|Stretch:||Bridge to Bielsa|
|Difficulty:||Class IV to V|
|Flows:||No gauge. ~200-400 cfs?|
|Gradient:||241 fpm average|
|Put-in:||Downstream of the Bridge on A-138|
|Take-out:||In the town of Bielsa|
|Shuttle:||8.1 km, <10 minutes one-way|
|Season:||Spring from snowmelt|
|Featured in A Wet State #139|
Pyrenees 2018 - Day 8 Morning:
Well, the initial plan for the day was to drive up the Cinqueta for one of several runs. The classic section can handle a good bit of water, so we were hopeful. Driving up the river, you are greeted with some truly spectacular scenery as the Cinqueta drops off the face of the earth in an unrunnable cascade. Not far above, this opens up to a splendid valley with wonderful mountain scenery surrounding you. What we found in the river though began to make us nervous. It was obviously high. We quickly found the gauge and our concern was confirmed. The flow was much higher than the book recommended. And it looked high. We drove up to see if maybe it would look better or if a trib carried some water in, but alas it just looked high. So we gave in and went to plan B.
Plan B was to drive up the Cinca. As we drove up that river, it became clear that while it was full, it didn't seem flooded. So we decided to drive up the Barrosa which is one of the two rivers that becomes the Cinca. And to our surprise, it too did not look high, nor low. Looked perfectly doable. So we decided to keep driving up it to find the upper stretches and see how it looked there. Arriving at the initial gorge we found that water did look a little high, but not crazy high. We quickly got changed and decided to put on.
The initial gorge lasts maybe 200 yards and is class V- I would say. Not huge by any means, but several drops all linked together, and a few undercuts to contend with. We put on just above a nice 15 foot falls which then goes off a few more ledges. The next section we decided to walk around as it just didn't look great at this water level. It was a series of two pushy bedrock moves. The walk was on the road and we soon found our way back to the river.
Downstream, the river changes to continuous small boulder rapids. I would say at the start it was non-stop IV. Though I wouldn't take a class IV boater here... there was one portage around a section which braided out into multiple channels with none carrying enough water. It was just after a strong right turn, just as the river s-ed back to the left. There was also one more bedrock rapid in this early section that ended in a hole that you want to hit straight. The rapids continue below in non-descript but entertaining fashion. Soon you will portage a weir... damn thorn bushes. Seriously... the portage had so many. Once back on the water the river began to ease up to be more like continuous III and honestly we all began to feel like it was dragging on. Before long though we found ourselves at the final exit gorge. This gorge has a fun boulder garden which then leads to the gorge and a small ledge that could be serious. It is just under the foot bridge. I would recommended setting safety on the ledge as it had recirculation for sure. We then quickly found our way to the confluence.
The run was ok. The put-in gorge was great. Less water would be fine up there. But I think towards the bottom less water would not be fine. To extend our day, since we knew we were likely moving on the next day since the Cinqueta was too high, we decided to continue on down through the Cinca whose put-in as at the confluence.
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- Entry (IV+). A bed rock rapid to run left to right with a bit of a hole and a big undercut in place. Or seal launch in below.
Falls (IV). About as easy as it comes 15 foot waterfall. Run immediately next to the big flake so that you get the small flake for a nice boof.
Exit (IV to IV+). We ran pretty much down the middle and boofed the large hole below. There were some rocks above that cause this to not be as straight forward as it sounds.
Between (IV-). A really nice flake boof off the left. We then got out below to skip the next one, that caused us to walk down maybe 100 yards to put back in.
Pinch (V). We walked this one. It was a pinch with good size hole, no safety able to be set, and an undercut. With less water I think it would be better. Below is 100 yards of nice boogie to where we put back in.
- Boogie (IV to IV+). The boogie at the top was steeper and more congested. The whole run from here down is just one long rapid with medium and small boulders. We did have to get out to portage one area that the river braided out and didn't have enough water in any channel.
- Bedrock (IV). One last bed rock rapid is sprinkled in here. A nice two-tiered drop. Run left of center and far left.
Boogie (III+ to IV). I don't remember as much IV+ boogie in this section. Just boogie.
- Weir (U). Portaging the weir sucks. So many dang thorn bushes. Diane and Harry eddied out lower and had a harder time. I eddied out higher and it was a little easier. We portaged on the left.
Boogie (III+ to IV). The boogie gets noticeably easier and also starts to become more tedious as it has less character and more just banging down.
- Final Gorge (IV). The final gorge can be seen from a turn out and short walk on the drive up. The gorge has a ledge hole at the top that you want to run far right. It is kinda a nasty little pothole in the bedrock. It is fine if you don't get stuck though. We all went straight through.
Take-out: OK, so we didn't actually take-out, we just continued down the Cinca. So I am not 100% sure of where the access is. But it is in the town of Bielsa, some 32 km North of the city of Ainsa.
Put-in: From Bielsa, continue up A-138 for 8.1 km. Just before the bridge over the river, there was a nice turn out that we used.
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