What an unreal experience. The guides are fantastic, very knowledgeable(able to accommodate... read more
What an unreal experience. The guides are fantastic, very knowledgeable(able to accommodate... read more
My sister, boyfriend and I had an absolute blast with West Coast Canyoning! It was a full-on day of... read more
This was definitely one of the highlights of my summer! We could not have asked for a better guide - FX was so careful and safe, entertaining, and a great energy to be around all day. He was thorough with our orientation so we could feel confident in the moments through the day where we had to be independent with our gear. Overall we had such a fun time and felt like we had great variety of obstacles. The views were beautiful, the water was clear, and the waterfall repelling was legendary! I would 100% do this again and recommend it to anybody who is looking for a more unique outdoor adventure!
What an unreal experience. The guides are fantastic, very knowledgeable(able to accommodate various levels of experience)and incredibly friendly!
My sister, boyfriend and I had an absolute blast with West Coast Canyoning! It was a full-on day of rapelling, trekking, jumping, and swimming- everything you want on a canyoning adventure. FX and his crew always made us feel safe and we had lots of rapelling practice at the beginning of the day. The views from Britannia Creek were breathtaking and showcased BC's natural beauty.
FX was such a fun and entertaining guide, he even sang to me when I was scared!! It was easy to see how passionate FX is about his business and he really valued our feedback at the end of the day. I highly recommend this tour group!
This was by far the highlight of my trip to Whistler, and one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. An exhilarating experience in gorgeous scenery. I think I said “that was so fun!!” about a hundred times over the course of the day. The guides are very knowledgeable, careful, and experienced, and we had all the right gear, equipment and orientation to do this activity as safely as possible. I highly recommend trying canyoning and you couldn’t be in better hands than with FX and West Coast Canyoning. If you are thinking of booking this - stop hesitating and just do it!
Four words: West Coast Canyoning Adventures!
This was my "Adventure Friend" Jill Colpitts' and my latest notch on our "Suck the Marrow out of Life" belt.
When Jill invited me to this I didn't know what to expect, except that it would involve waterfalls, hiking over rocks, some swimming, and rappelling. This all sounded great to me, but as the day got closer I started to worry if I'd be fit enough to keep up with the youngens, as well as grappling with the idea of potentially spending the day dunking into freezing cold water, which I'm known to generally avoid. However, I trust Jill, and just do what she tells me to.
We arrived at the starting point of our journey at 9am and were greeted by Francois Xavier Gagnon (FX), to whom I warmed immediately because he is originally a fellow Montrealler, and he sounded like home. He was talented at putting our group at ease while at the same time letting us know that canyoning, like any other sport in the great unpredictable outdoors, has its risks. He walked us through potential scenarios, let us know about the means of communication he had to get help if we needed, and gave us an impressive list of his experience and certifications in wilderness safety and rescue. FX was accompanied by his assistant Dave, who was a kind, helpful and reassuring, and experienced presence as well.
Next, we got all our equipment on. I had never worn a wet suit before and was surprised by how challenging it was to put on, lol. You are sucked in there REALLY tight. Your range of motion is a little impacted and it takes some getting used to, but you do get accustomed to it. The suit, head cover, helmet, socks, boots and harness are all included on this journey.
All suited up, our snacks, water, and lunch in the provided bags, we drove about five minutes to the starting point of our adventure. It was going to take us about seven hours to canyon back along Britannia Creek (in Squamish, BC) to our original meeting point.
It sounds funny, but as a first time canyoner in my early fifties, I was encouraged to see that nobody in our group was particularly jacked with super ripped muscles. There was someone there older than I am, also a first time canyoner. We all had reasonable levels of fitness and more gentle mom and dad bods than you often see on the hard core devotees of outdoor sports One lovely person there was on a cancer healing journey, having a good week of feeling well despite chemotherapy. I felt happy for them, engaging on this adventure. I've had my own cancer experience, and know how great it feels to apply yourself to living as fully as possible when you can.
Before stepping into the Pacific Rain Forest, FX gave a heartfelt acknowledgement of the land the First Peoples of the Squamish area. He clearly had such reverence for the land, for the shelter, food, medicine, crafting materials, and place of worship it had provided. He showed us local berries and trees and talked about the devastation of the healing land through mining and logging practices of colonisers.
We took some time to let that settle. We approached the canyon with a knowledge of the privilege it was to be there, on and inside the Body of the Mother, in all Her glory, brokenness, benevolence, ferocity, and power.
Then the fun began. We learned which rocks were safe to walk upon, how to balance ourselves, how to rappel, what positions to take to jump into deeper white water, as well as how to adjust to shallower water. We learned how to slide down natural smooth rocks like playful otters in ways that would protect our bodies. We were carefully and expertly watched, supported, guided, and encouraged. Never have I felt so safe to do risky things. Every few moments I remembered to whisper "thank you" to the Mother for hosting us so graciously.
