CLAUSTRAL WITH SOME OF THE BEST

23/04/2022

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

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

Claustral it is than.

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

Time to fix that.

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

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

Wait, that’s not right.

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

That’s more like us.

Once again photo credits go to a mix of the crew

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

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

Stirlo on the first drop into the Black Hole of Calcutta

Click the photos to make the magic

Compulsory “Hulks Fist” photos and shenanigans ensue

Get fisted ©Aimee

Click to enbiggen

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

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

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

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

A bit of team work never goes astray

The tunnel swim

and all to soon it’s over.

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

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

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Yileen

04-04-2022

The Mad One and meeeee

Something weird was happening.

It wasn’t raining..

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

Probably should have invited the others.

We were pulling into the carpark.

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

Blue bird day

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

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

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

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

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

Hmmm

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

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

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

©Madie

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

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Arethusa, again

02/04/22

Madie, Kylie, Russ and meeeeee

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

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

Wanna do Arethusa?

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

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

Anyhoo we meet up. Head in and gear up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

meat anchors are me
Frothy

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

the crew
it’s best not to ask

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

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Bell Creek

COMPLETE(ISH) IN A DAY

Kylie, Hywaida, Kris, Jason, Aimee, Tash and meeeeeeeeee

19/02/2022

I’ve done the lower section of Bell creek a couple of times. It’s beautiful.

Like really, jaw droppingly beautiful

But the first time it took us 3hrs to walk into the start of the access canyon, Bell Fry(which is a pretty little canyon in its own right)

Next time we knew where we were going and a hazard burn had taken out a lot of the scrub on the ridge. So we cut that down to just under 2hrs.

But it was still a difficult walk, having to scramble into the start of Du Faurs creek then climb up the other side.

Anyhoo, the Jamieson guide says a good overnight trip is to include the upper section. It also suggests you could do both in a very very long day.

Myself and Madie had mentioned a few times about having a crack of doing it in a day. But we never got around to it

This year a trip got planned. Unfortunately last minute I had to work😢

I get a text. Ok we are heading in.

Just over 6hrs later. We are out.

Wait! What?

Anyhoo I finally got the chance to give it a crack.

Now I’m not as quick as Madie and Russ but a 30min walk down a fairly easy ridge, with me just following my nose until Aimee checked the map and corrected my course and we slipped down a short side canyon and entered Bell creek just upstream of where it canyons up.

Our entry “canyon” was a short slot with 2 tricky down climbs, some parties would opt to rope up or at least handline. We used some sticks. Oh and it had an arch:-) ©Jason

I’ve said before that Du Faurs creek is a more canyony version of the Wollangambe. Bell creek is even more so.
We wade scramble and float down some long, impressive canyon sections @kylie

So the girls hadn’t caught up for a while and there was a chatter. Well, I say chatter but it was more weird noises and giggling. And, I say giggling, but it was more like cackling. Like b grade movie witches planning downfalls.

©Jason

TBH I wasn’t expecting the upper section to be so good.

“Upper sections” as described in the book can be hit and miss around here. The upper section of Du Faurs creek is good. The Bowens (North and South) have upper sections that contain pretty canyon sections but they pop in and out and there is scrub and scrambling between. Upper Wollangambe is basically a creek walk…. But this one has sustained sections of quality canyon.

Ok so there are no abseils… I get that’s what some people are after but it’s like 2 totally different sports. Vertical canyoning and this.

Maybe the old skool bushwalkers had it right when they described these trips as Swalks (Swim/walks)

either way it’s an adventure in beautiful surrounds with great people. Winning
©Aimee
It even had some duck unders
And spots for p̶l̶o̶t̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶s̶c̶h̶e̶m̶e̶s̶, I mean quite contemplation
As green as green is
It’s not easy being green…. or brown.. or sumfink. Not 100% sure but I think its a Whistling Tree Frog, Litoria verreauxii. If you can confirm or offer an alternate ID comment below ©Aimee

Because I knew it wasn’t the very very long day Jamieson suggested we weren’t rushing at all. We even stopped for little lunch… I never stop of little lunch… but we still managed get from the car to the junction with Bell Fry in just a bit over 3.5hrs. So not much longer than the standard way into the lower section and far more interesting.

