my Large Machno (HMS Titanic 2) I radioed the engine room for more coal and off we went.
River feature after feature in 30-degree heat proved to be a fantastic run of this excellent white-water section. High water levels and outstanding scenery. A swim on Alpha team and an unheard-of Steer high brace were the only problems.
This river is worth a drive to the Alps just to paddle the last 300 meters. This is where it disappears down into a gorge with Roman bridges overhead and vertical smooth rock walls towering above on either side. Vines and plants break up the hard rock with bursts of green. 10 out of 10. The best day on a river I have ever had.