A swift trip through Untere Bergleinschlucht

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Johanna and Andrew inside the canyon. Low light means that many of the photos are quite blurry!

A stunning, wet and fun canyon on a lovely hot day in Austria. Untere Bergleinschlucht is “ideal for children” according to the guidebook and “really fun for adults too” according to us. Johanna was joining us for her first non-guided canyon, and Andrew was back for his second trip after getting hooked in Pitzbach a few weeks ago.

Just inside Austria, south of Mittenwald, we parked up by a little family graveyard and hiked up along the canyon to the start. Looking down into the dry river bed we were a little worried, but as we rounded a corner we could hear the strong flow of the stream below.

Changing in the hot sun was painfully warm, and the water was freezing cold – we could see it flowing out from under a snow pack further up the valley. But Andrew, bold as ever concluded he would boil to death if we didn’t get into the canyon, and hurled himself down the first water slide and into the fury and the gloom.

Johanna on the first abseil, staying out of the main flow of the water. The reflected light is green from the thick canopy overhead.

The water rushed down between narrow walls and the echoes caused a huge cacophony. We could barely hear each other standing side by side, so we had to improvise a lot of hand gestures. My favourite one was for how to rig a fig 8 properly, as it looked suitably obscene. There were a few good slides and some short abseils, and then I became aware that my feet were really quite cold.

Andrew and Johanna pack rope at the bottom of a very wet abseil.

This was despite my shiny new canyoning boots, so I decided to stay quiet and not admit to it. Fortunately, someone else raised the subject first so I could reluctantly admit that I too was cold. Still, the canyon was beautiful – the bright sunshine filtered down through the light green canopy above, casting bizarre, eldritch light onto the slick reflective rock walls. My camera couldn’t quite cope with the low light, but I the photos are okay – I had to go above ISO 100, which I’m usually loath to do.

Johanna strikes a dynamic pose as she unclips her personal anchor and prepares to abseil.

We made swift progress down the various abseils, and then caught sight of sunlight hitting the canyon floor. We were through the enclosed section, and we sat and soaked up the rays and warmed our feet. A couple of canyoners passed us, but didn’t seem in the mood for a chat so we let them go ahead.

Johanna on the Wasserrutsche. The pool was a bit shallow so we rigged it with a short rope so you could control your speed.

I had thought the lower section might be a bit dull after the beautiful top section, but it was very fun – lots of pools, slides and little abseils, and of course much warmer. Another larger group caught up with us, but as we were close to the end they didn’t seem too bothered about over taking. We weren’t quite sure if we’d actually got to the end, but we met a lady and a young child splashing in a pool, and they told us that the river sank underground just a bit further on.

Johanna enjoys the Wasserrutsche.

We changed into our dry clothes and sat in the sun for a bit before heading back to the car. It was only 1230! What were we supposed to do with the rest of the day? Well, icecream obviously, and then we swam in Walchensee on the way back. The traffic was terrible but the company was excellent. What a lovely day.

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