So for some years (with a break in 2020 due to bush fires) I’ve been joining Ed and Ethan for a New Years Day recovery canyon.
It started as a family thing but kinda morphed and pretty much has had different people joining each yea . This year we decided to do a trip to Rocky Creek New Years Day Night and the above mentioned legend joined us
Anyhoo I first visited Rocky cr nearly 30 years ago. It blew my mind and have made a visit to it at least once a year ever since. I have waxed lyric about it both in day and at night heaps before so I wont bang on to much this time around
and of course the Glowworms.
We went in earlier than usual for doing a night trip but had enjoyed the serenity so much it was the 2nd before we were were out of the canyon
Hey Flynny, want to do something tomorrow. The standard message from Madie
Would you rather do K-Main or Danae or both?
Now some people may think she was joking but Leo and Madie had recently completed the 3 in a day, Danae, Kalang and Kanangra Main challenge in a tad over 13hrs car to car. She was serious
Now both canyons are awesome but I’d missed out on some great trips to Danae this year due to other commitments and I ain’t fit enough to do both in a day I so I’m pushing for Danae.
Cool. Leo wants to try the exit over the Spires…..
In the back of my head I recall horror stories of the Spires. Climbing up to abseil down to climb up some more. Getting benighted. destroying souls…
Will I get up the climbing? Ask I
It’s easier than Butterbox. Says Leo. It’s just a walk. (The things Leo says: 1a.)
Anyhoo it’s early but not stupid early when we hit the fire trail and trek in.
During their 3 in a day the Mad Ones had descended Danae in fairly high flow. As we crossed the upper reaches of first, Kanangra brook (Kalang) then Kanangra creek they remarked they were up considerably compared to then. Hmmm.
But Danae is hard to judge. Despite the Kalang and Kanangra crossings being up the top of Danae looked to be down a bit
And once in the slot it water levels were considerable lower than I had expected (Though still highish for me)
Back not that long ago I hadn’t been all that interested in the Kanangra canyons. I’d done Dione Dell and Kalang (dry line) a few times but mainly because of the company. The trips themselves just seemed to be about abseiling beside waterfalls for the sake of abseiling beside waterfalls, which wasn’t a big appeal to me.
But then we did Danae. I’d been told Danae was a bit Blah in low water and a bit Waaa in high water. We got it pretty much perfect for our skill levels at the time and when we got to the waterfall abseil. I was like, Ok. Now I get it.
Looking back the water levels were quite tame, but our skill set has grown a lot since the days of us using double rope throw and go.
Today it was a good level for fun with an experienced crew
And then comes the boulder field
Field is misleading. It’s more a tumble. A steep tumble.
Last time I was here is was fairly dry and hot. In the cool with more water it was a lot more interesting. But I was having a bit of an off day. I just felt a bit unbalanced so I was slow(er than usual) and it and the creek walk below sapped a bit of energy
I was pretty glad to get to the junction with Kanangra creek and stop to stuff some food in
but then it was time to go up.
But still we go up. Still it gets steeper.
And every rock was loose under hand and under foot.
Hey Madie. Say I. I think we are even
What for? asks she
For whatever the fuck it was I did to you to make you hate me so much (Things Flynny says 1.0)
Hey Leo are you sure it’s easier than Butterbox?
It’s nothing like Butterbox. You don’t need a rope (The things Leo says 1.b). It’s just a walk
From the top of the lower Spire we descend down a bit to a narrow saddle/bridge to gain the upper Spire. I can’t say I wasn’t nervous getting to the saddle or crossing it
We get almost to the top of the second Spire and there is a small wall in front of us.
What do the track notes say?
If you get to a spot where you think you need to rope up you are off track, retreat and look for another way.
Well that’s as handy as a handful of dandruff to a bald man. There were spots where Id say a lot of parties would have liked to rope up already. We are on a narrow ridge, left looks shit. Right looks worse. There’s no other way.
This is the most fucked exit I’ve ever done. (Things Flynny says. 2.0)
Madie sends Leo down to check out a ledge to the right..
I like the look of the face. (Things Leo says 2a)
Leo ropes up and climbs the small nose. hey there is a pass on the left if I can get rid of this tree. He proceeds to jump on the fallen tree to dislodge it.
You still have me on belay yeah? (things Leo say 2b)
The pass proves to be another easy scramble.
This seems to be the theme of the Spires. You look up at an imposing face and just around the corner sometimes left, but mostly right is a much easier scramble
Now we are on top of the Second Spire and we are looking at a deep saddle and the imposing face of Spire Head. 3 Abseils are needed to get down to the saddle.
and then it’s up again.
From there it’s a fairly easy walk with Madie leading the way up over Big Misty and out to the car
13.5 hrs car to car at a fairly steady pace.
As I said before I had been a bit off (too much Xmas cheer or sumfink) so it was a big day for me. But an awesome day none-the-less, spent with amazing people.
Now lets never ever mention exiting by the Spires ever again (Things Flynny says 3.0)
TBH the views were amazing and the climb up, while long and expose in spots wasn’t too difficult so I probably would do it again. Just not tomorrow. Or even next week. but maybe one day…
I didn’t tell you it would be easy. Only it would be worth it. Anon
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.
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. It’s Timmy!
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.
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 jthe 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 adventure 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
So I wanted to checkout a couple of small, less visited creeks in the mountains. The above mentioned legends joined me. I had a tip one creek had a small canyon section but I wasn’t expecting much. We packed ropes just in case. We didn’t pack wetsuits….
Our creek soon starts to develop a little canyonette
The creek contained two small, but very pretty canyon sections.
Our original plan was to continue down through the clifflines then skirt around and walk up another creek. But changing plans is what we do the bestest
I reckon the gully might give us a short cut over the ridge, says I
Lets do it, says Madie
It would save a couple of kilometres of creek walking, says Marcia
Geoff looks sceptical
I scramble up and drop a rope down
And then we had lunch and made our way back to the cars
As always a great day exploring new things with good mates
Ed, Ethan, Dick, Russ, Libby, Jared and Paul and me
So New Years Day we have developed a bit of a tradition of doing an “easy, recovery” canyon. This year the families ditched us but other mates came along.
All photos here a copy write to Ed as my camera still needs repairing
We meet up at the car park and head off down the trail. Post fires the trail is very overgrown with grass at the moment and despite knowing it reasonably well there were a couple of spots at the start where we really had to look for it.
Some off us were smart enough to don wetties at the car park. We were soon soaked from pushng through the grass
But soon we reach the river ad crossed over
And then scramble up the small broken clifflines up the other side aiming for the short but pretty Horseshoe canyon
And then it’s time to blow up the floaties and get a floating.
With the usual banter, laughs and good times we continue down the river
Logs wedged high in the rocks above were a reminder of how much the water levels can rise in the ‘Gambe. But it hadn’t properly rained for a few days and even after the wet conditions we had experienced earlier in the week the water levels were fairly normal.
I’d say the river at the usual entry and exit beaches was up about 50-100mm on what it was in 2019 at the end of the long dry spell but the mighty ‘Gambe, usually viewed as a benign, casual family trip was about to remind us that even in these conditions our water playgrounds should never be taken for granted.
The following day tragedy would strike.
There had been no more rain. Water levels had not risen. But a change in hydrology had caused a dangerous, and hidden siphon to develop and unfortunately 2 canyoners lost their lives, 1 in an attempt to save the other.
My heart goes out to their family, friends and party members. It is a sad reminder that there is inherent risk in everything we do.
Stay safe and I hope to catch you out there somewhere