How does a blind person abseil down a waterfall?

Nothing is impossible

Trust is a central part of all human relationships, including romantic partnerships, family life, medical practices, and so many more. If you don’t trust your doctor, it is much harder to benefit from their professional advice!

But what is trust? For me, it’s trusting the Transport For London worker to guide me onto the right train. Trust is feeling confident that the shopkeeper will charge me the correct amount for my groceries. It’s about having faith that my guide will not crash me into a lamp post! Trust is absolutely crucial for blind and partially sighted people as we depend on so many human interactions every day.

As an active blind person with a thirst for adventure, I experienced bucket-loads of trust recently when I enjoyed a day of canyoning whilst on holiday in Madeira.

Canyoning is a sport that mixes adrenalin and natural beauty in equal measure, using different techniques including abseiling, climbing, sliding and jumping. How on earth can a blind person do this? The simple answer is by trusting your guide.

Monica placed her trust in her canyoning guide who is abseiling with her alongside a waterfall. While holding onto a rope both Monica and the guide are laughing.
Nothing is impossible when you have trust

I knew straight away that I would be able to trust my guide. “Nothing is impossible,” were his first words when I told him I was blind but wanted to try canyoning. Without hesitation, he booked me into a small group with six other participants and three guides. I was apprehensive, but I knew my guide would be with me every step of the way.

From the very first abseil, we worked as a team. Good communication from my guide and trust from me all meant that I could complete the 4-hour course. We abseiled in tandem down waterfalls, and we worked together to clamber over boulders through the canyon. I knew my guide would be there should I lose my balance on the uneven surfaces. I trusted him to tell me where to jump so I wouldn’t crash onto the rocks below!

I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the trip, but the feeling of achievement was immense. I had done it! I will never forget feeling the water splashing down on me as I abseiled a 15m waterfall or the butterflies in my tummy as I prepared to launch myself off the rocks into the unknown.

When we were unharnessed and back on safe ground, the guides thanked me for giving them the challenge and opportunity to do something different. The other participants learnt a great deal about what blind people can do with a little bit of support. It was a win-win situation for all!

Canyoning was an absolutely exhilarating experience, and all made possible due to trust and open-mindedness. Nothing is impossible in life.