Monday, May 3, 2010

Nepal, Easter 2010

Just back from a recent trip to India and Nepal.

The plan was to fly into Delhi, then travel overland to western Nepal. This was supposed to be easier and cheaper than flying into Kathmandu!

Many hours driving, and a long tedious (5hrs) border crossing later, we were finally in the kayaking shangri-la of Nepal.

Our group was larger than the normal. 15 of in total, of which 7 would head to the Thuli Bheri, whilst the others paddled the lower sections of the Bheri. Upon completion of those rivers, we would all re-convene, and paddle the Karnali together.

The Thuli Bheri is a river none of us had paddled before, but one with a great reputation as a multi day classic. Described as day after day of read and run grade 4/4+. It takes a lot of effort to get to however. The journey we had already undertaken was just the start. From our staging point in the small town of Surkhet we boarded our charter flight, and headed up into the mountains for the 40 minute flight to the town of Jupail.

Hiring some reluctant porters, we eventually made our way down to the river.

For the next 5 days, we paddled some of the best whitewater in the world. Through open valleys, and deep canyons the rapids just kept coming. Most of it was on the limit of read and run. Others however involved inspection, or worse, the dreaded loaded boat portage.... The river had everything, low volume creeky pool drop, continuous screaming non stop kilometer long rapids, big volume hole dodging. All too soon the river was over, and the next stage of our adventure started. The river extraction...

Unfortunately information was a little sketchy about where our section of the river ended, and the road began... No doubt there are some very confused locals on towns along the river... Eventually, we found a town that we hoped would have a bus that may go somewhere where we wanted to go (this is Nepal...) but we had to wait until the morning, only to find the bus would only take us part of the way. But somehow, despite all Asia could throw at us, we made it back to Surket that very next day (three buses, and one porter carry later).

Comparing stories, the other group had just as much excitement on and off river, but without even pausing for a rest day, we re-stocked, and headed off to the Karnali...

Mark and I had paddled the Karnali before, dubiously engaged as safety kayakers for rafting companies, who ran the Karnali as a 9 day trip. We would be aiming to spend 5 days on the river, with less faff loading and unloading rafts each day.. We would have a particularly large group of 15 paddlers though.

The Karnali was a definite warm down from the Thuli Bheri, and a definite step up from the Bheri, a change of pace for both groups.

We spent three days over the classic big volume water grade 4 section. Enjoying the great camping beaches and jungle scenery. The last day on the river is mostly flat, and this was a long day paddle before reaching the dubious pleasures of Chisopani, the take out town.

From here we headed to Bardia National park for some R&R. The park is famous for Elephants, Tigers and Crocodiles... We only saw the Elephants, Rhinos, Monkeys and Crocs.

Our trip was nearly over. The dreaded border crossing still took 6 hours, and we got back to Delhi to find that we would be staying a little longer than expected, thanks to the Iceland Volcano crisis...

9 Extra days in Delhi. Unfortunately, Delhi was in the grips of a 45’C heatwave. The entire city is a dusty hot construction site prior to the 2010 Commonwealth games, that the city is somehow supposed to be ready for. Good Luck Delhi!!.

Our days were spend alternately visiting the airport, trying to advance our expected repatriation date, and taking in the delights of the city and surrounding areas. Delhi has alot to see, but the temperature, demonstrations, bomb scares, and terror threats subdued our enthusiasm for straying too far from air conditioned hotels and restaurants.

Home at last, what a trip.. Great kayaking, fantastic time in Nepal, and can’t wait to go back (Kathmandu flights, casino and steakhouse please!). India, well at least we’re not planning on going back now we’ve seen the sights...

I’ve never appreciated British climate, until now. Clear crisp air, refreshingly cool temperature... Lovely.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Goodbye Chris

Some pictures of Chris enjoying a classic Mawdach and Gain river weekend in North Wales.

Goodbye Chris, we will miss you.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dartmoor Boating

Had a great days boating on Sunday with good levels in the South West... Highlight was either the Plym in good water, or the Dart well over the ledge... No photos from the Dart, as Chris didn't hang around long enough to take photos..... Paddlers Chris W, Kev and Jim Green.

Jim was a Plym virgin, and I had only paddled it in dog low levels about 10 years ago. Kev and Chris were Plym regulars, so was good to have them along to show us the lines... Well we tried to keep up with Chris anyway.....

Monday, September 21, 2009


Just back from the amazing Romaine river in Quebec. This is an amazing wilderness run that holds dozens of high volume classy rapids. Only access is by floatplane, which drops you 130 miles from the nearest road, After the Magpie river a few years ago we got the taste for multi-day high volume runs, and the Romaine is similar. Large drops, interspersed by short, or not quite so short pools.
Our team consisted of 3 uk boaters, (myself, Mark G and Kevin), Jay (from all over) and Max and Eric from the US. All except Jay had been on our Magpie trip.

(Kev had let his toenails grow on this trip)

The weather started off all too well. Bright and sunny, we even got a bit sunburnt by the end of the second day... The Third day started to get cloudy. Just after lunch on Midday Max probed a large sliding drop, and popped his shoulder out, swimming a nasty runout through some rocky channels. Unfortunately his boat never made it out.... Together will all his food and camping gear.... An afternoon spent trying to retrieve the boat was not rewarded with anything except rain that night.

In the morning we decided Max should hike out down the river.. We knew there were Dam construction sites along the river, and hoped we could reach one soon... It had also got quite cold. We were much faster than Max when we were on the river, so decided he had to come with us, rather than us wait for him... So we rafted up and floated him down the river whenever possible. We covered alot of distance, but not as fast as if we'd been boating normally....

Nearly two days of this, and we see signs of activity... Helicopters ferrying loads to the dam sites...A short chat later, and we have arranged Max a flight out of the river...

Almost straight after this, the big rapids begin again... High volume drops of all types... The drops kept coming for the next two days, then some long flats until the new bridge site and Grandes Chutes... One quick portage later, and many blueberries, we were at the end of the whitewater... We hoped to sprint to the takeout that night, but the portage had slowed us, and the evenings were dark early...

The next morning, after the coldest night on the river, we persisted downriver into a stiff headwind.... We tookout at the first trail we could find, and headed south to the road.... 2 hrs later we were discovered by some gruff hunters, who warmed to us, and towed our boats to the floatplane base... We were out!!!!.

(The Roche River falls, nearby)