Canyoning Myths Busted

Canyoning - whether wet or dry - is a lot of fun! | Aimee Brown
Canyoning - whether wet or dry - is a lot of fun! | Aimee Brown

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”

With the sage advice of British philosopher and polymath John Ruskin (1819-1900) fresh in our minds, let’s start by dispelling these two key myths:

1.    Canyoning can’t be done safely when it’s raining.
2.    Canyoning is unpleasant when it’s cold.

It’s true that the vast majority of canyoning takes place in the warm half of the year because it involves full immersion into chilly canyon waters. Many people, therefore, have the impression it’s a fair-weather, summer-only activity. But in 10 years as a canyon guide, some of my most memorable adventures have happened in conditions the less well-informed would rate as less than ideal for canyoning. The weather was cold or wet, or both, and still the experience was magical.

I vividly remember an icy winter’s morning after heavy overnight snowfall in the Blue Mountains a few years ago. The Newnes Plateau was coated in a thick blanket of white as we drove towards Tigersnake Canyon. Snow continued to fall in fat, silent flakes as we hiked through the hushed bush towards our first abseil into this spectacular winter slot canyon.

Yes, it was very cold, but it was also beautiful and ethereal. 

Tigersnake Canyon is as remarkable as it is remote. It boasts deep, dark, water-sculpted slots as stunning as any canyon, but can be completed without getting anything more than your feet wet. It is what we call a dry canyon – just one of several such canyons Blue Mountains Adventure Company can take you to during the colder months. 

It’s not that they don’t have water in them, it’s just that they can be navigated without having to don a wetsuit and swim, thus avoiding any icy winter agony. 

Other examples include Deep Pass Canyon on the Newnes Plateau, Dione Dell Canyon out Kanangra way, and Juggler Canyon between Medlow Bath and Blackheath. These dry canyons are also the perfect alternative when torrential rain makes many wet canyons too dangerous to tackle. 

A good example is BMAC’s most popular dry canyon, Juggler. It is a winter classic with its four abseils through a deep rainforest-lined slot, some cave crawling, traversing and a magnificent exit hike along the Rodriguez Pass, through Grand Canyon and up the historic Pilcher Track. In normal conditions it can be done by getting nothing more than your feet wet. 

During the record-breaking La Nina summer of 2021-22, Juggler was also a spectacular but safe option during and after heavy rain. 

With either raincoats and thermals or wetsuits to protect from the water and the cold, it was an utterly breathtaking canyoning option amid raging waterfalls that inspired awe and got the adrenalin thoroughly pumping. 

Another bonus is that wet weather brings out the brilliant aromas and colours of the Blue Mountains bush and keeps the tourist crowds back in the cafes.

They know a thing or two about bad weather in Britain and the famed British fell walker Alfred Wainwright (1907-1991) once observed: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” 

That’s why BMAC can provide you with all the gear you need to make canyoning in cold and wet conditions safe and pleasant - hot drinks and lollies, thick wetsuits and neoprene socks, beanies and thermals, spray jackets and fleeces. Even more importantly, BMAC will provide you with guides with the skills and experience to make your canyoning experience special in all conditions.

Part of the charm of canyoning is that it helps create a serene mind and sound body. That’s why I love this final weather-related quote from the English novelist George Gissing (1857-1903): “For the man sound of body and serene of mind there is no such thing as bad weather; every day has its beauty, and storms which whip the blood do but make it pulse more vigorously.”

Come canyoning with us, regardless of the season or the weather. You won’t be disappointed because every day – and every canyon - has its beauty in every condition.

Written by Dan Lewis - BMAC guide since 2014

Blue Mountains Canyoning, Winter Canyoning

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We respectfully acknowledge the Dharug, Darkinjung, Dharawal, Gundungurra, Wanaruah, and Wiradjuri language groups as the traditional custodians of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and thank them for sharing this beautiful land with us. Our Reconciliation Action Plan outlines our commitment to building respectful relationships, creating meaningful opportunities, and addressing inequalities that have historically existed.

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