Canyoning is an adventure sport that involves maneuvering through river canyons, sometimes while rappelling down powerful waterfalls.
Also known as Canyoneering in the United States, the activity has taken off in recent years. While visiting Quebec City I decided to take a side-trip to the mountain town of Beaupré to get outside for a bit and give it a try.
Arriving at Mont-Sainte-Anne, I soon met my canyon guides Eric & Val from Canyoning Quebec. They began fitting me with an absolutely ridiculous looking wetsuit, climbing harness, and helmet. :D
This gear was needed though, because we’d be lowering ourselves over a set of cold & steep waterfalls called the Jean-Larose Chutes.
Rappelling Down Waterfalls
Hiking a short trail to get to the river, we made our way over to the site of the first 40 foot drop. Val gave us a primer on rappelling, including how to tie in and lower ourselves down a vertical rock face.
Eric descended first, ready to assist us if we needed any help.
Next, I very carefully walked 10 feet accross the top of the waterfall while clipped onto a safety line and met Val who was casually hanging-out on the edge of a cliff to ensure I tied into my belay device correctly.
It was nice that our guides let us tie in ourselves — at the same time they were present to ensure we didn’t screw anything up.
Don’t Look Up!
Normally, a proper rappelling position is standing perpendicular to the rock face, leaning back in your harness while releasing the climbing rope to lower yourself down as fast as you want.
But when rappelling down a waterfall, it’s also important not to look up!
Even though I was aware of this fact, it’s hard to keep yourself from doing it anyway. Your body quickly learns the hard way though. Looking up into a gushing waterfall feels a lot how I’d assume water-boarding must feel like… I’d say absolutely anything to make it stop.
Breathing becomes pretty impossible with hundreds of gallons of cold water drilling into your face. :?
But unlike water-boarding, it’s easy to prevent this uncomfortable sensation of drowning in mid-air. All you have to do is tuck your chin in and look straight at the wall in front of you.
Canyoning in Quebec
After successfully navigating the 40 foot drop, it was on to the larger 60 foot cascade of water. Somehow this one seemed to be even more powerful. I was completely disoriented a few times.
Much more difficult to keep your footing on the slick rock walls with so much water trying to push you around on the rope.
The adrenaline level was high attempting to make my way down to the deep pool below. It felt like you were stuck in a giant washing machine on super cycle mode.
But as I got the hang of it I began to showboat a bit, jumping off the wall as I descended. Plunging over these waterfalls was exhilarating! As is clearly evident by the large smile stuck to my face. :D
We were able to hike back up and attempt the big waterfall a few more times before calling it a day. ★
Special thanks to my new friends Marie-Krystine & Marco for some of the photos!
*This adventure was made possible with help from Tourisme Québec. However, as you probably know by now, all opinions & thoughts are my own.
Have you ever been canyoning before? What do you think of my super-sexy wetsuit?