Another Nightmare

03/08/2019

Tim, Ev, Allie, Roy. Chardi, Peter, Richard and meeeee

It’s been awhile since I’ve managed to head out with Tim and his crew but thankfully they let me jump in on this one at the last minute.

We sort gear at the NP gate and amidst much banter waste no time heading off, down toward the ruins, across the river and, up everyone fav access trail, The Pipeline track.

A quick drinks break at the top of the Pipeline trail with some in depth discussions where we sort out the woes of the modern world. ©Roy

It was a glorious winters day and the rest of the walk in was uneventful. Before long we find ourselves scrambling down through the small, broken cliffline immediately above the start of the canyon.

The day was so nice even Ev was in a T-shirt

We opt to traverse to the right along the top of the canyon to the wall abseil. This avoids the two stage drop we did last time. It’s nice but often has a pool at the bottom and a difficult pull down. Going right gets you a long abseil directly above the narrow crack abseil and keeps your feet dry

Chardi on abseil 1

From there it’s into the fun… or horror… or sumfink

What menace awaits Ev in the abyss below? Usually for me some scrapped skin… Big shoulders or sunfink
Oh the horror of it all
There is often a shallow pool at the bottom off this one. Careful use of the log can help avoid wet feet. No such worries for Richard today, it was dry as a Nuns nasty.

Next up is a short drop with a diabolical start. Not really, it’s fairly simple…

And then we come to the log.

There’s an anchor here. Says Allie

Na I couldn’t be bothered, reply I. I’m just going to hump the log.

Is that a thing?

Oh course it is. Reluctantly she decides to give it a go

Wow lot’s of people must do this, it’s so smooth. No splinters…. Yas! Converted

Of course Roy has to out do every one by walking down the log instead of humping it. He’s only broken his neck twice, but never while canyoning….

Richard on the chock-stone abseil. If you go underneath the 2 chock-stones it’s a real nightmare of a pulldown, thou like seeming all the longer drops in nightmare there are options to rebelay to break it into 2 shorter drops ©Roy
The stuff of sleep horrors. Classically dodgey blue mountain anchor, loose bolt backed up by 2 rusting climbing nuts. At least the tape and nuts have been renewed..
Final abseil. 30m into a waist deep pool. Being the gentlemanly chap I am I offered to go first, sacrifice my dryness then set up a guided abseil to get the rest across ©Roy
Orange rope is tied off just tight enough to keep the Abseiler up out of the water. Abseiler comes down the purple with an extended biner clipped to the orange rope. It’s kinda a cross between an asbeil and a flying fox
Then it’s a simple matter of following the base of the cliffs back around to the Pipeline trail and down to the cars from there

Another magnificent day out in the bush with wonderful people.

Party Size: 8

Time 6hr 14min car to car relaxed pace.

Being normal is the ultimate goal of the boring

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Xmas in July canyoning challenge

20/07/2019

Jen, Jodie, Diana, Joel, Ed, Russ, Chewy and meeeeeeee

In an effort keeping positive vibes flowing on the Australian Canyoners FB group through the “Off season” (And to break up the flood of stunning photos Madie’s been posting about European Canyoning. Not that we are jealous. Not us. No…) I put out a Xmas in July canyoning challenge, So far Kylie and Colin had lead trips resulting in awesome photos.. Now it was our turn.

Ed as Scary Santa
A splash of colour in the Aussie bush
Me and Jen. And yes they are my own boobs. Legs together because the at the first down climb I took a big step and tore the crutch out of the candy cane stockings. Um I’ll be going first on the way down. MmmmKay..

