Every now and then people come into your life that lift your soul or make you laugh or both or sumfink so when the chance came up to skive off work and do such an awesome canyon with 3 of those people I thought why the hell not
Kylie told me she had a licence to get out of dodge. She also mentioned she’d never been through Hole in the Wall so we concocted a plan and I took a day off. It just so happens Madie and Leo also had the day off so we met up at the ZigZag railway and set off to test out the bypass that would get us around some clean up work that currently had Waratah ridge rd blocked.
In the end the bypass was pretty straight forward and we were shouldering packs and heading off into the glorious sunshine, spirits high and smiles wide.
The usual banter and catchup chatter had extra depth and post lockdown feels that ate up the walk in and before we knew it we where suited up and heading into the confines of the upper section.
But first we needed to get past the gate keeper
and then we were into it
And because the day was early we then head to the Dam cliffs to hang off more cliffs for fun
Surround yourself with awesome people. Experience Awesome things
So I squeeze. I strip of clothing. I try bridging higher. I can’t bend me knees to get lower….. There is just 1 bit where I can’t get past. If memory serves there is one more tight bit further in so rather than forcing myself through and possibly getting stuck further in I opt to reverse out, with some difficultly and let the young skinny beautiful doggo continue through with Madie and Leo…..
At one point the crack drops sharply, here Pippa decides to take advantage of things and crawl onto Leo’s head.
I slip around and scramble down Crack of Doom 2. We then check out some of the other cracks/Canyonettes in the area
And check out a possible First Nations occupation site before reversing up Crack of Doom 2
A Short easy scramble gets us out the top
Lets get wet. Alcatraz on the way home!!!
Winter Alcatraz Undie run comingup
TBH I sooked a bit and put a top on so that I could go first and then stay to help Madie at the bottom with Pippa and then pull ropes.
Getting back into dry clothes felt soooo good and we relished the sunshine one back up top
The following day we head into the Freezer. Despite the name its a pleasant crag out of the wind and, today at least, sheltered from the rain (mostly)
Madie leads up the delightfully run out slopperfest, Soul Sister (18). Leo then leads up making it look easy before I struggle my way up on top rope.
Then I leave them to play on the harder stuff and head for home feeling somewhat out of shape and deflated but determined to crack myself back into gear.
Your future. It awaits only you, to live it and to write it. R Hobb
With a couple of birthdays around this time Kylie wanted to get the gang together for an excursion. As it was going to be July and the gang likes dressing up Xmas in July made sense
And then we moved it forward a week so Xmas in July in June it was.
Lucky, as that afternoon the Gubberment announced lockdown,/stay at home rules for the filthy flatlanders and extended them to include the pox ridden, beanie wearing, hippies in the Blue Mountains
Anyhoo, We’d been talking about wandering down Valley of the Waters to check out Vera falls (the highest falls in that particular creek, one I had done before but only had vague memories of) and thought why the hell not. Surprisingly many in the group hadn’t ventured further down than the base of Empress falls. Oh man the next two, Sylvia Falls and Lodore Falls are beautiful and not 10min further down.
But I get ahead of myself. Pulling into the car park I see Kylie in candy stripes and Hywaida is busy Grinching up Kris.
Shit! this green stuff doesn’t come off. says she as I get out of my car
Kris looks alarmed. What is a grinch anyway?
Worth it but
Others rocked up, frocked up and off we went
First stop: the base of Empress for a photo op
After lots of photos and nearly as many laughs we continue our way down the trail. Vera is a long way down but it’s pretty walk
Below Lodore the trail gets rougher but not as vague as I remember it and despite the distance the time flies in good company and banter and before long we are standing on the large, slippery AF rock shelf at the top Vera
You are probably thinking, That’s a big group, but technically we are not canyoning and only half of us are doing the abseil. The rest are out for a walk and Xmas in July cheer.
So now we need to work out how we are going to do it.
We want to go through the falls and work out a good anchor option. Aimee and Krys get busy setting it up.
