Canyoning (canyoneering in the United States, kloofing in South Africa) is travelling in canyons using a variety of techniques that may include other outdoor activities such as walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, abseiling (rappelling), and swimming.

Although non-technical descents such as hiking down a canyon (canyon hiking) are often referred to as canyoneering, the terms canyoning and canyoneering are more often associated with technical descents — those that require abseils (rappels) and ropework, technical climbing or down-climbing, technical jumps, and/or technical swims.

Canyoning is frequently done in remote and rugged settings and often requires navigational, route-finding, and other wilderness travel skills.

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, sandstone, granite, or basalt, 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.

Canyoning gear includes climbing hardware, static or semi-static ropes, helmets, wetsuits, and specially designed shoes, packs, and rope bags. While canyoneers have used and adapted climbing, hiking, and river running gear for years, more and more specialized gear is invented and manufactured as canyoning popularity increases.

Bali canyoning
Canyoning in Gitgit, Bali, Indonesia

Canyoning around the world

Canyoning NP
Canyoning in Sundarijal, Kathmandu, Nepal

In most parts of the world canyoning is done in mountain canyons with flowing water. The number of countries with established canyoning outfitters is growing yearly.


In Japan (sawanobori) and Taiwan canyoning is called river tracing and typically involves traveling upstream.


Canyoning in the UK has gained in popularity over recent years. In the UK, Wales, Scotland, Cumbria and Yorkshire and some areas of Cornwall are recognized as the prime locations to try out this activity. In the Welsh language canyoning is called "cerdded ceunant". It has been described as slightly different from its American counterpart; however the activity involves all the traditional methods but in a different climate and location. Most experts who visit Wales for this activity often refer to it as "Gorge Walking", but the main concept remains the same.[1] The UK Scout Association defines "gorge walking" as "the activity of following a river bed through a gorge. This often includes climbing, swimming, abseiling and scrambling depending upon the environment".[2]

Canyoning in Ticino, Switzerland also named the eldorado for canyoning is one of a kind because of its authentic granite rock, crystal green pools and its pleasant mediterranean climate. This region has been popular throughout the whole story of canyoning, back in the days of the pioneers, but only the last few years is gaining an enormous popularity amongst more experienced canyoneers.

North America

In the United States, descending mountain canyons with flowing water is sometimes referred to as canyoning, although the term "canyoneering" is more common. Most canyoneering in the United States occurs in the many slot canyons carved in the sandstone found throughout the Colorado Plateau.[3] Outside of the Colorado Plateau, numerous canyoneering opportunities are found in the San Gabriel, Sierra Nevada, Cascade, and Rocky Mountain ranges.[4]


Canyoning is common in Australia in the sandstone canyons of the Blue Mountains National Park, known for their technical abseil starts and lack of fast flowing water.[5][6]


Canyoning in Atuel´s Canyon, San Rafael, Argentina
Canyoning via rappel in the Atuel Canyon, San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina

Canyoning can be dangerous. Escape via the sides of a canyon is often impossible, and completion of the descent is the only possibility. Due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of many canyons, rescue can be impossible for several hours or several days.

High water flow / hydraulics

Canyons with significant water flow may be treacherous and require special ropework techniques for safe travel. Hydraulics, undercurrents, and sieves (or strainers) occur in flowing canyons and can trap or pin and drown a canyoneer. A 1993 accident in Zion National Park, Utah, USA, in which two leaders of a youth group drowned in powerful canyon hydraulics (and the lawsuit which followed) brought notoriety to the sport.[7]

Flash floods

A potential danger of many canyoning trips is a flash flood. A canyon "flashes" when a large amount of precipitation falls in the drainage, and water levels in the canyon rise quickly as the runoff rushes down the canyon. In canyons that drain large areas, the rainfall could be many kilometers away from the canyoners, completely unbeknown to them. A calm or even dry canyon can quickly become a violent torrent due to a severe thunderstorm in the vicinity. Fatalities have occurred as a result of flash floods; in one widely publicized 1999 incident, 21 tourists on a commercial canyoning adventure trip drowned in Saxetenbach Gorge, Switzerland.[8] Authorities in Switzerland have set in the last few years high standards on safety, "Safety in adventures" label is becoming the standard for all companies to prove they are following the standard safety procedures.[9]

