Whether the Danny Boyle/James Franco flick “127 Hours” will do great or horrible things (or neither) for canyoneering remains to be seen, but it sure has thrust the sport into the international spotlight this winter. Yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences officially nominated the movie for six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor (James Franco), Best Film Editing (Jon Harris), Best Adapted Screenplay (Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy), Best Original Score (A.R. Rahman), and Best Song (“If I Rise” – music by A.R. Rahman, lyrics by Dido and Rollo Armstrong). Wow, all those accolades for a film about an esoteric sport nobody’s ever heard of?
Well, until now we could pretend few had heard of canyoneering, but while that idea was realistic ten years ago, it no longer holds water today. The fact a world-renown director made a canyoneering movie means we must acknowledge canyoneering is officially NOT a fringe sport, and has entered consciousness of the masses. The odds of someone saying, “Canyon-what-ing? Huh? Never heard of it…” at a party has significantly decreased, probably in direct proportion to canyoneering now being popularly associated with losing one’s arm. (Interesting combination of changing impressions, huh?) While I’m somewhat sad to see canyoneering’s niche status fade, I’m excited to consider how many new people will want to see what it’s all about, and how many of my far-flung friends will finally be motivated to journey to Utah for some canyon exploration. Here’s hoping everyone returns with all appendages fully intact.