Rapelling down Waterfalls

Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
Trip End Dec 16, 2008

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Flag of Chile  , Lake District,
Monday, October 27, 2008

"What's Canyoning?"

I was leafing through a binder of the activities on the coffee table of my hostel and besides the standard fare of kayaking, volcano climbing, mountain biking, hot springs, white water rafting, and there was a new one.

"Canyoning is walking in a slot-canyon through a thigh-deep raging river and rappelling down waterfalls." the guy told matter of factly in a German accent. 

"Wow - waterfall rappelling.  That sounds pretty cool.  Isn't that cold?"

[PHOTO_ID_r=descending-into-the-cavern.jpg]"Well - you are in a wet suit, so it isn't too bad."

"How high are the falls?"

"You rapell down three falls, maybe 40 to 60 feet high."

"Sign me up!" I naievely said.

Canyoning was a BLAST!  I've rappelled down cliffs and ice before, but never even thought of a waterfall.  

The first fall was terrifying - you don't get a sense of how high it is from the top - so after getting clipped onto the rope, I leaned back and started my initial descent.  

"Holy Crap!!!"  I said as I backed over the top and got my first look down.

I tried to put my feet into the fall but the force of the water shot my feet down and I crashed into the cascade, got a freezing blast of water that spun me around.  I had no idea how stong the water would be.

"Feet straight out - NEXT to the water, not IN the water"  My guide shouted from above.

"Lean more - get horizontal - you need to brace against the water"

And with that, I inched myself down the 50 foot waterfall to the pool at the bottom and realized I didn't ask what to do at the end.  The water is COLD and I had no idea how deep the pool is. 
Do I lower myself into the freezing water, or try to shimmy around the cliff to the rocks about 15 feet to my left.  With great trepidation, I lowered myself into the pool and found out (with great joy) that it was only thigh deep.
After wading down the stream another ten minutes, we came to a big hole in the ground where the river fell into darkness.

"We're going underground for awhile." Our guide said with a little too much enthiasm.

So we descended into what felt like a cave with a little ribbon of light at the top.  It was surreal - being lava, the walls of the cave were smooth and almost flowed.  The river at the bottom felt like a giant, natural waterslide... and we were supposed to hike through it.  Most of the time, it was only shin deep but occasionally got up to your thighs.  

You have to check out the first video at the top - our first set of descents weren't very pretty.

Next up - snowboarding down an active volcano. 

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