Outdoor Interlaken offers a variety of adventure sports from canyoning to river rafting. // © 2013 Outdoor Interlaken
Adventure. Spontaneity. Insanity. This triumvirate of emotional states led to my discovery of the most memorable — and literally breathtaking — experiences I had while traversing Europe: canyon jumping in Interlaken, Switzerland.
Four months had rushed by, and I was finally booking my last trip while studying abroad in Europe. Aiming to make this adventure truly unforgettable, I settled on Interlaken, Switzerland, the extreme sport hub of the country, as my final destination. This small Swiss city sandwiched between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz specializes in appealing to the adrenaline junkie in everyone, with events such as skydiving, bungee jumping, paragliding, ice climbing and canyoning.
Originally, skydiving in the Swiss Alps caught my eye, but upon further investigation, my poor college budget barred me from purchasing the $500 package from Outdoor Interlaken. The tour guides suggested I try canyon jumping instead — a 250-foot jump into a canyon attached to nothing but a 279-foot rope, allowing you to swing through the canyon at the end of the fall. This activity adds to Interlaken’s uniqueness, considering it is only possible to experience it in three areas of the world: New Zealand, Nepal and Interlaken. So, for only $119, I was ready to dive off a mountain at a moment’s notice. The Outdoor team informed us of an available photo opportunity for an extra $30, and reminded us to wear bright colors so as to stand out from the snowy grey mountainside.
The Outdoor Interlaken team provided transportation to and from the base of the mountain, which was only a 30-minute drive from the center of the town. Upon arrival, it was a simple hike to the jump base, where the path was lit with fresh Swiss snow from the night before. Our guide allowed for plenty of photo-ops — for both the tourist in us and to appease our pre-jump jitters.
The backdrop of the jump is dependent on the season you choose, ranging from snow-capped ridges to green mountainsides littered with pine trees. Once we reached the top, a grizzled expert began to explain the technique of jumping while we were fitted and strapped into small harnesses attached to our waist and chest, and the safety straps were tripled check by multiple guides before the jump.
As for the actual jump, the experience of falling accompanied by cool snowy wind rushing into your face was unreal. You barely have time to process the fall before you realize it’s over, and you are swinging through the canyon with a stream of glacier water below you. My only advice is to arrive ready for a thrill — and remember to strike a pose for the photographer when you jump.