We help people make their every day extraordinary, and to do that, we first need to do it for ourselves.
A couple of weeks back, the Leezair team went on an Abseiling and Canyoning adventure in the Blue Mountains. An adventure-packed day saw us cliff jumping, abseiling into a canyon and swimming to see a glow worm cave. It was fun, spontaneous, and most of all I loved it. To hear all about how it went and what the top 10 things to know are before you go canyoning, read on to find out!
The day started out early at 6am in the morning with a car ride up into the mountains. I was somewhat apprehensive because I'd never been abseiling or canyoning before and wasn't quite sure what to expect. Waking up early is always a pain, but this was one of those things I'd been looking forward to for ages.
Getting to Katoomba, we were greeted with a foggy morning – one that didn’t look too promising as a light drizzle took over the day. But our guides for the day were all smiles when we arrived at the meeting venue, and that soon washed away any apprehensions I had. We were quickly ushered in to the meeting room, got our forms signed, had our wetsuits fitted, and packed our backpacks with the essentials (helmet, harness, wetsuit pack, gloves, thermal wear).
Journey Start: What is canyoning?
Canyoning, also known as gorge walking, is an activity where you swim through rock pools, climb over rocks, and slide through narrow cracks. It sounds dangerous, but I promise you it's safe (and certainly fun!). There's some wading involved, some swimming, and some crawling - through anything from a steep, wide open river to a deep, narrow slot in the canyon. This sport also involves some abseiling, cliff jumping, and requires local knowledge and rope rigging skills to be conducted safely. It is usually done in more remote and mountainous areas.
All gorge walkers should have a good basic level of fitness as you'll be hiking down to get to the canyon and hiking back up after. It’s also super handy to have at least one person in the group who knows how to rig ropes. It’s great going with local tour guides for this reason because not only will they have all the necessary equipment, they’ll also be familiar with the terrain and guide you effectively on how to navigate the canyon.
Abseiling down into the canyon was one of the most surreal things I'd ever seen.
Because none of my photography equipment was waterproof, I decided to leave it behind at the office. But if only you could see what I saw through my eyes that day. The slightly wet weather did nothing to put a downer on our spirits, and after each turn and dip, we simply wanted to keep seeing more.
TL;DR if you’re about to embark on a canyoning trip or if you're just here for the 10 things you need to know, here’s the list of stuff you’ll wish you knew before going canyoning yourself!
10 Things You Want to Know Before Going Canyoning
1. Wear quick-dry material as you’ll be sweating and are very likely to get wet
The trek towards the canyon and the abseiling will get your hearts pumping a fair bit, not to mention the occasional passing through mini waterfalls or stepping through puddles, so you’ll want to be dressed appropriately for the occasion.
2. You’ll need a wetsuit – and it’s not the easiest thing to put on
Putting on the wetsuit for the first time will be weird. You’ll feel like a penguin or seal flapping around awkwardly. But you really want the wetsuit to fit well and tight – else you’d have water seeping in, defeating the point of wearing one. The wetsuit also protects against the likelihood of catching hypothermia as the waters in the canyon can get pretty cold. Your guide may recommend a thermal inner piece as well.
3. Wear sneakers with a flat sole and ones you’ll be comfortable destroying
You know your beloved pair of Nike runners that you’ve had with you for a year? Leave that at home. Get a cheap pair of flat-sole sneaks at Kmart or Target, as they’ll likely be for a one-time use and get chucked after. You’re stepping through puddles and swimming in gorges – so if your sneaks don’t get muddy (they very likely will 😜), they’d be dripping wet and ready to be chucked by the end of your trip.
4. Terrible swimmer? Get buoyancy aid
If you can’t swim or are terrible at swimming, you might like some buoyancy aid to help you wade through the waters in the canyon. This could come in the form of the backpack you’re carrying that could double up as a buoyancy float!
5. Pack some energy-boosting snacks or lollies
At the start of our trip, our guides snuck some boxes of snacks and lollies in our backpacks. Initially I didn’t think too much of it – why would we need these when lunch would be provided – right? Wrong. I found that these lollies were super handy to pump up our sugar levels – especially nearing the end of the day when we were all worn out and had to trek back up! Keep a pack of these with you handy and they’ll be snapped up by your teammates in no time.
6. Go with friends
Heard of the Buddy System? There’s good reason for it. One tumble on a slippery rock surface could leave you hanging or stranded in the canyons. You don’t want this to happen to you, so make sure you’re always with someone or that at least one other person knows where you are.
7. Keep tabs on the weather
Sometimes, even if it’s not raining where you’re at, the rain water could rush downstream causing flash floods to occur without warning and resulting in strong currents where you’re at. This creates dangerous conditions for wading through the gorges. Try to keep an eye on the weather and stay out of the water if conditions get too treacherous.
8. You’ll need to be fit... Or pretend you're in the Hunger Games 😜
You’ll be climbing through cracks, swimming through streams, and hiking up and down multiple flights of stairs and rocky paths to get from canyon to canyon. To keep up with the rest of the crew, you’d need to be relatively fit, and a decent standard of fitness should tide you through the ride.
9. Bring a GoPro or waterproof camera
Or you can take it in with your eyes the way I did. You’ll come across the most stunning imagery - literally straight out of the woods - as you make your way down the mountains and through the canyon. You’ve really never seen anything like it before until you’ve arrived here.
Since you won’t want to bring your iPhone along and risk it getting wet or losing it on the journey, you’d want to have something waterproof with you.
And with your GoPro – don’t forget to have it attached tightly to your helmet when you’re about to jump off a cliff into the water!
10. Keep an open mind
Have fun! Make the most of it! Jump even if you’re scared of heights. Take the plunge even when you’re not sure what’s beneath (with safety advice from your guide of course). Because – let’s face it – how often are we going to experience anything this magical and what better chance than to make the most of our experience?
It's time for a magical adventure
Calling all adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers! We're organising another abseiling and canyoning event that's coming up on Sunday, April 9th! If you'd like to join us on this exciting adventure, click here for more details. The best experiences are made when you venture out of your comfort zone and make your every day extraordinary. Take the plunge, and who knows? Maybe you'll find out things you never knew about yourself!
Here's our experience. What will yours be?
The Leezair Team