Thursday, December 3, 2015

New on the Bucket List: Canyoneering

Sport routes near the Wallula Gap, WA
I have been spending a lot of time at the climbing wall this past month, and even made a few trips to the outdoors with my new climbing buds. Washington is the PRIME place for outdoor climbing and I couldn’t be more excited about the adventures to come. I’m getting a lot more comfortable with my technical skill with a rope too. I now fully understand how to belay, lead climb (even though I’m still pretty nervous to lead), clean an anchor, and rappel down. I just feel so much more comfortable climbing in general, knowing that I’m safe in my harness if I fall. It’s really allowed me to reach for holds and moves I never would have tried in the past. I’m getting better, bolder, and stronger.

A few nights ago, my friend Rodrigo and I climbed together at the wall and finished route after route. He’s a seasoned climber and was helping me learn some technique and a few games to play while we trained. It was an awesome night. I’m at the 5.8-5.9 level which is pretty basic but challenging enough because I still struggle. There is something about being strapped into a harness and a rope while dangling 25’ on a wall that I just love. It’s like I want to get to the top of a route just so I can fly back down to the ground.

Climbing at the Frenchman Coulee. That's Rodrigo!

I was fortunate enough to spark up a convo with this guy named Ken that night. He’d been climbing all night and we somehow got into the topic of canyoneering. I’d never heard of it but basically canyoneering is the sport of rappelling into canyons and exploring around the bottom. Usually you rappel into waterfalls and little rivers, so most people wear wetsuits while they rappel. My mouth literally dropped open when he mentioned all this for a couple different reasons. First, it amazes me how people come up with these insane sports. But they are not alone because I won’t lie.. THIS is what I've wanted to do since I was a little girl. I’ve always been infatuated with gear and rope and technical things. It probably spawned from watching my brother become a Boy Scout because I was basically with him through it all being a little Boy Scout too. I cried when he got a compass and I didn't get one. And my dad helped me to carve my own pinewood derby car to race. It was a truck. Pretty much the WORST choice aerodynamically..

Anyways, I was so excited to learn there is a sport out there revolving around the skill of rappelling. Some canyoneering involves climbing, but the main idea is to explore the bottoms of canyons. You start at the top and walk out at the bottom. (Or swim out). Canyoneering is extremely popular at Zion National Park too. I watched a few videos last night about it and it looks amazing. Check this one out. I had already been planning a rappelling trip this summer so maybe my first stop will be the canyons over here before I hit Zion a few years down the road. I’m so excited, I have found another thing to add my bucket list.


If you’re interested in canyoneering, check out this site, Canyoneering USA. It’s a sweet resource.

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