Much to the amusement of the group of strapping Australians thirty years my junior looking on, I gracefully scotch the landing at the bottom of a 50-meter rappel off the canyon wall and fall, rear-end-first, into the icy flow of an alpine stream, inducing immediate sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia of the gluteus maximus (read: brain freeze of the buttocks).
Jet lag, schmetlag. I have, at long last, found the cure.
After flying through nine time zones, shoehorned into economy and conveniently seated next to the busy loo, one would think that bedtime in that first hotel would be a welcome relief. One would be wrong. Despite a hallucination-inducing lack of sleep, one still found oneself unable to breach the Z-horizon, staring up at the bloody ceiling, weeping silently to oneself throughout the infinite night.
Shooting a television program demands strict attention to call-time, so, sleep or not, we rise promptly at dawn. Coffee? Yes, please. Even fortified by the best Swiss brew, however, still I stumble foggily about, mumbling greetings to the crew. It takes excruciating mental effort to follow the instructions of our canyoning guides. They gently point out that I’ve put the dry suit on inside-out and gamely repeat safety instructions, as though to a small child. Even hoisting my leg over the railing to hang over Grimsel canyon doesn’t awaken me.
However, rising from the accidental, bone-chilling bath I’ve taken in the milky stream, I am fully present. We begin to make our way down the canyon, leaping from boulders, plunging into deep pools, and wriggling through cracks and crags. A short zip-line section near the end makes for one of many excellent photo ops, which you can take advantage of by snapping your own action camera to the provided mount on your helmet. Egged on by the other participants, the adrenaline surges through our veins. This, my friends, is the ultimate homeopathic treatment for travel-induced insomnia.
Our trip started with a short drive out of Interlaken, arguably Switzerland’s outdoor sports capital, up to Grimsel Canyon. Our adventure lasted several hours, but both longer and shorter trips are available, depending on your taste. All gear, including dry suit, river shoes, gloves, helmet, harness, and ropes, are included in the trip price. Guides are competent and careful to ensure our safety – at no point do I feel that I’m being asked to do something truly dangerous. The water is cold, but manageably so. Previous climbing and rappelling experience aren’t necessary, and while a moderate level of fitness makes the excursion more fun, you most certainly don’t need to be a marathoner to feel comfortable. As if the canyoning part wasn’t enough fun, at the end, we’re treated to an impromptu picnic and cold beer.
Ready to take on the canyoning challenge in Interlaken? Feel free to contact me for more details about travel and adventure in Switzerland and stay tuned! More adventures to come soon.