Had an awesome coaching session on the Usk today with great water levels and a very progressive session with Mark who came on leaps and bounds! Tomorrow were out on the Usk again and with more rain we should hopefully have sportier levels for the Senni and three falls section for progressive white water coaching
Well its been a fun 2.5 weeks back in the UK, my new Core paddles are on the way across the pond and should hopefully be arriving on Monday just in time to go play with them in the fun rivers of the Himalayas. Just a few more coaching sessions to run and then Momos and Dal Bhat cant wait, if anyone is in the area I will be mainly at the Royal Beach camp on the Trisuli failing that Sams bar or Tom n Jerrys in Kathmandu or Silk Road in Pokhara
Well after a client loosing a camera yesterday, Will and I went for a rescue mission today in a canoe to try and find the camera at the bottom of the river. After 2 hours of snorkelling we gave up on the camera and continued down in the battered canoe.
At the Steps we flooded and I took my first swim in 7 years which after swimming and towing the canoe the side we got in just above the Chute (250m of swimming) We got the boat out but the wooden gunnels were smashed up hull cracked in three places seats which were rotted were now broken completely.
we were having a lovely paddle along the river, watching Caribou running by... until we took the meaty line down the rapids, got swamped... Its done man, lets go! As I float out of the canoe I turn to see Chris still in the back with just his head above the water trying to paddle " I will go down with this boat". I was laughing all the way down the rapid and when I saw the state of the canoe what could I do but laugh???
We portaged the Chute and managed to paddle our broken canoe 5km back home... a few pictures of the trip
Well we haven't been deported and the bosses actually found it hilarious and Joy showed us a picture of her and Paul using the same canoe to paddle away on their wedding day that made us feel bad until they gave us more rum...
Well this year is flying by it seems like only yesterday I was stepping off the Plane at Heathrow just before Christmas thinking it was cold after spending several months in Nepal. It has been a busy but fun year with courses ran throughout the UK, and now I find myself with only a few weeks left in Newfoundland still busy as ever!
September is already getting booked up with a UKCC level 1 course in London and a weekend coaching white water, several days still free so would be worth booking now.
Looks like I will be spending 2-3 months back out in Nepal for the winter so things are shaping up nicely
Well over the past few weeks we have been creating an access road to the start of the Exploits Canyon. With most of the hard labour out of the way we went for a few play sorry that should be training runs down the big volume section on the 10ft NRS raft (So fun and lively) a hydro speed and a kayak heres a video that we made this week featuring our lovely steps and the river section. No doubt we will probably be paddling this most evenings so if your around feel free to get in touch for a fun paddle and surf the Virgin Wave at the end enjoy...
I have been waiting patiently for the Spark Suit to arrive in the UK, well this week I have it and so far I am very impressed with it. and a quick write up on it
About the Spark Suit
It has very clean lines no bulky reinforced sections so it is incredibly lightweight and breathable, the neck is the same as their popular Fuse jacket which is a tight neoprene glide skin seal. The zip is higher up and shaped to make opening and closing easy to do on your own! made of XP 3 layer which is light weight and breathable. The ankle seals are long neoprene gaskets as standard but socks can be fitted at the factory (for an additional £30) wrist have latex seals with adjustable outer cuffs. and a pocket for earplugs or something.
This suit is easy to don the neoprene ankle seals just slide over your feet and seal the water out well ( Palm can put on their immersion suit socks if you wish at an additional cost) Putting the suit on was simple and the new zip meant I could do the suit up on my own and fold the protective panel over it easily. The neck seal was an interesting idea and I wasn't too sure about at first but once on and a session of play boating later I was convinced that I made a great choice mainly because it made a great seal was comfortable and didn't let any water in.
The next day we decided to go play down the Ogmore, with many weir steps it was rock spin galore off the top tail squirts and cartwheels where ever we could made for a fun active paddling session down river. The suit worked really well again the neck seal worked flawlessly the suit breathed well I wasn't over heating and still dry even after our swimming test yup we decided to jump in and swim at the end well why not!
On the Sunday we hit CIWW for the 4 and 8 cumec sessions. Thankfully the guys at CIWW had recreated the retentive surf wave on Catapult on the 4 cumec session which gave up spins blunts back stabs so a lot of time was spent on their and on the 8 cumec we hit the two holes Vicarious and the one by the Camera, lots of ends loops every where again the Spark suit did a brilliant job kept the me comfortable inside didn't notice the zip once and the best bit no Cag rash even after 3 sessions and kept me dry throughout
I have also used it out in Canada on a solo run of the 17km Badger Chute section of the Exploits River colder than UK (still) which is a wide river (100m bank to bank) after 3 hours of paddling and playing hard in the rapids I was glad to of put my Tsangpo suit on underneath was a bit chilly outside but just right in the suit and the fleece had wicked the moisture out from the skin to leave me dry, some water did come in when playing in the hole but it was just a tiny dribble and didn't bother me.
