Alpine Kayaking – First Impressions

Until this week, all my kayaking had been in Wales but the Aberystwyth University Canoe Club Alps Trip has given me my first taste of the French Alps. This is just a short post to show what the kayaking is like here, and also to let my family know I’m still alive!


One of the first things I’ve noticed is the water moves fast. Really fast. Like really really fast. Blink and you’ll miss it. if you sit on the bank, you’ll see debris floating on top shooting past. This brings a number of challenges not normally encountered on Welsh Rivers and completely changes the dynamics of breaking into and leaving an eddy; eddy lines become a challenge in themselves as you move between fast moving water and still water, and can tip you over. 

The water is cold. I was deceived by the warm weather. Even though you can happily walk around topless, and your wet clothes dry within minutes in the 30 degree sun, the water remains little above freezing. It’s hardly surprising – the water was only recently snow, and has just melted. You may not feel the cold much when adrenaline pulses through your body, but stay in it too long and you could be in for a grim time.

It is beautiful. Kayaking is full of many challenges. One such challenge in the Alps is a complete inability to pay attention to the river around you. Whether you’re looking at what lies in the valley and runs down to the riverbank or the towering snow-capped peaks above, standing tall against the blue skies, kayaking in the Alps really is incredible. 

Stuff is big – the rapids are big, the rivers are big, everything is big, and that makes it super fun kayaking, and also challenging (and therefore rewarding). It’s been a big learning curve so far, and I’m convinced over the next week, huge improvements will be seen.

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