Ed, Ethan, Russ, Tash, and Meeeee but not Adrian (Cameos by Stu, Lindsey and the MadOne.)
Adrian wants to do Claustral. Anyone available?
Fugg yeah!!! Said everyone except Adrian who had some last minute family stuff pop up….
The rest of us set off at the crack of 8am. There was already a couple of groups in front of us but we’re just cruising so no wukkas
The new track work on the entry is excellently done and much needed to prevent erosion but personally I hate stairs, up or down they cane my knees… I’m happier on a scree slope. By the time we get to the bottom of the gully my legs were feeling a bit worse for wear. Not a good sign considering the relatively easy walk…
But we head down to the first climb down and suit up while the other groups make their way down, some abseil off newish looking rap rings.
Tash and Ethan opt to abseil it too which is ok by me.
We get to the main abseils just as the two guys in front of us wait for the last of the group in front of them to finish the first one.
As odd as this sounds this is the first time I’ve ever had to line up for the Blackhole. I can’t remember ever seeing too many other people in Claustral when I have been in there…. But, again we aren’t in a hurry and it’s not a bad spot to hang about
I join the guys in front waiting for the second abseil
So as we set up for the key hole I tell Tash, who hasn’t been here before, that it’s worth heading down first or second as it’s amazingly dark and makes for good photos and videos.
So I’m not sure if it’s just the time of the day but it turns out its the brightest I’ve ever seen it in there….
We are too early for sunbeams but the soft light on a misty morning is special in it’s own way
Back down to the junction and from here down it’s technically Thunder Gorge and it opens out a little before closing in for the tunnel swim
We get to the end and it’s barely midday. I’m looking forward to lunch but not the hot walk out…
But things were going to go a bit awry.
A slight mishap
A mistimed jump into the last pool and Tash comes up with with a moan.
Ethan and Russ dive in and bring her across.
She has jarred her back. Bad
We get her out of the water and onto what forever more will be named Tash’s Rock of Shame after Stu the Paramedic (actual name) coined it so.
Sure some people would like it to be call Rest Rock or Sandstone Slumber or Back support Boulder or even Dicky Deckchair but they are never going to stick
But we get ahead of our self
We get her onto Tash’s Rock of Shame and try to make her slightly less uncomfortable.
What’s your pain level?
2, if I don’t move. Says Tash
2? Says Ed. I’m a bloody 2.
1 is good. 10 is bad
Tash moans, Oh it’s 8 if I try to move.
We give her some pills to pop. They do 4/5th of freak all. She aint walking out today.
We agree to push the big red button. Which on the Inreach(TM) is actually small and grey, probably
Ethan and Russ take the inreach and head up to call the Calvary
Ed and myself go about trying to make Tash as comfortable as possible. She keeps ever so slowly slipping down the rock. We slowly drag her back up… it passes the time.
Hopefully Damo Approves of the burrito wrap
A few groups come passed and all offer help, food and water. But we reassure them we have it under control
We amuse our patient by regaling her with the tale of the Kanangra Rescue we got caught up in.
Not long after we finish that tale another group come swimming down the canyon.
Hey, calls one of them, I recognise you. You guys rescued me at Kanangra
No fucking way.
I’d never seen him before the Kanangra Incident. I’ve not seen him since.
You can’t make this shit up
But after a chat they head off too
I’m expecting the ground crew at any minute. I’m being outwardly positive but in my head I’m looking at the wind in the trees up above us and thinking the Chopper wont deploy, we are over-nighting.
Hey Flynnsticles! I have Chippies.
WTF! it’s the Mad One
What the hell are you doing here. I can’t help but smile
I heard you were in the shit and came to save you. Again. With snacks
She had got the message from Russ, met our wives at Mt Tomah and put them at ease. Then ran in with supplies to help us out. She is kinda Golden
Russ had returned with her. Ethan continued up
Ground crew was marshalling up top they say.
And then. The Chopper circles over
Now over the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to be part of some charity work for the Westpac Rescue service up north (PS I’m doing it again) and have been privileged to get to speak to some of the air crews and engineers and ask them all sort of silly questions so I know the Toll guys are up there scoping the scene and risk assessing the drop zone and I am 100% confident they wont deploy.
The Chopper comes lower.
For some perspective, the cliffs you can see rise about 40m above us. From the tops we can see the gorge widens out a little but then there is about another 100m of cliff above them. Those cliffs in turn are tucked deep in a steep ravine.
If you were up top the helicopter would be out of sight, 150m below you.
And still they come lower.
And down comes Stu the Paramedic (actual name). I do a quick hand over. He assesses the situation.
So if we lift her out do the rest of you need assistance to get out?
No we are good to walk.
What if it gets dark?
There’s plenty of light and we have head torches just in case
Good stuff. Now let’s get this girl some pan relief and get her off her Rock of Shame.
He radios up and goes about trying to jab the spikey thing into the blood carrying things. While he fills Tash will holes trying to find a vein the chopper comes back and drops Lindsey the Other Paramedic (not actual name)
The pin pricking does no good. She has been lying in the cold for a few hours so her veins arn’t exactly pumping. The friendly banter with Stu the Paramedic (actual name) reaches a crescendo when Mads asks if she can have a go at getting the needle in…. I’m pretty sure he couldn’t work out is she was serious or not
She was serious.
We are going to have to air lift her, Says Lindsey the other Paramedic (not actual name) But I’m worried about the stretcher on those trees
It’s a bit more open just down there, says I.
They send Russ down for a look.
I’m sure its a bit more open down there, says Ed.
Russ comes back. It’s a bit more open down there. Says he
Stu the Paramedic (actual name) and Lindsey the other Paramedic (not actual name) consult, go through scenarios and assess things again. We are going to have to move her, say they. It’s a bit more open down there
It wasn’t that much more open but it worked.
Let me say this. When the excrement hits the rotating cooling device in the mountains The Toll Rescue Helicopter crews are the best in the business
We split Lindsey the other Paramedic’s (not actual name) gear between us and suggest while waiting for the chopper to return we could get him up to a more open spot for a pick up. Just as we head up the exit the wirlybird comes back…..
it’s just after 7pm as we reach the cars. Mandy is waiting for us with extra food. it was most welcome
The rescue crews have packed up and left. They had started walking in but got the coms from the air crew that things were under control.
Massive thanks to all the crews who responded and massive shout out to the chopper pilot. I honestly had myself psyked up for an over night stay.
And once again to the cool, level heads of my crew. no panic, no bullshit everyone knew what needed to be done communicated well and just got on with it.
PS Tash is back on her feet a bit stiff and sore but recovering, and hopefully planning her next outing.