Hypothermia and hyperthermia

Mystery Canyon, Zion National Park

Temperature-related illnesses are also canyoning hazards. In arid desert canyons, heat exhaustion can occur if proper hydration levels are not maintained and adequate steps are not taken to avoid the intense rays of the sun. Hypothermia can be a serious danger in any canyon that contains water, during any time of the year. Wetsuits and drysuits can mitigate this danger to a large degree, but when people miscalculate the amount of water protection they will need, dangerous and sometimes fatal situations can occur. Hypothermia due to inadequate cold water protection is cited as a cause of a 2005 incident in which two college students drowned in a remote Utah canyon.[10]

Keeper potholes

Canyoning via packraft in the U.S. southwest deserts.

Some canyoneering, especially in sandstone slots, involves escaping from large potholes. Also called "keeper potholes," these features, carved out by falling water at the bottom of a drop in the watercourse, are circular pits that often contain water that is too deep to stand up in and whose walls are too smooth to easily climb out of. Canyoneers use several unique and creative devices to escape potholes, including hooks used for aid climbing attached to long poles and specialized weighted bags that are attached to ropes and tossed over the lip of a pothole.

Very narrow slots

Narrow slot canyons, especially those narrower than humans, present difficult obstacles for canyoners. At times a canyoner is forced to climb up (using chimneying or off-width climbing techniques) to a height where one can comfortably maneuver laterally with pressure on both walls of the canyon. This tends to be strenuous and can require climbing high above the canyon floor, unprotected, for long periods of time. Failure to complete the required moves could result in being trapped in a canyon where rescue is extremely difficult. Past rescues have required extensive rigging systems and dishsoap to extract stuck canyoners.[11]

Narrow sandstone slot canyons tend to have abrasive walls which rip clothing and gear, and can cause painful skin abrasion as a canyoner moves or slides along them.

Exposure to water-borne diseases

Immersion in water may lead to exposure to diseases such as Weil's Disease (Leptospirosis), dermatitis and gastroenteritis. Ingestion of water should be avoided and taking a shower immediately after canyoning or gorge walking is recommended.[12]


Canyons are changing environments and falling rocks, including chockstones, are not uncommon. A moving chockstone caused Aron Ralston's 2003 accident where he was forced to amputate his forearm.[13]

Becoming lost

Many canyons are located in remote areas with limited or sparse trails, and due to their harsh environments, straying from established areas can be dangerous.[14]

Education and training

Canyoning in the Rocky Mountains

As the sport of canyoneering begins to grow, there are more and more people looking to learn the skills needed to safely descend canyons. There are several reputable organizations that are now offering classes of various forms to the public; some organizations are training organizations that offer certifications, while other commercial operations offer classes in addition to purely recreational guided tours.[15] The latter is particularly popular in tourist destinations around the world, such as Costa Rica, Hawaii, the Philippines, and Utah. Most programs have multiple levels of skill-set classes. The lowest levels usually cover the basics such as rappelling, rope work, navigation, identification of gear and clothing, and rappel setups. The higher levels cover more complex situations such as anchor building and strategies on how to descend various types of canyons. Other higher level and specialty classes typically cover rescue situations, wilderness first aid, and swift water canyons.


