Swiss Adventure: Canyoning and Hiking and Swinging, Oh My!

Every year the Adventure Travel Trade Association puts on a world summit in some beautiful adventure filled corner of the world. In October of 2012 the summit was held in Lucerne, Switzerland and I was invited to be part of the, dare I say, elite, Storytelling Team. This is a group of adventure photographers and filmmakers charged with documenting both the Pre-Summit Adventures as well as the Summit itself.

I was very excited to have been assigned to one of the most difficult Pre-Summit Adventures, PSA #1: Interlaken – Adventure Extravaganza in the Adventure Capital of Europe. We were hosted by the beautiful and luxurious Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa in Interlaken. Grand indeed. I have never been surrounded by such a posh setting. With a crew of mostly women (5 women, 2 men), we started our adventure at the Seilpark – a self guided high-ropes course.

After the initial safety briefing and training, we were let loose on an intricate web of balance elements and zip-lines strung high above the ground through the trees just outside of Interlaken. This actually proved to be an excellent opportunity for all of us to get used to wearing a harness and numb any fear of heights we might have because it only gets higher from here.

Day two took us canyoning, or canyoneering as we called it when I lived in Australia. This is where you don a wetsuit, harness and in this case, a lifejacket and follow a small river into a limestone canyon that has been carving itself out for centuries. The result is a day of natural rock slides, jumping off of 35 foot waterfalls and even bigger rappels where jumping just isn’t an option. This was a big wet and at times cold but thrilling day. As part of the ATWS Storytelling team, I was challenged with documenting all of this and naturally it included using the total bomber GoPro cameras and a neat new product called Outex to waterproof my DSLR for the photos you see posted here.

Our third day was relatively benign as we only tackled a 6-hour trek across the Bernese Oberland (Highland) in the Jungfrau region. From Interlaken we boarded one of the famous Swiss cog-wheel trains to Schynige Platte, a popular place to hike. What may have been unique for us however is the fact that we hiked to Grindelwald via the ridge line. The views were spectacular. First, we saw Interlaken, sandwiched between two lakes (hence its name). Then the ridge we were following folded deeper into the mountains and our view of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains only got better and better. We passed a nice little mountain hut where food, drink and a toilet is available. Be ready to buy something if you want to use the loo as the owner explained to me it costs him 3.5 Swiss Franks for each flush due to the cost of getting water up to his hut. From there we pushed on to Faulhorn then down to the Gondola to take us down to Grindelwald where a stop at one of the little pubs was in order to let the glow of the hike settle in.

That night we stayed in a nice ski lodge called Kirshbühl then started our last day of adventure and headed to the Canyon Swing. We were harnessed into a rope 300′ above a raging river between massive walls only 150′ apart and jumped. A few moments of free-fall dropped us into the arc of the static line and we swooped through the canyon, over the river and pendulumed up the other side. Then swung back. Finally, we were able to grab the exit line and pull ourselves to the side of the bottom of the canyon and revel in the awesome, very Spiderman like act of swinging through the canyon. Check out the video below covering each of these. And get yourself to Switzerland. Awesome.

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About the author

Adventure Correspondent Cameron L. Martindell is a freelance adventure travel and expedition writer, photographer and filmmaker who founded in 2000. He has contributed to Elevation Outdoors Magazine, The Gear Junkie, National Geographic, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Outside, Backpacker, Wired, Australian Geographic, and others. He has been to all seven continents and lived on five of them, including a four-month stint at the South Pole. Cameron has more than 10 years of mountain search and rescue experience, is an Eagle Scout, has been an Australian bush firefighter, competes in sailing regattas, plans national and international youth programs, guides Oregon rafting trips and Australian bush backpacking trips.


  1. Again, this reminds me of being a week in Murren with my wife, back in 2003 or so. We hiked some (not like you), once going north out the ridge from Klein Schiedigg (sp?) to the top of a cable car down to Wengen (sp?). Another walk was from Murren through Gimmelwald to the valley floor, where we caught a bus to the funecular back to Murren. Took the train up through Eiger to Jungfrau and generally OD'd on the incredible scenery. Also saw Trummelbak Falls (sp?). . . .So glad you had a great time there.

    1. I totally understand OD'ing on the amazing scenery. It was fantastic as you well know. Very keen for the next trip.

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