Kent, Tim and their band of merry adventurers.
Glen Davis is a bit of a canyoners paradise. A quick scan of the clifflines shows slots carving through the sandstone pretty much everywhere you look. Yet being a bit further from Sydney the canyons are less frequented than those in the Blue Mountains or over the hill in the Wolgan. Publicised track notes are also scarce and getting up through the cliff lines takes a good bit of route finding, navigation and rock scrambling (if not outright climbing) skills.
All of this means the canyons here retain a bit more of a wild, explorationy feel. It is an epic location.
When Kent sent out an invitation to do the Coin Slot lets just say I was keen as mustard.
it was going be a large group but the plan was to split into smaller groups and take different routes up. Just about every one was carrying ropes and the first group to get to the canyon would set the ropes and the last group would retrieve them before we all met at the base of the last abseil.
I pick up Peter and Ben and we meet the others at Capertee. I’m so use to pulling into the car park, grabbing packs and heading off. This standing around socialising is a all a bit of a novelty.
We roll down into Glen Davis and regroup. More socialising. This is going to be a relaxing day. or is it?
Big groups are often hard to get organised but Kent is the consummate ring master and he gathers everyone together, gives the spiel on how the day is to go and splits us into our group. Climbers here, scramblers there. and we’re off.
The groups soon spread out on the haul up the steep fall zone to the base of the cliffs
We gain a lot of elevation quickly but the clifflines still tower above us and the route is not overly obvious.
We harness up. The first pitch is pretty simple. 1 balancey move as you step across a gap and you’re basically up. Autal makes short work of it and I follow him and set ropes. the rest of the group will be roped up. Ruth joins me to haul packs while I belay the others as they climb up one by one.
With everyone up it’s a traverse along a narrow ledge with stunning views before we wind our way up and onto a sucession of ledges.
The zig zagging route takes us through some stunning erosion caves with sands of different colours and textures.
I’m caught up in the experience and am snapping photos of the views.
Craig and James we need you guys up this bit next to set ropes on the last pitch. Calls Kent. Apparently we are the “climbers” in the group.
The next pitch is fairly simple as far as technicality goes. Someone has already managed to get up and so the rope is set by the time I get there. Again one or two moves that are difficult more from the exposure than the moves themselves. We are now along way up. Maybe 50 meters above the base of the cliff, which itself is a hundred meters or so above the river so it becomes a head game.
One step out then up and around. Foot holds are solid and plentyiful but at one stage the hand holds are slopers. I get up and replace Kent who has been on top belay. He goed ahead and direct people through the next section.
I take over rope duties to belay others us to a small ledge below the final climbing pitch. Trust your feet, says I more then once.
Over the radios we hear the first group has already made it to the canyon. With a small group of experienced climbers this route would be quick and easy. The size of our group has definitely slowed things down but we are not in a hurry and it’s all part of the experience and the views were breath taking on a stunning winters day.
A bit of a bottle neck is forming on the small ledge between these two pitches. James has managed to free solo the next pitch and drop a rope down and so he starts belaying others up the last pitch as I bring the last of the group up mine.
The last pitch is the longest we’ll do, maybe 6 or 7 meters, it’s only about grade 9 or 10 but again you are a long way up and it seems like there is nothing but air between your feet and the river several hundred meters below. It’s an awe inspiring place to be.
The last pitch starts on small holds and foot placements are smeers more than anything. But with a bit of assistance on the first meter or two everyone gets over it and from there the climb is pretty simple. As people top out they head off towards the canyon. By the time I’m up and James coils the rope it’s just the two of us.
Sue and Sonya wait for us at one of the turns and Kent waits to lead us through the final bit of scrub. The first group have left ropes set up so all we need to do is head on in and retrieve ropes as we go. So despite the big group we were spread out and you were only ever in groups of two or three with little to no waiting at the abseils. The groups chopped and changed a bit as people waited to help cart ropes out and others went ahead.
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The unique heart shaped chock stone is the iconic image of this trip. it’s a nice drop and you don’t notice the shape until you look back up from just down stream.
And then the creek drops down into an stunning dark slot.
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It was here we struck the only glitch in the smooth running of the day. The rope refused to pull.
Kent scrambled up the bottom drop, throwing himself backward over the lip, legs akimbo. I’ve heard of looking up old friends but that was a bit much. Nichole averted her eyes…
Trying different angles the rope still wouldn’t budge. I climb up to Kent and between our combined weight of mumblemumble kilos and a bit of backwards and forwards on the different rope ends we manage to free it with out needing to resort setting up Z lines or the like.
The biggest hold up of the descent, 15min freeing a jammed rope. Not too shabby.
Just around the corner it looks as though the slot is finished but it wasn’t done with yet and the best was yet to come.
The “Coin slot” abseil it breath taking. A scramblie start then down through a hole and the bottom of the world seems to fall out from under you. It looks and feels far higher than it is. I lock off to try and get a photo looking down but as I take my top hand off the rope I start to swing back…. Um normally on a big drop my pack is pretty much empty. As rope mule this time around I have 2 60m ropes in there. Lesson learnt. I quickly grab the rope as a guide and continue down. Photos can wait.
Oh did you notice the faces in the rock?
And still we weren’t done.
Click images to enbiggen
With the group back together for the first time since we left the cars we dolled out ropes and head off back down the hill.
All in all an enjoyable day with a great bunch of people.
Group size: Large but spread out with lots of ropes and capable leaders
Time: About 6.5hr car to car with bottle necks on the climbs
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