Yesterday, the team was on a photo mission for the new Gumotex THAYA – Droptitch model. The place of choice was the famous "Pertes de la Valserine", a very remote section where the river‘s disappearing in the middle of a white limestone desert in a wild-wild place! (despite being at the doors of the town Bellegarde!).
Bad situation was discovered when we arrived on the spot: the brillant sun that we enjoyed all the way - as annouced by every meteo site - suddenly disappeared, covered by deep fog! Anyway, we were there and ready, the shuttle van was already gone, so what else to do... Here we go!
Setting off at the Semine-Valserine confluence, our route covered the first 3 km from the confluence to the beggining of the "Pertes", with small rapids and shallow water due to a low level (4 cms/140 cfs). Here we noted the very good performance of the dropstich Thaya floor which allowed Marc Nicolet ßeta and Yannick Vericel Randovive to ride the 10cm deep waters and glide perfectly over these shallow riffles and small gr. 2 rapids.
Then the peak of the run was quickly comin' where the river narrows into a "Lapiaz" channel (limestone sculpted by ancient glacier action and water erosion). We shot some photos in this crucial spot just above the falls that lead into "The Break". A 200 m portage follows, sometimes through some dense bushes and sharp rocks... Thanks to the Nitrilon coating, Thaya once again proved to be "undestructible" during such extreme passes!
Crossing the Valserine by the "Pertes", we used the Thaya as a "commando-bridge" over the precipice... the rigidity of the bottom was tested in real-life situation!
The end of the session was done in the narrow gorge downstream where the Valserine calms down in a form of a small lake amongst some spectacular cliffs of colored rocks, travertine and resurgences: fantastic images despite the lack of sun. Enjoy!
Text and photo: Laurent Nicolet