After a round of photos it was into our first canyon, Zorro

How cool does the red look against the Aussie Bush in Winter
Jen belaying the guys
Zorro is an amazing little canyon with entrance and exit chambers that are consistently narrow and straight
It has some little challenges along the way too. Most groups abseil this drop which is a worry because when Chewy tested the anchor the sling fell out in his hand…. The sling was basically around a bit of mudstone that was more mud than stone
Ed embracing a game of the water is lava. With a bit of encouragement everyone managed to keep their feet dry
The Z chamber, which separates the entrance and exit chamber with a grand, perpendicular hallway
Joel and Diana heading towards the exit
Jodie, Jen, Chewy and Russ bridging their way down the exit
Jen, Diana and Meeeee. With the gang in the back ground ©Joel
Jen and her magical polar bear slippers on the final abseil

And then it was back up to the tops for a lovely Xmas lunch over looking the One and Only Emerites Wolgan resort

As John Lennon sang, The sun is out, the sky is blue, it’s beautiful and so are….. Um the gang?
All the cool Blue Mts Canyoners where besta…. I mean polar bear ugg boots? While they lost an ear Jen managed to keep them crispy white.

Then it’s back to the cars for a short drive around to our next destination. Not so much a canyon as a crack.

Of Dooooom.

Those following along back home may remember me not finding it, not fitting through it and opting to go around it. Well 10kg down and this time through I went

looking back up as Jodie enters the Crack of Doom
Russ at the point the crack turns from Narrow to Squeezey
Jodie getting her squeeze on
Ed almost to the bit where it allows you to breathe again
Looking back at the impressive crack that descends the cliff line

And then it was around to have a look at a bigger crack/micro canyon. Catherdral Canyon. AKA The diamond cavern

All up it’s only about 50m long but it’s kinda nice

From there we make our way back to our exit slot, The Crack of Doom 2.

A slightly more sensible width it’s still narrow and parallels the cliff with just a slight bend as it ramps it’s way up
It ends in an easy 3m chimney climb out.
Me giving Jen a little hand. Now my climbing style has never been described as graceful and Jen’s legs might be a little shorter than mine but humping the rock was never in my bag of tricks. You learn something new each day or sumfink… ©Ed

All in all a great day in the bush decking the halls, prancing about, jingling bells and generally having a laugh with seriously awesome people.

Group Size: 8

Time: Is meaningless on Xmas

Tomorrow owes you the sum of your yesterday. Nothing more than that.:-Robin Hobb

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Greek Myths and pirate ships

06/07/2019

Mark, Ed, Ethan, Rob, Russ, Mick, David and meeeeeeee

I’d first visited the Minotaurs lair (AKA Bell Minor canyon) with Ed in 2016. It was a hot dry winters day and too be honest I didn’t think much off it.

But on the way out we spotted a tight slot that’s looked like it may be interesting. Being short on rope and time we didn’t descend it that day so I guess it was time to go back for another look.

Also Geoff Fox had told me about a slot up above the lair that he said was worth visiting so after a cold wet week we set off for a bit of an explore.

First up is a series of towers detached from the main cliff line by some interesting slots. I know Yuri has a name for them but I can’t remember what it is

Then we head around the corner and into the gully. We cross over and avoid the worst of the scrub by traversing the base of the cliff.

The North eastern cliffs are riddled with undercuts and sand caves. The most impressive of which is this beauty with its ribbons of colour and delicate iron stone plates. Animal tracks abound in the fine sand all along the cliff line
Into the Lair we go. Not sure how the minotaur will react to 8 burly blokes instead of 7 Athenian youths and 7 maidens fair but anyhoo we’re not scared….
Not the legendary beast but a legendary beast.
Ok so with a bit of moisture and greenery Minotaur’s lair is a nice walk through slot, not as long as I remember and the walls are quiet shallow, but nice

And then we scramble out to look for the slot Yuri ad Geoff labelled Ariadne slot. Just when we thought we’d have to be too high another set of clifflines rise above us and we follow them around.

Ariadne tended the labyrinth, She was the Daughter of Minos, King of Crete, and a bit of a spunk. Mick is hoping to find her. That may be the Minotaur in the back ground
New album, Lust for Ariadne by Mark and the Descentionists drops April 2020… or sumfink

Its a pretty slot and would make a great abseil in from the top but no Athenian princesses were found so we make our way back down to the junction with Minotaur’s lair and fight our way through tree fall up the other side.

