Canyoning is an extreme sport were speed is essential. Especially when the weather forecast is predicting rain (even 2 – 5 mm). Water flow is crucial during canyoning. However, if you are not such an experienced canyoner or like me (a little bit rusty) at this point, sometimes it is better to be slow than sorry.
No matter of your favorite canyoning shoes, all rocks can become very slippery during a slight, innocent rain in the canyon. Unless you are a canyoning lizard or a water snake there are possibilities that you might twist an ankle, take an unexpected fall or get pretty distracted by anxiety to get out as fast as possible. My personal attitude on this matter is to take it rather slow, to protect myself (and my canyoning team) and be extra cautious of my footsteps.
When it comes to techniques and rope rigging the team members need speed and accuracy. Therefore, it is best to promote the ropes forward and set the most experienced canyoners on the demanding descents. Even then, I am always careful, trying to rappel faster to make up with the lost time while slow moving during down scrabbling.
Should you have a canyoning member who is extra slow and intimidated by the slippery environment in such a situation the solution is simple. Always have someone – not necessarily the same person during the whole descent – keeping an eye, supporting just by his/her presence without criticism but with a positive attitude and a calm approach. At some point both will reach the rest of canyoning members at the belay and rappel. The delay time gap will be ok and the exit will find everybody happy and safe.
Psychology and stamina play a significant role during canyoning! If the slow moving person is smiling, making jokes and shows determination everything will turn out fine. The difficult part is when the person is showing marks of anxiety, fear, bad mood and frustration. Well there, the only solution is for the whole canyoning team’s support. 2-3 canyoners by the person’s side, unconditioned love if possible… and positive, boosting remarks to your canyoning mate will lead everyone out to safety. What I find irresistible in canyoning is the spirit of cooperation. One must be responsible for thyself and all together for each and everyone in the canyoning team. Hardcore adventure and achievements are great but nothing beats the smiling faces over beers and pizzas in a warm, cozy restaurant afterwards.