Another Nightmare

03/08/2019

Tim, Ev, Allie, Roy. Chardi, Peter, Richard and meeeee

It’s been awhile since I’ve managed to head out with Tim and his crew but thankfully they let me jump in on this one at the last minute.

We sort gear at the NP gate and amidst much banter waste no time heading off, down toward the ruins, across the river and, up everyone fav access trail, The Pipeline track.

A quick drinks break at the top of the Pipeline trail with some in depth discussions where we sort out the woes of the modern world. ©Roy

It was a glorious winters day and the rest of the walk in was uneventful. Before long we find ourselves scrambling down through the small, broken cliffline immediately above the start of the canyon.

The day was so nice even Ev was in a T-shirt

We opt to traverse to the right along the top of the canyon to the wall abseil. This avoids the two stage drop we did last time. It’s nice but often has a pool at the bottom and a difficult pull down. Going right gets you a long abseil directly above the narrow crack abseil and keeps your feet dry

Chardi on abseil 1

From there it’s into the fun… or horror… or sumfink

What menace awaits Ev in the abyss below? Usually for me some scrapped skin… Big shoulders or sunfink
Oh the horror of it all
There is often a shallow pool at the bottom off this one. Careful use of the log can help avoid wet feet. No such worries for Richard today, it was dry as a Nuns nasty.

Next up is a short drop with a diabolical start. Not really, it’s fairly simple…

And then we come to the log.

There’s an anchor here. Says Allie

Na I couldn’t be bothered, reply I. I’m just going to hump the log.

Is that a thing?

Oh course it is. Reluctantly she decides to give it a go

Wow lot’s of people must do this, it’s so smooth. No splinters…. Yas! Converted

Of course Roy has to out do every one by walking down the log instead of humping it. He’s only broken his neck twice, but never while canyoning….

Richard on the chock-stone abseil. If you go underneath the 2 chock-stones it’s a real nightmare of a pulldown, thou like seeming all the longer drops in nightmare there are options to rebelay to break it into 2 shorter drops ©Roy
The stuff of sleep horrors. Classically dodgey blue mountain anchor, loose bolt backed up by 2 rusting climbing nuts. At least the tape and nuts have been renewed..
Final abseil. 30m into a waist deep pool. Being the gentlemanly chap I am I offered to go first, sacrifice my dryness then set up a guided abseil to get the rest across ©Roy
Orange rope is tied off just tight enough to keep the Abseiler up out of the water. Abseiler comes down the purple with an extended biner clipped to the orange rope. It’s kinda a cross between an asbeil and a flying fox
Then it’s a simple matter of following the base of the cliffs back around to the Pipeline trail and down to the cars from there

Another magnificent day out in the bush with wonderful people.

Party Size: 8

Time 6hr 14min car to car relaxed pace.

Being normal is the ultimate goal of the boring

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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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Pipeline Canyon

21-10-2017

Tim, Allan, Sheila, Marchelle, Ev, John, Peter and me

I jumped in on this trip last minute but, as always, Tim runs well organised and welcoming trips.

A lot of rain on Friday and a drizzlely morning had the Wolgan river up a little but the fog lifted and the sun broke through on our way up the pipeline track.

The views from the to were as stunning as always but we wasted no time in continuing on.

The short cut in is new to me. It misses the top section of canyon but takes you in via a small side canyon that meets Pipeline canyon just after the lower section closes in.

We arrive at our first abseil point. Do we put wetsuits on here? someone asks

You can if you want, says Tim. But we can do without

Will we know the spot to put them on down further?

Sure, just before you experience a sudden drop in temperature and an increase in wetness…

Tim should have taken his own advice, He and Al went through sans wetsuits. There was some cold bits…

 

Anyhoo

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First abseil drops us at the pretty little pool in the side creek

I go forward and set the rope for the next drop which is done two stages. I descend the first then realise the rope isn’t lone enough for the second so I can up for the second rope to be tied on before continuing down

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Al on rope

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Now, I chose to go left and abseil beside the waterfall. Al gets to the over hang and has no choice but straight down and not only gets wet but gets a slap in the face from the moss and slime growing down the centre of the falls. Good times

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a different angle of Ev on the same drop

The spare ropes are thrown down and while the others make their way down I head down to set the next abseil.

I encounter a small drop just before the junction with the main canyon. It would be possible to down climb on tree roots but it’s slippery so I set the rope and drop in.

While waiting I decide it would be a good place to put my wetty on.

I do that. More waiting. Fire off some photos. more waiting. Hmm

I hear voices from what sounds like above, sounds like someone is setting a rope. Shit maybe the rest of the group stayed out of the creek and are abseiling in to the main canyon from above. Not a problem except Tim likes to use single rope techniques in his group so my rope has a stopper knot at the top. I start thinking I’m going to have to climb back up to undo it…

The other thing Tim likes to use is walkytalkies. Two way communication in these situations is awesome. Crisis avoided, they are still making their way down the creek.

