| Quick-fix pills: An illustration of canyoning
I stood at the edge of the cliff all clipped to the rope, admiring the waterfall and the foggy water-laden greenery all around me when I heard the whistle twice. It broke my reverie. I whistled back and started rappelling down the waterfall. The water hit me forcefully. I could hear its thunderous roar and feel the rush of blood.
Thatís canyoning ' a relatively new sport that is rapidly gaining acceptance around the world. It is for people who would like the challenge and excitement of experiencing rock climbing and abseiling ' going down the rock-face using ropes and descenders ' simultaneously.
The idea is to follow the water downwards: over pools, down chutes and through deep water. This involves walking, scrambling through rocky gorges, climbing, abseiling down waterfalls and swimming. Vertical drops are either jumped or abseiled from.
The scene can often be breathtaking ' set against picturesque backdrops. At times, the sky can disappear from view as the walls close in above you or the water can take you through huge boulder chokes. You could even find yourself underground for a while. The entire spell can be long and arduous or easy and short ' itís all about fun and can be very addictive.
Canyoning was born in Europe, and the Alps is still the Mecca, though usually there are operators in any suitable mountain area, for instance, Nepal. Near Mumbai, you can go canyoning in the Sahayadri hills. Jungle Lodges in Karnataka also organises canyoning trips. You could also log on to www.adreno.org for more details.
It is best to go canyoning with an experienced person or group, and this is how most people get started. The time to go canyoning depends on the area. For the big mean ones, you may need to wait for summer, but there are other areas which are dry or stagnant and so spring or autumn are better bets. Monsoons are for bravehearts who love water and are willing to venture out with experienced guides. You should be able to swim, abseil and place one foot in front of the other. Anyone who has climbed or caved should not have any problem.
As for the dangers, all you would need to do is gaze upwards at huge tree trunks splintered like match sticks above you to know that canyons are not good places during flood conditions! However, the main danger is from sprains or fractures, usually from unseen boulders underwater. The golden rule is: donít jump unless youíre sure of your landing. And donít forget to watch out for snakes!
• Harness: Specialised canyoning harnesses are safer and more comfortable for multiple abseils.
• Descender: Any standard descender designed for climbing or caving will suffice.
• Boots or trainers: Essential to keep your feet from getting damaged on sharp rocks.
• Wet suit: Water temperature varies from canyon to canyon. Wet suits protect against rough rocks.
• Helmet: Make sure you have one.
• Rope: Two 50m ropes should be enough. Any standard climbing rope or static rope will do.
• Tackle & dry bags: For clothes, food and cameras. They help keep stuff dry. lWhistle: The mountaineering type whistle with no moving parts is ideal.
• Torches: ďHeadlampĒ variety torches are popular and helps keep your hands free.