That afternoon Paul from raftingnewfoundland.com took us to the coast and out to Exploits Islands and around the Bays of the North East Coast on his Zodiac RIB. I was glad I wore the Spark as the water has still got huge Ice bergs floating about to give you an idea of sea temperature, although after a couple of hours and walking in to the water to launch and exit the sea and no annoying cag rash but cold feet to be expected after being exposed to the elements for 3 or so hours and the fact that Paul loves to open up the throttle fully wherever possible.
So Pro and Cons of the Spark
Easy to put on and zip up on your own thanks to the higher placement and with a more flexible zip than previous suits.
Comfy neck seal which is still tight and keeps a lot of water out but will let the occasional dribble through
Great articulated cut, so nice to paddle in even the leg hems are shorter at the back than the front to stop the heel wearing out
Light weight and breathable due to no kevlar/ cordura areas
Comes in any colour as long as you like Bright Green nice and visible for photos, rescues etc ( I like the bright green reminds me of Kawasaki Racing Ninja Green)
no reinforcement so if your an elbow basher use elbow pads
no latex neck seal so some water will come through (if that bothers you...)
No Socks but can be added on request in the factory for £30
In summary the Spark Immersion Suit is suited towards the active paddlers and those who want the best performance comfort and are happy with the occasional bit of water through the neck seal which isn't much (I am sure that Palm could put a latex seal in if you really wanted) If you wear the correct layers underneath moisture/ condensation will work its way out of the suit.
I personally believe that the Pros outweigh the cons which to face it aren't a massive issue and I would recommend it if I had more time before leaving the country would I add socks? maybe although using the Index sock under my booties hasn't bothered me that much.
If you think you would need a latex neck seal then and reinforcements (but those who hit their arms normally pad up) then maybe the Stikene could be a better bet I have used mine for 3-4 years coaching rafting and personal paddling and is still hanging in there, however it is seems a lot heavier on not as breathable due to the extra hard wearing areas and the zip is much stiffer and more noticeable in use.
(Photos courtesy of Tony Howells)
We have one more 3 star course running before Chris heads off for a summer season in Newfoundland!
With 100% success rate on these you can book with confidence that you will get the most up to date techniques that work in the dynamic environment covering the syllabus and some! based on class 2 rivers we will paddle together in a relaxed environment to give you the best opportunity to perform well and if thats not all this course is at the reduced rate of £80 for 2 days!
This April Chris headed to Slovenia to update his Advanced White Water Safety and Rescue and to finish the 5 Star White Water Leader Award with Gene 17.
We left Cardiff at 0530am on a saturday morning for a uneventful drive to Stanstead for a flight to Trieste in Italy near the Slovenian border. Mid afternoon we met Simon in the Gene 17 wagon and had a fun and relaxing drive to Trnovo in the sunshine which we were told to make the most of as it was raining in Slovenia!!
Once we got to Trnovo we were shown our apartment which was spacious and had everything we needed a fridge for the beer a hob for the espresso maker and a kettle for tea plus some beds with bedding and a power shower!!!
A quick walk across the road was the pub, local store and Alpin Action Kajak Store and just down passed the fields behind these was the start of the Trnovo 1 Slalom site which we walked down to kill some time in the sun it was looking as good as I remembered from many years ago and with higher flow :)
A quick beer or two before food and we were pleasantly surprised a large Lasko was only €2.00 (Tuborg same price!)
Day 1- We paddled the Classic section of the Soča from Bokka down to Trnovo Slalom site, the emphasis of the day was to brush off the cobwebs and improve techniques such as use of flairs, boofing, using the flow and how to trim the boat to gain the most out of the hull, finishing off with a quick blast down the slalom course saw me grinning from ear to ear!
Day 2- We went upstream above the 3rd Canyon and ran the class 4 section running a few rapids twice and improved the moves from the previous day, and introducing some extra things to play with every rock was used to help with positioning with either a simple boof through to flairing and rock spins and also recapped on leadership and ways to help calculate running and guiding class 4 rapids with piers.
After lunch we walked back up and launched above the 3rd Canyon and had another run down and then worked on some other techniques with Tom Parker, and continued down to the Prijon Shop which had some fun and tight S turns to make rocks to launch off and some wave trains which were just too tempting to launch a wave wheel on (with success in the Mamba 8.6 man I love this boat!) A quick tour of the Prijon shop and some free local schnapps (more like rocket fuel) from the Lovely Anna's followed by a night another night out for great food courtesy of Simon
Day 3- Heavy rain over night meant we spent the day going through AWSSR and useful techniques to that work with the kit you carry on you simple but effective! We covered throws, vectors mechanical advantage. In the evening we had an awesome meal round Simon's ( a really tasty mushroom pasta dish need to get the recipe)
Day 4- AM Starting further upstream again we paddled down to the Prijon Shop. I led the group on their 4 star through the easier rapids to get them warmed up and down the first section of class 4, it went well ok a missed eddy here and there but everyone paddled well and were smiling (maybe in revilement maybe in joy of their first taste of alpine Class 4). I handed over the lead for the next section and basically paddled hard showing what I could do and had picked up off Tom and Simon over the previous days,
PM- After lunch we headed to the Koritnica which is a tributary of the Soča that comes in just above Bovec at Kajak Kamp Tony
I was observing and still on skills which saw some awesome flairs and rock spins and then 1/2 way down took over the lead on some fun class 4 and then some read fun to the confluence on the Soča and then read and fun down to the Prijon and some more down river play in big boats.
