People often ask me what is it about canyoneering that turns individuals into crazed fanatics? What causes them to turn from their usual weekend habits of yard work and relaxation, to pushing their bodies and minds to their physical limits? Finding themselves a little on the tired and sore side on a Monday morning instead of rested?
Have you ever experienced a slot canyon? A slot canyon is a narrow canyon, formed by the wear of water and other physical forces. It is generally significantly deeper than it is wide. They are some of the most beautiful places I have ever experienced. Most are “descended” meaning that you start at the top and work your way to the bottom. This requires a commitment. There are many where you are unable to turn back, you have to finish what you started. Ok but why do these cause people to become fanatics? When was the last time you looked over a daunting cliff and felt your heart skip a beat or just felt plain old fear? Generally people get hooked when they experience a “technical” canyon. A technical canyon requires gear. It require harnesses, rappel devices, carabiners, ropes, webbing and wet suits. Instead of turning around and walking away from the cliff you throw a rope off and descend down it. The feeling of fear and trepidation are heightened because now you have to force yourself to step off the edge. The adrenaline kick received from overcoming fear is incredible. It forces a smile on peoples faces that usually doesn’t wash off for days. It creates a memory that lasts a lifetime. You truly feel you have accomplished something great. and trust me, you have accomplished something great.
Canyoneering is a team sport. It requires multiple people with a variety of skills to work together. Everyone brings something to the table. Some are exceptional when it comes to the technical gear. Others have the ability to engineer amazing natural anchors. You generally have a climbing gun—someone who specializes in down climbing and other physically challenging moves. There is also the route finder, cheerleader, human meat anchor, the comic, the tall guy, shuttle driver, camp cook, snack master, human seal, and of course the brute. This list of individuals and what skills they bring to the table is endless. Don’t think you have a skill to bring to the table? You are wrong. Canyoneering brings out skills you never knew you had. It brings out the adventurer in all of us.
So next time you see a known Canyoneer co-worker dragging a little on a Monday morning. Walk up and ask them about their adventure. I promise you will see a spark in their eye. Just be careful it’s contagious.