Me and Kylie breifly discuss the abseil. The toppo suggest the falls are 45-50m. My rope is a tad over 50. We left Jason’s 60m in the car. I tie the end of my rope into Aimee’s anchor and toss the end down to see if it will reach. Then try to get to a spot were I can see.
I can’t see if the tail is on the ground.
We know there is a large ledge about 10m from the bottom but I can’t see it. Kylie suggests first person down takes the spare rope and if possible joins the two at the ledge so that we are not needing to pass a knot mid abseil in what is going to be very cold water spray.
From here we had some communication break downs.
I was planning to be anchor bitch… I mean “monitor”. I know me and Kylie spoke about whether to swap over to a releasable or leave it as we would probably need the full length of rope.
Those not planning to abseil had already continued down the walking track to the base so Kylie moved up to a place where she could signal down to them. The rope isn’t on the ground.
People looked nervous and reluctant to go first.
I have ascending gear, I’m happy to go. I volunteers.
Aimee took over anchor duties. We discussed that if I needed to tie the extra rope on at the ledge I’d give 5 clear whistle blasts. Or maybe I discussed that with Kylie. As I said communication broke down. We all put trust in each other and assumed things.
Never assume things
Kylie somehow makes phone contact with Hywaida who confirms the rope reaches the ledge. Relief.
Ok no need to whistle, everyone knows the ropes will be joined and they need to pass a knot on the ledge.
I check Aimee is good, get on rope and go. We didn’t pause to discuss changing the anchor now that we had updated info.
Slippery Start. Then boosh.. I’m into it. It’s pretty much 40-45m of overhanging abseil. You’re in the main flow, then behind it. The wind moves the waterfall meters sidedways and front and back so you are in it then not in it then bam! back in.
I stop on a small ledge 3/4 the way down. There are a lot of loose rocks and I kick them off now rather than have them dislodge and smack someone on the noggin later, not thinking the sound of rocks crash down might freak out those up top….
I reach the big ledge. There is 4 or 5 m of rope on the ledge and a large dead tree between me and the edge. Rather than leave a long tail to possibly tangle in the tree I go off rope and signal for the slack to be taken up.
I hadn’t discussed this possibility with Aimee but she takes up the rope and when I signal to stop she is wondering what now? Remember, we hadn’t converted back to a releasable system.
She realised I needed the rope reset so ties a alpine butterfly and captures the slack in the loop. Yep that’s 4m of rope in the AB’s loop.
Meanwhile, down below I’ve joined the ropes and tossed the end down. Rookie error, I don’t keep hold of the rope and the angle takes it out away from me. Gingerly leaning over the dead tree I grab the rope and pull it back to me.
Unbeknownst to me, Aimee feels this but without being able to see and with communication difficulties she thinks I’m getting back on rope, she is only halfway through tying the alpine butterfly. Understandably it freaks her out and she gets it locked off as fast as possible, leaving a bit of her hair in the knot in the process
So she believes I’m on rope. I’m on the ledge waiting for an OK to go.
Once again the waterfall is swaying in the wind. I’m out of it. I’m in the spray. It’s dumping on me. I’m getting cold.
I look to the others at the bottom for guidance. I get a thumbs up (I think that is they have confirmation from the top I’m right to go, later it was explained it was confirmation the rope now reaches the ground
So I give the rope a gentle test pull. It holds. I pull again. Sweet. I get back on rope and make my way around the tree to the edge of the ledge. There I notice the rope has caught behind a flake on the next ledge up. I flick it a few times to free it and this gives me a tiny bit of slack,
I’m stranding on the lip.
I try to adjust up as I normally would but I’m using the cutaway tag on my harness to leave room for my ascender so where I’m use to the device taking up is 2 inches above where it actually does. I have a little slip
Now back in my misspent youth I may or may not have done some dumbshit(TM) that I don’t condone now. One of those dumbshit(TM) things my brother and I may or maynot have done on the odd occasion was the old Hollywood throw a heap of slack out and jump over the edge trick. So as I slip it’s second nature to me to make sure I have the least amount of friction at the device as I can so when the rope takes up it reduces the shock load as much as possible.