I will let the photos and videos tell the rest, but what I wanted to convey is how it all felt. There are countless ways to live great lives with our natural proclivities and abilities. I acknowledge the immense privilege I have to be able-bodied enough to engage with the land this way. So what I'm sharing is simply my jam and observation according to me, not a prescription for what everyone needs to do to lead wonderful lives For myself, canyoning felt like a metaphor for life itself, chock full of of the following relevant life lessons:
When you are born, you emerge Earthside in a rush of water and awaken to the sensation of being wet and cold until you get used to things and your nervous system regulates. We began by getting our faces and wetsuits soaking to prepare ourselves.
You need support and mentorship as you learn the way things work and how to conduct yourself safely.
You can't be sitting around worrying about what you look like whilst navigating tricky terrain because ultimately it will be the current of the creek, the water levels, the obstacles in the way, or the slipperiness of the rocks that will dictate at any given moment whether you plod along slow and crouched and bent over like an ancient gorilla or skip nimbly along like a spry mountain goat. Your desire to look cute or perform the best doesn't hold much relevance to a good journey at all. Let it go.
You can't be all up in your head all the time. There isn't space to ruminate on your problems outside of the immediate tasks at hand. You have to be embodied as much as possible. Wool gathering can happen in rest stops, for sure, but while navigating the land, if you are not in your body, you could slip and break a bone or get swept down the powerful waterfall with a current whose power will always be stronger than yours and crazy dangerous if you don't respect it with your attention.
You have to have community. You need to look out for each other, even if you don't know each other well.. You need to encourage each other patiently. For example, I'm pretty comfortable with the physical stuff of canyoning, but struggle with ADHD. Technical instructions and figuring out something that seems to simple to others, like how to open and close carabiners, could have proven a nightmare of stress for me had the patience of my canyoning clan not been sweet. Their sweetness inspired me to dig deeply and not succumb to the intense frustration at myself, as it didn't serve me nor the others. You have to think of the others and the goodness of their journeys too along the way. Another canyon mate was quite panicked by the realization of jumping into white water from heights. We held the space for them with patience and encouragement. They also dug deep, knowing they could do it and continue the journey. It's totally okay to need some minutes to gather ourselves and to call in special support sometimes. But there isn't space to crap out if there is no real emergency, because then everyone else's time and money is wasted.
There were periods of being wet, cold, and heavy in the suits, but why bother complaining when we were all in the same boat? It was too beautiful on the land to whine anyway. Sometimes it's important to suck up minor irritations like a professional and deal with it internally, though you should always speak up if you are hurting or need some physical/emotional support. It is a fine balance.
You need to pay close attention, listening to those who are the "elders" (in this case elder refers to knowledge and experience rather than age). You have to communicate clearly when you need help and also humbly be prepared to receive it even when you think you don't. Ego can't run this show.
This is an exercise in letting go of pride and truly BE-ing, without your phone for reference and regulation, nor the accoutrements of a cushy hobbit-like existence. Never will you more appreciate a cup of Lipton chicken noodle soup and instant hot chocolate you stir with a stick (a carrot stick in my case) to warm up your salt and sugar craving body with all that exertion. They are wisely curated medicines and they will taste better than your favourite gourmet food.
You are HERE, NOW, body and mind, on this Earth, to EXPERIENCE it. If you prefer staying cozy (which is another great path to a good life), you may like home better. Just know that the choice to experience life this way will not be like a leisurely day at the spa. And it's perfectly fine if the spa is more your jam (I love spa too).
Sometimes the adrenaline it takes to hold onto a rope (because your life literally depends on it) to make your way down a steep rock wall with intense waterfall spray in your face will leave you shaking and weak with the effort. The bracing, clear, turquoise waters and beauty of the majestic land will heal you, though.
Sometimes you may feel a little nervous and claustrophobic as you squish into teeny holes in the rocks, not knowing what's on the other side (don't worry, the guides know). Sometimes you may feel like you may not be able to tackle what's up ahead, worrying you may not have the spoons to do so. But if you are okay with getting uncomfortable and respecting your surroundings and others, you will most likely be just fine. And if you are invited by choice to walk into and under a wild waterfall? Even if your heart flutters? SAY YES! When great opportunities arise, you will find the support you need.
You will arrive at the end of the journey with bruises. It can't be helped. You will be trembling with fatigue. You will have crusted upon your face the tears you cried at having to face shocking and new challenges that unfolded along the way. But when you look up to witness the magnificence of what you leave behind and all the ways you succeeded in making your way through like the gentle badass you are, you will be transformed. You will be at peace, and you will take your rest knowing you laid it all down with your courage and your grace. You made your energetic mark by respecting and fully enjoying a mountain, a life, an experience, created for you and by you with Love.
Canyoning (if this is one of the paths to a meaningful life you wish to choose) doesn't just teach you how to do crazy things on stunning land. It teaches you how to fully and truly live in a good way.
Thanks, Jill! Thanks, FX! Thanks West Coast Canyoning Adventures! Can't wait to do it again someday!
I have done this a few times now and keep inviting my friends to come with me to do it more. Even though I'm not super fit or strong, I feel safe and capable navigating the canyon with FX and his excellent guides. 10/10 recommend!