Freesteel Blog » Rasiga Raid Roundup

Rasiga Raid Roundup

Monday, September 27th, 2010 at 6:16 am Written by:

On Monday 30 August everyone else was too tired to go canyoning, which meant I had an opportunity to go on my own with Becka with all the kit and ropes and bags. It felt like being allowed to drive off with your first girlfriend in your parent’s car for the first time, alone. One way or another there would be tears. We rarely go caving on our own, unless we know the cave very well, because neither of us has faith in the other’s competence.

With Rasiga, I had the advantage of having done it before. Except all the way down I kept recognizing bits of canyon that I had thought were someplace else. We’d reach the top of a particularly awkward two-stage pitch that I remembered from the week before, but it belonged to Ogliana or Bianca, didn’t it? Rasiga was supposed to be the easy one. It was in fact awfully long. Even the walk up took ages when we went seriously off the trail and tried to follow the cleared too-steep slope beside a hydro-electric pipeline.

Anyways, subject to my voice breaking when trying to shout instructions from halfway down a waterfall for Becka to let some more rope out and then come down to the ledge she couldn’t see from the top, we got by.

Here’s a brief video of some bits from a camera in a plastic bag. You don’t see this kind of hesitating on normal canyon videos. After doing best toboggan in it, Becka stands up and gives it the big thumbs down. Maybe she needs to wear a mask like I was doing.

Rasiga took us seven hours. I lost one of Si’s expensive twist-gate krabs in a pool on the final pitch. I think Becka only continued past the half-way point escape route because she was fascinated by the way I showed real energy and enthusiasm for something cave-like.

The fortnight timetable went like this:

  • 21 Aug Long drive from Austria
  • 22 Aug 1 long canyon (Rasiga) Sunday
  • 23 day off Monday
  • 24 2 canyons (Bianca) Tuesday
  • 25 Up same road, technical with road bridge (Mondelli inferior) Wednesday
  • 26 Thursday Ogliana (Becka arrives evening)
  • 27 Friday Rasiga aborted
  • 28 Saturday Mondelli
  • 29 Sunday Gondo and Isorno (si broken)
  • 30 Monday Rasiga with Becka
  • 31 Tuesday Antolina
  • 1 Wednesday Variola
  • 2 Thursday Alba
  • 3 Friday Toce
  • 4 Saturday ferry

Antolina canyon has a much better video that tells the story. There’s a good 50 metre pitch at the end (and it must be because I normally hate pitches). Otherwise, the canyon design suffers from many faults, such as rubbly rock falls, pools too far away to jump into and potential toboggans that run straight into boulders.

Variola superior is the sister canyon to Rasiga — in parallel and just over a ridge. [Picture at top of this post is Becka doing a jump there]. The mood was pretty low amongst the party. We lacked our leader, Si Flower. To keep myself buoyant I had the Hawkwind song Psi Power going through my head the whole time. Nobody else had heard of it.

The canyon was interrupted partway down by what appeared to be a dead forest thrown into the ravine.

2 September was scheduled for River Alba, which advertised a 250m final abseil. This was definitely Becka’s job, as I don’t like heights and she does (Si was back in action, but it required three people to carry the ropes). During the night Becka unilaterally decided that I had to go. There was no begging or bargaining about it. She had had enough of canyoning, with all the water and fun things like jumps and slides. There wasn’t any of this in Alba. Just a 2 hour walk up that gave serious wetsock abrasion in my wellies, and some exposed dangling from crappy bolts with too-small links of chains to clip into and non-existant ledges. The real hassle was pulling the ropes down. We had 10mm ropes going through chain links about the same diameter. It took a lot of weight and hauling to pull the rope through metre by metre. What we needed were some cheap wide maillons that we could just clip on and leave there. It took seven hours to complete and we missed the ice cream shop. Becka was cross for having stayed in all day, and I was cross for having to go on a trip that Becka would have enjoyed a lot more than I did.

She wasn’t canyoning on the next day either, because that was for the River Toce, which is double the water of all the other canyons and rated a black in one of Si’s guidebooks.

It was very dark and fairly horizontal. The water washed you across boulder beds in places, but it was mostly swimming in canals to the extent that it would almost be worth bringing a pair of fins. At one pitch, where we were lining each other across the current, I dropped the bag and the daren drum came out of it containing Andrew’s electronic car keys and everyone’s shorts. It got caught up in a whirlpool. Fortunately he had a spare with him, but I got billed the full amount right away so I didn’t feel guilty. Later on the two of them got trapped behind another excellent whirlpool where the current from the waterfall coming in from the side kept pushing them back. Luckily I was still above them and could trail a rope down so they could pull themselves across.

That evening we cleaned up the house, got our deposit back (hooray!), and drove back with four in the car. Twenty-four hours later Becka and I were at home. Nothing had happened while we were away.

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