KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
The McColl family members are all keen rock climbers, and have been for years. Two years ago, when they visited China and Thailand, they were able to squeeze in some climbing, and it was a real goal for them to get a chance to climb in Vietnam. Donna had done some research on the Internet and found a company called Groovy Gecko in Dalat. That was part of the reason they chose to visit this city in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.
On our second day in Dalat, they rose early and the van picked them up at 8:00 a.m. for a full day of adventure. They planned to rock climb, rappel down a waterfall, shoot head- first down a gushing stream and then finish off with canyoning. I had to ask what canyoning meant and learned that this entails being lowered by ropes into a deep gorge, preferably with gushing water raging through the gorge to heighten the experience.
We had inquired about going along on the tour in order to watch, but the staff at Groovy Gecko said it was not possible for us to come along. Not a problem really, as I was coming down with a terrible head cold and needed the day to rest.
At the end of the day, Duncan, Donna, Logan, Hunter and Aidan returned, tired, bruised, soaking wet but exhilarated. They had been pushed to their physical limits and probably their emotional limits as well. It was all they had hoped for, and more.
The first thing they did was show us their scrapes, bruises and bites from leeches. They described hiking through the forest on an almost non-existent trail, one that we would not have enjoyed trekking along. They had come prepared with appropriate footwear and climbing gear, so it made sense that we were not allowed to join them. The tour company provided them with bike helmets rather than proper climbing helmets, but they noted that some other people climbing in the area weren't provided any kind of head protection at all.
They started the day with some relatively simple rock climbing. Then they moved to another location to have some practice seven-meter cliff jumping in preparation for the experience on a waterfall. Each of the family got a chance to warm up and build their confidence. Next, they donned life jackets and shot head first down a natural water slide.
After my fall in a similar location in Malaysia, it gave me the creeps to see the photos of them sliding in the raging water, hear first. Duncan did a great job of capturing the excitement of the day in the photos he took. It was not easy climbing and trying to keep the camera dry, while getting in position to catch each of his family members in action.
After a break for lunch provided by the tour company, they changed into the gear for the waterfall adventure. They were very fortunate to have experienced tour guides who gave them key pointers on how to manage to keep their footing against the force of the pummeling water. They watched another group, one man in particular, lose his footing over and over again, and get battered on the rocks. Not a pretty sight, and probably quite dangerous as well.
There are some great photos of the McColls on the Thac Datanla Waterfalls; I have included some of them for you to get a sense of what they were up against. They all said that the toughest part of the waterfall descent, was the knowledge that once you had lowered yourself over the lip of the rock, you had to break loose and jump into the pool below, without being able to see what was below.
Having survived that experience, the last challenge was to be lowered into a deep canyon with water cascading from above. The walls are steep and fairly close together and it was almost impossible to keep from being bashed against them. They all agreed that this was the toughest of the day's adventures and they were happy to be done with it in the end.
All in all, they have some great stories for their climbing buddies back in Edmonton, with wonderful photos and small wounds as trophies too.