Remic Rapids: Champlain Bridge - The Wall

High water levels produce the best playspot that the City of Ottawa has to offer. Every spring paddlers flock to The Wall playspot at the Champlain Bridge for a series of surf waves with abutting eddy access that are great for playboating.
The Wall playspots at the Champlain Bridge are located on the river right shore abutting Bates Island. There is ample parking and, at times, it can become quite a spectator sport. Every spring the Level 6 Cup whitewater festival takes place here.
The Wall playspot as seen from the Champlain Bridge.

What's it like: At high water The Wall is a class III rapid that consists of a series of 3 to 4 surfable wave-holes that have eddy access, are retentive for all boat lengths, and allow all wave and hole freestyle tricks to be done. However, as the water levels fall, the waves become smaller, some disappear, and the eddy becomes unattainable from below.
Using the Britannia Gauge for water flow - the following are the characteristics of the playspot:
Below 58.5 - eddy is small, you have to portage up island for each ride, waves are small.
58.5 - the eddy is in, but rope needed to reattain the top
58.7 - you can paddle up the eddy with effort
59.0 - the eddy is full with little effort needed to paddle up, the waves are steep and retentive
Above 59.1 - you are recirculated to the top of eddy and the waves continue to be great. The higher the water level the more the the playspots become breaking waves and lose their hole character.


Champlain surfing at 59.3 on the Britannia Gauge.

Safety Concerns: In the spring and fall the water is cold so make sure that you are wearing the appropriate insulating equipment like Farmer Johns, dry pants, a dry top, gloves / mits / pogies, and head insulation to prevent those ice cream headaches. Make sure that you carry the appropriate rescue equipment like tow-lines, throw bags, and a first-aid kit. Moreover, the water is flowing through here quite fast and, as such, you should never paddle alone! Paddle with a group of experienced paddlers. Every year someone paddles there alone or with someone that doesn't have rescue training or the appropriate rescue gear, and there is a swimmer that gets taken far downstream and is in the water for a long time. This is a risk for hypothermia, hospitalization, and even death. If you are not an experienced paddler this is not the time of year to learn here. Wait until the warm summer water is around.

How to get there: The Champlain Bridge is located in the western part of the City of Ottawa, in Ontario, Canada. The bridge links Ottawa with the Aylmer section of Gatineau Quebec. To get there from Ottawa take Island Park Drive north and it eventually becomes the Champlain Bridge. Exit at Bate Island and park. The waves are right beside the parking lot. From the Quebec side of the river take Boulevard Lucerne or Boulevard D'Aylmer until they intersect with the Champlain Bridge.
Click on the above map to interact with it.

Below are a few videos of the Champlain Bridge Waves at high water.

1 comment:

John said...

Very usefull comments on how the waves are at different water levels! I would like if you could add info about the rapid on the Gatineau river at the Alonzo bridge. I've paddled it a couple of times and I think it's a nice place so I'd like to know what you think about it and if you have any tips or info about it.