Canyoning trip in the French southern Alps

Canyons, Friends & “Apéro!”

It is the beginning of spring and we decide to make a team of friends to launch the 2018 canyoning season. We choose to go to the beautiful Vesubie valley (Maritime Alps, France). It is an opportunity to do canyons that used to be dry during summer as there is water flowing.

The team is composed of Elsa Gasnier (ICOpro trainer), Bastien Aguillon (ICOpro Assistant Instructor), Etienne David (Canyoneer 3) and Etienne Corti (ICOpro Assistant Instructor and Photographer).

We meet in a nice private field which a friend lend us for the week. Our neighbors, a herd of sheeps welcome us! The campsite is quickly set up to launch the french “apero”, cheers! Good vibes for the week.

Peïra photo 1Vallon de la Peïra v4.a2.III

Peïra canyon is mostly open with high verticals but quickly gets drained. Today the flow is correct. Pools are filled and clear, and abseils are into water. After an hour of approach walk, we start the descent at 10:15am.

 

Quickly, we arrive at the first high abseil of 45 meters into a lovely flowing waterfall. Then, a few small obstacles, a slide of 5 meters and a 6-meter jump, brings us at the second big waterfall of 50 meters that we negociate with a rebelay.

The descent is punctuated by photo shooting by Etienne sometimes with hilarious results capturing a funny pose!

Peïra jump

We enjoy a short break on a sunny rock and unfortunately discover the mackerel tin can with mustard has received a shock in the dry box, sauce everywhere! Yummy!
After a quick wash, we keep going passing small nice abseils until the last big abseil of 60 meters which is visible from the road. There is a concern that rain could fall at any time and within a short time it is raining at the top of this big waterfall. Optimize, be efficient and enjoy! That are our motto!
At 1.30pm we are back at the car parked in the village below. Back to the base camp for a nice “apero time” with french saucisson, cheese, wine… and our friends, the sheep! Fun before the diner then back to our tent or campervan for the night !

Vallon de l’Imberguet v4.a4.III

The next day we wake up at 6.30am to make the integral descent of Imberguet canyon. It’s made up of two parts which can be done back to back. The first one is vertical and wild, less travelled and less aquatic. The second one is a classical route of Vesubie valley. It’s made up of beautiful long corridors, many aquatics sections and small abseils of up to 25 meters.

Imberguet amontAfter a good coffee at the country inn, we make the shuttle, stop a car on the bank of Vesubie and start the approach walk at 8.30am. One hour later we descent the first waterfall of 40 meters. The place is wild, the level of water is low but enough to have clear pools. Small obstacles, rappels and climbdown make this first part with a nice abseil into a blue pool which you could end with a cool slide !
It is the end of the upper part, we take a short break to the car to change our ropes from 40 to 20 meters and start again for the second part.

Imberguet slide

First, we are surprised by the cables which make a via ferrata on the firsts obstacles ; probably to facilitate the access by the local professionals and their groups but making a negative aspect on the wildness. Quickly we arrive at the committed entrance with a normal bolting.

Imberguet aval

It follows a succession of small entertaining jumps, slides and abseils. It’s very narrow with plenty of transparent water. All is here to make fun and wonderment. This canyon finish to the Vesubie river, but it’s impassable at this time of the year. We go above on a bridge, and in 5 minutes we arrive at the car. It’s 2pm and return to the base camp for….. apero, of course!

Vallon de Bagnolar v3.a2.III

After an early third morning and a good coffee, we start the approach walk of Bagnolar valley. A nice hike in a remote valley, first flat walking following an old canal, then steeper to ascent to a small pass. What a beautiful view on the valley! We start the descent around 10am. Perfect timing!
This canyon has very steep sides nicely carved. At this time of the year pools are deep suitable for many slides and jumps but very cold. Abseils not exceeding 25 meters are beautiful with a good flow. The narrow corridors make think we are caving. It’s a blast!

Bagnolar 1

Bagnolar 2

Around 1.30pm we arrive at the confluence with Figaret valley which looks beautiful but its descent is forbidden. We start the walk along the canal to return to the car and arrive around 2pm just before the rain…

After this long nice trip, our stomachs are empty and need food quickly! For this last night of our trip we decide to go to the restaurant for amazing pizzas and beers!

Clue du Riolan v2.a4.IV

We had planned to finish our canyoning trip in the Vesubie valley but finally it was so fun that we wanted more ! So, we decide to make a detour and we stop, on the way back home, at the next valley “Esteron” to do the Riolan canyon. A team who made the descent the day before said that the flow was bigger than usual. Knowing this canyon with normal flow conditions, we think it’s gonna be fun to make this sportive descent.

Riolan 1After parking the shuttle car , we start the canyon at 10.30am. The flow is big but it’s not a problem when we make the good choices!

 

 

Riolan is a committed canyon, not so vertical but very aquatic. Swimming sections are regular and sometimes long. We’re starting jumps, small abseils and the first swimming part. The flow makes us use more ropes than the last years when we could go through many obstacles without their use.

Riolan 2

In these conditions, Riolan canyon is a blast ! Even though progression is longer than usual because we have to adapt with the current ; jumps, swim and abseils make an amazing ambiance with the clearness and abundance of water.

Riolan 3
Around 4pm we finish the canyon, join the car where beers and cider waited for us and return home.

This is the story of four amazing days in the Maritime French Alps. What a better way to start this season ! Friends trip, good moments shared together around the same passion : Canyoning !

Sport, discoveries and a lot of fun !

Canyoning is what we do !

Etienne Corti, Elsa Gasnier


 

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