Kayaking in the Alps has been something I have wanted to do for a while, this year I got the opportunity to travel to the Briançon area of the French Alps. The rivers in France have been at the highest level on record in the past two decades, providing some high-volume fast-flowing sections with huge pour-overs and wave trains stretching for miles.

The sunshine run – Sunshine run is made up of four sections, the lower Guil into the slalom course on the Durance then onto the two lower sections on the Durance down to Embrun, with the extremely high flows this created some sick kick flip spots on these sections of rivers. The rest of the week we spent most of our time paddling some pretty sick grade 3/4+ sections on the Briançon Gorge, Upper and lower sections of the Guisane, Gerond and sections of the Ubaye.

In between paddling and down time we spent a lot of time exploring the via ferrata routes around Guillestre and Briançon climbing through some pretty sick gorges and along some epic sections of river, two of the more interesting climbs were through the Durance and Chateau Queyras gorge, the Durance Gorge via ferrata was one of the longest we done over the week taking longer than two hours which was absolutely crazy to be hanging off a wall over one hundred feet from river level and climbing through the depths of the gorge.

The Chateau Queyras via ferrata was easily just as good as the rest of them, it was more than climbing through a gorge … I may or may not have made it a scouting mission for Chateau Queyras.

Chateau Queyras is one of the sections I was told about before heading out to the Alps and was one of the sections we looked at towards the end of the week, with it being one of the last new sections of river that we scouted there was supper high hopes to run it over 1 km continuous gorge to pass through with massive wave trains and a huge hole …

It sounds sick doesn’t it, it all comes down to one move right in the middle of the gorge, one move that had me wondering is it worth it. The feature that stood in our way was a huge diagonal hole feeding behind a rock that we could not see behind. The line was there, right in front of us, but it’s the unknown that gets you, not knowing that happens when something goes wrong, with more than a kilometre left to go in a tight narrow gorge. We made the decision to walk away that day, but it’s never worth pondering whether you should have paddled something you were really not sure about.

Chateau Queyras Gorge Entrance

Walking away from this was a big one, but sparked the stoke for the following day, Saturday was the last day of paddling for the week, the team was fired up so we made the rally over to the Briançon gorge and sent two absolutely sick laps down the short and sweet section of bougie class 3+ then boosted up to the Lower Guisane to put an end to what was one of the best weeks of kayaking and laughs yet.

It was a first out in France for me but it certainty will not be a last Chateau Queyras, I will be back …

~ Cameron