Day 5 AM I led the 4 star group down the classic section to Trnovo Slalom course which went really well until one guy went too far left on a line and got pinned on a big rock, Nick broke out behind I jumped out of my boat with bag and ran up in line with them, by which stage they were both stable on the rock and boat wedged but upright and stable. I got my line to them which they clipped to the boat and pulled it free and secured it on the bank and re threw the bag back to Ross and Nick and then got Ross off the rock and to the eddy below and made sure Nick was stable and relaunched his boat and got to the eddy below. We had a real life scenario and we both dealt with it well and didn't loose any gear or people. After this excitement I continued to lead and everybody paddled well till we got to the beach marking the start of the get out with many hi fives all round we left the four star guys to go get an early lunch and dry kit in the sun having paddled well. We continued down to the bottom of the
Slalom Course which was higher than the first day and making some fun lines throughout.
PM After Lunch we went for some swimming fun above the slalom course where I managed to use my knee and shin as a brake when jumping into the flow (remember to be careful where you leap!!!) after a quick yelp and swim across the other side of the river to See Tom the leg was throbbing badly so left it in the cold water to reduce the swelling, I must say I was using Palms Atom cag and Combi bibs and was as dry as my Stikene no seepage even swimming on the high flow of the Soča (highly recommended) after a swim back and some more rope work including use of harnesses vectors and live bait we walked back to our apartment (well more of a hobble for me!) where I found the rock had broken the skin deeply but not marked the Combi Bibs (thumbs up!) That evening we had another nice night being fed by Simon
Day 6- Am 4th Canyon Section (My favourite section read and fun class 4) A horrible walk down with only one good leg but I knew the river section below was worth it! After a quick breather at the bottom of the long walk down to the bottom of the canyon we kitted up in the glorious sunshine I was glad I had my Gradient Shorts today. We paddled in a fun and quick manner as friends making fun lines and harder lines wherever possible whilst still keeping an eye on each other on rapid we had a quick look and then ran with some nice Italians covering the Crux with bags we returned the favour for them and smiles all round. With a quick paddle through the rest of the gorge with some fun fun moves and one boof which went slightly wrong thought I was in the eddy but alas I was in the hole quick roll in the hole and side surfing fun laughing back surfing to the weak spot and laughs all-round in the eddy. The next move was awesome tight boof right into S turn left and surf the big wave near the end of the canyon.
Our kit was dry by the time we loaded our boats on the van ( got to love paddling abroad!) and we found some awesome Gelato in the village before driving back up to the apart to finish drying kit and pack. And then the wait for debrief the bit everyone dreads (did we paddle well enough, could we do anything differently etc) Well I'm pleased to say that I passed the award and we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening celebrating in the bar (it wold be rude not too!) The next morning we were driven back to Trieste airport everyone was shattered but happy with their performance and how their paddling had improved throughout the week.
I would defiantly recommend Simon Westgarth's courses through Gene 17 awesome paddle and coach and alsoTom Parker who was the second assessor of the week both gave us lots of hints and tips that I will be passing on through my courses to everyone. We were fed & watered (had to buy our own beer but not bank breaking and very nice) and put up in a nice apartment for a week close to the river
With no water anywhere else which helped to make the decision the Dee was flowing at 6 on the gauge which was a nice level for coaching and running the rapids. Saturday was spent on focusing on skills and improving technique in a fun and relaxed manner, by the end of the day everyone was smiling and playing on the waves and rapids throughout the site.
Sunday saw us paddle from Horseshoe Weir to Town Bridge in the sunshine with loads of time we spent as much time as we could at each rapid honing in on the skills learnt yesterday and some new ones as well ran Serpant's tail several times before heading down stream using the rapids as we went to hone in on all the skills we had been developing over the weekend. By the time we had finished everyone was smiling ear to ear
This weekends course went well, although the rivers were low their was enough in the USk and Wye to run the Course. The first day was spent on the Usk Aberbran- Brecon were we covered the whole syllabus in detail and had lots of time to practice everything and brush up n existing techniques. Day 2 we hopped over to the River Wye Aberedw- Boughrood and I am happy to say both candidates performed well and passed after 2 fun days paddling.
Chris has been paddling for over 20 years, keep up with courses, river trips and personal development here