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Trip Report: 2004 International Canyoning Rendezvous, Ainsa Spain (page 1)
All photos by Todd unless otherwise noted.

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My wife and I had an extended break from work scheduled and were looking forward to the time off to pursue our true passion in life - Scrapbooking! Unfortunately, a horrible mishap involving a nasty paper cut left me unable to use glue or paste (on doctors orders), and severely restricted my ability to use those wavy scissors  that produce a decorative border. So we decided to go to the Spanish Pyrenees to the 2nd International Canyoning Rendezvous instead.
The event was held in Ainsa, Spain - a small town located in the northeast corner of the country where the Rio Cinca and Rio Ara meet (for those of you, who like me, do not speak Spanish, Rio means 'River', don't let the language thing intimidate you, all you really need to remember is that 'Cerveza' means 'Beer'). The plan for the event was canyoning during the day and movies and slide shows in the evening. The local Elk's Lodge must have been booked however, so the organizers settled on the use of a local castle as base for the event instead. El Castillo was completed in 1610 by Felipe II to provide fortifications against French invasion.
Due to jet lag and a general lack of motivation (keep in mind the whole scrapbooking incident weighed heavily on me) we awoke rather late on the first day and arrived at the castle to find that almost everyone had already left. John, my wife and I hooked up with a British fellow named Evan (who is obviously just as lazy as we are) and our gracious host Koen (Poco Loco Adventures) outfitted our ragtag group with gear and pointed us in the direction of a little canyon down the road called Foz de la Canal. Skies were overcast by the time we arrived at the trailhead and as we hiked to the canyon the clouds opened up and unleashed sheets of rain. Given that none of us had been through this canyon before, and we weren't really familiar with canyons with flowing water, and we didn't know whether the possibility of a flash flood existed, we made the only sensible decision given the conditions ..... and decided to go for it.* Here I am rappelling on my butt.
(Photo by John Hart)
The dynamics of flowing water make these canyons very different from most of those encountered on the Colorado Plateau in the US. The roar of the falls makes communication difficult, the force of the water makes rope placement critical and drowning suddenly becomes a real danger. On the positive side it makes it much easier to conceal the fact that you've pee'd in your wetsuit.
Emboldened by surviving our first Spanish canyon, we joined a larger group on Day 2 for an excursion down Consusas Inferior. The canyon is longer, somewhat more difficult and has a checkered history. It is also fed by snowmelt this time of year, so we fervently hoped we wouldn't be swimming in the frigid, icy water.
Oh well .............
Bertrand and Delphine from France did an exceptional job leading the trip. The language barrier didn't seem to pose much of a problem, since the team was bound by the camaraderie of the shared activity (by the way, traveling in France is easy even if you don't speak the language thanks to the fact that the French word for 'Beer' is 'Biere'). This is the big rappel at the end of Consusas Inferior.
* Lest I seem irresponsible, Foz de la Canal is both short and drains a small area. A discussion of whether to continue did occur before entering the canyon, and the risk associated with proceeding was determined to be very low. Those who held misgivings were eventually won over by our infectious stupidity.
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