“Gorge-Hiking” for the Brave: A Leap into Cold Water

Experience the elemental power of water up close on a canyoning tour in the Salzburger Saalachtal. Those who dare to take a courageous leap into the raging waters of the gorge and master abseiling with the help of a guide will be rewarded with an adrenaline charged experience. 

I stand on the edge of the 8 metre high rock as the thundering of the wild mass of water swallows up all other sounds. I can feel my heartbeat and it is more than a little fast. The tips of my toes are already dangling over the abyss as my cautious conscious self hesitates, aware of the height and the jagged rocks that line the turquoise pool below me. I read “Jump!” on the lips of our guide who is already waiting for me in the rock pool below with my husband and my son. I close my eyes and feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins. I open my eyes again and concentrate on the landing point in the middle of the pool and jump off powerfully. “Yippee!” I hear my family cheering before I plunge into the bubbling water. A huge, proud grin has already spread across my face under the water. 

But back to the beginning …

My husband and my 14 year old son are sporty daredevils always on the hunt for the next adventure, naturally also on holiday in the Salzburger Saalachtal! I prefer a more leisurely and comfortable pace and really enjoy a short hike on the alm or a stroll along the Saalach but on a walk through the natural treasure, the Seisenbergklamm, I made a mistake. Contemplating the masses of thundering water rushing under the walkways between the walls of the gorge, I said to my husband, most impressed, “What do you think it would feel like to experience the enormous power of this water close up?” He winked at my son and casually remarked, “One could find out.”

What a surprise this morning! The two of them have secretly booked us onto a family canyoning tour and now they lead me away, with our swimming things already packed, to the meeting place they have arranged with the guide. There is no time for fear and nerves. “Today we are going to explore a wonderful, water-bearing gorge. You’ll swim in white water, abseil down a waterfall, jump from 8 metres into a crystal-clear rock pool and glide over natural rock slides,” our guide says elated and adds, “The tour requires the ability to swim, surefootedness, good fitness and a helping of courage!” Both of my men nod enthusiastically but my unease begins to develop rapidly because it sounds like a huge adventure. 

Off to the gorge

We slip into thick neoprene suits in the summer heat with hoods, helmets and special canyoning hip belts. “We need these for abseiling,” explains the guide and grinning he notices my nervous look. “No need to worry – I’ll be at your side all the time and if your courage completely fails at any time you can simply leave the tour.” Relieved, I listen to the rest of the instructions. “OK, I understand!” I think to myself. It is starting to get warm in the thick neoprene and even our feet are now encased in neoprene shoes so we are happy when we finally get going and cover the short distance to the gorge.

At the beginning of the tour we rope up straightaway as we need to abseil to reach the water. “Me first!” shouts my son with sparking eyes and I am more than happy to let him go first. Meanwhile I distract myself, marvelling at the unbelievably green vegetation here in the gorge. Numerous rare plants grow in the humidity of the gorge, giving this place the appearance of a jungle. My men have already landed in the water, hooting and with my thoughts still in the jungle, I imagine Tarzan gliding down into the white water to Jane. This image helps me to make the first steps down, well-secured by the guide and it doesn’t seem so wild anymore. I step down the wet rock face effortlessly and a Tarzan cry escapes involuntarily from my lips. 

Finally in the water

Now I am infinitely thankful for the neoprene suit as I stand up to the knees in ice-cold water. The powerful pull of the stream rushing towards the valley tugs on my legs and I carefully place one foot in front of the other so as not to be washed away. The smooth rock faces tower above us and right at the top I can see the blue summer sky. I relax and enjoy walking through the gorge. When the water becomes deeper we swim. This is great fun and glancing at my husband and son, I see that they are both in their element. We slide along natural channels in the slippery rocks, swim and walk until it suddenly becomes very loud. A waterfall plunges into the depths in front of us. “We are going to abseil down again here and then when we come to the next small waterfall we will jump!” announces our guide. 

I look down and can only see wild, splashing water. My son goes first and abseils down through the waterfall easily. My husband reassures me and so I attach myself to the rope. When the guide gives the sign I push off. “Keep your mouth closed!“ I think to myself as the spray of the waterfall surrounds me completely. The thundering is deafeningly loud and the water crashing down tears at me. “So this is what it feels like to be a part of this wild element,” I think and a smile spreads across my face. Soon I plunge into the mass of water in the rock pool and my son helpfully reaches out to me to pull me into a calmer cove. Do I see a proud sparkle in his eyes? “Ha! He really thought that his Mum wouldn’t dare to do something like this,” I laugh to myself and soon all four of us are together again. 

The giant leap

By now I have begun to really enjoy the tour and we swim further through the gorge together. Our guide helps us out of the water at one point and explains that we have finally reached the highlight of the canyoning tour, the 8 metre leap. My calmness disappears instantly and the hairs on my neck are visibly standing on end. My husband presses my hand encouragingly and says, “You can do it!”. My son nods as well and follows the guide with a powerful jump down. My husband doesn’t hesitate for long and with a shout of joy he leaps away. I remain up here alone and stand on the edge of the precipice. So we are back to the beginning of this story again – I dared to do it! The amazing feeling of overcoming my fears makes my skin tingle all over.

Mum, you’re the best

As I resurface after my leap into the turquoise rock pool my husband and son swim over to me and hug me. “Mum, you’re the best!” says my son and my husband looks at me proudly. “We never thought you would have so much fun on this canyoning tour but we wanted to grant your wish and show you what it feels like to experience white water up close and personal.” We cover the last part of the course together, peel off the neoprene suits and hop into a hot shower. “So it’s time for a delicious meal now because white water isn’t just cold, powerful and thrilling – it makes you unbelievably hungry!“ announces my husband and proud as punch we march back to the village.  

Canyoning with our outdoor experts

Looking for the real thrill? Then head to the gorges for canyoning with our outdoor experts, according to their motto „Abseil, jump, swim!“  Either abseil or jump directly from the rock face into the cold water of the Seisenbergklamm in the Salzburger Saalachtal. The equipment is supplied by the outdoor providers. Good swimming ability and health, no physical or mental limitations, as well as average fitness are requirements for canyoning in the Salzburger Saalachtal. Our outdoor providers, Motion Center and Base Camp, are happy to advise you and carry out the planning and guiding of the tour. Together we will find the perfect canyoning tour for everyone – beginners, families, intermediates and professionals.

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