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…. ūüôā

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 dŐ∂oŐ∂nŐ∂kŐ∂eŐ∂yŐ∂ …. 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.

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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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Kalang Falls

13-10-2018

Tim, Al, Gabby, Ev, Geoff, Roy, James and me

I’ve said before that for me the abseils are just a means to get to the next bit of canyon.

I’m far more excited by exploring the dark confines of a slot canyon. I’m captivated by the play of light as the sun arcs over head. I get fascinated by the way water and time have sculptured the rock, and I’m dazzled by the ferntacious greenery…

Ayhoo with that in mind the Kanangra canyons have never held a massive appeal to me but when Tim invited me on a trip down Kalang Falls I thought I may as well check it out to see what the fuss is all about.

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With the east coast experiencing some much needed rain it was moody in the forest waiting for the others to arrive.

 

After a week of drizzle mixed with rain we’d check the water levels and if it was too high we’d abort and do Dione Dell instead.

As it was it was pretty much prefect

And so our group of merry adventurers set off from the car park with a buzz of excitement and a swagger in our steps.

Despite a few of the others having done the trip before myself and Al got nominated leaders so the real leader, Tim could follow along at the back of the group as safety man with the spare rope. So we set  off to rig the first drop.

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Making our way down towards the first abseil conditions were very slippery making it slow and steady going

There is a bit of scrambling to get down to the first anchor and Tom’s notes¬†warned the final drop before the anchor could be dangerous so in the wet slippery conditions we rigged the abseil from above it.

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I have to admit the waterfalls are stunning

As with all of Tim’s trips we had multiple ropes and walkie-talkie communi-doonies so the group could spread out. Me and Al would set rope, the next person would arrive, we’d take their rope and descend to the next one. And so on and so forth etc etc etc. So even with a largish group taking their time on slick rock we made good time down the ravine.

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Al, Fingers crossed I’ve tied the knot right Bro.

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It’s technically a dry trip but I got soaked in the spray off this one. If doing it in winter with this much water you’d want some good waterproof clothing

 

Rope management was the theme of the day. Lots of vegetation and ledges for ropes to get tangled on. I can see where flaking it out of a rope bag would be handy on a trip like this.

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You can just make out Ev about to come over the edge

 

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Tim at the 3rd anchor, this one is a little hard to locate.

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Not the best silky smooth waterfall photography today but not bad for hand-held shots with the TG4

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Epic Kanangra country

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Al below the 3rd abseil. You can see Ev on belay where the ropes come down to the right

 

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I found the scrambles between the falls took a lot of concentration. The quartzite is a lot slipperier than the standard Bluies sandstone and also tends to have a lot more loose rocks ready to roll your ankle.

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Ev at the bottom of the big drop with Gabby way up high on rope to the right at the top of the falls

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Despite the cool day Gabby felt the need for a bit of a swim. Ev is trying to dissuade her.

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Geoff handling it with ease

But….

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Then he went for a swing and only good team belaying by Ev and Gabby kept him dry

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Always time for a selfie

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Geoff’s enthusiasm for the bush is infectious

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And then it was up Manslaughter ridge and out

 

 Probably really common, but can anyone tell me the species?

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Thuratt Spires and Kanangra wilderness

How did I find it? Well the waterfalls were stunning, the company was awesome, the abseils were abseils and the walk out wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be.

Another great day in the bush with great people.

The mind is like water: capable of going anywhere but once hemmed in by walls of it’s own making it takes a powerfull flood to burst it’s banks and change its course: me

 

 

Group size: 8 all experienced

Time: 9hr 20min car to car, not rushing in the slippery conditions and taking it easy up the exit ridge.

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Glen Davis revisited

16-06-2018

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

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Ethan on a narrow, sloping ledge High above the Capertee valley with Point Anderson, Canobla gap and Mt Gundangaroo in the distance

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Marchelle on the “Non-Climbing” route ¬©Madie

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Madie about to start a hair raising traverse along a ledge that is at times not much more and 6inches wide.

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The wider part of the Ledge

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The chute. I’m told there is a way around this but I couldn’t see it. I think maybe if we stayed lower and traverse a bit… maybe

Anyhoo we all make it up and in short time are back to doing what we like to do best. Coming back down.

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Autal on the first abseil

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Marchelle belaying Slava on Nivana’s Heart Shaped Rock

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She is a little shy but with some coaxing we got her to pose…. Madie

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Ev

And then we were into the slot proper

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Autal dropping in ©Ev

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©Madie

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Autal on rope

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It’s short but oh so grand

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I’m becoming a photo nerd and loving the colours

 

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The Coin Slot ©Madie

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Ed

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Ethan

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Dick

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Wait for meeeeeee.

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Ev

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Oh noes the rope it be stuck

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

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Meat anchored Z-pull to try and get the rope to come down… ¬©Madie

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.

