So the aims of our trip take another turn…the proposed link up with Borderlands, a rafting company in the central highlands of Sri Lanka has got a bit more serious. Not only are we going to offer some kayak instruction and help with safety and rescue training for their local guides, but we have also been tasked with helping to find Borderlands a new home, not just their base, a whole new river.
The old school kayak school in Sri Lanka at the moment
Latest transmission from Wade at Borderlands;
“I have a bit of a mission which I hope you guys can help us with out here. It is confirmed that the main river here is going to be damned and work starts within 6 months. Even more scary is the Chinese are heading the project which means things will move fast. With this reality we wish to put a HELP US FIND A NEW RIVER SPIN on your trips out here. We will likely look at moving operations when the time comes but maybe you can help us find a new home to build another rafting camp.”
Rafting on the Kelani
Hydro schemes are an emotive issue, and one which becomes extremely obvious when you paddle in developing nations. Think China and you think of the massive “Three Gorges” Scheme. Think India and the Indus dams jump straight to mind along with the big schemes on the headwaters of the Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, then move to Africa and everyone is in mourning for ‘Silverback.’ As economies grow and modernize the thirst for power is massive, and essential for driving development along the Western model. As kayakers we hate dams, hate the destruction of the water drainage environment that we love to explore. Its’ strange that this is impacting on our little troup before we get there and paddle even a drop of Sri Lankan water.
Borderlands are in need of help moving to a new river
The river Kelani on which Borderlands run their rafting operation has been confirmed as the site for Sri Lanka’s latest hydro scheme, the scheme is backed by the Chinese which means that it will move fast. Our job is to find another section of whitewater suitable for rafting, suitable for this company to continue their comparatively small business in the face of mass economic development.
P.S Here is some more of what Borderlands are up to… http://www.discoverborderlands.com/Video.htmlSean
Chris Merriman at the warm up drop
Niamh and myself managed to time our weekend boating with a heavy dose of summer rain in the north of England.
Swale virgin Sabina enjoys her first run
The unpredictable northern test piece run, the Swale, was at a nice medium. With a couple of Swale virgins ready to get their boof on, it was perfect level to do a few laps of this short but sweet waterfall run.
The Raptor likes to boof!
With the type of gradient we are expecting in Sri Lanka the Swale was a great practice. There're loads of drops of various sizes and a couple of chunky rapids thrown in for good measure.
Darragh on some read and run
Rainby Falls is a pretty fun drop which always looks like it will hurt more than it does!
Niamh Stack drops into Rainby.
Closely followed by Darragh
But Lower Kisdon is the highlight of the trip. The left hand line is the usual line in low water, but there has been a recent trend in giving it a healthy boof and tuck.
We decided to continue that trend!…
Rob Tuley finally gets decent flows on the Swale!
Niamh dropping thee big one
Also helping with the Sri Lanka training is everyones favourite part of the trip - the walk out!
Back to the top for Round #2!
More rain is on the long range forecast for next week too :) Happy days.
Earlier this year we applied for the Lyon Equipment Expedition Award, and fortunately our proposal was accepted.
Just yesterday a fat parcel arrived for us full of goodies from Lyon, from hammocks and sleeping mats, to torches and drybags.
We're now pretty much all kitted out ready for the big adventure!
Big thanks to all the companies who supplied us with gear:
It has been a long time since I’ve made it to Wales when there has been a good load of water. Fortunately last weekend there was plenty of water. Almost too much for the Fairy Glen. Neither my brother nor myself had done it that high before, but took the gamble that everything would flush through.
To Glen or not to Glen? Inspecting Fairy Falls
To Glen was the answer...but with lots of tricky inspections
It’s not easy to inspect most of the drops and gorges on the Glen, and with just the two of us on the water photo opportunities were few and far between.
Below Sticky Hole near the top of the section
Getting on turned out to be a good call. It’s a short section, and took us just over an hour with bushwacking fun filled inspections. If we’d have gone for a second run though, would have taken less than half that time!
Inspecting the gorges sometimes required a push of the gamble button
We then met up with Hugh Thomas and Danny Young (who I’d previously been on expedition with to Tajikistan), and had a blast down the Mawddach making the most of the high water to tick off the ‘minus rapids’.
The waterfall on the Mawdach at chunky levels
Tuck and Fall on the Mawddach
Noone fancied Rhaeadr Mawddach (for obvious reasons!) but we did get to witness one descent of it (kayak belonged to a group we passed further upstream – the boats owner was fortunately out and on the bank well before!)
Kayak making a break from its owner down Rhaeadr Mawddach (this is only the top half of the drop)
All in all, a class day out! Can’t wait for more summer downpours!
Exams have been keeping many of us pretty busy recently, so not all of us have been able to get out boating as much as we’d like.
But on the plus side, I’ve had a few articles published recently featuring members of the expedition which have made for a bit of light reading during revision breaks.
Niamh Stack gracing the opening page of the National Student Rodeo report in CKUK Magazine
I do love the 'Old Skool Event'. "Dave Burne - a generation or two behind his times" The Topo-Duo was also pretty fun! Will Raffiki and myself take off.
Canoe Focus article on last years expedition to Tajikistan published recently.
And an appearence in Kayak Session Magazine
An article Lowri Davies and myself put together about the loss of one of the best rapids on the Nile. Published in Julys edition of CKUK Magazine
Niamh also helped me out with a description of her first experience down the rapid
Hopefully the kayaking media will be filled with Sri Lanka based articles next year!
And exams are soon to be over, so hopefully I'll be out kayaking (not just reading about kayaking!) soon!