Ed and I spotted this slot in 2016 but were short on ropes (shorter than we knew it would turn out) so we opted not to descend it at that time. Checking it out is probably the only reason I bothered to do Minotaur’s Lair again
So we probably should have stuck with the Ancient Crete theme but we’re splitters and went with Walk the Plank canyon, AKA Ed’s Plank
Russ volunteering to be first to check it out

Non remanebit ex eis ungula et circulo fundae : No sling shall be left behind. Or sumfink

It was about now we hear the dreaded whoosh, crack, kaboom.

Everyone OK.

With the exception of possibly soiled pants every one was fine. Russ had looked up in time to see a baby head size rock tumbling in slow motion down the canyon. It hit the wall then exploded on the ground where he had been standing moments before….

Russ in the short but nice middle section happy none of those rocks had hit him

More squeezey fun ensued
And then it opens out in to a pleasant exit chamber
Ed admiring the end of his plank. Or sumfink

One more little abseil and we reach the junction with the main gully

Some dense scrub

Some complex boulder hopping….Sliding

And then an easy walk down the nose to the road.

All up a good day in the bush with great people. It was a fairly long complex walk with plenty of scrub and elevation for 3 fairly short slots but I love this shit and heading out with others likewise inclined sooth the soul and clears the mind.

Party Size: 8

Time: 6hr 15min car to car with a bit of a car shuffle

The hardest thing is to find a black cat in a dark room. Especially if there is no cat:- Confucius

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Scrub, Slots and knots

22/06/2019

Little Miss Sunshine, The Russian Gangster, The Dare Devil, Badass Barbie, Archie, White Water Wizard and Meeeeeee (the eeejiot)

When Kylie said her crew were keen on a trip to this area and invited me along I jumped at the chance and then pretty much rearranged the trip… But they were cool with it.

Anyhoo

There has been a lot of good discussion on the Australian Canyoners group about rigging releasable contingency anchors and with Mark’s guidance we took the opportunity to practice setting up with a figure 8 block. A method I’ve not used before but one I’ll make use of in the future.

I’ve always like the idea of releasable anchors and have used munter-mule knots in the past but found them too much of a pain in the arse to bother with on most recreational trips, however there are a bunch of devices out now that take the hassle out of the equation. And for those not into buying more gear (weirdos) most people would have a spare figure 8 in the gear bag somewhere. I was surprised at how simple and quick the figure 8 block was to rig.

But I get ahead of myself.

It’s -4 when Little Miss Sunshine arrives at my place, minus the sunshine, and we head off to meet Mark and the others. I know the others only from online interactions so it’s cool to finally meet them in person.

After a gentle stroll up the hill, wait. No, that’s not right. After slogging up the hill we dump bags and set off for a side trip to our first canyon of the day, slipping up the usual pass and short cutting through the scrub to the top of the slot

Badass Barbie, AKA Aimee, dropping into Crooked Crevice with Kylie on belay down below
Badass Barbie, Little Miss Sunshine, The Dare Devil and the Russian Gangster contemplating the squeeze abseil off a classically ridiculous Blue Mts anchor consisting of a sling hero looped around a nub of rock.
Archie, AKA #adventure_matt squeezing on down. Someone may or may not have got a little wedged in here. and before you lot point your fingers at me guts are apparently more conforming than other parts of anatomy. “I’m stuck by my lady lumps.” I believe was the call.
It’s a great little slot

An hour or so later we are back at the bags and make our way around to visit the next slot/micro canyon

Kenobi
It’s short but the light is always impressive
It was bad enough they were twinning…. 🙂

And then it is up my pass and onto the tops for some views followed by more scrub

Kylie checking out the views up the Wolgan towards Donkey Mountain

Aimee getting her squeeze on and having one of her #lil_blondes_adventures, ©Mark
Kristo getting thrown through the moon door
Matt in the cave/ tunnel
The water is lava and not even the Dare Devil, AKA, Hywaida, wants to get burnt
The hole we just emerged from
The second last abseil see us descend out of the hidden slot into the open

1 abseil to go and as I was pulling rope across for Mark to feed it through the anchor there was an almighty rumble, the world shook and a car sized boulder broke off the cliff above and went sailing past about 10m to the right of us….. It was impressive to witness but scary AF when it happened

