Lower Guisane

After a bit of a silly paddle doing the Humpty Dumpty Challenge on the Upper Guisane a few of us decided to continue down the Lower Guisane. I was pretty excited to get to paddle this section as I’d heard lots about it as an unforgiving, continuous grade 4 section that you had to be on your game for over an hour of full on paddling for.

We set out in small groups, I was in a three with Mark Rowe and Ryan. Mark had paddled the section a few times and Ryan had once the year before, so I was the newbie. I was granted the joy of “leading” for the first part of the river. This wasn’t really leading at all, just probing. I later realised that Mark and Ryan wanted me to go up front so that if I got swallowed up by any of the holes in the rapids they’d know where to avoid. After a few kilometers of continuous rapids we caught up with some of one of the groups ahead. Unfortunately they’d had a couple of swims and one of their boats had gone downstream so two of them were about to walk out. Once we’d made sure they were safely on the correct side of the river with as much of their kit as possible we left them to stroll along the riverbank. It’s worth watching James at 2:08 in the video below if you want a good example of how to aggressively swim across a river. Our three combined with the two that remained from the other group to paddle the rest of the river together.

The remainder of the paddle went without any more drama, although there was plenty of excitement! I think the Lower Guisane is my new favourite stretch of river. With continuous, fast moving alpine water, lots of stoppers and holes to avoid and tiny eddies it was an exhilarating paddle! The river was action-packed throughout so I really struggled to cut my footage down to a watchable length, but you can see my attempt below.

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Hannis Whittam

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