NB: Uncharacteristically I didn’t take a single photo all day so full credit for all the photos herein goes to the awesome bunch of folks above.
The forecast was for torrential rain, slushy snow and freezing conditions so when Kylio put out an invite to do a wet canyon followed by a wet abseil trip of course we all said a great big enthusiastic yes.
The day before I’d swung by Adventurebase to catch up with Leo and pick up a bit of gear. It was a miserable day but the torrential rain was more an annoying drizzle and I duck out to check the track out of our second option, as it had been closed for a while last year, but I was happy to see it open.
Anyhoo, Saturday dawned awash with sunshine. Unfortunately we didn’t get as much rain as predicted but Empress was running a bit better than usual and we were keen to hit it.
I don’t think anyone was expecting every one to turn up so we’d need to split into smaller groups to abide the group size limit but also to keep things moving, we were expecting it to be coolish in the canyon, waiting in line for an abseil wouldn’t be ideal.
Jumping into the first pool was a bit of a rush and instant icecream headache. But by keeping a relatively quick pace I never really felt cold, even while manning the abseil line at the end.
We all regroup at the base of the falls. Some of us jump in a few times just for the hell of it then we shake ourselves off and head back up to the cars.
Here we say good by to half the group and the rest of us stay suited up and head off for our next adventure
This is one I’ve thought about doing for a while, but in summertime the waterhole at the bottom tends to be busy with all sorts of people from families trying to relax to thrill seekers and instagrammers so I never through it appropriate to toss ropes. Therefore when Kylie suggested it doing it in winter I was in like uncle Errol.
Glad I did, it might just be my new favourite abseil in the blue Mountains
The rocky bottom creek was a bit slippery in places but we all stayed up right, mostly, and soon we came to the main event
An over hanging start drops us straight into the flow but a short way down was a ledge that ended in a v slot which funnelled the full pump directly intp your face as you dropped into a lovely 10m of free space.
With beaming smiles we make our way back up to the cars and make a bee line for warm food and cold beer.
The Clegganator, The Wonder Woman and the Flynnstien aka Meeeeeee
Unpublished canyons are like a box of chocolates.
I know at the end I’ll be left with half a dozen little cheery ripes that I wont eat…. Wait. No, that’s not right. Unpublished canyons aren’t like a box of chocolates at all….
This is one I’ve had in mind to check out for a couple of years now but I wasn’t expecting it to be high quality and with other stuff to visit I never got around to having a look.
Then Phil said he wanted to check it out so I thought why not. I still had low expectations but as they say in the classics you never know if you never go.
Rounding out our nice little party was Jen, who I hadn’t caught up with for a while so was good to be on a trip together again
A little frost made for a chilly morning but it wasn’t long before we were stripping off layers and stuffing jackets into packs.
There were two branches to the possible canyon and we wanted to check out both. The first branch didn’t show much hope and when we came to a abseil point we decided to slip over the ridge to check the other branch first.
So we get to the junction of the other branch hoping to reverse up it only to be blocked by a dry waterfall. A bit of traversing and we begin to scramble up the nose in between the two branches. Phil decided the scramble is not for him.
We get up above the fall only to find another immediately above it. I continue up the nose in what is the closest to proper rock climb I’ve done in a few years and manage to get above the next fall.
There isn’t much of a slot above this so I rig the rope and abseil back down to Jen and then we both abseil down to rejoin Phil
When looking at the satellite image my suspicion was the best bit of canyon would be below the junction and while the stuff in the north branch was tip top below the junction was a nice, if short slot.
Ummm I think we are going to get wet, say I looking down into a deepish looking pool far to wide to play water is lava over.
I stuff my shirt into my overboardau dry bag and drop on in while the others put wetsuits on.
The first drop lands in a pool waist deep. With some guidance Jen manages to stop on a ledge and carefully stem around to the shallower bit. Phil is not so lucky and plunges in
There’s another 2 stage drop straight away with the stages separated by a 5m diameter pool. In I go…
Then it was down to find a bit of sunshine and some lunch.