Mark racing down the final abseil
Little Miss Sunshine, AKA Kylie aka #wild_elly, high above the Wolgan

And then its a combination of walking, stumbling and dirt skiing back down to the cars

Another great day in the bush with great people visiting 3 short but very different canyons

Party Size: 7

Time: 7hr 15 car to car

There’s no excuse to be bored. Sad, yes. Angry, yes. Depressed, yes. Crazy, yes. But there’s no excuse for boredom. Ever!: Viggo Mortensen

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Coinslots and Bull Ants

16/06/2019

Russ, Stu, Ethan and meeeeeee

Despite (or possibly because) starting the year doing some amazingly awesome and epic trips I’ve been struggling to get out lately. Trying to find that balance between family, canyoning, the mountain bike club, work and all the other crap I do has needed a bit of tending.

Anyhooo I had a weekend free and the guys were keen. Our plans to do something in the Wolgan took a dive when I remembered the glowworm tunnel marathon was on and the valley would be packed.

Shall we go one valley over and do Coinslot.

Yep

It’s really short shall we follow up with Doomsday (AKA Bull Ant)

Yep

They are an argumentative bunch…

Anyhooo, We converge at my place, load gear in ute and head off.

Reaching the car park the fog was that thick we couldn’t see the clifflines but we were soon well above that and the views on the way up to Coinslot never fail to impress

I’d considered doing the climbing route as I know all the guys are competent but then thought if we wanted to do another canyon none of us had done before it might be best to take the quicker way up thus we take the not quiet climbing route.

Previously with different groups, some of whom needed roping up, the climb up to Coinslot always seemed a longer expedition but in no time we were up and into it.

In the absence of the Mad One Russ volunteered to go all Madie on the heart shaped rock

Russ Enjoying the Coinslot abseil
Stu at the top of the 29m Coinslot abseil
It’s a stunning drop
Then we avoid the pool with one of the easiest games of “the water is lava” ever, making use of some very convenient finger pockets
Stu in silhouette against the Capertee valley

And then it’s back down to the hill to the car, it’s barely lunch time.

I’ve got some vague track notes to get us to the start of Doomsday and after a bite to eat we head off up the other side of the valley. The climb up starts steep and gets steeper. Some dodgy not-quiet-rock-climbing sees us standing on a summit over looking the valley.

It’d be a nice spot for a morning tea break or sumfink.

Down into a gap and up the other side then steadily up a ridge.

The canyon must start fairly high up in the system….

Nope.

We reach the point were the notes say to turn towards the creek and need to drop back down through a fair portion of the elevation we just ascended.

I’m already thinking of Chardie and Autal’s comments on my complex bush bashes to visit not so awesome canyons…

Not sure if Madie told you guys but I have a reputation for this shit, say I

Canyon better be good, says they. And I have to agree

Ethan regales them with the tale of our scrub bash to nowhere

If there is ever a next time I think I’d try and traverse the base of the upper cliffs. Climbing up them just to abseil back down wasn’t that fun

I’d promised swims but we did our best to avoid the black manky water for as long as possible
Stu showing us how to get down without getting wet. I must have missed an important tip and went for a swim instead. Mmmmmm smelly and cold. Cold and smelly
Interestingly this wasn’t the only anchor to feature cheap paramatta rope, nor was it the most bizarre set up we came across all day
And then we come to the Doomsday pool

This involves an abseil into a pool and then a duck under a low arch. The bottom of the arch is only a couple of inches above the top of the water. As I was already wet I strip off my shirt and volunteer to go first. It was freaking cold

By throwing the ropes over the arch I was then able to help Stu, and subsequently the others to stay dry by coming over the top. Their dryness would last for long
What the hell is Russel doing to that tree???

And then we boulder hop, abseil and stumble back down the hill to the maintenance trail and thus back to the car.

It’s not often I finish a canyon wondering whether it was worth it but I doubt I’d rush back to do Doomsday. I know other friends enjoy it and to be fair on a warmer, wetter day it might be more appealing but today it didn’t grab me as anything special.

