CLAUSTRAL WITH SOME OF THE BEST

23/04/2022

Stirlo, Madie, Leo, Kylie, Jason, Aimee, Mark and meeeee

I was hankering to get out. Some options were discussed then Leo says BMNP is set to re-open.

Claustral it is than.

It seems impossible to me but I’ve never done Claustral with the above mentioned folk before. It’s one of my favourite canyons and they are some of my favourite people.

Time to fix that.

I’m a bit early so I make a quick stop to check in with the ancestors,

And on to Claustral. Whether you think it Claustrophobic inducing or Cloister like or a combination of the two is irrelevant right now. We meet up, gear up and shut up….

Wait, that’s not right.

We meet up, gear up and set off, chattering like magpies with lots to chatter about.

That’s more like us.

Once again photo credits go to a mix of the crew

Rightously Ferntacious
I’ve never abseiled this one before but Madie had the rope set up and threatened to cut me if I didn’t use it. Kylie follows me down

And we work our way down to where the real show starts

Stirlo on the first drop into the Black Hole of Calcutta

Click the photos to make the magic

Compulsory “Hulks Fist” photos and shenanigans ensue

Get fisted ©Aimee

Click to enbiggen

Then there’s not much left to do but make our way down the gorgeous canyon and in the gorgeous company of gorgeous souls.

Oh, The “National Geographic” shot is also compulsory ©Jason

We are too early and it’s too misty for Sunbeams but the muted misty light is nice too

There was a little bit of pump in spots
Top bunch of humans and me. ©Madie

A bit of team work never goes astray

The tunnel swim

and all to soon it’s over.

We have a quick bite to eat on Tash’s rock of Shame and then it’s up Rainbow Ravine and onward

I have a fear of heights and I’m claustrophobic: Kunal Nayyar

BACK

Yileen

04-04-2022

The Mad One and meeeee

Something weird was happening.

It wasn’t raining..

An after work run through Yileen seemed like just the thing for a Monday afternoon

Probably should have invited the others.

We were pulling into the carpark.

If you run you’ll catch us. Madie messages the group implying I’m slow or sumfink

Blue bird day

We make our way in and nearly step on a Red Belly Black no-bop-noddle just as it canyons up.

Yilleen isn’t that deep as far as canyons go but it always seems to surprise me at how pretty it is. ©Madie
©Madie
©Madie
I’ve still only ever done 2 abseils in Yileen. I know some people abseil this and that’s fair enough but I still don’t know where they get the 4th…. ©Madie
©Madie
©Madie

And then we get to the end with it’s awesome views into the Grose and a 55m abseil to finish.

The anchor looked a little M. E. H. Meh. so we spend time to back it up and then Madie goes.

I jump on rope, work my way down the boulder and do a final check before going over the lip.

Hmmm

That’s my bag up there next to the anchor with the pull cord in it…

I go back up and grab my bag. Then instead of feeding the rope out of the bag on the way down like a normal person I decide to feed it all out now…

What happens next we shall never speak of again but some time slightly longer than it should have taken me I’m down.

©Madie

“If happiness is the goal – and it should be, then adventures should be top priority.” – Richard Branson

Back

Arethusa, again

02/04/22

Madie, Kylie, Russ and meeeeee

It had been 5 weeks since I have done a canyon!!!

Sure I’d done a heap of other cool stuff in mean time but I was itching to get back out.

Wanna do Arethusa?

Does the pope shit in the woods…. wait, um, that’s not it. I mean, hell yeah

So the top photo is my Bestards, renownly awesome boots for Blue Mtns style canyons. On the bottom are my skeches renownly comfy for old men but super slippery. I had the bestards out ready to go with my wet suit booties. Guess which shoes I put on that morning.

Anyhoo we meet up. Head in and gear up.

So yeah 5 weeks since last canyon but more like 9 since I was last on a rope . I may have been a little excited
and before long we are into it

It’s a big call but Imma call it anyway, Arethusa is the best bang for buck micro adventure in the Blue Mountains.

All thrilla no filla. Beautiful canyon sections with minimum creek walking. Pretty waterfall and cascades. Abseils that can be techie unless it’s supper low water levels. Interesting down climbs with optional jumps. Stunning views at the end. And some easy but adventurous climbing to get out.

Some extra bolts have appeared recently and I would caution people to assess the landingzones. We scrambled/walked past most (all) of them simply because it was quicker and easier (even in the slipperiest-shoes-known-to-man(tm). OK I had a few moments but none of them near the optional abseil bolts) but one anchor in particular looked like it would drop you into recirculating water at the flow level we did it in. At lower levels (and maybe higher levels) it mightn’t be an issue but today we looked and said nope to that.

So make sure you assess things yourself rather than just blindly follow. And that goes for all canyons. We got use to the low water levels during 10years of drought, now they are flowing again reassess things.

but anyhoo I have done write ups of Arethusa before here and here, so enjoy the photos (none of which are mine so ©Madie ©Russ and ©Kylie.)

