Shall I start by describing the sport of canyoning, Chli Schliere style, which is illegal in the US, as a polar plunge off a waterfall or classify it as three things marked off my bucket list?
Canyoning by definition means: “the sport of traveling down a river situated in a canyon by a variety of means including scrambling, floating, swimming and abseiling.”
Canyoning in Chli Schliere– I would extend that definition to read, “The sport created and perfected by adrenaline junkies seeking to test the physical limitations, body buoyancy and override all safety survival instincts with-YOLO!”
I was sitting in the hostel lobby in Zermatt, Switzerland when I was suddenly overtaken by a surge of adrenaline that needed to be released…I whipped out my bucket list and scanned my options, bungee jumping, paragliding, canyoning…CANYONING!? This last mission was added to the list less than 24 hours ago when an adventurous young math teacher recommended it saying, it was one of the craziest adrenaline rushes she had experienced.
The plan was as follows: wake up at 5 a.m., hop on a train that goes to Zürich to tour the Rhine Waterfalls (beautiful), hop back on the train and find my way back to Germany. CHANGE OF PLANS! After sending and receiving over, oh I don’t know 20+ emails to Outdoor Interlaken, their speedy responses, helpful intern and convincing YouTube videos rerouted myself and an equally as spontaneous friend to the Interlaken West train station at 7:30 a.m.
We were picked up from the train station, signed a waiver (that’s how you know you’re potentially in for it), suited up, picked a helmet with a name across the brow (mine reading Miss Piggy in hot pink letters- not much to live up to with a helmet name like that) and headed up a winding mountain chasing adventure. It just so happens that Chli Schliere is one of the steepest, most athletically challenging canyons charted. Go big or go home right!? That’s what we thought as we read the stipulations, “must be a confident athlete.” Sure, why not.
Of our team of 15, my friend and I were two of three girls. We knew we had to hold our own with these reckless bros. As we hiked in our cold, damp suits towards the sound of rushing water my heart pounded in my chest. “Good thing our guides look like gladiators,” one of my teammates said. No kidding! The water was FREEZING! Thank goodness the only exposed skin was our hands and faces. The first jump was the steepest. “Stand here, put your left foot here, push off with your right foot, and land right there,” I was told as I peered down at my target, a small pool of water at the base of a thundering waterfall. He counted, “One” (Oh my goodness what am I doing), “two” (If I think about this any longer…) “She’s gone!” I leaped into the air and free fell into the icy water. SO MUCH FUN!
There were water slides (aka slippery rocks with flowing water) that swept us away and down the canyon. Whoops and Hollers of excitement, fear and exhilaration echoed within the rocky walls. I’ll admit when I was told to “Push off of this rock, rotate 180, hit your back on this boulder and land there,” as our guide Stan (who I called Thor) pointed to a specific location that was just deep enough to take the impact of my plunge, I whispered a prayer! I’m sure my “action shots” looked more like a flailing child being thrown off a mountain, but internally they were as Bad A*! as it gets. We flipped, jumped, slid and repelled through narrow passage ways, icy falls and slippery rocks.
If I could do this again, I would in a heartbeat! Outdoor Interlaken was so helpful and provided an experience of a lifetime!
The only downfalls were the sore muscles, a few bruises (turns out a little scrape that ended up getting infected), and a long wet train ride back to Germany. Yes, we looked rough…real rough on that train ride. If you decide to go canyoning, Outdoor Interlaken is the place to go, just be sure to allow time for a shower.
Check out some “Action shots” from Miss Piggy and her friend Flash!