Empress with a bit of flow

08-02-2020

Time-To-Go, Sketchy, Marcula, BeerandScotch, Justadlib and meeeee

Ah Straylia! You’ve done it again. After all the devastation of the fires it’s pissing down rain.

Driving out of town I half expect to see a line of animals marching into an Ark two by two while a crazy dude calls out damnation from god.

I have to admit I was a little anxious. Empress is one canyon that always had me worried in rain. For a small canyon it has a large catchment and a relatively tight constriction. The Falls at the end have a rep for going from a gentle trickle to a wall of water in not much time. In 2005 Matthew Donovan lost his life when his party was hit with a storm burst part way through and he failed to negotiate the second last pool, being pinned under the sharply undercut wall by the sheer force of water.

While our canyoning cuzies from around the world often play in much higher water flows there are additional dangers of doing flooded canyons that don’t usually experience high flow. Canyons that see a lot of water generally clean themselves of the log jams and boulder chokes that feature in many Aussie canyons. Rising waters often pickup and sweep down stuff lying on previously dry banks creating hazards, both from solid impacts and hydraulic stoppers.

There’s definitely a skill to being able to spot and avoid hydraulic hazards, as well as speciality equipment, techniques and team work required to negotiate the canyon safely.

But I knew I was in good hands, people whose skills and judgement I trust. And overriding the nerves was an undertoe of excitement

I get to Mt Vic only for my brain to do this weird thing where it remembers it forgot to remind me to pick up my wetsuit! Some swearing happened. Passing cars probably thought the crazy dude in the ute had a bad case of road rage…

A quick phone call to Mandy and she offers to grab my wetty and meet me half way back home. She really is golden.

I’m slightly late as I pull into the car park and was surprised to see just Madie and Leo. It appears there was a little confusion over the late night change to the start time. They all know changing plans is what we do the best. Or sumfink

Anyhoo, we decide to head off for a look and if all goes well we’ll do a second run when the others arrive. But all agree it is probably going to be a none event today, we’ve had a lot of rain.

On the way down we discuss Go/No-Go indicators. If its below this rock at that point that section is good, If you can see such and such from that vantage… Blah Blah Blah. We also talk emergency exit options. The good thing about Empress is it is short and you can get many looks down into the canyon on the walk in and there are options to get out.

At each inspection point things look better. Time-To-Go’s been through at higher levels. A quick look at the radar and while there is going to be steady drizzle the heavy stuff isn’t due to hit until later. This thing looks like it is on. Woot Woot.

We are warned about which sections have siphons and whirlpools and where the water wants to force you into under cut walls and then we are in.

Usually dry side creeks are gushing
Normally a trickly requires a bit of bridging
Frothin’ on the froth ©Madie
Its hard not to have fun. My friends inspire confidence and laughter
I’m so familiar with this canyon it can bore me a little. I like the challenge of finding the path through a new canyon rather than doing ones I know well. No boredom today. It was like a whole new canyon
Contemplating the whirlpool ©Madie
Moslty you walk on down, climb up on the ledge and jump. but with a bit of flow the second last pool turns into a whirlpool death trap. Leo negotiates it on safety and sets up a traverse line for us

Me being a passenger on the guide line ©Madie
Madie negotiating the whirlpool on a guide line
New years eve it was a disappointing trickle. Last week it was a bit of a splash. Today was going to be the biggest flow I’ve abseiled in.

I’m a bit cautious as I go over the edge but I am grinning like an idiot. Dropping over the edge I get hit by a wall of water but I’m through it quick and behind the main brunt. Working my way down I’m being peppered but the main flow is to the left of me. At the halfway ledge I say hi to BeerandScotch

The halfway ledge, in the calm before the power ©Russ

and then I’m into the flow.