There’s a little grotto like canyon up here I want to show the others. It’s short but pretty in it’s own right and while it’s not very adventurous what makes it worth a visit is the old timber chute that once ramped it’s way up through it’s narrow confines
So the theory is it was built to slide logs down to the valley for pit props or fuel for coke ovens or for building poppett heads and bridges and stuff. Problem is there is no evidence up above it of any cut timber. Not a single sawn stump can be seen. It’s a mystery Dad says back in his day the decking was still there in places and the timbers ran long ways suggesting something was slid down or up it. I’m starting to wonder if it was used to cart stuff out of Newnes and across to Glen Davis as the refinery was moved?
Seek experiences not things. Live large and light up the darkness with a laugh
Party size: 3
Time: 7.5hr car to car relaxed pace with a bit of back and forth exploration
Joel, Amber, Jen, Madie, Matthew, Gabby, Andrew, Sonya, Mark, Bernie and meee. Oh, and Geoff as the devil taking photos at the bottom
One day Joel (the sweet, innocent, shy fella he is) had an idea to do something wild.
Let’s have a dress up canyon party, says he.
And so we had to ask ourselves. What would Ginger Jesus do?
Um, He just suggested a dress up canyon…. Well der, dress up canyon party it is
The theme went from Anti-Valentine to Porn to Slotty to hot and wet to anything goes and eventually a mixed bag of fun loving freaks turned up to, um , have fun and, ah, be freaky in one of the most popular canyons in the Mountains.
If only someone had taken a camera…..
Note: there were more cameras than people
We gathered out the front of the Conservation hut for some snaps
By the time we were all down the abseil there was a large ensemble of tourists/walkers cheering, jeering and leering at us. Well I say “us” but it was mostly at Joel.
and the looks we got as we hiked back up the tourist track for a bite to eat at the hut were priceless.
Party Size: 11 but we split into 11 groups of 1 because, like, who’d want to associate with those other weirdos.
Time: Time has no meaning when you are having that much fun
If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be: Maya Angelou
*March 2019 I am once again participating in the Wests Cycle Classic to raise money for the Westpac rescue helicopter. If you enjoy my blog or just want to help this great cause think about making a small donation
I’ve said before the Kanangra style canyons of abseiling beside waterfalls for the sake of abseiling beside waterfalls never had a great appeal to me, but Danae was different. It was the most slot like of the Kanangra canyons so the short answer was yes. The long answer was I wasn’t sure I was up to it at the moment.
Danae is steeped in tales of benighted groups, 16 hour slogfests and epic challenges.
I also had other commitments so originally said, No. Well not yet but lets do it later in the season
But the idea began to germinate….
Ah Fugg it! lets do it!
In the week leading up an antarctic blast gave us plummeting temps, a good dump of rain and stupidly high winds so it was with a little trepidation I drove out to to the Boyd river camp late Friday afternoon. The rain had cleared but wind gusts up to 90kph ripped through the tree tops.
We’d be joined for the trip by Madies friend Jeremy, who it turns out I knew from my bike shop days. Also joining us for the night was Matt and Madie’s Dad and step mum.
After much banter and a feast of butter-chicken we seek the warmth of our beds. The plan was to break camp at 5am and be on our way soon after.
Morning came and the wind had calmed considerably but the temperature was still winterish. We sorted packs and ropes and by the time we dropped a car at the pick up point 3 of us set out on the Thurat fire trail just after 6am.
Track notes are deliberately vague but sometime later we veer off into the scrub, cross a couple of minor gullies and then drop down into a tributary to avoid the horrendous scrub on the ridge top. We reach the first abseil point at 7.30.
From there it’s into the stunning slot and abseil after abseil after abseil.
And then comes the boulder field. A steep chute littered with house sized boulders. A massive 3D puzzle that takes about an 1hr to negotiate.
And a final abseil or two then the creek levels out and it’s another 1.5hrs of smaller boulder hoping down to the Junction with Kanangra creek.
From the Junction the haul up to the Kilpatrick causeway is like climbing a ladder for 1.5hrs, only the rungs are uneven, at odd angles, made out of loose dirt and covered in pickle bush, stinging trees and biting ants…
A final scramble up a small cliffline and we top out to amazing views south towards Mittagong and east to the Blue Mts where the classic shape and colour of the Hydro Majestic can clearly be seen nestled on the cliff tops.
What an Awesomely epic day with awesomely epic people.
Group size: 3 all experienced
Timing: 10.5 car to car.
Note this is reasonably quick, especially as none of us had done it before. We were expecting 13hrs.
