Canyoning involves navigating steep, narrow canyons using various techniques. Technical canyoning requires specialized equipment and is more challenging. Popular canyoning sites are found in the US, with varying levels of difficulty. Canyoning can be dangerous due to obstacles, keeper holes, flash floods, and temperature-related illnesses. Proper equipment and precautions are necessary.
Canyoning, called canyoneering in other parts of the world, is the adventurous act of traveling through steep, narrow canyons using a variety of techniques which may include walking, scrambling, scrambling, jumping, rappelling, wading, or swimming. Canyoners usually distinguish between technical and non-technical canyoning. Where non-technical canyoning generally refers to simple canyon hikes, technical canyoning requires specialized equipment and techniques to complete the ascent safely.
Canyons vary greatly in their depth, width, and composition. In the United States, the most popular site for canyoning is the Colorado Plateau with its beautiful sandstone canyons. Other famous canyoning sites are the Rocky Mountain, Cascade, Sierra Nevada and San Gabriel mountain ranges. The large number of canyons and their varying technical difficulty allow people of all skill levels and ages to enjoy the sport.
Canyoning equipment includes specially designed shoes, rope bags and backpacks. Canyoners also need climbing gear, wetsuits, static ropes and climbing helmets. Canyoners must constantly inspect vital equipment such as harnesses, straps and ropes, for signs of wear and damage. If significant damage is found, the equipment should be promptly withdrawn and replaced.
Canyoning can be dangerous which is no doubt part of the thrill for many who enjoy the sport. Canyons with narrow slots can present extremely difficult obstacles for canyoneers, because sometimes the only way out of a canyon is to climb all the way to the top. This tends to be taxing on the body and can leave the canyoneer unprotected from the elements for extended periods of time. Failure to complete the required moves can result in you being trapped in a canyon where rescuing is extremely difficult.
Some canyoning involves escaping large holes called “keeper holes”. These hazards are circular shafts that often contain water too deep to stand on and walls too smooth to climb. Escaping danger requires special equipment, good problem-solving skills, and trusted teammates.
Canyons with a lot of water flow can be particularly treacherous and canyoneers should never attempt to traverse them without special equipment. Another potential danger is a flash flood. A dry, calm canyon can quickly turn into a raging torrent if there is a heavy rainstorm nearby.
Another danger of canyoning is temperature-related illnesses. Hypothermia is a risk climbers run when in a canyon with any amount of water. In desert canyons, canyoneers risk heat exhaustion if they don’t keep hydrated and avoid direct sunlight. It is important to remember that many of the canyons are so remote and difficult to traverse that a canyoneer may not be rescued for many days.