It’s hard to describe the sensation. White water. White noise. It’s almost instant sensory derivation as the water pounds into you, pushing you down the rope. I feel a weird mix of being a passenger, being in control, being in consequential, being alive… I’m watching for the tail of the rope as I know Sketchy set up short so she could bleed rope out as I went. I see the bottom, Well I think I do and I let go and fling myself down. What A rush.

I float there being smashed by the spray and just enjoy the moment.

I hear the others calling and It’s-Time-To-Go hurls the throw bag. Perfect throw. I grab hold and they pull me across the pool. I’m still grinning like an idiot.

Sketchy about to disappear into the beast
Spot the abseiler. Madie is just above the halfway ledge getting pumped in the best possible way. The others had arrived to watch us

The throw bag was pretty much a must

We laugh and high five and all that. The others are keen for their turn.

2nd run!

Damn phone rings and I’m stupid enough to check it…. Work. Looks like I’ll miss run 2:-(

By the time they get back to the start the water is up another 2 foot or so. Still doable and it looks like they had a ball.

Libby Smiles for miles ©Madie
Guided abseil needed this time around. ©madie

The heavy rain hits a few hours later pushing water way up past safe levels. I’m glad we got in when we did. It was a great experience.

As usual there are a lot of opinions on the socials as to whether people should be out in these conditions.

Should people be encouraging others to do so. Most definitely not.

Personally with this group, at that time, in those conditions I felt perfectly safe, or as safe as usual when canyoning.

As stated earlier I trust their skill levels and their judgement. I think they are amongst the most safety conscious groups I have ever been out with. There is a level of skill across the group that we have worked to achieve and a level-headedness that I admire. I wouldn’t suggest others try to do it without building those attributes up first.

Was it risky? Yeah sure. But it was a calculated risk based on skill levels, knowledge of the canyon and escape routes, team dynamics, keeping a close track of weather apps and always being prepared to back out.

500 people die on the roads in NSW every year. What risk analysis did you do last time you hopped into a car?

“It’s in those quiet little towns, at the edge of the world, that you will find the salt of the earth people who make you feel right at home.” Aaron Lauritsen . Substitute “quiet little towns” for adventures and it captures this group prefectly

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Arethusa

30-11-2019

Dirt Girl, Bad-arse Barbie, Shreevy, Dare Devil, Monners, The Wizard, Sketchy Maddog and meeee

Bad-arse Barbie mentioned she needed a bit of support to get back on the horse after last weekend’s incident so in a funny sort of round about way me and the Mad One pretty much invited ourselves, and later The Wizard, on to the trip she was doing with Dirt Girl. Belatedly we worked out it was originally suppose to be a girls trip….

Anyhoo,

It had been awhile since I’d seen some of this crew and it was the first time meeting Sheervy and Monners in real life so we do a meet and greet and I notice every one had the packs out ready to go.

Um, we still need to drive down a bit to the car park…..

The Crew

At the carpark we wake some campers with our not so quiet banter and then make our way along the trail

Last couple of times I’ve followed the trail down a bit far east and had to traverse back through scrub. This time I make more or less a bee line down the ridge. Through the scrub

Sketchy Maddog starts to “question” my navigation. It’s just down there. Says I. pointing to a big tree down the ridge

I think it’s over there. Says she. You’re shit navigator. It’s over that way

I’m pretty sure it’s just there. Say I

Oh shit, I can see the sling on the tree. Says she pointing to the very same tree I pointed to earlier.

1 point: Flynny

Two crazy souls right there. Sketchy Maddog took control of setting the abseils for the day. 1 point: Sketchy Maddog

We gain the creek and boulder hop down to the start of the canyon and one of the coolest abseils in the Blue Mountains.

Explaining the system. The rope goes through the thing and then you do a thing with the things so that when things happens you can do things and it keeps ya mate safe. Simplz ©Shreevy
Stunning shot by ©Madie. How good are phone cameras these days.

