While mountaineering is concerned with reaching the top of a mountain, canyoneering is all about getting to the bottom. Known as “canyoning” in Europe, canyoneering involves descending a mountainous canyon just for the fun of it. Although canyoneering is a modern-day adventure sport, it got its origins from the necessity of transportation.
As American explorers and settlers navigated across the early American deserts, they were faced with a maze of canyons in the southwest. As a result, methods of ascending and descending these canyons were practiced. Ropes and anchors were commonplace to this first generation of canyoneers.
After the land was settled with roads and highways, canyon routes were abandoned. Modern-day canyoneering found it’s rebirth in the 1960’s when mountaineering and rock climbing equipment was invented. Using this gear, adventurous souls took to their own backyard seeking adventure. As the public’s perception this bunch shifted from “crazy thrill seekers” to “credible adventure seekers,” canyoneering began to take off.
Today, canoyeering is enjoyed all over the world and remains to be a unique method of testing one’s limits, exploring nature, and having a fun. It involves travelling in canyons using a variety of techniques:
- Abselling (between hillwalking and rock climbing)
The best canyons for canyoneering have narrow gorges and smooth rock faces. The terrain often encompasses drop-offs, sculpted walls and continuous flows of water. Canyons can range from very easy to extremely difficult.
It should be stated that canyoneering is a commitment. It is often impossible to turn back once you commence the journey, as canyon walls can be very containing. For this reason, it should not be tried without the aid of an experienced guide who knows the route and the appropriate method of descending each section. Canyoneering is also very gear intensive. Helmets, life jackets, wet suits, and climbing gear are essential.
Aside from the obvious dangerous associated with this sport, canyoneering can be approached in a very safe and family friendly fashion. Its ability to accommodate people at different life stages and fitness levels has resulted in its increasing popularity over the past two decades. Canyoneering adventures are now becoming a very popular additional component of adventure travel.