Attention thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies! I’ve just found you a little slice of paradise…
Canyoning in the Swiss Alps!
Canyoning involves following a rushing river through mountain gorges, where you jump, slide, and scramble your way from entry to exit point. It’s fun, challenging, and one of the coolest activities in the Swiss Alps – literally!
As I’ve shared before in this post, the Bernese Oberland is an outdoor wonderland at all times of year, and I love it especially in the summer months. From miles of hiking trails to perfect air for paragliding, from scenic train rides to rushing waterfalls, the Bernese Oberland is loaded with captivating activities – and Interlaken is the launching pad for all the mountain fun. When two good friends from Orlando said they were coming to visit Justin and me in Zurich, I knew it was time for a canyoning adventure in this dreamy landscape.
I booked our canyoning trip with Outdoor Interlaken, one of Switzerland’s leading outdoor sports companies that offers several different canyoning experiences. I selected their intermediate course, Canyoning Grimsel:
Set on a mountain pass, the Grimsel trip starts with a heart-pumping 50m rappel. Filled with amazing jumps, slides and a zipline into the crystal clear pools, this majestic alpine environment has plenty to offer. The pale-coloured rock formations in this canyon add to the stunning mountain scenery.
“Stunning mountain scenery” is right. It’s absolutely gorgeous! Snow lingers on the mountain heights, a picturesque backdrop above the gorge. When your adventure starts with this view, how can you not be excited?!?
Getting through Grimsel canyon begins with getting into Grimsel canyon…
which is done by rappelling down a vertical slab of granite – like so:
Once down in the canyon, it’s time to get wet! The first jump into that freezing cold water really takes your breath away. And that’s when you become thankful for your wetsuit.
For the next hour and a half, you scramble over boulders, slide down smooth boulders into pools, jump off of cliffs, and even drop from a zip line.
Canyoning is such a fun and unique outdoor activity, and I can’t recommend it enough. Yet, you may have a lot of questions about it before signing up for this mountain adventure. I came up with a list of the questions my team and I were asking ourselves before taking the plunge, and I’ve answered them according to our canyoning experience with Outdoor Interlaken.
CANYONING IN SWITZERLAND – FAQS
When is canyoning season?
In Switzerland, canyoning season starts in May, and it usually goes to the end of September. The activity is sustained by the snow melt and some courses are dependent upon weather conditions, which is why there are no set dates for the season. If you are planning on canyoning in Switzerland, call in advance to make sure your desired course is open.
Is it safe?
In general, canyoning with an experienced outdoor company is a medium-risk activity. The guides are trained professionals who work to keep you safe. They give instructions every step of the way so you know what to expect. The biggest danger, guides warn, is from falling rocks (hence the helmets) or a misstep as you clamber over the rocks. If you follow their lead and exercise caution, you have little to worry about.
How physical is this activity?
Canyoning is a full body experience. With rappels, jumps, climbs, and slides, you need to be in good physical condition to go. With that being said, you don’t have to be super athletic to make it through. Most likely, you’ll wake up the next morning with a few bumps and bruises no matter your skill level.
What if I’m afraid of heights?
Grimsel has some challenging elements for folks who have a fear of heights, such as rappelling 50 meters down into the gorge and a few big jumps. On my trip, some people were notably scared by some of the obstacles, but Team Spirit prevailed and everyone managed to complete the course.
Of course, jumping from the highest cliff was reserved for the daring. And it should come as no surprise that my husband, Mr. Mountain Goat, was the first to leap from the cliff. I chose to follow suit :)
Is canyoning a family-friendly activity?
I think parents of teens could score some major points by doing this awesome adventure together. Canyoning is actually quite a bonding experience. Outdoor Interlaken requires participants to be 14 or older.
What gear is provided?
Outdoor Interlaken provides all the necessary canyoning equipment (full wetsuit, booties, helmet, harness). You get your gear at the Base Shop in town, load it in the trailer, and suit up in a field below the canyon.
So, what do I bring with me?
Outdoor Interlaken says to bring your “swimsuit, towel, small day bag, money for video and souvenirs.” I recommend that you wear your bathing suit under your clothes. You’ll change into your wetsuit out in the open. Also, I suggest wearing flip-flops or sandals to make it easier to get in and out of your gear, which can be a little challenging…
It’s an hour ride from Interlaken to Grimsel Canyon. So, if you didn’t have a hearty meal before setting out for your trip, you may want to bring something to nibble on along the way. Outdoor Interlaken set out a nice spread of fresh bread, local cheese, tomatoes and cucumbers – plus water and beer – for the group to enjoy after exiting the canyon.
Is canyoning for me?
While I can’t answer that question for you, I can say that my first trip canyoning was a dream come true. I had a blast, as did Justin and our Orlando buddies. We haven’t stopped talking about it since, and we’d do it again in a heartbeat!
I want to give a bit shout out and thank you to Outdoor Interlaken, whose stellar staff invited me to join on their Canyoning Grimsel excursion and provided all the photography and videos for my first canyoning adventure. Make sure to check out all the other rad adventures Outdoor Interlaken has to offer on their website, Facebook and Twitter.
Hey Wild Ones! Have you ever been canyoning? Would you give it a try while on vacation? Is this activity outside of your comfort zone? Do you have any more Swiss mountain adventures you can recommend?