  1. ^ Staff, Guardian (2007-09-28). "Gorge Scrambling". The Guardian. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  2. ^ Scout Association, Gorge Walking, accessed 19 August 2017
  3. ^ Michael R. Kelsey (July 2008). Technical Slot Canyon Guide to the Colorado Plateau. ISBN 978-0944510-23-0.
  4. ^ "Canyoneering for Beginners: What to Know Before You Go". 2012-07-16.
  5. ^ "Overseas visitors". Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  6. ^ "Australia's remote slot canyons".
  7. ^ Smith, Christopher; Ray Ring (August 22, 1994). "Whose fault? A Utah canyon turns deadly". High Country News. -- (Requires free registration as of July 18, 2006)
  8. ^ Paul Lashmar and Imre Karacs (1999-07-28). "Swiss river disaster: Black wall of water swept down the gorge, crushing everyone in its path". The Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  9. ^ Jessica Dacey. "Adventure sports safer ten years after tragedy". Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  10. ^ "Trip turns deadly for 2 BYU hikers". Salt Lake Tribune.
  11. ^ Pat Reavy. "Ropes and dish soap free woman wedged in slot canyon for 12 hours". Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  12. ^ Scout Association, Water Safety (Waterborne diseases and immersion), accessed 19 August 2017
  13. ^ Aron Ralston (2011-02-03). Between a Rock and a Hard Place. ISBN 9781849835091.
  14. ^ "Canyoner's death preventable, expert says". ABC. 2010-01-15. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  15. ^ Black, David (2013). Canyoneering: A Guide to Techniques for Wet and Dry Canyons (2 ed.). Guilford, CT: Falcon Guides. p. 193. ISBN 978-0-7627-4519-7.

External links


Abseiling (/ˈæbseɪl/ or /ˈɑːpzaɪl/; from German abseilen, 'to rope down'), also known as rappelling (/ɹæˈpɛl/ or /ɹəˈpɛl/) from French rapeler, 'to recall' or 'to pull through'), is a controlled descent off a vertical drop, such as a rock face, using a rope.

This technique is used by climbers, mountaineers, cavers, canyoners, search and rescue and rope access technicians to descend cliffs or slopes when they are too steep and/or dangerous to descend without protection. Many climbers use this technique to protect established anchors from damage. Rope access technicians also use this as a method to access difficult-to-reach areas from above for various industrial applications like maintenance, construction, inspection and welding.To descend safely, abseilers use a variety of techniques to increase the friction on the rope to the point where it can be controlled comfortably. These techniques range from wrapping the rope around their body (e.g. The Dülfersitz) to using a custom built device like a rack. Practitioners choose a technique based on speed, safety, weight and other circumstantial concerns.

In the United States, the term "rappelling" is used nearly exclusively. In the United Kingdom, both terms are understood, but "abseilling" is strongly preferred. In Australia, New Zealand and Canada, the two terms are used interchangably. Globally, the term "rappelling" appears in books written in English more often than "abseiling".

Caroline Pemberton

Caroline Pemberton (born 8 December 1986 in Sydney) is former Miss Australia, is crowned the 2007 Miss Australia at Star City, Sydney on 4 April 2007.

She is also the sister of the youngest Australian to climb Mount Everest and the Seven Summits, Rex Pemberton.

Pemberton contested the Miss World title on 1 December 2007, in Sanya, China.

Her passion for humanitarian work led to her appointment as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, ambassador for the Sir David Martin Foundation, the Novus Foundation and to on the board of the Kokoda Trust.

Caroline is now a renowned television presenter, speaker and producer. She’s been filed stories across all 7 continents for the likes of Red Bull, Outside TV and the top rating travel program Getaway.

She's a fierce proponent for the power of an active lifestyle and co-founded the Australian Women’s Adventure Alliance as well as runs her own movement under her MissAdventure brand that aims to empower the next generation of girls through action sports and the outdoors.

She enjoys paragliding, surfing, boxing, canyoning, mountain biking, diving, skiing and mountaineering. Her weirdest and most wonderful globe-trotting memories include ice-climbing at Mount Everest, cave diving beneath rural farmlands, joining a successful paragliding world record in Bali, heli-MTBing the Southern Alps, wearing the blood, sweat and tears of the Kokoda trail and ski mountaineering one of the seven summits in Russia.

