“Ab Sailing” (Abseiling) and Canyoning Blue Mountains


Abseiling is one of those things I’ve wanted to do since last year, but never got around to it. The last time I organised to go (late last year), Blue Mountain was on fire (literally!). Besides, it just doesn’t look like it’ll get my adrenaline rushing! Nevertheless, it is still a ‘must-do-before-I-die’ type of activity and cross it off my list, so I just went and did it. Marissa & JB both weren’t interested.

I joined the guys at High’n’Wild which I found in Entertainment Book, and joined one of their beginner abseil & canyoning day package for $150. The first thing I noticed was that there were more girls than guys doing abseiling. So, for the boys out there, if you wanna meet chicks, go do abseiling. Maybe these girls didn’t want to do anything extreme like bungy jumping, but abseiling is just scary enough for them to do. Our group had 3 boys, and 7 girls.

What’s funny is that, there were 2 girls (from USA), who came and didn’t even know what abseiling is (yet they are doing it!). She told me (in an American accent), “I thought abseiling is like tandem bungy jumping, you know, something you do with an instructor, hence ‘Ab Sailing'” It’s not until a minute later that I figured out that she literally meant sailing on someone else’s tummy (abs)!! :/

Anyway, the idea of the morning is to get us accustomed to the height by abseiling higher and higher cliffs in the morning, and then spend the afternoon canyoning. At this point, I still don’t know what canyoning is really about, but I do know it involves walking on water so I can’t bring my expensive digital SLR camera there. The morning was spent doing 3 cliffs, each progressively higher and higher. We started with 5m, then 15m, and then finally 30m. By the time we got to the 2nd one (15m), we have 1 casualty already. One guy (yes.. it’s a guy, and there were only 3 of us) dropped out. It was just too much for him. The rest of us made it past the 30m, although I ended up scratching myself badly on the legs while walking up the wrong path.

Cliff 1 -> Easy 5m Cliff 2 -> 15m Cliff 3 -> 30m DSC_1047 My Instructor

If you’re not accustomed to seeing blood, I don’t recommend you click on this photo:

Severe Injury

Then it was lunch, where our instructor treated us to ‘Canyon Food’, as he calls it. It was just ham, salad and bread rolls. He briefed us about the rest of the afternoon and we started heading for Empress Fall to begin our canyon adventure.

Canyon Food DSC_1057


Canyoning, as defined by the Wiki, is traveling in canyons using a variety of techniques that may include walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, abseiling, and/or swimming. In practise, this means we had to put on:

* 5mm wetsuit -> Water in the canyon is close to zero degrees
* Running Shoes -> Keep my feet warm & stop getting scratched
* Back Pack -> To carry 10kg of ‘stuff’
* Harness with Helmet -> For abseiling
* Dry Bag -> Waterproof bag to carry my wallet & phones

The best I can describe it, after we are changed is a “Scuba Diver” with running shoes, and a 10kg backpack. Since this is the wet part of the adventure, I don’t have photos to show you what I look like after putting on all those gear on! It’s quite amusing.

The only canyon that I know of and is picturing in my mind, is the massive ‘Grand Canyon’ in the US like this:

Grand Canyon

In reality, the canyon that I was hiking in is only like this:

Empress Canyon

Nevertheless, it’s still adventure packed! You definitely get to see Blue Mountains in a very very different way. No way will I get to see what I saw, if you just bushwalked on the normal trails. We jumped into rock pools (some we do blindly by jumping backwards), climbed rocks helping each other on the way and then eventually.. we reached the Empress Waterfall! As we have been walking on a running water stream, of course it had to eventually lead to a waterfall. This is it, we don’t stop here! We abseil down the waterfall!!!

Abseil Empress Falls

Besides drinking half a litre of water while going down, it was definitely 2 thumbs up! It’s a pity I don’t have any photos to show for it, because by the end of the day, I fell in love with canyoning!

I give these ratings for:

Abseiling: [rating:2/5]

Canyoning: [rating:4.5/5]

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