Anyhooo

Everyone wants to experience the view at the top of the mountain. Very few realise the magic, wonder and growth happens while you are climbing it 

Party Size: 4 all experienced

Time: Coinslot 2.5 hours car to car. Doomsday 4.5hrs car to car

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Fiddle Stick in the wilderness part 3

Continues from Part 2

The next canyon does not appear in any guide and I haven’t seen it marked on any map I’ve come across but unlike the two previous canyons that none of us had done Ryan had visited this one, stumbling across it on a trip a few years ago.

It will be more aquatic than the last 2, says he….

Anyhoo, it turned out to be a great little canyon

The hyper kids give the fiddle sticks a spit and polish and in we go again
I love this shit
Another fabulously narrow slot
Mmmmmm if this water was lava we’d all be burnt to a crisp no avoiding the swims in this one but the water is warmer than typically found in the blue mt canyons and the swims are relatively short
Stu heading down into and another splendid section
The Mad One in a dark section
The our last abseil for the day…. Or is it

So our intel and Ryan’s memory said there were four drops in the canyon, and this is true, but just down the creek we come to a substantial cliff line which looks borderline to big for our rope.

The general consensus from those who have explored this particular slice of the wilderness before is there are no large drops of any significance.

This one looks significant

Well that’s a bit of a buggar.

Anyhoo

We join two ropes and anchor the top one just above the knot on a munter hitch. I get on the bottom rope and head over the edge but due to over hanging ledges I can’t see if the ropes on the ground. The plan is once I get a visual, if it is not touching the ground Ryan will lower me on the munter.

As it was when I finally get a look the rope is close enough to the ground to make it down safe.

It’s getting late and we are a long way down the main creek from our camp site so we discuss options of trying to break a pass up through the cliffline while we still have light or trudge a few kilometres up the main creek to a pass Phil has used previously and climb that in the dark.

We opt for the former, Madie has a pass marked on her map we think we can link up with.

Unfortunately we get on to a ledge too early that doesn’t go and are forced to abseil off as light fades where the decision is made to retreat to the main creek and take Phils pass out.

It’s longer and more complicated than I expect but we eventually get to the top and onto the fire trail. We have a couple of kilometres to get back to camp.

The others are staying an extra night, a wise choice, myself and Russ break camp and trek a further several kilometres back to the cars for the long drive back to civilisation

All in all a great experience

Group Size: 6

Time: Car to Camp. 1 and a bit hours. Camp to camp 14 hours. All up just shy of 25 hours and 36km in the wilderness

So what did I think of the Fiddle Stick?

Well… It’s a lot slower than throw and go and has none of the advantages of lowerable anchor systems. There is also a lot more to be mindful of when setting up so will need constant practice but for wilderness canyons where the aim is not to leave anything behind, including slings, rope burns on trees or grooves in rock, it makes a lot of sense.

Another handy tool in the quiver, but as I said one you’d want to practice a bit to stay familiar with it’s use.

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself: Alan Alda

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Fiddle Stick in the Wilderness part 2

Continued from Part 1

Despite the complex looking multiple cliff lines we find an easy pass and up we go
Madie finds a cool little rock arch
Looking down towards the Nile in the Caperty valley through a gap in the Numeitta lines
We drop down into the top of our gully beside this grand old tree
Fiddle sticks at the ready and into the next spectacularly narrow canyon
The water is definitely lava in this one
Rus at an awkwardly flared section . And yes we stayed dry here
Ryan showing his bridging skill

Other than a dipping her boots Madie joins the boys in making it across, once again showing Pleather pants are better than a leather face. This is where my upper body strength failed and I took a plunge. The water is lava and I’m scorched to my neck or sumfink
The canyon continues it’s tremendously narrow twisting and turning, even having a nice glowworm tunnel at the bottom of one of the drops
Eventually even Stu is forced into a shallow wade

And then as the canyon opens out we explore a pass up to the side that proves to be surprisingly easy and make our way over to our next goal

Continued

Fiddle Sticking in the Wilderness

11/05/2019

Soggy Bottom, Balls Deep, All in, Just a Bobble, Dragged a Toe and Ah Stuff it I’m in, AKA meeee

It’s 9pm, it’s the middle of May and I’m following Madie down a fire trail on another wild adventure.

