Hywaida, Kristo, Ethan, Kylie, Rus, Madie and meeeeeeeeeeeeee
Who wants to do Butterbox this weekend, said I
Me, said them.
As they say in Canada (probably) Well alrighty then
A cold wind blew on the morning of our gathering.
Wait! That’s an understatement and a half
It was an icey gale that ripped through us as we met at the car park.
And it seemed like it would be whipping up through the canyon
Are we sure we want to do this?
And so it went.
We layered up and headed in.
Excitement on faces and interesting places.
Butterbox is, for the most part, more open and has less swimming than the trip we did through North Bowen 2 weeks ago. But there are more abseils which could lead to more standing around waiting. we had enough ropes to keep moving. My only concern was the small stance on the chockstone pitch might mean we have a line up of people waiting in ice wind.
Good news for us, once we dropped off the ridge there was hardly any wind at all. I had a set of sharkskin T2 chillproof underneath my 5mm seland wetsuit (* this is not a paid endorsement. but if seland or sharkskin are reading this….. 🙂 ) I had put them on at the first abseil. I’d packed a windcheater jacket but left it in my pack.
By the time we got to the first swim I was keen to cool off
A couple of short swims, a slide and we get to the bit we are here for
So at the bottom of that you go over the edge and pop out to a large rock wedged between the canyon wall, The chockstone. Well I say large, there’s room for 2 people to set up the next abseil, 3 if you don’t mind getting up close and personal. 4 if you want a group hug with little room to do anything else much less try to set rope or maneuverer to abseil.
And I just noticed Madie creeping in the background of the above photo as Kristo descends. What is she doing up there? How did she get there? How will she get down? The answers to all this and more will not be forthcoming in the next instalment of “What’s Madie up to now”
Another short swim, some boulder hoping and a final abseil and we reach the lunch spot and spread out in the sunlight. Pulling on dry clothes Rus reminisces about the time it was so stinking hot when we got here that we found some shade and snoozed for a couple of hours waiting for it to cool down enough to climb out.
Of course the Butterbox adventure isn’t over yet. There still the steep walk out to the clmb.
I put my windcheater on expecting to be in the full force of the icy zepher. Soon I stash that back in the pack and strip down to a tee shirt. It was pleasant in the valley
Up top it wasn’t until we were cross the saddle from Butterbox point back to the car park that the full force of the wind hit us. At one point I think I was leaning 45° to the right trying to resist it blowing me off the hill.
You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t loose it: R Williams
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.