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Austria 2005

Austria 2005

I found myself in a difficult position and one I was certainly not used to.There was a paddling trip in progress and for the first time in the last three years I was not on it.

Three cars had left for Austria on the Friday and I was at Teesside, having fun, but the Landeck Gorge it was not.

There seemed little way of escaping work as I seemed to have worked through the book of dodges already without success, then at 12.35 on the Monday I discovered I would not be needed and I could execute my ever so cunning plan.A solo overnight drive to the Alps to meet up with the others.

Within minutes of returning to the office I had a ferry booked from Dover that evening, some breakdown cover for the car sorted and had renewed my snow card annual insurance policy.

I made Dover in good time and managed to catch an earlier ferry than I had booked, I rolled down the ramp into France at 11.03pm.I opened a fresh can of drink and placed the first of 15 albums in the cassette player, it was going to be a long night if I was to make it in time for paddling the next morning.

The car headlights driving towards me seemed awful close as I left Calais, yup thatd be a Brit driving back up the carriage way the wrong way, presumably having missed their turn half a mile back.

I started to break the journey down in my head setting myself mileage / time goals, the first 150 miles disappeared in a little over two hours, I stopped for fuel and set off on another 2 hour / distance competition with myself.    The route I was following was easy enough, Reims, Metz, Strasbourg, Mulhouse, Zurich, Landeck

The night disappeared into a haze of energy drinks, wandering thoughts and numerous tape changes.

I expected to need sleep at some point but that moment never came, a slight lapse in concentration as dawn approached didnt cause too much concern and I was in Switzerland as the blackness changed to murky grey and the rain continued to fall, all the good progress I had made through the early hours were blown away by the early morning traffic chaos of Zurich, my arrival in Landeck further delayed by roadworks in the last 15 miles.

I pulled into the Sport camp Tirol site a little after 10.00am, I recognised no cars and a quick phone call revealed that I had just missed everyone who were now on a short shopping trip in town.Twenty minutes later everyone returned and I tied my boat to the free space on Drillers car and we headed off to paddle the Roseanna, the first of 12 sections of river for me over the course of the next 5 days.

The highlight of the week being the discovery of the Wolf gorge, only a short drive from Landeck this tight narrow gorge offered a 15 minute continuous downriver blast.

H led the way on our first trip down and Roy, Driller and I followed in an orderly fashion, by contrast PKs group of Lyndon L Pres and Clare careered downstream as if they had been shot from a scatter gun, each of them taking a different line through the initial section captured by Jo C on film, ensuring its kept for posterity.  Two further jaunts down the Wolf saw a swim for Roy and a deep cut to his shin, recovering his boat deep in the gorge saw us taking the only option for getting it out, we threw it back in the river and paddled down with it collecting bits of foam buoyancy as we went, that Disco has seen some action for sure.

Given that there were floods within a few weeks of our return it looks as if there will be a bunch of sections that bear no resemblance to those we paddled this year, all reports indicate that many of the river have re worked their courses and a effectively a new batch of first descents await next year.

Tuesday Roseanna, Sanna, Landeck Gorge

Wednesday, Wolfs Gorge, Sanna, Landeck Gorge

Thursday, Schuls Gorge, Giarsun Gorge

Friday, Wolfs Gorge, Lower Oetz, Landeck Gorge

Saturday, Wolfs Gorge.