It looks like one of those “Things to do Before You Die”: The pictures we received from canyoning pro and guide Laurent Poublan in France are absolutely spectacular. We had a talk with him about Canyoning in ice and snow.
Canyoning-professional Laurent Poublan mentioned Ice Canyoning, when we had a chat in summer (see: Follow The Water – Canyoning With SOURCE). The beautiful pictures he sent now still took us by surprise. Exploring the unique environment at the bottom of a canyon or gorge, going down snow-covered frozen waterfalls looks truly like a trip to another world.
Talking about Ice Canyoning
Talking to Laurent, he makes it sound like a walk in the park. Of course, as a pro he’s fully aware of all potential dangers. But Ice Canyoning sounds like something everybody with basic fitness and health can do, participating in one of the groups that he leads through the canyons in the French Pyrenees.
“It’s basically the same as Canyoning in the Summer,” he says. The going with the flow of the water, gliding, also sliding and even jumping and diving, rappelling and abseiling downstream in the bottom of a narrow canyon, ravine or gorge: it’s the same techniques applied as in summer.
Talking about apparel
The most noticable difference (besides the color of the landscape): instead of a neoprene wet-suit it’s warm winter-clothes plus a watertight drysuit. That way, Laurent says, it’s possible to stay up to 5-6 hours in the ice, water and snow at the bottom of the canyon. To fix holes or cuts in the drysuit, they always carry repair-kits, comparable to bike-repair-sets.
Talking dangers: Avalanches, the cold, the dark
While in summer it’s possible to tour 20 canyons close to Laurent’s home in the Pyrenees, in wintertime there’s only 3 or 4 that are accessible. Main problems being: The cold and the dark. After 6 hours it gets chilly. Also, since the sun sets much earlier in wintertime, early nightfall makes it impossible to walk longer canyons.
And some canyons are too dangerous due to avalanches. And it’s not only the avalanches released inside the canyon that have to be watched. Much more dangerous are avalanches that run down the side of the mountain to enter the canyon at the end of their run, covering everything at the bottom of the gorge.
Talking hydration in wintertime
In regards to hydration, two critical issues come together, explains the pro: For one, engaging in water-sports, people don’t feel the need to drink (also in summer). And then there’s the cold in winter: “You don’t feel your thirst like you do in summer,” explains Laurent. Making it for him incredibly important that he assigns the groups he’s guiding to drink plenty and regularly.
Laurent uses our Wraptank Hydration System and its successor, the Durabag. Its strong cover protects it from cold and mechanical damage. The tube’s insulation (that also comes with our Winter Tube Kit) keeps the water in the Hydration System from freezing. On top of that, he always carries some hot tea in a thermos (see our Mapal and Ma’ayan stainless-steel vacuum-insulated bottles).
For more information about Canyoning, also visit the official page of Laurent Poublan’s “Experience Canyon”: www.experience-canyon.com