Even in this dry spell it didn’t disappoint

Click to enbiggen

The gang

Click to make large

It’s a great little canyon ©Madie

Click for the sake of clicking

Team work makes the Dream work

We’ve gotten through the canyon fairly quick without ever feeling like we were rushing. So we have an early lunch and chill out in the sun

Just around the corner is a magnificent view ©Madie

The traditional exit was to continue down, then traverse the Carne Wall, then get benighted. then cry a bit, then swear you’d never ever, ever do it again.

A climbing exit now makes Arethusa one of the most funnest, adventurous little canyons in the mountains. Not to mention how pretty it is.

But you need to have reasonable climbing skills

There are 3 proper climbing pitches, that are a little run out on lead, and several scrambles and hand over hands
Madie lead all of them. 3 Points Sketchy

And as luck would have it a cool breeze greets us for the walk out

Champion crew ©Shreevy

Party size: 8 all experienced

Time: 6.5hr car to car

I have a simple philosophy: Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. And scratch where it itches.Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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Flynny’s angels… or sumfink

Kanangra Main

19/10/2019

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.

Pitch 2

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

Jamie on rope
Waterfallbow
Aimee looking tinier than usual
She took control of this anchor and look at her go with feeding the rope out of the bag. Nice work

Below is a typical “Ethical and safe” blue mountains anchor…. sling crumbled with 1 sharp tug

At least there is not far to fall…

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

Rope stuffing beside waterfalls, it’s a thing we are into…. Or sumfink
Looks like a jump, feels like a jump, smells like a jump… Well half a jump. Woot woot

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

Party Size: 5

Time: 8.5hr car to car taking it steady

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Aimee’s take on the day

Looking Glass Canyon

21/09/2019

Kent’s Crew and Me….

So I’d been thinking about doing Looking Glass but then had a few other offers. For various reasons I was either unable to get to the other offers, they got cancelled or I decided I’d really rather do Looking Glass. After a bit of a shit week at work a long, complex walk and tricky little canyon was just what I needed

As luck would have it Kent was doing a trip there so late Friday I gave him a call and jumped on board.

Pulling into the meeting place I was pleased to see Louise and Scott as I hadn’t managed to catch up with them for a trip in ages and they are always good value.

Others arrived. Stuff was jammed in cars and before we knew it we were in the Wolgan and on our way.

The haul up through the cliffs was no where near as difficult as I was expecting. The walk along the ridges made up for it though. Lots of spurs where it was easy to loose the main ridge if you wasn’t paying attention, thou a fire in recent years meant there wasn’t much scrub so walking was easy.

Splinter removal time

We managed to scramble down into the head of the creek then followed it down to the first abseil. I was so caught up in enjoying the bush and the banter it took me by surprise when someone said we’d been going for 4hrs already.

On my last trip with Tim I mentioned we’d been using releasable anchors. Today he packed his “Gate” which he had picked up as a freeby when he bought something at Adventure Base but had never used. And by gate he meant Gigi but none of us knew how “Gigi” was pronounced so “Gate” it was.

I’d be keen to see the figure 8 block. said he.

Did you bring your fiddlestick, Said Scott

Let’s rig every abseil different and see how they compare, said someone else. Oh wait, that was me.

I’ve been loving learning and sharing new techniques lately so this was going to be a fun day.

Kent on the first drop rigged with the Gate, I mean GeeGee, I mean GuyGuy, I mean the Giggey…. Um… “gate.”

I started setting up the second drop using a figure 8 block.

Can we fiddlestick this one. asks Allie

Sure.

I’ve been wanting to try this. Says Scott. I bought one but Louise is a die hard member of the DRT crew (Double rope techniques or, as we re-dubbed it, the Dinosaurs (using) Redundant Techniques…. 🙂 )

Ok well she wont have a choice for this one. I grin

Allie keen to see how it all worked

So, I’d been toying with an idea to help manage the pull cord. I’d tested it a bit on the cliffs behind my place and it was working a treat. So confident in it was I that I posted a video of it to the Australian Canyoners facebook group to show people how it worked.