Cascata del Serpente

Cascata del Serpente (in English Snake's waterfall) is a waterfall located in the Ligurian Apennine (Italy). In the past it was also named Cascata delle Cheucie. With other secondary drops it forms the cascate del Serpente complex.


Coasteering is a physical activity that encompasses movement along the intertidal zone of a rocky coastline on foot or by swimming, without the aid of boats, surf boards or other craft. It is difficult to define the precise boundaries between, for example, rockpooling and ocean swimming. Coasteering may include all or some of the following:

Swimming or Adventure Swimming: in calm water; rough or white water; and/ or tidal currents. Dressing for swimming in the sea (wetsuits, buoyancy aids etc.) is an integral part of Coasteering; even on routes where it is possible to stay dry. A route, or activity, where the group start out with the intention of staying dry - whether through route choice or the use of ropes and harnesses - is not coasteering.

Climbing, scrambling, canyoning, sea level traversing: the very nature of the coastline that is needed for coasteering demands aspects of these activities. Ropes, as security on rock, are not used. Any climbing activity usually takes place above deep water, with safety spotters used where appropriate. There is a similarity to the sport of deep-water soloing, but this would normally be carried out by experienced individuals not wearing equipment suitable for coasteering. Coasteering is never a dry, climbing activity.

Jumping and Diving: are often seen as an appealing and exciting part of coasteering. These activities actually make up minimal content of a coasteering session.A defining factor of coasteering is the opportunity provided by the marine geology for moving in the “impact zone” where water, waves, rocks, gullies, caves etc., come together to provide a very high energy environment.

Commission Internationale de Canyon

The Commission Internationale de Canyon is international organisation that provides canyoning guide training. It has evolved out of the CEC, that was founded in 1995. The organisation provides in-depth training and technical knowledge on different topics that are relevant for canyoning.

Dry bag

A dry bag is a type of flexible container which seals in a watertight manner. Dry bags are often used in kayaking, canoeing, rafting, canyoning, and other outdoor activities where sensitive items would otherwise get wet as well as extreme sports such as skiing and snowboarding. Dry bags are used to protect electronics from water. As well, they are used to prevent sleeping bags and spare clothing from getting wet, as in a camping context, wet sleeping bags or spare clothing could post a risk to a camper's safety, due to the poor insulative qualities of wet clothing or sleeping bags.

Elim Christian College

Elim Christian College is a state-integrated coeducational secondary school located in Botany Downs, a suburb of Manukau City, Auckland, New Zealand.

Established in 1988, the school currently caters for approximately 1000 students from new entrants to Year 13, including over 50 international students. The school is associated with Elim Christian Centre.

On 15 April 2008, six students and a teacher from the school died in a flash flood while canyoning the Mangatepopo Stream in Tongariro National Park. In 2011 Principal Murray Burton was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, and the teacher and one of the six students who died given medals for bravery.

Evrard Wendenbaum

Evrard Wendenbaum (born March 13, 1979) is a French outdoor photographer, filmmaker, geologist and explorer.

French Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing

The French Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing (French: Fédération Française de la Montagne et de l’Escalade, FFME), located in Paris, is the French federation of mountain and climbing sports, especially of non-motorized alpine sports like mountaineering, canyoning, climbing, mountain touring and hiking, snowshoe hiking and ski mountaineering. The FFME is member of the French National Olympic and Sports Committee.

The foundation of the FFME in 1987 was the result of the fusion of the French Federation of Mountaineering (French: Fédération Française de la Montagne, FFM), founded in 1942 by the high commissariat of sports (French: Haut Commissariat aux Sports) in addition to the existing Club Alpin Français (CAF), and the climbing association French Federation of Climbing (French: Fédération Française d’Escalade, FFE), which was founded in 1985. A further fusion of the FFME and the CAF in the beginning 2000s failed.

In 2002, the FFME supported the first ISMC UIAA World Championship of Ski Mountaineering in France.

