A friend commented elsewhere on gearing up for adventures in the wild and cheap gear vs expensive. He’s a librarian I knew before either of us knew each other as librarians ie we knew each other initially as canyoners, though the americans prefer to say canyoneers which does have a nice ring to it. I no longer canyon, having given up after a couple of sad experiences, however I respect those who continue to canyon and am glad to have had the experiences the activity has brought my way. For me canyoning was the answer to a childhood desire of exploring beyond the handrail ie getting beyond the tourist trial and lookouts. I used to explain canyoning as sort of like the 1 day cricket of wilderness activities. For those canyoning in the Blue Mountains, there was always a couple of hours of bushwalking at each end, a bit of swimming, a bit of creek bashing, and some lovely abseils, all in a beautiful environment. Whereas canyoning in Europe tends to be with minimal bushwalking ie a car parked at the top and a car at the bottom with a 10-15 walk to the canyon. Luxury!
I recall when I started that my gear was somewhat minimalist. When friends talked me into it, I set myself a startup budget for the initial batch of gear, figuring I could add stuff later if I continued. Even to start though, I needed a full body wetsuit, some abseiling gear, and a pack. Luckily I still had some old descenders from my teenage abseiling days and a climbing harness. Most folk I knew, used a pitt stop, whereas I made do with a couple of pitons across a carabiner. Plus a compass, space blanket and a bit of food. In the early days I’d have enough, sorta, for that day’s trip.
By the time I finished canyoning, several years later, I had upgraded my 3mm wetsuit to a 5mm canyoning specific wetsuit (reinforced knees, elbows and bum), bought a canyoning specific backpack, had several descenders, safety rope, short lengths of rope to use as ascending loops in an emergency, a helmet (previously I borrowed one). Similarly my dry pack contained a change of clothes, enough food for a couple of days, and other bits and pieces. A good mix of old and new.
In the years inbetween, though I probably never got beyond intermediate status in terms of actual ability, I managed to do some of the best canyons in the Blue Mountains and travelled overseas to the annual International Canyoning Rendezvous in Crete and a year later in Northern Greece. I always regarded myself as something of a tourist canyoner and all my friends will attest to the fact that I am very much not the rugged outdoorsy type. Yet, at the same time, I manage to find my own way through and have been very fortunate to be able to canyon with some of the best canyoners in the world.
It’s probably been about 3 years since I gave up canyoning and I’m still working out what to do next. Not really found anything to stick with as yet though I’ve got a couple of ideas bubbling away. Wouldn’t mind doing some bushwalking, and I’m hoping to do some tramping when in New Zealand at the end of the year. I’m also thinking of getting back into cycling which I haven’t touched since I was a teenager, though even then I did manage to participate in a ride from Goulburn to Canberra (which I think was a 100km or so – I don’t remember). If I recall correctly, that was to celebrate the centenary of The Boys’ Brigade.
These days I have a love/hate relationship with cyclists: I’m mostly ok with them on the road, however the downside of living in Newtown is that many cyclists like to ride on the footpaths…which are narrow enough at the best of times. Been hit once or twice, not to mention a whole stack of near misses. Yet at the same time, getting into cycling would be a big leap out of my current comfort zone which I think is a good thing. I like things that do that and challenge the way I think, or get me thinking in new ways.