So of course today in the wild in front of a bunch of keen onlookers the whole thing turned to shit, the bobbin fell apart and I’m mid way down the abseil looking at a knotted mess wondering how rectify it….

Back to flaking it into the throw bag like a normal person…

On our Nightmare trip a few weeks ago I showed Tim and Chardi how to set a guided abseil to get them over the pool without getting wet. Today they returned the favour. Well, I’m pretty sure Chardi tried to dunk me but I’m too crafty for that old buggar
Awesome people to hang out in the bush with

Next up Figure 8 block.

You wont be able to release that when it’s loaded. Says Kent

Yeah I will, say I. Pull on this I’ll show you

Na I’ll get on rope. I’m telling ya, ya wont be able to lift my weight to release it.

Kent gets on rope , locks off so his whole weight is on the system… I pop the lock and lower him down. Easy peasey.

Well I’ll be buggered. Says Kent. You have to show me that

Kent!
Allie beside the Looking Glass arch
Looking back up FireFly from the junction
And 1 more optional abseil

And then we stroll back through the ruins and back to the car

Time: 8hrs car to car relaxed pace with plenty of stops and discussions around anchors

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood. I ignored both, went my own way and discovered more than I ever thought I could

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Scrub, Slots and knots

22/06/2019

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.

Anyhoo

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

Badass Barbie, AKA Aimee, dropping into Crooked Crevice with Kylie on belay down below
Badass Barbie, Little Miss Sunshine, The Dare Devil and the Russian Gangster contemplating the squeeze abseil off a classically ridiculous Blue Mts anchor consisting of a sling hero looped around a nub of rock.
Archie, AKA #adventure_matt squeezing on down. Someone may or may not have got a little wedged in here. and before you lot point your fingers at me guts are apparently more conforming than other parts of anatomy. “I’m stuck by my lady lumps.” I believe was the call.
It’s a great little slot

An hour or so later we are back at the bags and make our way around to visit the next slot/micro canyon

Kenobi
It’s short but the light is always impressive
It was bad enough they were twinning…. 🙂

And then it is up my pass and onto the tops for some views followed by more scrub

Kylie checking out the views up the Wolgan towards Donkey Mountain

Aimee getting her squeeze on and having one of her #lil_blondes_adventures, ©Mark
Kristo getting thrown through the moon door
Matt in the cave/ tunnel
The water is lava and not even the Dare Devil, AKA, Hywaida, wants to get burnt
The hole we just emerged from
The second last abseil see us descend out of the hidden slot into the open

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

Mark racing down the final abseil
Little Miss Sunshine, AKA Kylie aka #wild_elly, high above the Wolgan

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

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Coinslots and Bull Ants

16/06/2019

Russ, Stu, Ethan and meeeeeee

Despite (or possibly because) starting the year doing some amazingly awesome and epic trips I’ve been struggling to get out lately. Trying to find that balance between family, canyoning, the mountain bike club, work and all the other crap I do has needed a bit of tending.

Anyhooo I had a weekend free and the guys were keen. Our plans to do something in the Wolgan took a dive when I remembered the glowworm tunnel marathon was on and the valley would be packed.

Shall we go one valley over and do Coinslot.

Yep

It’s really short shall we follow up with Doomsday (AKA Bull Ant)

Yep

They are an argumentative bunch…

Anyhooo, We converge at my place, load gear in ute and head off.

Reaching the car park the fog was that thick we couldn’t see the clifflines but we were soon well above that and the views on the way up to Coinslot never fail to impress

I’d considered doing the climbing route as I know all the guys are competent but then thought if we wanted to do another canyon none of us had done before it might be best to take the quicker way up thus we take the not quiet climbing route.

Previously with different groups, some of whom needed roping up, the climb up to Coinslot always seemed a longer expedition but in no time we were up and into it.