Futaleufú, Chile

Futaleufú is a Chilean town and commune located in Northern Patagonia, specifically in Palena Province, Los Lagos Region. Futaleufu is a frontier town with a small but growing tourism industry based on adventure tourism—most specifically whitewater rafting—but also fishing, mountain biking, trekking, and canyoning. Located 7 miles from the Argentinian border, Futaleufu is most easily accessed from airports in Esquel and Bariloche, Argentina. The town is named after the crystal blue Futaleufú River, widely considered to be one of the best whitewater rafting rivers in the world. The name Futaleufu derives from a Mapudungun word meaning "Big River".

The town has a population of about 2,000. The main income for the community is fly fishing and outdoor sports, particularly white water rafting, together with forestry and cattle farming. A gravel road links the town to Trevelin in Argentina and to the Carretera Austral. It is served by Futaleufú Airfield.

Following the eruption of Chaitén Volcano and the subsequent destruction of Chaitén, Futaleufú has been the administrative capital of Palena Province since March 2009.

Kanangra Falls

Kanangra Falls is a waterfall on the Kanangra River, in the Kanangra-Boyd National Park, near Oberon, in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia. The waterfall is located at Thurat Walls about 800 metres (2,600 ft) north east of Ianthe Hill; with the fall height reported in 1930 as being 225 metres (738 feet) in two sections.Kanangra Falls is popular with canyoning and abseiling groups, although this type of activity is often not permitted due to safety concerns.

Low Tatras

The Low Tatras or Low Tatra (Slovak: Nízke Tatry) is a mountain range of the Inner Western Carpathians in central Slovakia.

It is located south of the Tatras proper, from which it is separated by the valleys of the Váh and Poprad rivers (the Liptov-Spiš abasement). The valley formed by the Hron River is situated south of the Low Tatras range. The ridge runs west-eastwards and is about 80 km long.

The Čertovica pass divides the range into two parts. The highest peaks of the Low Tatras are located in its western part. Ďumbier is the highest mountain at 2,042 m AMSL. Its neighbour Chopok (2,024 m) is accessible by a chairlift, and it is the most visited place in the Low Tatras. Other peaks in the western part include Dereše (2,004 m) and Chabenec (1,955 m). The highest peak in the eastern part is Kráľova hoľa (1,946 m). The best viewpoints in western part are Veľká Chochuľa, Salatín, Chabenec, Skalka, Chopok, Ďumbier, Siná, Poludnica and Baba.

Several karst areas are situated in limestone and dolomite formations at the southern and northern edges of the main ridge, which is composed of granite and gneiss. Among many discovered caves, Bystrianska Cave (Bystrianska jaskyňa), Cave of Dead Bats (Jaskyňa mŕtvych netopierov), Demänovská jaskyňa Slobody, Demänová Ice Cave (Demänovská ľadová jaskyňa), and Važecká Cave (Važecká jaskyňa) are open to the public. The biggest canyon is Hučiaky under Salatín in Ludrová valley near Ružomberok (7 caves - not open for public), suitable for canyoning. The highest waterfall is under Brankov near Ružomberok - Podsuchá (55 m high), reachable by green marked footpath from Podsuchá (20 min). The biggest tarn is Vrbické pleso in the Demänovská dolina Valley.

The mountains are densely forested and their rich fauna includes bear, wolf, and lynx. The alpine meadows are the habitat of chamois.

Massif des Trois-Évêchés

Massif des Trois-Évêchés (Occitan: Massís dei Tres Eveschats, literally the massif of the Three Bishoprics) is a mountain range in the Provence Alps and Prealps in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France. Its name comes from the central summit of the massif, the Pic des Trois-Évêchés (so named because it marked the boundary between the dioceses of Digne, Embrun and Senez) where there are ridges to the north, west and south. The highest peak is the Tête de l'Estrop, at 2,961 metres (9,715 ft).