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Ev prusiking ©Autal

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Ev is everyones hero after rescuing the ropes. Thanks Ev, massive effort.

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Ethan

And then we are out into the open for 1 last impressive abseil

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Slava beneath some spectacularly coloured cliflines

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Ethan on the final abseil ©Edwin Emmerick Photography

And then it was a simple trudge back down to the camp ground. Another enjoyable day in the bush with great company

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The cliffs we had scaled and the slot we had descended

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

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The Gang ©Autal

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I have a bit of video but I haven’t looked at it yet. I have some prusiking to practice

 

A pleasant little Nightmare

02-06-2018

Marchelle Anna Pete and meeeeee.

With the worst of the scrub still recovering the effects of last years hazard reduction burn this is a pleasant trip at the moment.

I pull into the meeting spot and note someone is missing. Ev broke down on the highway, Marchelle informs us. She wont be coming.

Buggar.

But we load ropes and packs into my ute and off we go, weaving our way down into the mighty Wolgan valley in between green pastures, towering cliff lines and Kamikaze kangaroos.

We park at the start of the Ruins walk for Newnes shale works and make our way down river to everyones favorite little pass, The pipeline track

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Some carefull tip toes to keep our feet dry on a cold morning

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Why you’d need to carve an arrow here is beyond me. Its a clear track and there is no other way to go…..

Well that’s a good way to warm up. We gain the top and make a quick side trip to the lookout.

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Looking back up the Wolgan towards Mistry Mountain

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Last months hazard burn on the otherside seems to have added some colour to the cliffscapes. Marchelle looking down the valley towards Big Glassy

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©Marchelle

After a brief stop we continued up the Pipeline trail spearing off just before it heads down green gully towards Glen Davis.

The trail out along the ridge between the Wolgan and the Capertee is reasonably clear indicating the canyons up this way are getting more visitation than they use to. The views out over the Capertee towards Tayan Pic are superb but soon we veer off trail and make our own way along a side ridge.

In the trackless terrain it is easy to veer off on the wrong ridge and end up in the much wetter Devils Pinch canyon but with the scrub mostly clear after the Haz burn following the right ridge is much more obvious.

Before long we begin descending into the gully that will soon drop into th etop of the canyon. We scramble around the first abseil described in the Jamison guide and find a big tree with an bright yellow tape anchor right at the start of the main constriction.

There has been much talk about using Single Rope Techniques (SRTs) on the ozcanyons group over the last few years and they seems to be gaining more momentuem, especially in the newer generation of canyoners. It’s the norm in most other countries. Thou other countries also tend to have either much higher water flows or much less prevelent anchor options.

Though I trained in their use and used SRT way back in my brief stint as a guide and it made sence to me in thate situation for private groups I’ve always preferred the throw and go, loop the rope through the anchor and every one abseil on double ropes.

When heading out with Tim’s group I’m happy to fit in with their SRT method of isolating the stands with a butterfly knot and people abseiling on alternate stands.

Last weekend I attended a training day with the Upper Blue Mountains Club where we practiced setting SRT with a releasable anchor. IE isolating the abseil strand with the Munter/mule.

The advantage of this is if someone gets stuck on rope for whatever reason you can undo the mule under load and use the munter hitch as a belay to lower them to the ground.

Now in mumblecoughmumble years of canyoning I’ve never come across a situation where I needed to do that but it got me thinking (must be getting old or the weekday job of Safety Cordinator is rubbing off on my weekend self) What if that 1 in 100000 case came along. Sure there are other methods to preform a rescue but are they as safe and as quick and if they didn’t work would I be kicking myself for not using the “Rigging for Rescue” technique?

Anyhoo Anna is pretty keen to put this technique to use in every canyon trip she leads and I thought it might be a good idea to run this trip that way for practice (Ev had done the training day too, so it’s a shame she missed it.)

So I rig the first drop. I really had to think about it as it was a long abseil requiring 2 ropes working out where to put the munter so the knott would not impede it took more thought than it should have, It’s pretty bloody obvious but I guess thats why you practice these thing is relativel benign situations so these it become second nature.

All sorted I head down first.

Hey Chardie,¬† Calls up I from a ledge halfway down. This isn’t where we normally drop in.

It’s a very nice abseil down over 2 big ledges and around a corner.

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Marachelle on single rope

If it wasn’t for the very dry conditions this would land in a pool that looks like it might get over waist deep, probably the reason we don’t normally drop in there but today was dry enough to get around.

Was a bit worried about the pull down around the corner and over the ledges but a test pull indicated it should come fine and Anna stopped on the last ledge to pull the knot down to her so it owuld be less likely to catch.

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Anna. Last person comes double rope as usual.

A short down climb and we round a slight corner to see the cliff face we usually come down directly above the next short drop.