In the absence of the Mad One Russ volunteered to go all Madie on the heart shaped rock

Russ Enjoying the Coinslot abseil
Stu at the top of the 29m Coinslot abseil
It’s a stunning drop
Then we avoid the pool with one of the easiest games of “the water is lava” ever, making use of some very convenient finger pockets
Stu in silhouette against the Capertee valley

And then it’s back down to the hill to the car, it’s barely lunch time.

I’ve got some vague track notes to get us to the start of Doomsday and after a bite to eat we head off up the other side of the valley. The climb up starts steep and gets steeper. Some dodgy not-quiet-rock-climbing sees us standing on a summit over looking the valley.

It’d be a nice spot for a morning tea break or sumfink.

Down into a gap and up the other side then steadily up a ridge.

The canyon must start fairly high up in the system….

Nope.

We reach the point were the notes say to turn towards the creek and need to drop back down through a fair portion of the elevation we just ascended.

I’m already thinking of Chardie and Autal’s comments on my complex bush bashes to visit not so awesome canyons…

Not sure if Madie told you guys but I have a reputation for this shit, say I

Canyon better be good, says they. And I have to agree

Ethan regales them with the tale of our scrub bash to nowhere

If there is ever a next time I think I’d try and traverse the base of the upper cliffs. Climbing up them just to abseil back down wasn’t that fun

I’d promised swims but we did our best to avoid the black manky water for as long as possible
Stu showing us how to get down without getting wet. I must have missed an important tip and went for a swim instead. Mmmmmm smelly and cold. Cold and smelly
Interestingly this wasn’t the only anchor to feature cheap paramatta rope, nor was it the most bizarre set up we came across all day
And then we come to the Doomsday pool

This involves an abseil into a pool and then a duck under a low arch. The bottom of the arch is only a couple of inches above the top of the water. As I was already wet I strip off my shirt and volunteer to go first. It was freaking cold

By throwing the ropes over the arch I was then able to help Stu, and subsequently the others to stay dry by coming over the top. Their dryness would last for long
What the hell is Russel doing to that tree???

And then we boulder hop, abseil and stumble back down the hill to the maintenance trail and thus back to the car.

It’s not often I finish a canyon wondering whether it was worth it but I doubt I’d rush back to do Doomsday. I know other friends enjoy it and to be fair on a warmer, wetter day it might be more appealing but today it didn’t grab me as anything special.

Anyhooo

Everyone wants to experience the view at the top of the mountain. Very few realise the magic, wonder and growth happens while you are climbing it 

Party Size: 4 all experienced

Time: Coinslot 2.5 hours car to car. Doomsday 4.5hrs car to car

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Shhhh, Don’t mention the names

06-04-2019

With a bunch of bike and family commitments throughout March it’s had been nearly 4 weeks since I managed to get a canyon in. Or is that get in a canyon?

Anyhoo, I was tonguing to get out and I had missed some good trips with some good people so when the mad one said she wanted to do a canyon out in the Northern Wollemi on a weekend I finally had free I begged a leave pass and we started to plan.

Invitations were sent and a few people were keen but in the end most were unable to make it.

Briefly we discussed doing it as a day trip but decided that if we camped at the increasingly popular Dunns Swamp we’d have time to squeeze in another little canyon while we were out there.

Let’s go down one and up the other.

Doesn’t the guide say the other has some abseils?

Pffft, It says 1 abseil or a down climb, how hard could it be.

I first visited Dunns Swamp back around 1992 for wild party, now it’s all families and quiet time, lights out at 10pm and stuff. Camp sites were filling up fast and continued to do so well into the night,

I can see why Shrek liked his swamp. What’s that? You want a trip report based on Shrek quotes? Challenge accepted

We set up camp. This is gonna be fun. We can stay up late, swappin’ manly stories and in the morning, I’m making WAFFLES!

