Ed, Ethan, Garry, Jodie, Dick and me.
So Ed had just about run out of awesome photos to edit awesomely into awesomer photos of our awesomest trip to Claustral with Lewis last season.
If you haven’t seen his photos do yourself a solid and look him up on the book of faces or find him on flickr
Anyhoo, with Ed being a new dad he had other things to occupy him and thus was only going on limited trips but we had hatched a plan ages ago for a return trip to Claustral for more photos.
But it just didn’t seem like it was going to go to plan. Ed’s camera had some issue which meant it needed to be sent away for repair. I strained a calf muscle a couple of days before the trip and could barely walk and the weather turned wet and cold and the best laid plans of small rodents and hairless apes seemed like they would crumble.
In the end it came together and we found ourselves signing the visitors book on the walk in track just past 8am. We had thought the weather might put people off but a group of 3 was just in front of us and a party of two pulled up just as we headed off. We’d perfectly time it to briefly meet each other at the thunder canyon junction and exit but otherwise not see each other in the canyon. (more cars were lined up on the side of the road by the time we returned to the car park)
Ed showed up without his camera. It was just back from repairs and he didn’t want to risk it in the rain. Probably be too gloomy anyway…
The day was actually sunny and we wasted no time getting into the good bits.
We get to the infamous Black Hole of Calcutta. They are roaring. We agree on whistle signals as voices wouldn’t be heard and work out a plan to piggie back the ropes down the abseils to avoid a large group waiting in cold water.
In I go
Despite the sun shine up above the black hole seemed even darker than usual. Around the corner the Green Room at the Ranon junction was as spectacular as always. A lovely soft light had Ed regretting not bringing the camera but if he had I think we’d still be there…
Free of camera duties he was quick to strike some poses
The quintessential Claustral shot of recent years is looking back towards the Green Room with someone standing on a rock that looks a bit like Hulk’s fist. Just about every group that goes through takes the shot. I’ve heard of people booking a commercial tour just to get the shot. You’d think it would be blasé by now.
But it still holds some magic.
Still I try a few different angles and poses just to be different. Now I wouldn’t claim to be a photographers areshole but I think they turned out ok
And we move on.
It’s dark in the canyon. With the mist lifting I was expecting sun beams but it seems we are a tad early. In a few spots I’m glad we had head torches
The low angle of the sun creepng down the walls throws up interesting shots like this shot below
We get to the junction with Thunder Canyon and I convince them it’s worth the side trip with it’s cold dark swims.
The group in front of us are just coming back out. they have found an intense light ray and are warming them selves in it’s brilliance
It was a small teaser of the light show that was about to burst forth
But first to brave the cold swim. Thunder Canyon is deeper and darker than it’s more popular siblings.
It has glowworms shinning throughout the day if you know where to look and are game to turn off your light
Oh look light rays are starting to come through
And didn’t they what
But eventually we dragged ourselves away. Further up was more dark but it was worth venturing up to join the short finned eels in the cold waters.
Just around the corner is the base of Westerway Falls.
But still there’s more. Hidden behind the falls is another delight
I could have stayed here much longer but we needed to move on. This was as far up Thunder we’d be able to get. Time to back track to the junction
The light beams were waiting for us again
And then we are back to the junction.
Most people consider the next bit to be part of Claustral but technically it is Thunder Gorge in Camathan brook and Clautral brook is it’s tributarty. Sure Thunder comes down and takes a right angle turn while Claustral seems to go pretty much straight but Thunder was the first one explored and named so it gets the glory. Or sumfink
There is some energy sappng boulder scrambles and tricky climb downs
but then the walls close back in for the tunnel swim
And some more gorgeous canyon
And then it’s time for lunch and the haul up Rainbow ravine.
It’s hard going in the humidity but the veiws from the top of the camels hump are worth it.
Just up there is the old car park… But we turn back down steeply into the top of Claustral Brook where we work our way down through some more nice canyon sections. Above us thunder rumbles and a storm hits.
Well that saves the dilema of whether to dry bag the dry clothes or just swim in them. By the time we get to the swims we are soaked any way. The rain was heavy but refreshing and we reach our second exit point and do the climb out to the cars.
It’s later than we had planned. We’d sppent longer in Thunder canyon than I thought we would have but it was just so mesmerising. Still Gaz has to be at work for a 12hr night shift in just 45min so no time is waisted and it’s into dry clothes and a hurried good bye.
All in all a top day.
Your comfort zone is the most dangerous place to stay.
Party size 6 all experienced
Timing: 9.5 hrs not rushing and my injured leg holding us up a bit.
The video is a bit longer than my normal opnes but I could have put up 20min just on the Black hole abseils.
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