This one is shortish, maybe 10m but its a tad narrow, and I’m not. Big shoulders and stomache bones or sumfink

This results in some gentle exfoliation as I squeeze on down.

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Chardie about to get to the narrow bit. There is some balancing on sticks to avoid more than wet toes at the bottom

From here there is short tunnel like bit and some careful bridging

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Marchelle staying high to avoid wet feet

The canyon opens out for a bit with some short abseils and tricky down climbs. We are blown away at how dry it is. Little holes that usually involve contorionistic moves to stay dry are now little more than damp sand and sometimes not even that.

Then there is 3 long abseils in a row. All of them can be done as shorter ones using intrim anchors on ledges and chock stones but they are nice to do as long ones and the rope pull seems fine on all of them.

The first of these involves a tricky start then some delicate moves to stay above some chock stones (going under would make the pull down difficult) then round the corner and down down down.

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Chardie towards the bottom

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Marchelle about 2/3rds down

The next one use to be rigged off the log but pull down was very dificult. An eye bolt has been installed backed up by 2 very old climbing nuts whose wires seem very rusted… IF you are going to use that anchor I’d take nuts to replace the ones there.

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A tricky start onto a ledge, around a corner, over a boulder and another tricky start and a narrow slot . Seems to be a theme in nightmare.

 

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Looking out the dark final chamber over the Wolgan

The final abseil is awesome but lands in nut deep water. We opt to have lunch in the chamber at the top figuring it would be better to eat up here while we are dry than to get wet and then stop to eat down there in the wind.

It was a nice spot for a bit to eat.

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©Marchelle

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©Marchelle

3/4 of the way down the last abseil I run into the spot of bother and think maybe I’ll need Anna to put the lowering me down method into practice. There is a knot in the rope below me. Usually no big deal. Just stop pull the rope up and undo it (tip for young players. Stop early and pull the knot up to you. The closer you get to the knot the harder it can be to get slack and if you abseil down onto the knot you’ve got buckleys of getting it undone)

Usually when the rope knots itself it just a few loops caught on themselves and a bit of a shake get is clear. This had somehow done a proper job on itself and I had trouble getting it undone while hanging in space. I was nearly ready to call out for Anna to pull the mule and lower me when I got it sorted and continued down.

Now what if I hadn’t been able to undo the knot or hadn’t been on a lowerable system?

I hadn’t yet locked off properly and was trying to undo the knot left handed so I could lock off¬† to get both hands free as my first option. Second option would be to prusik back up to the ledge or top and sort it out there so I’m confindent I could get myself out of that situation. But what if it happened to someone less experienced or without those skill sets? (Other than the obvious everyone on a private group should get themselves those skills sets. Good point but we were all beginners once.)

Those at the top could deploy the spare rope, someone could even abseil down to me to help out. That all takes time and hang syndrome becomes a factor. Abseiling down to help out puts the rescuer at risk too. So much to consider.

Anyhoo I clear the knot and continue down

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Looking up from the bottom of the last abseil

I land in the pool. It’s cold. My outie becomes and innie and I make my way to the side to belay the others

 

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Chardie

 

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Anna on the last drop ©Marchelle

With a bit of team work the first person down can pull the others across to the dry bosun chair style. if all works well. Chardie had rigged a bit too much friction and struggled to pull him self across and ended up in the drink. Anna and Marchelle managed to stay dry.

From here we follow the base of the cliffs around and back down to the car.

All up another great day in the bush with great company.

Party size: 4 all experienced

Time: 6hrs 50min car to car.

I wish I was a glowworm. Glowworms are never glum. How could you possibly be sad when the sun shines out your bum : Anon

How much did the rigging for rescue slow us down? Last year with a slightly bigger group the trip took us 6hrs 23min car to car. Today practicing what’s still fairly new to us took us 6hrs 49min. Though there is probably a bunch of other factors in there as well

 

So what are my thoughts? I’m still undecided.

Anna was keen to only lock off one side of the rope and keep the other stand at the top to avoid confusion.

I prefer to do a munter/mule in both strands to allow people to rig up alternate strands and quicken things up. If you then need to lower then the person on the spare strand gets off and¬† it’s quick to undo that one altogether and lower the other. Which is fine until you have 2 ropes joined with a knot at the top and then it’s not posible.

So here what I see as the pros and cons. Feel free to comment if you have other ideas.

Pros of releasable SRT using Munter/mule

  • Simple to set up and fairly quick to tie once you practice a bit
  • Ability to quickly and safely lower a stuck abseiler down to the ground.
  • Ability set the end of the abseil strand just on ground/water level to make getting off the rope at the bottom quick and easy

Cons of releasable SRT using Munter/mule

  • It does take longer to tie and untie (not to mention it’s a ugly looking knot)
  • Rope wear and tear. A single strand taking full weight obviously is under more strain than if you were abseiling on double strand.
  • Chardie pointed out abseiling on double rope with an isolating knot at the top gives you some back up if you cut one strand on a sharp edge. Not an advantage if you use throw and go with out isolating.
  • Only possible to use one strand if the abseil involves joining ropes.
  • Can be tricky if the anchor is close to/below the edge but not too much more than normal.