In the morning no waffles were made but we make our way out to the forestry gate. For which I have the combination as it’s part of the bicentennial trail, ‘cept they have changed the locks. This would mean a 10km fire trail slog.


Who are you trying to keep out? Just tell me that, Shrek. Who? ©Madie

Luckily we bought bikes to eat up the first bit of fire trail. Now we are getting somewhere!

Before people get their knickers in a knot about mountain biking in a Wilderness area the trail is part of the Bicentennial National trail on which cycling is approved
https://www.bicentennialnationaltrail.com.au/discover-the-bnt/ section 10

Sometime later we ditch the bikes and do the last bit on foot. I’d driven across this fire trail in dads jeep in about 86, it’s a stunning bit of the world.

We had next to zero info on the first canyon but it looked like we needed to get through some complicated clifflines to reach it. In the end with some less than attentive navigation it was fairly simplez, we just walked around until we found it


I just know, before this is over, I’m gonna need a whole lot of serious therapy. Look at my eye twitchin
©Madie
You can’t tell me you’re afraid of heights!

I wasn’t expecting much of a canyon but it had some really nice bits.
Go over there and see if you can find some stairs.

I wish I had a step right here, I could step here and here and here and step all over it. ©Madie

Layers. Onions have layers! ©Madie



What’s that? It’s hideous?
Well, that’s not very nice! It’s just a d̶o̶n̶k̶e̶y̶ …. I mean broad tailed gecko. I called him Clingey McClingcling

Oh man. I can’t feel my toes.

Parfait’s gotta be the tastiest thing on the whole damn planet
Squeezey squeezes was a theme for the day. Just through here the first canyon opened up ©Madie

Then it was down to the main creek for lunch in the dappled sunlight. Now to reverse the next one. Some of you may die, but its a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

We follow the creek up. It may have been easier to head up the nose for a bit. @Madie


Don’t die… And if you see any long tunnels, stay away from the light.

Man, you gotta warn somebody before you crack one like that. ©Madie
Got my stoke on. That’ll do, Donkey. That’ll do ©Madie
This one reminded me of Starlight a bit




Look at that. Who’d wanna live in a place like that?


this isn’t right. You’re meant to charge in, sword drawn, banner flying

Wait a minute, I know what’s going on. You’re afraid of the dark.

And then we are at the top looking back down and it’s time to head home


Please. I don’t wanna go back there. You don’t know what it’s like to be considered a freak… Well, maybe you do, but that’s why we gotta stick together. You gotta let me stay!
Female and male golden Orb weavers with plenty of tucker to keep them going, I never realised they spun yellow silk until Madie pointed it out

Party Size: 2

Time: 7hr (and 2 minutes) car to car being fairly quick on the fire trail with few stops but lots of faffing in the canyons themselves

I’m not allowed the mention the canyons by name for fear of the canyon illuminati kid-napping me and beating me senseless. 1 source of info said we wouldn’t need wetsuits but I’m glad we took them as the second canyon was fairly cold and sustained. Good thing we didn’t wait until mid(dle of) winter to do it.

All in all it was another good day in the bush in a beautiful part of the world. After some late summer rain it sure was green up there on the hills

Collect experiences not things

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Danae Brook

24/11/2018

Madie Jeremy and meeeee

Wanna do Danae?

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.

46634476_2436931379657598_6678198615090921472_n.jpg
On a big trip like this I’m always a tad nervous until we we start walking and then everything calms and I enjoy the simple pleasure of being in the bush with like minded people

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.

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From there it’s into the stunning slot and abseil after abseil after abseil.

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Madie stops on the chock stone to grab a photo and retrieve a stuck rope a previous party had lost.

