posted on December 01, 2009 11:40
Sunday morning was the wettest it had been all weekend. Lashed down all night and wasn’t looking to stop. After another morning of dodgy breakfasts and lumpy milk in our tea, we headed of to the river Ogwen, one of the UK’s top 10 classics.
It was a medium to low level but all looked good to go. The run kicked off with a bang at the mighty Ogwen Bank Falls. A massive Grade 5 fall that consists of a tight line at the run in, then down series of rocky drops, round a corner and finishes with a 25ft slide down to the bottom. We watched a number of people sneak down the right hand line and down over the slide. After careful consideration Darren decided he would tackle the main left hand run.
The problem was that if he went over towards the top of the drop he would probably ended running the rest of it upside down with his face rubbing against the rocks! Ivan was at the bottom with a throw line and Chas was ready to chase boat. Gary with the camera and Stuart at top in case I didn’t make the right line. Darren borrowed Gary’s helmet with a head cam strapped to it and after a quick pep talk with himself, he pushed on out the eddy.
The horizon just fell beneath him as he paddled hard across the flow and nailed the top line. Down the first of the rocky drops and landed slightly sideward’s. A quick shuffle and he was back on line, down the next drop and into the corner, holding his edge and then fast down the final slide to the bottom. This was one of the biggest and most intimidating drops Darren had ever run.
The following section was aptly named the Gun barrel rapid, as the water flowed down a narrow channel for 300 meters, with big stoppers and wave trains all the way and finishing with a long slide to the bottom. This was again a case of NO ROLLING as the chances of getting back up where slim, and the thought of swimming it was scary.
We all successfully ran it, even making eddies half way down. The rest of the Upper Ogwen was grade 3-4 interspersed with easy sections and hurricane winds. The middle section had contradicting write ups with some saying continuous Grade 5 and others saying it was easier.
The technical middle section was soon upon us and everyone struggled with the low water conditions that meant that the lines on the rapids were more complicated though the drops were a bit more forgiving. Stuart managed to get the nose of his kayak pinned under a rock. Darren quickly got out to assit him but when he discovered that Stuart was stable he proceeded to start videoing him.
The Lower Ogwen was a lovely run, continuous big and bouncy grade 3 with a few bigger drops and weirs to keep us guessing. After a quick change in somebody’s front door way, and loading of the boats in the driving rain, we were back on our way home.