As the words put it together, shower climbing is actually climbing upwards, against the water, in a creek or canyon, at the sides of waterfalls, where ever and up to the point where this is possible. It is the art of scaling a mountain stream.
Sawa = stream; Nobori = climb
Sawanobori is considered to be a very demanding, extreme, climbing sport, popular in Japan and Taiwan. Main rule of this sport is that the climber has to move exactly in the opposite direction of the waterflow, must traverse ravine walls and swim through the current. Shower climbing is mostly practiced during the summer where the water in the canyons is more friendly in quantity and speed. According to the level of the climbing involved is the difficulty of the climb to be measured. Nevertheless the strength of the current and the amount of swimming that has to be involved add to the difficulty level of the attempt.
In the old times people used to practice sawanobori with straw shoes. Nowadays special shoes and gear like ropes, helmet, harness, carabiners and in general climbing gear plus protection from the cold water, neoprene suit, socks, gloves, etc. are essential to reach for upper targets.
Many touristic oriented companies organize shower climbing events every year that attract people into shower climbing.
In the following video you can see a group of climbers sponsored by The North Face® company attempting a sawanobori adventure into the amazing Japanese wilderness.
Canyoning, the opposite of sawanobori is also practiced in Japan and is equal to popularity among the lovers of extreme sports. However, compared to climbing upwards, canyoning is rather a more “user friendly” way of moving through a canyon.