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©STEPHANE MEURISSE

A day of canyoning with friends

a 100% adrenaline activity!
In the Montcalm nature sports resort

For my 25th birthday, my friends have organized a surprise birthday party with the only clues: don’t forget to take a backpack with used swimsuit and sneakers. Departure planned for Saturday at 8 a.m.

We leave Toulouse very early, taking the A66 Ariegeoise freeway and passing through Tarascon-sur-Ariège an hour later, heading for the Vicdessos Valley.

First impression, the valley is really superb, a river runs along the road and as we arrive in Auzat we catch sight of the highest peak in Ariège, imposing and barring the valley, Le Pic du Montcalm and its 3077 m.

We settle in, the gîte in Auzat is cool and pleasant, a superb view, the weather is wonderful and we take the opportunity to go for a picnic by the Etang de Lers, a few kilometers away.

Surprise, the scenery is absolutely stunning, the mountain lake superb and directly accessible by car. Free black horses in summer pasture, paragliders in the sky, the place, surrounded by high peaks where there’s still a bit of snow, is a real postcard.

The water in the lake is really cold, and I announce to the group that I, for my part, will forego swimming… Laughter bursts out, Cyril (who organized the day ) informs me that the pond is reserved for fishing and that we have an appointment in an hour at Marc’s village. We have coffee on the shady terrace of the restaurant next to the lake, where the view is truly remarkable.

It’s time to head for the village of Marc.

In front of the hamlet’s chapel, Paul, our instructor, greets us. His vehicle reads “Spéléo, canyon, escalade” (caving, canyoning, climbing), and I begin to realize that my jersey is finally going to come in handy! Each of us is given a neoprene wetsuit and booties, a helmet and a climbing harness. The suit fits perfectly and my friends inform me that we’re going canyoning!

As Paul adjusts my harness, I tell him that, apart from a bit of hiking, I’m not particularly sporty. He reassures me that Marc’s canyon is an introductory site, that we’re going to slide down the riverbed using simple rope techniques, and that the activity is really fun and within anyone’s reach! Everyone is soon equipped and it’s an excited group that heads up the trail along the steep river. A 15-minute walk and we’re back at the starting point. The river has a moderate flow and we slip into the cool water to enter between the rock faces.

First slides, we quickly get into the game as we slide down these natural walls before landing in large limpid basins.

The benefits of discovery with a professional

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