Jamie, Aimee, Mamie, Gamie and shamie…. I mean Jamie, Aimee, Matt, Mark and Meeeeee
Confession time: I’d not done Kanangra main before.
Abseiling for the sake of abseiling doesn’t really float my boat so it wasn’t a trip that ever featured high on my priority list but with anchor options that put you into more of the waterfalls rather than beside them it sounded fun and when Mark invited me on a trip I thought it high time I pop my K-Main cherry
After an early meet up we set off into the Kanangra wilds amidst banter and bravo. Before long we arrive at the start of the epicness and gear up
Epic is a word used a lot with the Kanangra wilderness and I have to admit it humbles you as you get dwarfed in the terrain.
While water levels are down after a long dry spell, and even at normal level it’s not considered anywhere near hi-flow there is something about being swallowed into a waterfall halfway down a rope
Below is a typical “Ethical and safe” blue mountains anchor…. sling crumbled with 1 sharp tug
I’m glad Mark converted me to releasable systems and flaking ropes into/out of bags. Constantly coiling and uncoiling ropes on this trip would be a PITA. We got the others into it too
And then we rock hop down the the Kalang junction and begin the “gentle stroll” back up manslaughter ridge… Helps if you stop to smell the orchids every now and then
Another great day with great people
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face : Eleanor Roosevelt
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.
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
An hour or so later we are back at the bags and make our way around to visit the next slot/micro canyon
And then it is up my pass and onto the tops for some views followed by more scrub
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
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
I often browse websites, blogs, trip reports and photos looking for inspiration and in doing so years ago I stumbled across a name of a canyon I’d not heard of before. My interest was pipped. More research revealed nothing but another name of a second canyon close by.
After some assumptions, deductions, guess-work and staring at satellite imagery I mark 2 points on the map with question marks. But at the time I didn’t have a group I thought would be willing to go in search of a probably low quality canyon through thick scrub just for the hell off it. And, well life got in the road And that was the end of that.
But the other week I pulled out my old map and those 2 question marks burned into me. I put out a call to see who’d be keen on an exploration trip that would probably involve a wet canyon but probably not stunning or wow material.
To my surprise the above mentioned folk said yes and so we found ourselves parked on a seemingly random bit of otherwise highly trafficked firetrail and we headed off into the untracked scrub.
Only then we stumbled over an old vehicle track that was heading right where I’d marked would be the most likely easy way to enter the creek.
The track stopped at a rock outcrop and while there was no obvious path down it was an easy scramble into the creek. Surprisingly there was a footpad of sorts along the creek edge. OK this must get more visitors than I thought.
I was pretty sure I was looking at a small Wollemi Pine. But this isn’t where they were suppose to be. I fire off a few photos to compare images later on but I convince myself it was something else.
What going on? says they
I thought that was a Wollemi pine. say I
The plaque says it is a wollemi pine.
OK I missed that. It seems it was planted in 2008 as a memorial to two people who enjoyed the area. OK that explains that.
From here the faint track disappears and is replaced by not so faint scrub.
At some point the conversation turns to buggery and bestiality. WTF? the weird conversations you have in the bush. Those who recognise where we are may get the reference.
Anyhoo Chardi, who missed the memo that it was going to be a wet trip until Tim picked him up and asked if he had his wetsuit packed, is not impressed with the scrub so far. He makes comment on our 6 dope trip and threatens to wipe me off his list if things don’t improve dramatically
Luckily we round a bend and are greeted by a drop into a heavenly looking pool. Well it would be heavenly looking if it was 28° summer day instead of at 14° mid spring day…
How’s the water?
Bathy and only knee deep, or sumfink…
What follows is a delightful little Sheep Dip style of canyon with lots of slides
Chardi forgives me for the scrub on the way in.
And in-between were some surprisingly nice bits of canyon. Not mind=blowing wow but nice
And after another little drop we find a spot in the sun to warm up and have a bit of morning tea. There are signs that this spot is more visited. I point out there is a popular walk in the area and this bit could be visited from the bottom up before the waterfall stopped you.
We continue down a track of sorts but now I’m looking for a pass out to try to link up with the other possible canyon. I’m starting to think there wont be one when a steep gully appears that looks like it might go.
Tim and Gabby follow Madie up a steep bit of scrub out of the creek. Chardi and Marchelle follow me a few meters down stream where I think looks to be an easier ramp.