I still hear voices, not just in my head either.

Ducking around the corner I see another group coming in from the upper section.

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The rest of the gang get to the junction

The two groups arrive at the junction pretty much at the same time. How’s that for a slightly out of the way canyon early in the wet season?

Anyhoo they are a smaller group so we let them play through and then follow them down.

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Pipeline canyon just down stream of the junction with the side creek

Pipeline canyon is a value for money experience. Lots of smallish abseils, some with tricky starts in a very pretty creek.

Waterlevels are up a little after the rain on Friday but not that noticably

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Looking back up the canyon to Al on one of the longer drops

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Ev making her way down the canyon

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The infamous log abseil. I’m starting to think every canyoner should wear something blue, just for the photographers.

 

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John making his way through the canyon

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Pipeline Canyon formation

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Al as the canyon opens out a little

We catch back up to the other group at the top of the largest abseil and enjoy a bit of sunlight as we wait.

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There are a couple of options for this one, we choose true right for an easier rope pull

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the next drop is just a few meters down stream.

You can stay dry be traversing a ledge on the left. Calls Tim

I drop down and begin heading left and promptly fall in. It’s a little brisk.

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Multiple abseils happening at once

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Al had opted not to put his wet suit on. No option here but to get wet.

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This one is trickier than it looks and you swing back in under the waterfall, ensuring a good soaking before a deep swim with tricky climb out

We scramble out into the sun shine. 1 Abseil to go.

Al decides to take the spare rope and rig up the next one.

I wait for the other but after a short stay in the sun am not too keen on swimming back across to belay.

Sheila arrives.

Do you really want a belay?

Yes please.

Ohhh. OK….

I swim back across and climb up and wedge myself in above the water. It’s still cold..

I’m sure there was a bit of posing for photos as the rest of the crew come on down. Marchelle has a couple of ropes in her pack and as she swings under the water fall the extra weight has her go briefly upside down, giving her a bit of extra time in the cold embrace of the falls as she swings back and forth a few times.

Then every one is down and I pull and coil the rope, then have to jump in after it as my cold hand drop it into the pool…

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The top of the last drop is one of the more awkward abseil starts. It looks like it should be straight forward but all the angles are wrong or something. Marchelle going over the edge

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I could say I was going for an arty shot of Tim negotiating the start with the gang watching from below but…. lens fogged up

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Not a bad spot for lunch

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Last time with Ed and Tal I think we strayed onto the lower track, which is fine just a little exposed in places and misses this fine ledge

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And these amazballz cliffline features

All in all another greet day out in the bush with a greet bunch of people

Party size 8: all experienced

Time: 6hr 15min at a very relaxed pace.

I can’t go away with you on a rock climbing weekend. What if something’s on TV and it’s never shown again: Smudge- Outdoor type

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What a Nightmare!!!

Nightmare canyon

19/08/17

Tim, Kent, Sheila, Marchelle, Ev, John, Doug, Craig, Pete and me

 

Nightmare canyon, it sounds, um, nightmarish but it’s a pleasant, if somewhat short, canyon in the Wolgan valley with some interesting abseils.

I’ve been enjoying heading out with Tim, Kent and their band of canyon addicts, they run great, well organised trips.

Anyhoo, it was back to the Wolgan and up everyones favourite little hill, the Pipeline trail

click to enbiggen

You can’t walk up the pipeline without a side trip to the lookout. It’s the law.

Click to enlarge

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Hazard reduction burn late last year has left the ridge denuded of the usual nightmareish scrub

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And it wasn’t long until we drop into our creek

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Tim leads down the second drop which looks delightfully…. I mean nightmarishly tight

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And it just gets worse

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Horrible Canyon formation

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They look terrified don’t they

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The kind of absiel that wakes you at night in a cold sweat

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Ev hugging the log for comfort

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What terror awaits us around this corner? Probably a demented clown or something, We’ll let the girls go first

Marchelle disappearing into the abysys

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Everyone knows lime green is Disney’s colour for evil

 

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I have no words

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Tim battleing a evil split rope

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Oh the horror

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One step closer to the edge

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Total nightmare

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My go next

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Actually this aint so bad

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More like a sweet dream really…

Well except when you plunge into the nut deep pool. My outie became and innie again.

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Oh sure they pull Kent across so he doesn’t get wet… Favouritism

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Ok The halfway ledge has it’s moments

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Like the fossilised remains of this dragon

But it also has it’s grandour.

Click to make huge

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Then all too soon we are back in the valley at the ruins.

 

Party Size: big but all experienced and a rope for every drop

Time: 6.5hrs car to car

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing views…” Edward Abby

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