Madie checking out an alternate rap to avoid the pot hole in the waterfall
The girls wondering if I’ll make it across the gap in the slipperiest-shoes-known-to-man(tm)

https://youtube.com/shorts/A9ExmCQuWqw?feature=share

Same spot a couple of years ago different water level
She’s a pretty canyon

meat anchors are me
Frothy

And then it’s time to climb out, well it’s time for Madie to climb out and haul the rest of us up or sumfink

the crew
it’s best not to ask

Of course I’m sane, when trees start talking to me, I don’t talk back: T Pratchett Well Ok sometimes I do: Flynny

Back

BILLABONG

Mandy Beth and Meeee

03/01/2022

Mandy hasn’t abseiled for a few years, she lost the passion so when she asked if I’d take her out I got a so excited that I didn’t explain the 2 options she proposed, while short trips were actually 2 of the more awkward abseils…

Anhoo after a week that involved Danae, Rocky, and a quick afternoon running throu Empress 3 times squeezing another little canyon in sounded like just the ticket

Beth decided to join us and off we went to a pretty but short little canyon near Clarence

Off through the flannel flowers we go
It’s tight, twisty and very slippery
But very pretty and a nice spot for a dip on a hot day

and what better way to finish it off with

I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night― Sarah Williams

BACK

Hole in the Wall with Elly

Kylie Madie Leo and me

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

BACK

Xmas in July in June in 2021

26/06/2021

Kylie, Jason, Jen, Kristo, Hywaida, Aimee, Ethan, Muz, Sonya, Mon and meeeeeee

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

Stunning location. Stunning people
Mischievous elves in their natural habitat
The Grinch stealing Christmas.
Christmas didn’t seem to mind being stolen

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

the top of Vera falls

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.

Yours truly coming over the edge
I have a shower every 2 weeks whether I need it or not

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

Shit!

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

The post I-was-scared-but did-it anyway-fark-that-was-cold awesome feels, excellently captured by Monica

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

Aimee-abseils-Xmas-in-July-in-June-style

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)

It doesn’t get much better

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

And remember you are awesome too

BACK

Winter Wolganfalls Weirdos

14-06-21

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?

Anyhoo

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

©Ed
Gadget signs us onto the log book ©Ed

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

Should put us right in the flow, says Gadget
Right about here I reckon
So Kylie, now we do the things with the things so we can do the thing we came to do, or sumfink
Von Slickstein offers to guineapig. Trust us Stirlo, sure we’ve never done it before but what could possibly go wrong
Looking good so far

Stirlo’s down and so far nobody has died. Wootwoot

Penny gives it a crack ©Aimee
Kylie taking the pull cord with Ed, Aimee and Stirlo bleow
About to get amongst it
It’s bathy warm
©Aimee

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

 Artemis a short little canyonette above the pool of Dianna

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

x

©Aimee
Aimee taking a delightfully cold dip in the Pool of Dianna

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

BACK

Newnes Plateau

02/05/2021

Edwin, Ethan, Russ and meeeeeee

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.

Careful Russ its slippery

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

©Edwin

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.

Russ about halfway down ©Edwin

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.

Me taking a seat ©Edwin

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

©Edwin

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.

A lovely little meadow gave us a deceptively steep and slippery way down

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.

The boys find a cave ©Edwin
©Edwin

And then it’s back up the hill to the car before it pisses down.

another great adventure with great mates.

How many worlds are in your world? Andy Anderson

They are all worth visiting at least once: me

BACK

3 little canyons on a Saturday afternoon, just because

19/12/2020

Izy, Ed, Dick, Madie, Leo and meeeeeeee

‘Twas the Friday before Christmas with zero plans for the Weekend

And it just kinda hit me, I must make amend

So I sent out a late invite, with little remorse

And 5 Friends replied “hell yes”, as a matter of course

We started earlier then planned ’cause Madie was bored

They piled in my ute and the accelerator was floored.

Leo tried his best to wet not even his feet

We jumped, slid and abseiled and had lots of fun

Then Madie threw mud at me, it was the end of canyon 1

Canyon 2 is a cracker, an absolute blast

but the best was to come, we saved it ’til last

The next is my favourite, I whispered to Iz

The thing is I meant it, it absolutely is

Dick left us early, he was coming back the next day

He shook hands, he hugged and went on his way

The rest of us pushed on and our excitement it grew

And we got to the slot and made our way through

We slid and we jumped, we spashed and had fun

And looked around in awe at this place where we’d come

To soon we reached the end and had to turn around

but we smiled as we cherished the joy that we found

this might be a bad poem but I bet you wish you had been us

and doubt all you want but rhyming “Iz” with “is” well… that’s just fucking genius

Party Size: 6

Times

Sheepdip: ~ 2 and a bit hrs car to car

Twister and Rocky Creek: About 3hr car to car

The best friends force you to lever yourself up

BACK