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URQU Alpine Wellness Retreats goes Canyoning

The perfect way to beat the Alpine summer heatwave...

Earlier this week I had a 'last minute' opportunity to join an outing and try canyoning (a.k.a canyoneering) for the first time. I was considering adding it to our URQU Women’s Wellness Retreats programme for next summer so a friend suggested I try this in Morzine, which has some of the best canyoning in Haute Savoie so I’ve been told. I didn't really know what to expect...

From Morzine, our group of six headed to the nearby Canyon de Nyon where we were led in single file to a small metal door on a long, narrow bridge. Only then did I notice I had to be 'dropped' down to the river 40 meters below me. I thought, 'What the heck have I got myself into?'

Our guide, the competent and charming Guillaume Omont, who works for the Morzine Guide Office, lowered us down one by one - but you do have to jump over that rail at some point! I let everyone go before me (I hate heights), and asked Guillaume to lower me slowly. He then told me I should have gone first because now his arms were tired…

Once in the river we proceeded to either climb over rocks, swim along the river, or slide or absail down huge boulders into potholes of freezing cold water. The temperature in Morzine that day was well into the mid 30s, as in the rest of the Alps during this record heat wave. The freezing water running into our wetsuits was the most refreshing thing I'd experienced in a long time! 

Soon Guillaume had us jumping over rocks a few meters down into what seemed like harrowing narrow potholes, my fear of heights was then sabotaged by visions of me hitting a rock upon landing - thank goodness for the helmets!

Longer abseils down cascading waterfalls, gulps of water swallowed, a lost pearl earring (don't wear jewellery on these outings!), and the last jump into a towering six metres deep pothole while hanging off a suspended horizontal wire were all part of the one hour of fun. 

I must admit I was pretty scared most of the time, but Guillaume kept smiling and asking me if I was OK, which put me at ease. Seeing the other two girls in the group looking scared as well, gave me the urge to jump in or abseil down before them so they'd be more at ease.

When we reached the end of the canyon, I was rather relieved as I don't think I've pushed my limits this far in a long time, but I must also admit it was the most exhilarating experience I've had since riding roller coasters as a child!

If you are in need of a thrill or are just looking for a way to cool off this summer, I can highly recommend this! We will definitely be considering it for future activity programmes on URQU Wellness Retreats!

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