As dramatic as it looks my “big slip” was just a few inches (story of my life) followed by a fast but controlled slide into the pool at the bottom (shut up)
Safely at the bottom I dance about to get warm.
How was that rope stretch at the ledge, Jen laughs.
Near shit myself, says I
Kylie and Ethan come down
Jason had opted out of the abseil as he had thought we were doing the dry line and didn’t bring the right gear. I offer him mine and we head back up.
Up top Aimee fills me in on her freak out which freaks me out…. She was still a bit rattled and wasn’t going to do the abseil. We talk it out and she decides to give it a go. It really is an awesome abseil
We all head back up to the top of the falls for a bite to eat, some not so awesome Xmas carolling and bell ringing and a bit of a debrief on how the communication had fallen down (the great thing about this group is there is no blame or finger pointing. Just, this is what we think went wrong and this is how we think we can improve. The conversation continued online over the proceeding days)
Now all that’s left is an hour and a half or so up stairs to get out….. Of course we had to break up the walk with a bit of fun….
Icy cold fun
The tourists were amused
So in the end the falls were about 60m lip to pool, add in the anchor is a fair way back…. Take long ropes.
All in all a very Yuley day out with very Yuley Folk
Find people who inspire you, make you laugh and are great to hang out with. then hangout with them
Gadget, Penny, Chief Quimby, Professor Von Slickstein and Me… I mean, Dr Claw
Whatya doing on the Monday of the long weekend? Asks Gadget
No plans. What do you have in mind? Says I
Options were thrown up before settling on a Go Go Gadget excursion back to Wolgan falls.
We’ve been talking about getting back there to do a wet line after rain. It almost happened after the March deluge but we wimped out fearing the road maybe impassable.
And the stars just haven’t aligned since.
But now we have had a bit of rain through the week, then a good dump of snow on the plateau.
Time to give it a crack
Unfortunately Brain had to bail last minute…. Now I was concerned. How would Penny help Gadget and the others foil Dr Claw without him?
We meet up at the ZigZag railway on a crispy morning, pile into cars and head in (Yeah we were going the long way, or at least the slow way, but we had our reasons)
The road was boggy but some awesomely excellent driving by Von Slickstein saw him follow us through in his 2WD ute.
Packed up, nervous whizs and off we go
The trip is pretty basic, some easy nav along the ridge, and a couple of dry abseils land you on a large flat shelf above the falls.
Its a pretty spot
And it’s from this point we plan to mix things up. The usual line is in 2 stages a few meters to river left of the falls. Despite ice in puddles and a few patches of snow up top we are hoping to rig things to go straight down the guts.
We discuss options, a tree would have us in the perfect spot, but it’s a looooooong way back.
We have everything we need to build a long anchor but ideally we’d set it as a retrievable so we don’t leave anything behind.
Options were discussed before deciding to use a shorter rope around the tree set on the fiddlestick near the edge then tie join the main line below the stick…
Go Go Gadget retrievable anchor and Roberts your Aunty’s husband or sumfink
Stirlo’s down and so far nobody has died. Wootwoot
And we are all down, now to see if we can retrieve things
Kylie pops the fiddle stick. Success.
Stirlo and Ed pull the rope. Success
‘Cept the fiddlestick then wedges itself in the only crack on the halfway ledge and the tail of the rope wraps itself around the only stick in the only crack on the halfway ledge…
Luckily the way out goes up to the halfway ledge and a delicate bit of rope work with the spare rope gets me in a position to release both
We high 5 and begin to pack up for the haul out
Voices…. Up above smiling faces pear over the cliff. I recognise Dick. He is with Laurie, Mick, Peter and crew. This is 2 trips in a row we’ve run into them. We head up and say g’day
Then we are back in the cars for a bite to eat and then back through the mudbath for a little add on that took longer to get there than to do.
