Freesteel Blog » Pay to play Bitet Inferieur

Pay to play Bitet Inferieur

Thursday, July 21st, 2011 at 8:43 pm Written by:

Once again my camera stayed safely in several layers of dry containers for the entire trip, which is why it still works.

I’d been staring at the egress of Bitet Inferieur canyon on the road up to Portalet since first day we passed it on bikes and saw five people coming out of it grinning ear to ear.

There was no way I was going to persuade Becka I was competent enough to take us through it. She knows me too well. And we didn’t have a guidebook (the internet has de-listed it as illegal).

What we needed was someone competent to take us there.

I wonder if the Tourist Information could sort this out.

Why, yes they could. The lady at the desk made one phone call at 5:30 in the afternoon. Someone phoned her back. Then she looked up the tariff for Apr├Ęs-midi Technique Sportive and took Becka’s 100 Euro note. Just like that.

This is never going to work, I thought. Especially when we woke up to a grey drizzly morning the day after. Surely it’s going to be cancelled and we’ll get the booby prize of trailing some mass children’s trip down something we’ve already done and don’t need to pay someone take us to.

But there was Etienne in his minivan at the meeting point in Laruns for us at 1:30pm. We were his the only clients for the canyon.

This is absolutely the way to do it. First class luxury. People pay real money for their own ski-guides, when all they need is a map. But this really was worth it.

How good is it to have someone who handles all the rigging for you, carries a first aid kit and knows exactly where to jump? Especially when the water levels are somewhat more significant than you would have thought sensible.

We over-took a party of spaniards playing with their rope at one cascade because Etienne knew it was okay to jump into the rock-obscuring white water.

The middle third of the canyon had to be bypassed because of tree-fall. There had been a violent storm last year which massacred part of the forest.

Back in the canyon we hit a snag. The fixed line to the head of the big pitch was missing due to the P-hangers having just been replaced. Etienne sorted it out by leading us across a series of three stages of slippery ledge experience. He tightened the traverse lines for us to safely cross. At the end stage he took both bags of rope with him, and we thought if he falls off now we’re completely buggered. Nothing we could do to get out. We did go down on a knotted abseil rope, which may have conflicted with counter-intuitive lessons here and here. However I can now confirm that such knots do not always fail. Wish I’d spoken up, though, but I didn’t know enough french to communicate.

This took us down to an extremely windy waterfall chamber, then through a tunnel cave section, and finally along several hundred metres of log-strewn gorge to the road.

Tomorrow we’re supposed to leave this apartment. But we also want to do a canyon trip in the morning. And we need to pack. The place is completely full of our stuff. How did we get it all in one car?

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