So I’m still tossing this one up.¬† the ability to quickly and safely lower a stuck abseiler down to the ground is a big consideration though if you have a competent person at the top with a spare rope is it that much quicker and safer?

If the stuck person is unconcious I’d say yes.

What is the liklihood of that happening though? And does that likelihood justify the slightly longer more complicated set up of each and every abseil?

Also when lowering do you increase the risk of having the rope fail while rubbing over unprotected edges fully wieghted?

I don’t know.

Is it appropriate for all situations? Maybe not.

I’m leaning towards it¬† being a valuable tool that is appropriate for certain applications but should be backed up by various other skills and knoweldge.

Being able to set the end of the rope just to water height is a big advantage in highwater but we don’t tend to have that in Australia.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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Views over the wolgan

19-05-2018

Madie, Autal, Catherine, Chris and meeeeee

With the weather turning cold it’s time to focus on dry trips. Depite popular opinion there are a number of dry(ish) canyons not to far from the usual summer trips that are worth a look. This one is a short day in the Wolgan.

The canyon itself isn’t that great in regards to length and depth of the constriction but it has a couple of standout features and great views.

We met at the servo bright and early and sorted car pools to drive down to the car park. Mick was joining us for the haul up through the cliff lines but then leaving as he had afternoon plans in the bigsmoke

Madie was running 5min late but, hey she had a 4hr drive to get here so no one blamed her. Oh, in a previous blog I stated she needed a constant supply of chips and chocolate. that was just a bit of fun after she brought a large pack of chips on the trip I didn’t mean it to sound like she was a snack scoffing fatty. She usually eats nothing but kale washed down with a cup of steam, or sumfink. I’m the fat guy on our trips.

Anyhoo.

The frost was lifting off the tops and down in the valley it was a glorious morning so we wasted little time in setting out up the hill.

Our path up is typically steep but relatively easy for the Wolgan.

Some Pretty section of creek and grand overhangs break up the climb

 

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©Madie

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Ignore me, I’m an idiot… ¬©Madie

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Autal reaching up for that last hand hold….

and soon we are bathing in sunshine on top of the stunning clifflines that seem so impenetrable from the valley below.

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Chris stretches out in the warm sunshine

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Nice spot of a morning tea break

This is where Mick leaves us and heads back the way we came up. For the rest of us it’s a relatively easy stroll up through the scrub to intersect a faint trail along the ridge.

There is a pleasant bit along the ridge before we drop back down through the scrub to our first anchor point above a 30m abseil down through one of the  highlights

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©Autal

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Me in my happy place ©Autal

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Autal filming Cat as she starts her descent into the unknown. ©Madie

Over the millenia water running down a sloping face have carved a deep groove into the rock befre hitting a band of iron stone that created a small pool halfway up the cliff line. Evenually this pool eroded deeper and deeper  until it bored a hole staright through the cliff

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Abseiling down through that hole is an amzing experience and somewhat scarey as at first it looks and feels like you wont fit ©Madie


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Madie preparing to drop into the hole ©Autal

From below the hole is stunningly circular

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And once through there is still a long abseil to the gully below

A short, dark cave section follows

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Then there is some bounder hoping and scambling down beside the creek before it tries to canyon up

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Autal at the start of the short canyon section ©Madie

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Autal dropping in ©Madie

On our trip last year¬†we were greeted with a deep, very cold pool here that soaked every up to their necks. Today we didn’t even get our feet wet.

click to enbiggen

 

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Cat and Chris in the canyon ©Madie

And then the next highlight is a drop down through this stunning hole through the rock

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©Madie

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The light in this section is just magical but hard to capture with a little point and click camera

At the bottom is usually a deep plunge pool that takes some¬†manoeuvring to get across without falling in. Today it was nearly dry but I made them do the bridge anyway ūüôā

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Madie demonstraighting the technique

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Autal emerging from the hole

The hole opens into a chamber with an amzing window out over the Wolgan

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Autal in a hidden slot int he wolgan cliff line

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Yours truly heading back out into the sunlight ©Madie

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Autal emerging from the upper cliff line

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Chris

We have lunch in the sun light on the halfway ledge and then there is one more long abseil before the quick march down the hill to the cars

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It doesn’t get much better than this on a warm Autumn day ¬©Autal Farkas

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Autal high above the Wolgan ©Madie

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A day in the bush with a fun bunch of people is the perfect chatharsis for the stress of the modern world

 

Party Size: 5 all experienced

Time: 6hr car to car

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