Posted by: rngerlach | July 5, 2007

Pure Oxygen and Extreme Adventure in the Alps

Do not look down, just jump out! Those were the last words I heard in a New Zealand accent from the instructor as I ran jumped from a 250 ft. platform over the river. I have never in my life felt such a feeling of free fall. The wind passed by my face faster and faster as I first squeeze everything in my body and then for about a second the free fall almost felt peaceful like a floating bird in the canyon. The river approached quickly as I was in a swan dive head first for the rapids, then the rope catches and I swing through the canyon over the river at about 70mph. At this point, extreme exhiliration and adrenaline is flowing through the veins. This was my 4th of July experience called canyon jumping which was just one of the great opportunities in the beautiful Alps in Switzerland.

Balmers was the hostel we stayed at in Interlaken Switzerland. Interlaken is a beautiful small mountain town nestled between two lakes which gave us a feeling of being home. Balmers is the hostel of choice since we have heard so much about it from other travellers on our adventure. It is like a cabin with a backyard, barbecues and bars. The feeling of summer camp was in the atmosphere only with beer being served. The best bar and nighclub in town rocks every night downstairs from the hostel. We had originally planned to stay only three nights, which turned into five nights. Not so much for the fresh mountain air but because our first two canyoning trips were cancelled from rain. Steady rainfall took place much of the five days here in the mountains. Our first day, the canyoning trip was cancelled so we volunteered to help clean up after the Outdoor games that had just taken place in Interlaken. It actually felt good to do some labor, our payoff was free high ropes course and a free day of canyoning, perfect! The ropes course was the most challenging course I have done as we ziplined through the forest at heights of 40-80 feet above ground. The second day we took a hike on some trails into the Alps with two girls from Mississippi, random. Some of the most enchanting views of the the mountain peaks occurred on this hike.

Since we were given the canyoning trip for free, we had to redeem it which then allowed us to afford the canyon jump which was described above. So the big question, what the hell is canyoning?

Canyoning is only done in New Zealand and Switzerland, and since New Zealand is not in my travel itinerary any time soon we had to do it right now. Once in a life time opportunity. We suited up in a wet suit, two neoprene jackets, strapped on a lifejacket and a helmet in attempt to keep us warm in the cold mountain rivers. It involves sliding down rocks into pools of water, natures waterslides. Jumping off cliffs in between 3 meters of rock on each side of you. Ziplining for 10 feet then letting go falling into more pools of cold river water and of course sliding down more rocks is what canyoning includes in a nutshell explanation. Canyoning is by no means safe but nothing in Switzerland is safe. The word extreme has a new meaning here, they live by it daily, it is in their blood.

The five days spent in Switzerland provided that mountian fresh air that I so frequently miss from Colorado. The extreme events also gave me a new appreciation for life. I almost felt reborn after the canyon jump. Trust was the one endearing quality that I gained most in Switzerland since you really have to trust the instructors and guides with your life. Would I do it all over again? Oh hell yeah I would!

So what is next? Spain will be our new home for the next six or seven days as we will take the all day train ride to Barcelona and spend four days there followed by Pamplona. Unfortunately, we will not catch the opening ceremony of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona which has the famous running of the bulls every morning from July 7th-14th. We plan to arrive in Pamplona early morning on the 11th from a night train. Will we be crazy enough to run with the bulls? The way this trip is going, that is most likely a big YES!

See you in Espana!



  1. I can only imagine the time you had in Switzerland.. I hear you talk about Colorado and can tell how much you miss it. Im glad you got to appreciate a place with similar qualities as home!

    Im also sorry that I missed your phone call man – When I got your voicemail I started freaking out and praying you would call me back, but I know phone calls are not a cheap experience from Europe.

    Hope you had an amazing 4th of July man.. I kept you in my thoughts on the sunny beaches of San Diego!

  2. I am glad that you made it safe and sound through your canyoning adventures, i have to admit that it is now on my list of things to do although I will leave the running of the bulls to you. Canyoning sounds like a great business idea for Colorado when the spring run off hits from all the snow. Have fun on this last leg of your journey and stay safe in Spain. I look forward to hearing your stories over a few double doubles animal style!

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