I scramble up a steep rock using a small sapling as a hold and reach out with my other hand to grab a reasonable size tree root.
That’s not a tree root. Tigersnake! Big one. Now I’m generally pretty good around snakes so I slowly stand and be as non-threatening as I can be. Old mate has flattened out but on a cool spring day I doubt he is going to waste energy on me if I don’t threaten him. I slowly reach for my camera. The bugger stands up and comes straight at me. I jump back off the rock.
Did I mention the rock was steep. so now it’s on top of the rock where I was just standing and I’m at the bottom of the rock which pretty much puts us eye to eye about a foot and a half away from each other.
It comes at me again. Shit!
Ok so snakey people know that Tigersnakes put on pretty good threat displays but unless you try and pick one up or step on it they’ll often do a bit of bluff where they launch a closed mouth headbutt to scare you off. This one had it’s mouth closed. I highly doubt it was looking to bite but when it’s coming at your face all that goes out the window. I launch myself backwards down the hill.
Chardi is wondering what the hell is going on, surely I didn’t fall of that bit of rock, did I break and handhold or…. Oh Snake.
I stumble in the loose rocks and fallen branches, I’ve put a good couple of meters between us but I look up and it’s still coming at me. I’m all tangled up on the ground and have nowhere to go. Shit Shit! Shit! I’m f#$ked.
It gets to within about a meter and veers off. Shit!
Marchelle cottons on to whats happening. The Snake coils around. Takes another good look at us, sees there is now 3 big things not just 1 and takes off into the undergrowth directly towards the other group.
Watch out! Angry Tigersnake coming across towards you.
They all take it nice and calmly and continue up the hill. I compose myself and do likewise.
Later, back at the cars Chardi brings up the snake encounter.
What? Where? Oh wow we thought you called out you couldn’t continue up where you were and were coming across toward us. Then we wondered why you didn’t
No wonder they were so calm about it.
But we get ahead of ourselves. For now we continue up and reach the top of the gully only to be blocked by a small overhang and the last little bit of the cliff. Using Chardi as a ladder a scramble up the overhang and the dirty, not quiet vertical scree and set a rope. I call,Rope below .
Don’t bother there is an easy pass up to the side.
Now they tell me.
Once through the cliffs it was an easy stroll through fairly open scrub down into the next gully along until we are stopped by a reasonable sized cliffline. We had plenty of ropes but as they say in the Bluies “The nose always goes! Sometimes.” Just up-stream on a bend I see a steep nose that looks like it would indeed go.
The scrub to get there was horrid but it gave us a way down. It was steep and slippery and at one stage Gabby slipped bounced into me and like a snooker ball I shot off down the next bit. Then again she slipped and landed on me…. Well she says she slipped but I’m taking it as a compliment or sumfink.
Anyhoo we reach the creek. The dry, dirty creek filled with razor grass and dead fern fonds and choss and disappointment.
We fight our way down stream. Chardi revokes his forgiveness and when we are sure this isn’t going to be a canyon suggested the creek be renamed Flynny’s Folly.
And then a trickle of water. Then a rocky bottom. And then, out of nowhere
I didn’t think the previous creek was as cold as I expected. This one seemed to make up for it.
At one point we drop into a pot hole to find the other side to be rimmed with a 2 meter high wall (Water must flow underneath but the passage was silted up with sand. I scramble up. The wall is about a foot wide and drops straight back down into a pool on the other side. I help Gabby up and then use her pack to lower her down until her feet touch the water and drop her.
I must admit I didn’t really pay attention to her landing. I help Tim up. Just slide down the wall and land soft it’s only about waist deep. says I.
Tim slides and disappears under the water. OK chin deep….
But just around the corner it opens up into a glorious amphitheatre and we warm ourselves in the sun thinking that’s it. But just just down stream
One more short swim through the darkest and prettiest bit of canyon so far on the trip
And then the gully opens out.
Near by was far more popular canyon and while we were in the area we thought why not
And then it’s up the hill and back to the car.
Party size: 6 all experienced
Timing: 6hrs car to car
Life is more enjoyable and less oppressive with some mountain air, a little adventure and just the right company
Dick, Madie, Edwin, Ethan, Autal, Marchelle, Slava, and most importantly Ev.
Oh and me.
With tight schedules we managed to get in another trip into the Capertee valley to visit A classic Glen Davis slot. This time we’d forego the climbing route for the quicker “Scrambling” route.
