halfwaysmiles.jpgThe day after the World Championships, we were all finding ourselves on an adrenaline crash, tired, and ready to go home or somewhere else.    What we really needed was a new source of adrenaline, to motivate us and thanks to Jurg, we were pointed in the right direction, Canyoning with Outdoor Interlaken.   We had a special South African guide in Stan, a friend of Jurg’s, who understood that we would want the “special tour” and that maybe we could operate outside the typical rules a little.   Unlike the USA, where things like liability get in the way of good old fashioned fun, this was Switzerland, and he is from South Africa, where if it isn’t a liability in the USA, they probably aren’t interested in doing it.   So it was a recipe for fun for us boys.     Emily wanted to chill out with her mom and KC, so off we went.     We had a nice couple that also went along with a normal guide (also South African), but they were paying customers and were on the normal program.

We knew it was going to be good when we climb up the valley, into the Alps and Stan points out the valley inbetween the mountains that we will be coming down.    Over 1,000 vertical feet of drop in a short distance, and we will be dropping the whole thing in the air or on our butts.   Wow.   Creeking without a  boat!

We did our safety talk, which included, OK guys, these pools are often deep, but not bottomless, and sometimes not deep.    It included not going ahead, how to land on the big drops to avoid messing up knees, dislocating shoulders, and how to run the tight cracks to avoid breaking faces, knocking out teeth, etc..

We new it was going to be fun when, after our 20 minute hike in from the high dirt road, we got to the creek and made it to the first drop.   Stan said, “OK, this is a slide… but there is a jump from up here that we don’t let our customers do if you want….”   At that moment I knew we were in for a treat.    Looking down at our first jump opportunity, if we wanted it, we were up about 30 feet and the jump included a slippery slope takeoff that was well behind the lip into a very small area, that is also shallow and rocks on either side of the landing zone, so they said.   Here we go!   Dane, Nick, and I all jumped in and got the run started.  the water was cold, but we were wearing 5 mm wetsuits, our helmets, life jacket, and a butt pad and booties.  

We got to the entrance of the Canyon and it was no turnback time.  Everyone had to agree that we would continue down, doing one mandatory move after another to the finish.   They had ropes to rappel down anyone who got injured, however, so there was a way out for anyone who got too scared to continue.    Looking down the hill it was a super steep, granite canyon, and we were just jumping our way down.  still felt too weird to me, but so fun.

We got to a narrow crack that is a nice slide…. wait… you guys can jump this one if you want Stan said.   OK, wow, look at that narrow crack, a long way down and a crazy landing pool.   Nick went first and slipped on takeoff, and hit the left wall with his hand to keep balanced and bounced to the right wall and into the crack.  it was an incredible catch by him while dropping down.     Dane and I watched our last step more carefully.     My first slide i took a big hip check and was bruised for a couple of weeks, but i was the only one, not sure what I did wrong on the corner.    There were a couple of slides that required keeping your head back and arms in front of your face as you drop into overhanging cracks that will take your face off if you try to look up. 

One incredibly fun move after another, including a rappel down a waterfall that lands on a rock so you can’t jump it.   then you get to the big ones.   Standing up on the lip of the first slide looking down (about 85 degrees) you see about 150 feet of gradient in a very short distance but can’t see past the first big slide.   This one you rappel down about 20 feet and let go of the rope and drop down a big one.   then a move around a non-runable one including a rappel and jump, and finally into the coolest one, the final move that is high and scary.   the normal customer line is to be rappelled down 1/2 way into a crack slide and let go.  The optional way for us was to jump over dry rock and fall onto dry rock about 15 feet down and try to perfectly land in the crack where the water hits and ride the slide into a very narrow crack/pool at the bottom.   Wow- look at that i thought.  That is a skill move and something that looks crazy fun, but scary.  the jump isn’t down either, but to the side as you are trying to jump to avoid a hit to the hip on the crack.  if you don’t make it to the crack, you slide down rocks, into rocks.  If you jump too far left you slide back into a rock that makes the crack and it will hurt.   do it right and it is super smooth, Stan said.       

Off we went- Dane, Nick, and I down the “jump/slide” and what a ride.   We all had super smooth rides and it was the highlight of our trip as far as moves go and the sheer size of it.

a nice lunch at the takeout and a ride back to the train station and we made it back to Thun to find the girls already checked out of the hotel and ready to head out.