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The Inherent Hazards of Canyoneering

Canyoneering, while enjoyable, can be a dangerous activity especially if the right precautions aren’t taken beforehand. Take the changing nature of canyons and their remoteness, combine that with some human error and unpredictable weather and a canyoneering adventure can quickly turn to disaster.

To compound matters further, the inaccessibility of some canyons means it could be hours or days before rescue arrives in case of an accident. This means that it’s up to canyoneers to do what they can to mitigate the dangers of canyoneering including educating themselves on some of the hazards they’re likely to run into such as:

  • Flash floods.

Another hazard to look out for is flash floods. This occurs when a sudden heavy downpour quickly raises the water level in a canyon and leads to substantial runoff flowing through the same canyon. If a canyon drains a large area, it can still fill up fast even if the downpour occurs miles away. Other than sweeping away gear, flash floods can cause fatalities.

  • Water-borne diseases.

Canyon waters harbor different microorganisms some of which are disease-causing microbes. Diseases such as gastroenteritis, dermatitis or Leptospirosis (Weil’s disease) are common among canyoneers. It’s therefore advisable to always carry your own potable water and to take a shower immediately after canyoneering to get rid of any pathogens on your skin.

  • Hyperthermia or hypothermia.

Canyoneering in arid desert conditions can lead to heat exhaustion and hyperthermia especially if the canyoneers don’t stay adequately hydrated. Alternatively, hypothermia might be of more concern if the canyoneers are wading or swimming in water. Water found in canyons can be extremely cold, causing body temperature to plummet to dangerously low levels. Wearing wetsuits or drysuits helps mitigate this.

  • Hydraulics.

Canyons that have significant water flowing through them might look deceptively calm. However, such water can have strong undercurrents and sieves that can quickly pull down, pin or trap a canyoneer underwater causing them to drown.

  • Getting lost.

Part of the fun of canyoneering lies in exploring remote canyons located in far-flung areas. However, some of the sparse trails that often lead to these canyons may not be properly marked, making it easy for canyoneers to lose their way. That’s why it’s always recommended to keep to designated routes.

  • Rockfalls.

Canyons are constantly changing thanks to the erosive effects of wind and water. While this results in fascinating rock features, it can also cause dangerous rock movements like rockfalls and rockslides. These plummeting rocks can trap canyoneers, blocking their way or causing devastating accidents should they be unfortunate enough to get crushed.

  • Extremely narrow slots.

Sometimes canyoneers find themselves negotiating narrow slots whose walls rip through their gear and clothing. If the walls of the canyon are too narrow, adventurers might lack enough space to maneuver, and end up getting stuck.

For a successful canyoneering adventure, you need adequate preparation, experience, and the right gear. Browse through ROCNER Canyoneering Gear’s range of products to find the requisite tools and equipment to make your next canyoneering trip safe and enjoyable.