Or atleast that was the plan
The scrambling route has some exposure to it.
Exposure can do funny things to people.
One member of the group, who is a competent climber and who shall remain nameless, got a bit freaked out and we ended up roping up and belaying anyway.
Ev rocketted up the snotty chute of snottness (Where I’d had a BLM, Bowel Liquifying Moment, on a trip to a different canyon) and dropped a rope down to assist every one else.
We all got up safely.
It’s easy scrambling but on flakey rock and you are along way up. Nice views but
Anyhoo we all make it up and in short time are back to doing what we like to do best. Coming back down.
And then we were into the slot proper
Despite being careful at the top it seems the knot has jammed.
We try backwards and forewardsing it. We try setting a Z line from different angles and it just would not budge
I stuff around trying to remember how Guy showed me to set up a super quick, efficient way to prusik but failed to remember a key aspect and Ev got sick of my fumbling, pushed me to the side and rigged up the old fashion way. And up she went. 30m of over hanging prusiking , fix the rope and back down in 20min. Top effort.
And then we are out into the open for 1 last impressive abseil
And then it was a simple trudge back down to the camp ground. Another enjoyable day in the bush with great company
Group size: 8 all experienced
Time: 5hr 45min car to car which is only 40min shorter than when we had the big group and did the climbing route which just goes to show large groups can be quick and efficient….. and, Kent is the consummate ring leader
Don’t be another flower. Picked for your beauty and left to die. Be wild, difficult to find, and impossible to forget: Erin Van Vuren
The voice of god boomed out as we stood beneath the NP information sign at the Mt Wilson fireshed.
OK, so the weather forecast was not the best. I’d been watching it closely for a few days, feeling Geronimo was becoming my castle in the air. The unattainable goal forever out of arms reach.
Each trip I had tried to organise had been called off for one reason or another but all was looking good this time around.
Then Lewis messages me. What’s your thoughts on the Weather forecast?
Hmmm. 20mm Saturday and 40mm Sunday with a Storm warning.
Ah, yep let’s keep and eye on it.
I text the same question to Julie as I knew she had been through both canyons a few times.
I wouldn’t like to be in Horseshoe in a down poor. Says She. But Geronimo should be fine.
A few hours later another text from Julie. Fark! I just looked at the forecast.
Let’s keep an eye on it.
Saturdays rain did not eventuate and while Sunday dawned gloomy it didn’t look too bad. I’d been watching the radar and it looked as though the bulk of the rain had thus far swung to the south. Weatherzones 48hr forecast had showers throughout the day but the heavy rain wasn’t due until late afternoon.
Julie and Dick arrive we discuss alternate plans as we head up to meet Lewis and Ben at Mt Wilson. The views from the high points gave us confidence in the 48hr forcast.
Ben and Lewis message to say they are running 10 min late. At the fireshed we wonder over to the NP sign to discuss plans further. A note on the board from another group “Sorry guys no canyon today. 90% chance of rain. David.”
The eerie voice booms out from behind some bushes.
THEY DON’T PULL BODIES OUT UNTIL MORNING.
All those people died in there in weather like this a few years ago! An old dude in a camper van up by the road gives us a not so friendly warning.
OK the Wollangambe does rise rapidly in heavy rain. It has a massive catchment. Being known as an easy canyon can give people a false sense of security. There have been numerous rescues but mostly from injuries or lost parties. That said, a young man did die in the Gambe after being dragged under high water in 1999.
It’s not something we take lightly. Members of the Mt Wilson fire and rescue team have photos of the usually placid Gambe with a raging torrent 3 or 4m above the usual levels. Ed’s done a trip in high water where on of his mates got pinned under water and was lucky to escape. We are not taking this lightly and I wouldn’t have entered a long section of the Wollangambe in this weather
It’s no good looking at the Penrith forecast. You should be checking Lithgow!!
Yep, we cross referenced Lithgow, Katoomba and Richmond plus the 512km composite Sydney radar loop
Well it’s your choice. He gets in his van and drives off.
OK, let me make this clear we were not being flippant about heading out canyoning on a day like today. Here are a few things that went into making our choice.
A close look at the forecast. Not just the morning we were heading out but we’d watched the forecast, synoptic chart and rain radar in the days prior to get an idea of the prevailing weather patterns.
