Put a Lid on! (have we said this before?!)
We track the appearances on social media of posts with the hashtag #캐녀닝 (and its many spelling variations).
Partly by necessity - our trade is selling tours, so we monitor levels of interest - but also because we are more generally interested in how the sport is developing here.
The majority of tags, especially on instagram, are for holiday photo posts from Koreans who've recently been to Cebu or Interlaken.
But, there is also (especially this year) a growth in its usage for actual canyon descents.
photo from a recent private 1:1 kids tour, at a location close to Seoul
For the most part, canyon descents, here, are done discreetly. If you are in the canyons regularly, you'll see new anchors appear from time to time, without any blogging or posting to announce the work.
This is probably for the best, as canyoning - or entering the stream - is strictly prohibited in many areas.
We did, and still do, post or advertise our trips as we need to generate some work. For most of what we do though*, which would be personal descents and with our peer canyoning group, we exercise a little more discretion.
This is to protect the venues and try and allow the sport to develop at a measured and responsible pace.
The reason we're blogging, today, is that a lot of these posts and blogs show off some really bad practice.
We won't tag or link anyone - we're not naming and shaming - but we think it is worth talking about the issue of putting out potentially damaging content.
We're not so humourless as to complain about the application of the term "캐녀닝" when people are blogging about merely swimming and playing in the water, but rather when people are doing genuinely technical descents. In these instances, we feel they have a responsibility to show best practice.
This is because, like it or not, once you participate in an outdoor sport, you are part of a wider community. Authorities, and parties responsible for managing access agreements, make no distinction between the different groups doing the activity.
Reckless behaviour from any group of canyoneers or mountaineers affects all others; that is why restrictions are so heavy here (see the prohibitions on wild camping, wild swimming, etc.).
So, when we see posts of people "캐녀닝" without helmets, it does frustrate us.
We don't know anybody who takes the sport seriously that enters a canyon without a helmet. As guides, we have a lot of logged hours in the canyoning environment, and we can tell you with absolute candour that rocks (and other stuff) comes down at some time or another.
The nature of these falling rocks is that they come down unexpectedly. Understanding the weather, and your chosen venue, will give you some indication of when risk levels are higher, but there is know way to know that nothing is coming down.
It is just a matter of chance. The more time you spend canyoning, the more exposure there is to the risk, so the more time you see stuff fall - but this is not to say that it isn't going to happen to you the very first time you are out.
The thing about stuff falling on your head is - it only has to happen the one time for it to really ruin your day.
And it isn't just stuff that might fall in you which poses a risk to your head; canyons are wet environments where slipping is a major danger. The hazards are numerous and fairly obvious too - once you give it some thought.
If you want to 'Bear Grylls' it, and go without anything to protect your head, please don't advertise it.
We put a lot of work into maintaining very high standards of safety on and off our tours; we really don't want people messing it up.
If you're not sure what to wear into the canyon - just google it - take a look at the photos that come up - that's a lot of helmets.
*not by time, but by measure of diversity of activity.