Response #4: “Life is not a dress rehearsal!”

Hiking, rappelling, sliding, swimming, jumping, sometimes freezing, but always smiling: this is canyoning.

Canyoning, also known as kloofing in South Africa, and more commonly known as canyoneering in the U.S., is traveling in canyons using a variety of techniques that may include walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, abseiling, and/or swimming.

My first canyoning adventure took place over a Fourth of July weekend, 2000, in the adventure town of Interlaken, Switzerland (my favorite place in the world).  Friends descended on Interlaken from all over Europe and Australia for an ultimate “dude” weekend.  The goal for the weekend was to release as much adrenaline as humanly possible without killing ourselves.  Bungee jumping, paragliding, mountain biking, white-water rafting, and canyoning were on the menu: Mission Accomplished!

For me, the best part of the weekend’s adventures was canyoning.  Here are a couple clips to give you a taste of what it is all about.  The second clip is the same group I went with in Interlaken (Outdoor Interlaken), sorry no sound:

It’s not just the adventure of canyoning, but meeting similar people who enjoy these activities that make it so much fun.  The crew of 15-20 of us who were in the same canyoning group hung out for the rest of the weekend; people from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Japan, Spain and the U.S.  When you finish chuting down canyons, slamming into rocks at break-neck speeds, you want to go drink beers and talk about it.

That’s where the quote came from.  One of the Aussies was on a one-year walkabout (no he is not Aborigine, but term used by Australians for extended 6 month+ vacation).  He was a SWAT team police officer from Adelaide, Australia, who was traveling around the world after being shot during his duties.  His quote,  “Life is not a dress rehearsal!” summed up the weekend.

Following the Interlaken adventure, I enjoyed the canyoning rush a few more times in Austria, Italy, and Slovenia.

While canyoning is more popular in Europe, canyoneering in the U.S. is starting to catch on.  Popular destinations are Arizona, Colorado, California, and Utah.

The authority in the U.S. is the American Canyoneering Association.  Based in Cedar City, Utah, founded in 1999, their primary focus is training.  The ACA is the only non-profit organization in America offering technical canyoneering courses. Through their courses, workshops, rendezvous and informative online forums, the ACA has introduced more people to canyoneering than any other organization in America.

If the opportunity presents itself and you have the cajones, DO IT!  Give canyoning a go.

Life is not a dress rehearsal!

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