The lead up. With a long dry spell the background water levels are low. This can be a two edge sword. It will take a bit of rain to get water levels back up to normal but with the ground being so dry and hard any rain that does fall is likely to sheet straight off and into the canyon rather than soak in to the ground.
The catchments and length of constriction. The canyons we had planned had relatively small catchments and relatively short constrictions
Knowledge. Julie was familiar with both canyons
The group. I’ve canyoned with Julie a bit now, she has a wealth of experience and I trust her skills and judgement. I’d hope she thinks the same of me. I’ve done a couple of trips with Lewis and again have confidence in his abilities and his level head. While Ben and Dick are relative beginners as far as canyoning goes they have rope experience and are capable in the bush. Not one of the group would I consider a liability if things went wrong.
Back up plans. At no point were we so determined to do the trip that we weren’t prepared to abandon it or change plans if things looked dicey.
So with the predicted heavy shower at 9am not arriving and the radar showing the bulk of the rain still passing to the south we gather gear and head on down to cross the ‘Gambe and up the other side.
Dropping off the ridge a fraction early we traversed through scrub below the upper-cliff lines for quite a ways. In hindsight it looked as though a track came down off the ridge further along.
Anyoo. All part of the adventure or sumfink.
We find the first abseil and look down on a nice dark slot. Just as Lewis ropes up the drizzle starts.
The first abseil is straightforward and probably the easiest of the day. The next involved an anchor strung around a boulder pearched right on the edge. Clipping it required a long reach while on a sloping ledge. Julie set a safety, threaded the rope and set some off cut anchor rope up as a retrieval so the rest of us could pull the ropes around to clip on in a safer location.
the drizzle was still light but constant. It gave the canyon an eerely soft light
This is the infamous Geronimo drop where legend has it Glen Robinson jumped into the shallow pool below on the first descent. It’s normally a swim through here the combination of a long dry spell and siltation meant it was barley a deep wade today.
after a narrow hall and stunning chamber the canyon opens out a bit before the walls close back in. Busy taking photos I fall behind slightly and as I round a bend I’m greeted by the site of the rest of the crew leaning over intently studying something…
Shall we go down the hole? Will we fit? Sure we will. Are you sure? Yeah Sure. Can we use that log for and anchor? ……
Julie down a narrow squeeze
Ben down the rabbit hole
All OK for the skinny folk but it was a bit of a squeeze for me and for a moment my pack snagged and I thought I was wedged in but a bit of wiggling and contorting got me through. I’d blame big shoulders or some thing but, um. yeah…
And just like that we are back to the Wollangambe. We swim, wade and otherswise make our way down stream through some grand sections of canyon. Rounding a corner we are confronted with a large boulder choke. Typical of the Gambe but in this instance it looks as though a fresh collapse has added to the obstical
We reach the bit where we had first crossed a couple of hours before and spread out on a bit of a grass to eat lunch. The 2pm heavy showers hit right on cue. Well perhaps more rain than showers but it was pleasant sitting there in the rain reflecting on our day so far.
The rain eases and we make the call to head back up the opposite side to the start of horseshoe. The haul up the hill seemed much easier this time around, maybe because we didn’t have to route find so much to get through the clifflines, and before we knew it we were dropping off the ridge again, gaining the creek right on the massive chock stone that marks the start of the canyon without the need to abseil the top cliff line nor bash down the scrubby creek from higher up.
over head the ominous boom of thunder.
That doesn’t sound good.
Looking about the sky was still light and the clouds looking misty rather than stormy. Knowing we have a short constriction ahead of us and a small catchment above we opt to drop in. The biggest worry is the Wollangambe and we are on the wrong side of it now anyway.
It might be short but it sure is nice
The weather has turned a bit cooler now Lewis, Ben and Julie opt to leave their wetsuits on for the walk up. Julie changes at the big pagoda where we rejoin the main track.
All in all another great day in a truly beautiful part of the world
The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools, but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time. – Henry David Thoreau
Party Size: 5
Time: 7hrs car to car, not rushing but not dawdling either
*Slight detour* in March I am again taking part in the West Cycles Classic to raise money for the Westpac rescue helicopter service. Whether preforming bush rescue, emergency patient transfers, and all the rest no one has ever had to pay to use the helicopter due to public donations. If, like me, you believe this is an invaluable service or if you just enjoy reading my blog think about pitching in with a donation. Large or small every bit counts. follow this link for details 2018 West Cycles