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What Happens If… A Guide on Waterfall Rappels for the Unsure

Many of our guests tell us that their waterfall rappels changed their lives. We hear things like, “I feel so accomplished. Invincible!” And then they often also tell us that, while they were doing this crazy thing, they were also feeling pretty scared.  Such is the curious paradox that is a Rappel Maui waterfalls rappelling adventure. Sometimes the fun is in the fear. Go figure.

Rappel Maui guide preparing for waterfall rappels

Our guides, the ones keeping everyone safe while they voluntarily step off the edge of a 50-foot wall of water, also feel like they get something from the experience.

Longtime Rappel Maui rock star Rich says that the time he invests in working with someone who’s “feeling the fear and doing it anyway” is even more rewarding than guiding those who are naturally good at taking charge of the rope.

So here are the answers to some of those “what if” questions we’re asked by those who are not sure that they have the right stuff.  To ask your own “what if” waterfall rappels questions, call us at 808-270-1500.

What happens if I change my mind?

If you find yourself at the top of a cliff and decide that you’d rather not rappel down one or all descents, you can still remain with your group. You can take hiking trails instead of rappelling, and enjoy the streams, pools, and surroundings while the others in your party make their drops.

What happens if I let go of the rope?

If you happen to accidentally throw a starfish pose with “jazz hands” during one of your waterfall rappels, you will remain in place until you’re able to get your hands back on the rope, and your exaggerated facial expressions under control. Listen to your guides, and follow their instructions for continuing onward and downward.

Pro tip: Wait until you’re on level ground to use your jazz hands. What you do with your facial expressions is totally up to you, but we recommend keeping it natural, happy, and relaxed.

What happens if my 10-year-old is better at rappelling than I am?

This frequently happens to families with budding adventurists who are eager to make friends with gravity. If one of your children is a natural, consider sending him or her to a rappelling class during your next visit.

Safety is our top priority. Check out some of the ways a rappelling tour is safe, or contact us for specifics. We’re ready to field your questions!

What is Canyoneering and Rappelling?

Another Frequently Asked Question we get from a lot of first-timers who are interested in taking a tour, but are new to rappelling and canyoning in general is, of course:

What exactly IS canyoning, anyway?

We’re glad you asked!

What is Canyoneering? Woman rappelling down a clif into a lake

The simplest description of canyoning is: The exploration of canyons.

To go a little more in-depth, let’s take a page (literally) from Canyoneering: A Guide to Techniques for Wet and Dry Canyons, second edition, by David Black. (pp. xi, 1-2.)

First off, a canyon is a deep, narrow valley or chasm with steep sides or cliff walls that have been carved and shaped by moving water. (For you trivia fans, a gorge is usually steeper and narrower than a canyon.) The exploration of a canyon (and descending/ascending it) may require any number of activities, such as hiking, scrambling, jumping, sliding, rappelling, and swimming.

In North America, there is a vague distinction between “canyoning” and “canyoneering,” but more often than not, the terms are used interchangeably, with “canyoning” being the favored term in English-speaking countries outside the United States. Other names for canyoning include “kloofing” (S. Africa) and the Welsh phrase “cerdded ceunant.”

One thing that separates canyoning from hiking is equipment, such as ropes and harnesses. It can be summarized as a hybrid of rock climbing, hiking, river running, and wilderness skills.

For those of you who are wondering, we keep our canyoning day tours on the recreational side. There is some hiking and swimming during the tour, but no technical rock climbing, navigating or camping.

Canyoneering in America is at least several hundred years old, but during the late 20th century, canyoning became popular with aging climbers who had the skills and penchant for exploring some of the world’s loneliest places. Word spread via guidebooks and the media, and by 2000, canyoning was one of the fastest growing adventure sports.

You can sample a tasty morsel of canyoning during a Rappel Maui day tour.

These are recreational experiences for the uninitiated and experienced alike, and last about 3 hours. The tour is great for those looking for a unique outdoor activity that weds incredible tropical scenery with excitement and fun. It’s great for families, couples, groups, conferences and solo travelers. Call us at 808-270-1500 to ask your questions.

For a deeper dive into the principles and practices of canyoning, take a one-day or multi-day class in canyoning. Classes cover the full range of canyoning subject matter, with lots of hands-on practice, from introductory to advanced, plus the availability of specialty classes.

Have something special in mind? Call us at 808-270-1500 to talk.