To do it we had to be efficient on the abseils so we had 3 ropes. A 30m, which was kept with the last person on the bigger drops as the emergency back up, and 2x 60m. The first 60 would be set and as soon as the second person reached the bottom of the abseil the second 60 would be set for the next one. As soon as the last person was down the first would go again.
Rope management was also key with efficient coiling and uncoiling needed, though I confess to ending up with a tangled mess at least once as fatigue began to kick in.
GPS tells me we covered 19km with a bit over 1300m elevation gain.
Remember your comfort zone is the most dangerous place to be. In it your senses get dulled, your muscles lax, and your brain turned to mush. Flynny
Madies Time log:
7.45 first abseil
7.55 2nd abseil off 2 trees difficult start
8.26 4th abseil off boulder
8.36 5th abseil 10 m off boulder swing under
8.40 6th abseil down waterfall lots of water
8.52, 7th abseil through hole dark slot under boulder
9.03 8th abseil w traverse line
9.30 9th abseil 5m onto log
A few scrambles
9.40 10th abseil 5m off shitty sling without malion on rhs
9.50 11th abseil 7 ml in sun off rope on rhs
10.03 down sketch 5 m climb and 12th abseil start off 2 bolts and wires on lhs
10.30 scramble over centre of null
10.40 13th abseil off tree onto boulder field
11.34 14th 15m abseil in to pool awkward
11.45 15th abseil 10 m into pool of pitons on rhs
11.55 lunch rock after abseils
12.20 lunch over
1.22 Kanangra Creek junction
1.40 leaving change spot
3.15 track -killpatrick
4.20 murdering gully
4.27 main lookout track
So it looked like we’d get another warm Autumn Saturday before the cold change was due to roll in so a good oportunity for another wet canyon. A few ideas were floated before Butterbox was settled on, as Julie hadn’t done it for ages and was super keen for a revisit.
Unfortunately She had to pull out last minute and so it was me Dick and Madie who set off from the car park amongst laughs and giggles. We spoke to another group in the car park who were leaving just behind us and a tour group was some where ahead of us.
With the other two offering to carry ropes I got to enjoy a relatively light pack. Winning!
Madie was keen to show us some alternate ways down various obsticals. Like, instead of down climbing in the creek or abseiling from the side why not slide down this log
Butterbox is an interesting creek with a very short canyon section. It’s normally the rock formations, greenery and play of light in the constriction that draws me to a canyon but the sheer amount of adventurous fun that Butterbox offers makes it a trip worthy of repeat visits
Mind you, while short the main constriction is spectacular.
2 tricky abseils with very little stance between them mean we are going to have a bit of a wait here.
Let’s do the Slide! Madie busies herself trying to wet down the sloping rock by using her helmet as a bail.
Me and Dick have a couple of goes to amuse ourselves while waiting, it’s bit of an effort to climb back up. Madie must have doen it a dozen times.
And that’s it for the short constriction. A bit of fun getting too it. Very stunning when you get there and the adventure isn’t over yet as the climb out, usually the most hated part of any canyon trip, holds a bit of adventure to it and is another highlight.
We follow the cliff line up hill and down dale, up and down and up again. But mostly up.
Until we find ourselfves on the halfway ledge. The halfway ledge is a feature found through out the Blue Mountains. A fault where different sandstone layers of the Narrabeen group such as the Banks Wall formation and the Burra Moko formation are separated by a thiner claystone layer, often resulting in a traversable ledge.
Sometimes the ledge disappears, sometimes the claystone erodes in under the top layer of sandstone making for some interesting scrambling.
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Through the cave and then the ledge ends. Above us the sandstone cliff still towers.
A short rock climb is required to get us to the next ledge up.
Madie leading the climb out
Dick on rope. It’s a short climb but it starts a long way up
Yours truly fumbling his way up
photos thanks to Madie, click to enbiggen
and then it’s up a snotty little gully to the ridge line
A quick side trip to the top of Butterbox point for even more views and then an easy walk back to the cars.
Another great day in the great outdoors.
Party size 3. All experienced
Time: 6hrs car to car with about 30min mucking around on the slide waiting for the tour group to clear the chock stone abseil, a relaxed lunch, a bit of stuffing around on the climb and a bit of time at the lookouts.
You should be silly and do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.