The Grand Canyon of the Verdon

by Anne Huebner

Beside the European Freestyle Championships my summer destination this year has been the French Alps. After spending a couple days in the Durance Valley we moved on to our final destination the Verdon Gorge. On the way we passed the Gorge de Daluis of the Var river. This canyon offers easy whitewater and it is very impressive with its red rocks and hundred of meters high canyon walls.

As we finally reached the Verdon canyon we found out that in that week there was a water release as every week on Tuesday and Friday and additionally also on Wednesday - perfect for us as we arrived there no Monday! So we had two days of awesome paddling adventure through one of the deepest canyons all over Europe coming up. The Verdon meanders over 24 kilometres through a up to 700 meter deep and in some spots only a couple meters wide Canyon before it flats out in a lake. Most of the whitewater in the gorge is easy class II and less. But there are also some serious up to class IV sections with numerous bad places and siphons in almost every rapid.

Highlight of the paddling trip through the gorge is for sure the section called "Imbut" which is more or less a huge siphon where - if there is no driftwood in the first few meters - paddlers can paddle through. A class II-III rapid leads into the entrance. Once you paddle through the tight rock built entrance gate the whitewater calms down to almost flatwater. In the big cave you have to get out of your boat once to lift your boat over a small rock, which is in the way and in the end to make it over the exit boulder.

After four and a half hours paddling through the amazing gorge, making our way through the labyrinth of big boulders we reached the take-out lake and after another 45 minutes of flatwater paddling we finally made it to the take out bridge and out plan for the next day was done: Second run double fun!