Worth it but
Anchor trees in this one can be a bit hard to get and ghosting (Fiddlestick/smooth operator..) is definitely the way to go. Would hate to see slings or chains in this one
And 10min later we’re back up at the cars
Another awesomely excellent with awesomely excellent mates.
“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you; spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” — Amy Poehler
Last year Madie threatened/promised to drag me up Bunny Buckets Buttress. It’s kinda the big easy of the Pieces Pass area. A mega classic grade 18 that wonders up 310m of the Grose Valley clifflines.
Unfortunately I had a series of tendon injuries and just felt I’d be a liability.
I haven’t done a lot of climbing lately but was starting to feel good again. I mentioned to her that I’d be keen once I get a bit of endurance.
OK we are doing it Saturday, Says Madie. You and me on Bunny Buckets, Leo, Lucie and Felix will go up next to us on Randy Rabbit Ridge (a grade 20 that basically parallels BBB)
OH shit!! I’d done 8 pitches of climbing in the last 6 weeks. Bunny Buckets was 8 pitches one after another, 5 of which were right at my climbing limit at the moment. Not to mention most of the pitches were longer than any pitch I have done lately…
I admit I had a bit of a anxiety attack at the thought of not being up to it. I lost sleep worrying about it. I’d hate to be one of those people who claim they are better than they are then ruin everyone’s day by not being as good as they thought
Shut up brain. Suck it up! This is an awesome opportunity. No more excuses. I’m in.
I tend to get real nervous leading up to a trip right up until I get out of the car and get walking but after a crappy day at work on the Friday I slept like a log and I woke up feeling calm and excited for the day
The car park was packed. Don’t they know how cold it is? There are a few abseil routs down, We pick the fastest one and pass one group on setting up on the other. We then meet Lucas and Ben at the bottom, they graciously let us go first and somehow weren’t put off be my floundering about pretending to be a rock climber.
I’d have to say I had a moment halfway up pitch 3 where I was struggling with a move and started second guessing myself and it took Leo shouting encouragement/threats from across the void to convince me to push on. I tried again, got the move easy and continued on.
In the end I hang-dogged the first 3 pitches, took a swinger on the traverse where had to resort to ascenders to get back on route and, I climbed ugly but I got up with out needing to be hauled (TBH I think Madie was taking a lot of my weight at times) and I couldn’t be happier.
The second last pitch was a glorious vertical wall. Once again it was right at the upper end of my skill level but more to my style than the lower pitches at that grade. I was shot, muscle fatigue had well and truly set in. I’d struggle up 2 or 3m clip my safety to the bolt and hang, resting for what seemed an eternity then I’d go again. But I loved every minute of it.
My mates really are awesome.
“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” -Anonymous
Surround yourself with awesome people, experience awesome things: Flynny
Anyone available to do something on the 2nd? Asks Ed
Sure, says we.
You want to do a Flynny bash to look for a canyon of probably poor quality? says I
And so we find ourselves walking down a long disused fire trail that is barely distinguishable from the rest of the post-fire landscape.
Soon we leave even that vagueness of a trail and make our way due(ish) north down a ridge looking for a short slot. The only thing I’d heard about it was a. “it’s ok for an unpublished canyon on the Plateau” and ii. The last abseil was meant to be “a gooden” (TM)
When I say “unpublished” there is a grid reference in the guide but checking the satellite that GR looks well off what I am sure is the target, so we go with my gut feel and just wander down for a look, find the slot we are looing for and drop on in.
The start was pleasant. Straightaway dropping down a small waterfall. We contemplate setting the rope but after a good look I decide to slide. We had considered not taking wet suits…. Glad we did
Almost immediately we were greeted with another drop, one that would require abseiling
everyone safely down, rope and pull cord stowed and just around the corner the bottom dropped out of the creek dramatically.
We set a temporary anchor and throw down 27m or so of rope on a releasable and Ethan volunteers to go first. Its a tricky start and then an awesomely spectacular abseil. I bleed out rope and as Ethan reaches the bottom the end is just high enough off the ground for him to land and dismount comfortably.