The gate keeper to the lower section

As surprisingly nice as the upper section is the lower section really is special

It might not be as iconic as the Hulks Fist in Claustral but its the Hulks Hand

and soon

Magic happens
©Kylie

The Lower Section just keeps going

Click the images to enbiggen ’em

We stop for a bite to eat and Kris finds this little beauty

And then the Canyon opens out a bit. It’s still grand and dwarfs us as we boulder hop down to the junction with Du Faurs creek. Then up to exit out Joes and up to the fire shed.

Group Size: 7

Time: 8.5hr car (Water Trough Hill) to car (Fire Shed).

Some of God’s children just are naturally wild: Ray Wylie Hubbard

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BILLABONG

Mandy Beth and Meeee

03/01/2022

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

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

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

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

and what better way to finish it off with

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

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Another Night in Rocky Crk

Ed Ethan Dick Russ Aimee and Tash

01/01/2022

So for some years (with a break in 2020 due to bush fires) I’ve been joining Ed and Ethan for a New Years Day recovery canyon.

It started as a family thing but kinda morphed and pretty much has had different people joining each yea . This year we decided to do a trip to Rocky Creek New Years Day Night and the above mentioned legend joined us

Anyhoo I first visited Rocky cr nearly 30 years ago. It blew my mind and have made a visit to it at least once a year ever since. I have waxed lyric about it both in day and at night heaps before so I wont bang on to much this time around

I was surprised to learn Aims hadn’t done Twister or Rocky before. It was Also Tash’s first time
I think people dismiss it as it’s a bit of a drive and no abseils but bang for buck fun and beauty I reckon you can’t beat it
Entering the beast
©Dick
The water temps were as warm, or I should say least cold, as I can ever remember so we spent a lot of time laying about with lights off soaking in the ambiance ©Dick
©Dick

and of course the Glowworms.

I honestly think the displays in Rocky are just consistently awesome
Getting a shot of glowworms in a canyon with a night sky above has been a bit of a goal of mine. 1 day I’ll manage glow worms and star trails
But for now light sabres will do
Iddy biddy Giant Water Spider Megadolomedes australianus. This things can have a leg span up to 18cm. I always thought they were fairly harmless but Caro tell us she once got a bite and it took ages to heal
©Dick

We went in earlier than usual for doing a night trip but had enjoyed the serenity so much it was the 2nd before we were were out of the canyon

People are just like worms. The best ones glow.

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Hole in the Wall with Elly

Kylie Madie Leo and me

Every now and then people come into your life that lift your soul or make you laugh or both or sumfink so when the chance came up to skive off work and do such an awesome canyon with 3 of those people I thought why the hell not

Kylie told me she had a licence to get out of dodge. She also mentioned she’d never been through Hole in the Wall so we concocted a plan and I took a day off. It just so happens Madie and Leo also had the day off so we met up at the ZigZag railway and set off to test out the bypass that would get us around some clean up work that currently had Waratah ridge rd blocked.

In the end the bypass was pretty straight forward and we were shouldering packs and heading off into the glorious sunshine, spirits high and smiles wide.

The usual banter and catchup chatter had extra depth and post lockdown feels that ate up the walk in and before we knew it we where suited up and heading into the confines of the upper section.

But first we needed to get past the gate keeper

and then we were into it

And because the day was early we then head to the Dam cliffs to hang off more cliffs for fun

Surround yourself with awesome people. Experience Awesome things

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Into the Slot

17-04-2021

Kylie, Kristo, Hywaida, Jason, Jen, Ethan and Meeeee

When Gadget asked me if I had any plans for the 17th I was like you know I don’t plan that far ahead.

Well would you be interested in doing the Kanangra Main trip that we changed plans for earlier? Says she

Does the Pope shit in the woods? Wait, that’s not the saying. Does a bear poop catholics? Still not it….

