Adrenalin fuelled and frightfully fun, getting deep into the heart of Austria via the sporting efforts of canyoning (canyoneering) is certainly one way to experience the postcard-perfect landscape of Tirol with a twist. On the surface, rolling fields of green flanked by yellow flowers and flanked by he snow-capped the Kitzbühel Alpen mountain range; beneath it, a rocky assault course, whose narrow gorges and waterfalls form another, unruly world.
The rugged setting of the Teufelsklamm – otherwise known as the Devil’s Gorge – is a scene of snaking clear, rumbling white waters flanked by high cliff faces. It’s classed as a ‘beginners course’ here, forming a great introduction to a wilderness that requires only a little technical guidance to navigate through.
Of course, you will have an expert with you – a guy who knows his rope knots from his whatnots. The region’s only outdoors adventure company, Fun Connection, fully brief you and kit you out with all the attractive waterproof gear, including a climbing harness that makes you feel like a true explorer of the deep.
It began with a steep 20-minute uphill, woodland climb – a group of us clad in wetsuits trying to trek gracefully in the sun. We longed for those icy cool waters.
The Devil himself sits in a cave smirking as you approach the first bridge following your climb. The adventure officially starts here, with a 10 metre drop, each of you being lowered from the wooden beams in a rope drop that lasts a matter of heart-pumping seconds.
From there, you begin a series of abseils (rappels), small waterfall slides and air glides through narrow gorges on a makeshift zip line. It’s fast-paced adrenalin at its best, and the ultimate in team work – relying on the morale of your friends to make you take that first step, while you cheer on the rest of the team as they follow behind you.
You laugh nervously as you slide and tumble.
You want more.
It’s the addiction of nature. Where we should not tread, we do so knowing she controls our every step.
As time passes, the techniques become more challenging. The rope swings get longer, the slides deeper and the mini Via-Ferreta becoming the only means to pass the rocky walls of Tirol’s lower ground.
Eventually we came to wall, overflowing with heavy waterfall – a man-made waterfall of sorts. We knew it was a long way down – the gushing waters below heed the sounds of what is to come.
Listen to nature. She lures you in.
Without getting too close, you peek and give a signal to your team.
“How are we going to get all the way down there?” we all asked one another. We could neither see hooks or any kind of zip line mechanism in answer.
“Are… we… jumping… this… one?” We question what we got ourselves in for.
“I mean, is it… deep enough?”
Our lead navigator begins to rope up from a hook only he knows, as we sigh in relief. The leader; he who controls every rope you descend. We’ve trusted him thus far, so it would be fine, right?
“We are dropping ALL the way down there?”
There’s only one way with canyoning – forward. There is no way back, and you line up, ready to take the final plunge, with the bravery only human adrenalin can muster. We are all excited. It’s the biggest one yet, and by this point we are all masters of our own adventurous destiny.
“I can take on anything in Austria,” you think as you are dipped, deliberately, into the heavy waterfall, your body resting against the wall as you catch your breath before you enter the fresh waters again, and slowly come to a rest at the bottom of the ravine in a fit of glorious ‘I survived’ giggles.
Being dishevelled means nothing in a devilish world. It’s all part of the experience – of the Austria you didn’t think you knew beyond the pictures of its famous alpine hikes.
Editorial Disclosure – The #InAustria blog trip was created and managed by iambassador in association with the Austrian National Tourist Office, Tirol Tourist Board and the Kitzbüheler Alpen Marketing GmbH. Borders of Adventure maintains full editorial control of the content published on the site.