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Buster goes rafting

In May '99, Buster accepted an invite to travel to Austria with a group of local trouble makers for a canyoning and rafting weekend. The pretext was to improve my German, the real reason was to teach the Germans how to drink beer. Coals to Newcastle you might think... click on the thumbnails to find out.

After the 'five hour' drive predictably stretched well into the night, we finally reached our destination at Unterobergurgl (try saying that after a few beers!) where Bernd and his wife were waiting to welcome us. A quick celebratory beer and we hit the hay ready for a long day ahead.
For day one, we hadn't planned any activities, so after a hearty mountain breakfast, we set off to discover the Ötz valley (made famous by the discovery of the iron-aged man preserved in glacial ice).
After a short stroll, the serene atmosphere was broken by the first snowball fight of the trip (Germany won on penalties) followed by the new sport of 'Shoeing' and ice-wall climbing (as shown).  Careful with those hands, Claus!
Team shot
Because the weather was turning nasty, Bernd (our guide) cancelled the afternoon's planned activity of climbing. When we were nestled in front of a log fire, beer in hand, later that evening, Bernd's scary slide show of his definition of 'climbing' made it obvious the decision had been the right one.
Patrik leads the way in the evening's sporting activities. He didn't stay the distance (or even the full ninety minutes), though, and spent most of the next day promising he would never drink red wine again. So young, so much to learn.
We planned canyoning for Day 2, the new sport where you throw yourself down waterfalls protected by 3mm of neoprene. Our hosts at Faszinatour decided it was too dangerous (two weeks later, a dozen tourists drowned canyoning in Interlaken) but it's never too wet for rafting, so we donned wetsuits, condom-like helmets and set off to ride the rapids.
With exceptionally high water levels, the ride rough and swift. Our hired 'driver', without local knowledge, steered the boat over a particularly large (house-sized) flurry, only to be told afterwards by other guides that this was 'illegal' and stupidly dangerous. Hey, hey! We closed the day by having a go at Faszinatour's climbing wall, as demonstrated by Rainer.
Jochen demonstrating newly-learned skills. Or maybe its a just a scarry dopplegänger for Jochen from Bernd's brochure. I certainly don't remember any ropes or advanced safety gear, and I was never that pissed.
Our host and master Bernd shows us how its all done on his climbing wall.
'Now I am the master'. Patrik, showing an uncanny knack for hanging above the ground, shows up our Obiwan Kanobi. We spent hours persuading Patrik not to give it all up and become a mountain man. He did eventually (albeit reluctantly) come home with us.
On day three, the weather had turned even worse, so we decided to head for home and avoid another drenching. The tourists' route took us home via Innsbruck and Garmisch, to which I was to return just the following week. Here, Buster shows he hasn't lost his touch with the dogs. 
Buster's attempts to blend in work to alarmingly realistic effect. This is in Innsbruck in a sunny spell between outpours. We used the time wisely by having beer outside.
Team photo in the centre of Innsbruck.


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