Anyhoo, I rocked out to Kanangra Boyd on the Friday night to met up with Kylie and we set up camp in the fading light.

We were soon joined by Jen for diner and banter around the camp fire

Jason rocked in a little later and as the temperature dropped we retired for the night with nervous excitement for what the next day would bring.

The day brought an early start.

A quick breaky around the camp fire and then off to meet Ethan, Hywaida and Kris at the carpark.

Are we doing the wall or the slot?

The Slot. Let’s plan on that and we can reassess if we have to once we see the water levels

Hi Ho it’s off adventuring we go ©Jen

Getting to the start of the slot involves traversing across a loose narrow ledge. Jason was leading the way.

hey, did you see that? Calls I

See what?

Highland Copperhead snake (Austrelaps ramsayi) tucking his head into his hidey hole

Of course now the rest of us need to get past. I’m pretty comfortable around snakes and I’m hoping no one else freaks out. I point out the unexpected hazard and step over.

Kylie steps up but the rock she steps on moves. The tail quickly disappears.

OK be careful and don’t step on those 2 rocks….

To my relief everyone comes across without hesitation and snakey stays safe in his hole.

One of our members had a little trouble with a redirect that I probably didn’t properly explain the process for passing. Jen and Jason set up a little 3:1 haul to help out ©Jen
Kris dropping down P1.

The slot has a bit of a reputation for projectiles. The top of P1 and the stance in between P1 and P2 are littered with loose rocks, anything from pebble size to large slabs. If you are heading in you need to make sure your group is extremely careful. It’s Kylies trip and I didn’t want to take over but I did stress no one was to move above P2 while people were on rope and we didn’t have an issue.

Kylie coming to set up the next anchor
Kristo and me in the slot ©Kylie
Looking down P2 to where things get interesting ©Kylie
Jen descending into the abyss @Kylie
Hywaida? @Kylie
It’s a cold pitch to be anchor bitch. The wind and spray whistles viciously through here ©Kylie
Hywaida enjoying the experience ©Ethan
We set up a guided rap just for the practice and then we are on to the main route.

And then we are back onto the Main route


Kris on p5 With the main falls above us @Jason
©jen

The rest of the photos are in no particular order as there are so many waterfalls and I enjoy the experience so much that looking back I struggle to remember what order they came in.

Photo credits to the various people mentioned above

It’s getting late by the time we reach our exit. When doing awesome stuff with awesome people time has no meaning for me and for various reasons the descent had taken longer than expected.

With the days getting shorter it was going to be touch and go for us to get up the scrambles before dark.

I’ve done the exit up the ridge several times now but each time I seem to go a slightly different way and experience a different number of scrambles with varying degrees of dodginess.

There’s a bit of a track starting to form now but that’s not to say it takes the best path and a coupe of branches definitely takes you on more difficult routes. This time up we miss all the trickiest scrambles except 1. It was shitscary but we all got up it with just a little swearing and encouragement and we reach the tourist track just as the light is fading.

All in all another excellent day out with truly amazing people

Group size: 7

Time: 11hr car to car

Deep calls to deep: Psalms 42:7

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Kanangra Main via The Slot

17-01-2021

Russ, Madie, Leo, Jeremy, Jeremy and meeeeeeee!!!

After being devastated by fires, ravaged by flood and generally off limits with COVID restriction Russ and Libby looked like they were finally going to get hitched… Wait, that’s a different story, I mean the Kanangra-Boyd NP was quietly re-openned to remote activities on Christmas eve 2020. That meant access to the Kanangra canyons was back on. Woot Woot!

‘Cept the weather was miserable and water levels kept most sensible parties away.

But water levels began to recede and reports started coming in that well equipt groups with white water experience and skill had successfully begun negotiating a couple of the more popular ones or, at least, parts there of.

We needed to get the gang back together for sumfink big before Russ had to take a break to keep himself pretty for the nuptials or sumfink and photos from Kanangra Main to the emergency exit below pitch 3 looked ace. So plans started to be planned in our very unplanned, half planned, let’s solidify the plan as we go kinda planning routine.