Ed follows him down then Russ helps me set the fiddlestick and takes the pull cord.
There are some dry canyons around the edge of the Plateau that have long abseils but it’s rare to get a wet one this high in these parts.
And that was it. All over red rover.
Plenty of action for a shortish walk and 150m of canyon
OK, right should get us out. Says I, but left looks interesting.
We follow Ed and Ethan up to the left through the king ferns
All the (short) way up the gully teased us with the prospect of turning a corner into a canyonette that would ramp up through the cliffs
But in the end it cliffed out in a gloriously over hung ampitheatre
We head back down and up the other side. The gully looked like it would go easily but we opted to climb out early
We have lunch on the cliff tops above what becomes a major gully as it makes it’s way towards the Wolgan. Its barely 12.30.
Shall we do sumfink else? says I
After not much deliberation we opt for one of a pair the rest had not done before. I didn’t have my notes or map with me. But how hard could it be?
Last time I remember the scrub leading to the good bit was horrendous and the fires hadn’t seemed to touch this little bit of the forest so I drive a bit further down the road, check google maps, and aim for the most canyony looking bit.
and we arrive smack bang on the most canyony bit
Only as soon as I see it I remember the most canyony bit was the very end and we’ve missed a few jumps and slides and fun bits.
And then it’s back up the hill to the car before it pisses down.
Kylie, Kristo, Hywaida, Jason, Jen, Ethan and Meeeee
When Gadget asked me if I had any plans for the 17th I was like you know I don’t plan that far ahead.
Well would you be interested in doing the Kanangra Main trip that we changed plans for earlier? Says she
Does the Pope shit in the woods? Wait, that’s not the saying. Does a bear poop catholics? Still not it….
Anyhoo, I rocked out to Kanangra Boyd on the Friday night to met up with Kylie and we set up camp in the fading light.
We were soon joined by Jen for diner and banter around the camp fire
Jason rocked in a little later and as the temperature dropped we retired for the night with nervous excitement for what the next day would bring.
The day brought an early start.
A quick breaky around the camp fire and then off to meet Ethan, Hywaida and Kris at the carpark.
Are we doing the wall or the slot?
The Slot. Let’s plan on that and we can reassess if we have to once we see the water levels
Getting to the start of the slot involves traversing across a loose narrow ledge. Jason was leading the way.
hey, did you see that? Calls I
Of course now the rest of us need to get past. I’m pretty comfortable around snakes and I’m hoping no one else freaks out. I point out the unexpected hazard and step over.
Kylie steps up but the rock she steps on moves. The tail quickly disappears.
OK be careful and don’t step on those 2 rocks….
To my relief everyone comes across without hesitation and snakey stays safe in his hole.
The slot has a bit of a reputation for projectiles. The top of P1 and the stance in between P1 and P2 are littered with loose rocks, anything from pebble size to large slabs. If you are heading in you need to make sure your group is extremely careful. It’s Kylies trip and I didn’t want to take over but I did stress no one was to move above P2 while people were on rope and we didn’t have an issue.
And then we are back onto the Main route
The rest of the photos are in no particular order as there are so many waterfalls and I enjoy the experience so much that looking back I struggle to remember what order they came in.
Photo credits to the various people mentioned above
It’s getting late by the time we reach our exit. When doing awesome stuff with awesome people time has no meaning for me and for various reasons the descent had taken longer than expected.
With the days getting shorter it was going to be touch and go for us to get up the scrambles before dark.
I’ve done the exit up the ridge several times now but each time I seem to go a slightly different way and experience a different number of scrambles with varying degrees of dodginess.
There’s a bit of a track starting to form now but that’s not to say it takes the best path and a coupe of branches definitely takes you on more difficult routes. This time up we miss all the trickiest scrambles except 1. It was shitscary but we all got up it with just a little swearing and encouragement and we reach the tourist track just as the light is fading.
All in all another excellent day out with truly amazing people