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Madie and Jeremy enter the slot

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Danae swallows and humbles you. Madie on rope

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The waterfall abseil. Danae can be dry, or it can be dangerously pumping

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get the balance right and it is awesome. Jeremy in the fall

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Jeremy at the bottom of the “Waterfall abseil”

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Looking down to Madie at the bottom of “Danae Direct”

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It is even more stunning in real life

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And still the abseils come in the tight confines of Danae

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©Madie

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©Madie

©Madie

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On gritty Blue Mtns sandstone this would be a simple down climb. The quartzite of Kanangra  however is slippery as ice covered snot when wet so we rope up for safety

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Madie watching Jeremy descend

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.

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©Madie

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…

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Not even the prickly pea and stinging trees could wipe the smile from my face.

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.

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and of course the views down over the terrain we’ve just come through is amazeballs. The gully in the Centre is Kanangra main, Danae is behind the spired ridge in the middle distance to the right

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Another hour of walking and one more cliffline to get through and we reach the car exhausted but fulfilled

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:

3 ppl
5.55 start
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
3.30 hill
4.20 murdering gully
4.27 main lookout track
4.31 car

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Galah Canyon

04/11/2018

Madie, Naomi and meee

My plans for the weekend were not going to plan but Sunday suddenly freed up and I thought Madie had a trip sorted out so I send her a quick message to see what she was up to and whether I can jump in on it. The reply was ” Nothing planned let’s do something”

Galah it is then.

Naomi joined us and we set off from the car park in high spirits.

The constant banter saw us eat up the walk in no time flat and before we knew it we were suiting up.

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Naomi modelling the latest trends for the fashion conscious canyoner

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Revelling in the the grandeur of a short tunnel like section ©Madie

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Naomi on the short abseil we would climb back up later in the day

And then the canyon opens back out and we wander down the pleasant creek to the main section.

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Time to throw ropes ©Madie

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The lower section starts with this impressive drop and then just gets better

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Finding the easy/fun way down the slippery wall

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Madie!

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It’s a really bad rope pull, you’d be better off pulling the rope on the boulder and sliding down the log on the next drop.

How did you get down the log? Asks Naomi

I’ll teach you to hump it. Says Madie. I’m a log humping expert…..

 

The canyon here is deep and impressive. A stunning bit of canyon

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Naomi at the top of the “Guide book abseil”

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Not quite how it looks in the guide book

We stuff around trying to re-enact the pose that features on the back of the 5th edition of the Jameison guide

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Ok so Madie is not wearing stubbies, volleys or a terry towelling hat as David Stuckey did when he posed for the shot that became the image on the back cover of the guide book and she is standing a bit to far along the log but we got close going from memory.

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Strike a pose

The other big difference is the  water levels. In the image on the guide book the water is all but covering the log and there is a nice flow coming under the chock stone above.

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Did I mention its a stunning section of canyon

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Remember to look up

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If memory serves me correctly you knit one pearl 2… ©Naomi

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©Madie

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©Madie

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Where would you rather be

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And then the canyon opens out. Tom rates it an 8/10 and I’d have to agree, if only the constriction was a tad longer it would be a solid 10/10

But we still need to get out and after a bit of route finding we pick up the right trail and find the climb where we decide to play it safe and belay each other up.

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I go up using a prusik on the fixed line for safety ©Madie

Then set a top belay for the girls

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©Madie

The exit follows the bottom of the top cliffline back around to meet the creek just below the upper section of canyon. From there we have a couple of options but choose to reverse up through the top section.

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a fairly simple climb up the first abseil

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From there we have a few deep wades and slippery climbs. Not wanting to either put wetsuits back on or soak dry clothes we opt for a quick undie run. Avert your eyes girls…

Naomi learns the hard way about the difference in grip on wet rock between bestards and her trail running shoes. Madie and I pretty much walked up the larger climb. Naomi had a couple of failed attempts resulting in some slides and loss of skin before we set rope on a meat anchor for her.

And before long we are back at the change point putting dry clothes back on for the stroll out.

Group size: 3. All experienced

Timing: 7.5hrs not rushing but not dawdling either.

Earth. it’s the insane asylum of the universe

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