The Kanangra area tends to hold it’s water levels longer than the typical Blue Mountain canyons but a week of sunny weather had things easing off a bit and a bunch of different options were optioned up before we finally opted a full run of K-Main via the Slot option.

Eager Beavers setting off in glorious sunshine and the vivid Kanangra-Boyd regrowth
Views out over Kanangra Gorge towards the Thurat Spires on a Blue Bird morning ©Madie

Last time I attempted a trip through the Slot things did not quiet go to plan and eerily as we traversed across the top of the usual entry there was another group were setting off down the main wall again.

Same anchor, slightly different angle 14 months apart

We slip past the main entrance and gear up above the slot. There is a buzz of excitement as I set the rope and one by one the others make their way down

Myself and Sterlo were the last to arrive at the start of pitch 2 and relieve Leo off anchor duties so that he can head down to lead the money pitch

Leo heading down Pitch 2, you may be able to make out Madie, Gibbo and Russ way down below

The roar of the falls and the spray at the start of pitch 3 was intense.

Leo heads off grinning as I reach the anchor.

Flynn, You’re up next. Says Madie

Who made her the boss?

Tingles. Nervous excitement. Stoopid grin. I rope up and head on down.

White noise.

But not what I was expecting. P3 crosses through the falls but as it has tumbled down the 100m above the water has bounced of the walls and spread out, dissipating the full force into a wide mist. And lots of wind.

Hitting the pool below I was surprised it wasn’t a torrent of flow. I make my way through the mist to once again relieve Leo at the anchor. He continues down the next drop where the other group are just setting their next anchor

Even though short, P4 was probably the trickiest. There was a bit of flow in the pool at the bottom with a wash over risk if you were not careful. Leo set a guide line to help the rest of us across.

I man the anchor and enjoy the spray and wind as the others make their way first to me and on to Leo

Russ heading down P4 on the guided abseil while I pack up the anchor in the spray ©Madie

From here down we are on the standard route though the extra water makes it seem anything but standard

We soon leap frog the other group and continue our way down

Madie disappearing into the froth
This one is optional or you can walk around and jump…
And after abseiling to the halfway ledge and jumping this beauty we haul out into the sun for lunch

So the usual exit is to continue down 45mon or so to the Kalang (Kanangra Creek and Kanangra brook) junction and then up murdering gully or manslaughter ridge. We thought we might try another option

We head up a steep rocky gully that at times blurred the line between scrambling and rock climbing

We make good time and eat the elevation but are nervous we will get cliffed out. The map wasn’t exactly inspiring. About half way up I spot a vegetated gully coming in to the side. I reckon that will go. Says I

We have a bit of a pow wow and Russ checks the map.

I think he could be right says, Russ. The side gully looks more promising on the contours than the main gully

Should we take Flynny’s gull or stay in the main one.

Whoa there! If the gully goes it can be Flynny’s gully. If it doesn’t it’s Russ’s gully. Say I

We head up the side gully.

It’s steep and loose. Think manslaughter ridge but looser with no room to traverse. Crawl up 2 steps. Slide back one. Shower your mates below with pebbles, rocks and the occasional boulder. Grab a spikey shrub or cutty grass, hope for the best

Sometime later we reach the base of the top cliff and begin to traverse around hoping that it will peter out.

Peter, peter. Pumkin eater.

But soon it appears our way is going to be barred by cliff dropping back into the gully below.

The nose always goes, sometimes.

Leo finds a weakness in the nose above us and manages to get up to drop a rope back down. Gibbo heads up. Followed by Madie.

Where’s Sterlo?

Hey there’s a gully around the corner you can walk up… Sterlo is up top. Me and Russ opt to follow him up

Flynny’s gully is renamed Craigs Crying Crack. I mean I only cried once, but whatever. It goes but it has some hair on it. it ain’t fun and we’re not sure if it saved us any time

How ’bout dem views thou

party size: 6

Time: 8hr car to car with along lunch

Remember your comfort zone is a very dangerous place to be

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