Talk announcement – Lowri Davies – 10 March – Russian Whitewater

Monday March 10th 7.30pm – Lowri Davies – “Canoeing with the Cossacks” – Reading Room – Derby and Rathbone Hall – Greenbank –  £3.50 Adults / Students / Children – Note different venue to other talks – see Maps page for directions to Greenbank

That’s next Monday! Everyone welcome, great to see you there. Folk will be getting a drink in the student bar in Derby and Rathbone halls beforehand. Also some of us are going for an early supper – let me know if you’d like to come out for a bite to eat beforehand.

Lowri Daviesphoto courtesy of Four Borders websiteLowri Davies

Lowri Davies is best known as one of the World’s top female freestyle kayakers including being European Champion. However, making small boats spin on every axis while flying through the air is not her only paddling proficiency…

Lowri Davies

Last year Lowri was selected as one of 8 top white water paddlers for the British Universities Expedition to explore some of the wild rivers of Siberia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. The team paddled big volume multi-day rivers through inescapable gorges and ticked off first descents. However, they faced as many obstacles off the water – guns, bribery, arrests, and car crashes to name but a few! Come and share Lowri’s life and adventures – paddling for 10 weeks in central Asia as the only female on the team.

Photos and quotes from the Four borders expedition website:

Lowri DaviesLowri DaviesLowri Davies

Off the river, the main themes seem to be vodka, vodka, more vodka. Oh and guns:

Geting to the river it involves driving off road over the Karagem pass, over 3000m high.  As we started the climb up the pass it became apparent that our driver and Igor were having a bit of a lovers tiff, as Tank wanted to drive through the night up and over the pass, while drinking large quantities of vodka to keep him awake – Four borders website

It is well known in the mountains that the currency is vodka and rope.  With that in mind we set off to buy some meat armed with a Russian phrase book and none of the above currency – Four borders website

He took a few photos before realising that behind him was a border guard truck driving towards him, it drove right to him and put him in the back at gunpoint – Four borders website

The team persevered with long walk ins and driving rather “off road” for days at a time:

We drove for two days across what seemed to be desert. Feeling totally disheartened we made one last attempt to find a river we could paddle. What we found was beyond what any of us imagined finding in Mongolia; a near perfect creek with large drops, steep slides and crystal clear water. – Four borders website

And they were rewarded with some great white water

This section proved to be a great warm up, a big volume grade 4 which reminded some people of paddling in BC. We eventually came to a bridge that marked the start of the impressive gorge that is the Mazhoy cascade. It turned out that the day had really only just begun! The short gorge section we expected became a five hour trip involving, some read-and-run grade five, much scouting and a portage. – Four Borders website

Sobering thoughts: Hard whitewater and isolated conditions can make for serious consequences with the worst outcome:

A couple of weeks before our descent a group of Russian kayakers were in the gorge when the river rose by two metres. One of the team attempted to walk out and has not been seen since. – Four borders website

All in all the trip took in a huge variety of white water and conditions, gorges, multi-day trips and snow fed cascades. They also got to meet amazing people and experience life in the high plains of Mongolia and Siberia. Really looking forward to this talk. 

Four Borders expedition websiteLowri DaviesLowri Davies

Also see Lowri’s personal kayaking blog page

This is the third in this series of talks 2008 – big thanks to everyone for supporting these, to Rachel for doing all the organising, and to Pete Knowles (“Whitewater North Alps” / “Whitewater South Alps”) for coordinating these speakers to tour the country – it has been super to get the chance to hear from top expedition kayakers.

Photos: Lowri Davies / Four Borders Expedition website


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