Outdoor recreation

Outdoor recreation or outdoor activity refers to recreation engaged in out of doors, most commonly in natural settings. The activities themselves — such as fishing, hunting, backpacking, and horseback riding — characteristically determine where they are practiced.

They are pursued variously for enjoyment, exercise, challenge, camaraderie, spiritual renewal, and an opportunity to partake in Nature. Though the activities are inherently lean to sports they nonetheless do not all demand that a participant be an athlete, and competition generally is less stressed than in individual or team sports organized into opposing squads in pursuit of a trophy or championship.

When the activity involves exceptional excitement, physical challenge, or risk, it is sometimes referred to as "adventure recreation" or "adventure training", rather than an extreme sport.

Other traditional examples of outdoor recreational activities include hiking, camping, mountaineering, cycling, canoeing, caving, kayaking, rafting, rock climbing, running, sailing, skiing, sky diving and surfing. As new pursuits, often hybrids of prior ones, emerge, they gain their own identities, such as coasteering, canyoning, and fastpacking.

Re di Anfo

The Re di Anfo is a stream (or torrente) in the Province of Brescia, Lombardy. Its source is on Cima Meghè and it flows into Lago d'Idro at Anfo on the western side of the lake. Its entire course is contained within the territory of the Commune of Anfo.

A short stretch of the river is suitable for the sport of canyoning.

River trekking

River climbing, river trekking, river tracing or mountain stream climbing is a form of hiking or outdoor adventure activity, a traditional sport in Japan and popular in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and, in some ways, similar to canyoning or canyoneering. River trekking is a combination of trekking and climbing and sometimes swimming along the river. It involves particular techniques like rock climbing, climbing on wet surfaces, understanding the geographical features of river and valleys, knotting, dealing with sudden bad weather and finding out possible exits from the river.

Saklıkent National Park

Saklıkent National Park (Turkish: Saklıkent Milli Parkı)), established on June 6, 1996, is a national park in southwestern Turkey. The national park is a canyon, and is located in Muğla Province, 50 km (31 mi) far from Fethiye. Thé Canyon is 65km from Kaş in the Antalya province.

The canyon is 300 m (980 ft) deep and 18 km (11 mi) long, being one of the deepest in the world. It was formed through abrasion of the rocks by flowing waters over thousands of years. As the level of water rises during winter months, visitors can enter the canyon all year around only the deeper parts in the summer. 4 km (2.5 mi) of the canyon are walkable after April, when most of the snow in the Taurus Mountains has melted and passed through on its way to the Mediterranean Sea. Saklıkent means "hidden city" in Turkish.

The full length of 16km is only possible to discover with professional equipment and knowledge of advanced canyoning. Some adventure centers offer guided tours with an overnight Biwak camp and about 30 waterfalls to rappel.

San Lorenzo Ruiz, Camarines Norte

San Lorenzo Ruiz is a fifth class municipality in the province of Camarines Norte, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 14,063 people.Formerly called Imelda, it was renamed on February 10, 1989 in honor of San Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint venerated in the Roman Catholic Church, canonized on October 18, 1987.


Scrambling (also known as alpine scrambling) is "a walk up steep terrain involving the use of one's hands". It is an ambiguous term that lies somewhere between hiking, hillwalking, mountaineering, and rock climbing. Canyoning often involves scrambling.

Alpine scrambling is scrambling in high mountains like the Alps and the Rockies of North America, and may not follow a defined or waymarked path. The Mountaineers climbing organization defines alpine scrambling as follows:

Alpine Scrambles are off-trail trips, often on snow or rock, with a 'non-technical' summit as a destination. A non-technical summit is one that is reached without the need for certain types of climbing equipment (body harness, rope, protection hardware, etc), and not involving travel on extremely steep slopes or on glaciers. However, this can mean negotiating lower angle rock, traveling through talus and scree, crossing streams, fighting one's way through dense brush, and walking on snow-covered slopes.

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