Canyoning (also known as canyoneering) is travelling in canyons using a variety of techniques that may include walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, abseiling, and sometimes swimming.
Skills – Strength: 5, Balance: 5, Flexibility: 6, Agility: 6, Coordination: 5
Time needed: 3 hours, Cost to try: £60
What is Canyoneering?
Although hiking down a canyon that is non-technical (canyon hiking) is often referred to as canyoneering, the terms canyoning and canyoneering are usually associated with technical descents that require rappels (abseils) and ropework, technical climbing or down-climbing, technical jumps, and sometimes technical swims.
Canyoning is frequently done in remote and rugged settings and often requires navigational, route-finding and other skills and preparation needed for wilderness travel.
Canyons that are ideal for canyoning are often cut into the bedrock stone, forming narrow gorges with numerous drops, beautifully sculpted walls, and sometimes spectacular waterfalls. Most canyons are cut into limestone, granite or sandstone, though other rock types are found. Canyons can be very easy or extremely difficult, though emphasis in the sport is usually on aesthetics and fun rather than pure difficulty. A wide variety of canyoning routes are found throughout the world, and canyoning is enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels.
Where to go Canyoning
Chamonix in the Savoie Mont Blanc region of the French Alps is a fantastic location to go canyoning. In Passy, just below the Chamonix Valley, Latitude Canyon runs guided canyoning by night. Navigating the river in the dark, only the places where you abseil under the waterfalls, the basins and natural toboggans are illuminated by the guide, using multicoloured diving lights.
The Alps in France and Italy has a selection of places to go canyoning, the Dolomites being a favourite. The US has one of the biggest range of canyoning locations.
Another activity on offer in the French Alps is Via Ferrata. This involves traversing routes high in the mountains, using ropes and metal ladders attached to the cliff faces during World War 2 by soldiers. Guided tours leave regularly and give spectacular views.