The snow clouds that swirled around all day had hampered the drive out with constant rain and a smattering of sleet yet as we pull into the car park to meet the others they miraculously clear and we have a crisp stary night for our walk out to where we will camp above the canyons.

We’re not the only obsessive compulsive canyoning weirdos this time around, joining us are Rus, Ryan, Stu and Phil.

Madie had been recently converted to fiddle stick ghosting/Leave-no-trace techniques and I’m keen to check it out but first we pitch tents and enjoy a night of banter around the camp fire.

We’re up before sun rise and set off at first light amid one of the most spectacular pretty dawns I have witnessed.

After a few kilometres walk further along the fire trail we spear off into the bush looking for our first canyon. There are no track notes for the canyons out this way and the un-tracked terrain makes the whole area something special.

After a bit of navigation deliberation, something that would become somewhat of a theme for this trip, we find the entry point of our first canyon and after some tips from Madie, Ryan and Stu on the finer points of fiddle sticks we drop in
A game of “The water is lava” ensued. Pleather pants for canyoning is a thing now.

Another notch for our Bow or sumfink
Fiddle sticking is all well a good but for true leave no trace techniques some of us down climbed this one, but the bottom has a bit awkward and Phil was not comfortable so Madie set a rope for him and followed him down
Tolkien use to write about places like this, we all thought it was fantasy

And then the canyon opens out and we make our way down to the main creek aiming for a pass up to our next canyon

Continued

Tiger Snakes but no Honey Badgers

21/04/2019

The Mad One, The Saint, The Cool/Cute One, The Blond One, The Kiwi, The Climber Dude, The Mistery and Meeeeeeeee….. The Grumpy One

Our plan was to do 3 dry canyons up on the Plateau but with me and the Mad One both being a little indecisive, or as we like to say “spontaneous”, things are apt to change at the last minute and as the day was so good we decided to swap out the 3rd one with something more moist.

It was glorious April day and we find ourselves veering off track and working our way down to Crooked Crevice. Another one the Jamieson guide confused the name of and thus most people know it as Penrose Gully (Another slot nearby but not nearly as interesting).

Weirdly I’d never visited Crooked Crevice before. No idea why not but I’m excited to be doing something new to me and we follow Madie into the abyss. Which is generally where you end up if you follow Madie.

Anyhoo….

Stu bridging the fabulously narrow canyon

Madie squeezing pass the crew ©Stu

Kylie where the abseil opens out a little

Russ stemming high above the narrow depths of the canyon ©Madie

Aleasha optiing to stay high rather than attempt the squeeze down low

And then, sporting some freshly exfoliated skin we head back up the hill..

Hey did anyone mark where we dropped the bags on their GPS?

Yep?

Cool, do you want to check if we getting close?

Um I left my GPS with the bags…

We find the bags and head off towards the second canyon of the day

Tiger Snake is a great little Canyon in two parts separated by a short creek walk
©Madie

Russ about to head down and join the gang

There are a couple of ways into the bottom section, despite this one bypassing nearly half the canyon it’s my fav and you can always scramble back up stream to check out the rest
It’s a bit of a bland canyon really…..

And then it was back up the hill where the decision was made to skip the 3rd drish canyon and go drop into something wet.

Did you pack a wetsuit. We wont need wetsuits…. Seriously, Warm Autumn at the end of a hot summer. Canyon water is as warm as it ever gets. ©Madie
Matt on rope Madie on belay
How many people do you think we could fit up here?
4 was a squeeze but…
6. The answer was 6

And thus ended our great day on the plateau.

Hey do you want to do another little short one that may or may not be a canyon?

We sure do.

And thus we set off down the maze of fire trails where I take a wrong turn and it gets dark and Madie says I’m a shit navigator… To be fair I usually only get lost while still in the car….

And thus ended our great day on the Plateau…

Time: Time is meaningless when you are having this much fun.

We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing, I am a person who does things… And I never know what I am going to do next. Stephen Fry

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