Mt Alexanda 17-08-2019

17-08-2019

Jeremy, Aleasha, Russ, Madie and Me

Road trip!

For one reason or another I find myself picking up Madie and Russ and pointing our wheels south to meet up with Jez and Aleasha for some climbing at a popular little crag near Mittagong.

It was a perfect winters day and for a while we had the crag all to ourselves.

Madie, Russ and I set up on a nice looking 14, Selective Cleansing. It was a nice way to warm up

It was a short climb so we each have a lead and move around the corner for another 14, Open to Public Scrutiny. Basically 1 smeary move down low and a walk up the wall

Again Madie places the gear, then we pull the rope and each have a lead and leave the gear in place to swap routes with the others

Mean while had Jez and Aleasha set up on a more ambitious 21…. Crimp a Buttock They both have a quiet, smooth style. They are nice to watch.

The crimps to get over the over hang were a bit much on lead and Aleasha takes a slight detour around the overhang on a 17.

Jez would eventually follow her on lead while Madie and Russ manage the direct route on top rope.

I had the holds, just didn’t have the strength or confidence to pull them, even on top rope, and eventually with rock solid forearms I resorted to the by pass.

Feeling confident after the top rope we decide to have a lead on something a little more challenging, 17 or 18 would be nice… A slight miss read of the guide saw Madie leading up Silver Fox, 20

Now a just a few weeks ago we dragged each other up a 15 on top rope and were over the moon…. Well, I’ve never known her to back off a challenge and bang, she leads her first 20. While Gibbo and Aleasha are quiet and precise, The Mad One is pure determination, power and self belief, oh and a “little” more vocal ūüôā

The challenge is out and I surprise myself by following her to bag the hardest climb I’ve done in over 20 years.

But that would pretty much be my last win for the day. With blown forearms I attempt to follow the others up a few more routes but fail.

Still stoked for the day. If you’d have asked me on the way down I would have said I’d be happy if a managed to second a 17. Bagging a 20 (with pre-placed gear) was a pleasant surprise.

Mt Alexandra is such a cool crag. Interesting routes on nice rock with a good mix of grades. No doubt we’ll be back.

Routes.

Selective Cleansing 14: Madie, Russ, me

Open to Public Scrutiny: 14 Madie, Me, Russ, Aleasha, Jez

Crimp a Buttock 21: Aleasha, Jez (17 variant on lead). Top rope: Madie, Russ Jez (Direct route) Me (17 Variant)

Silver Fox, 20: Madie, Me, Russ, Jez, Aleasha

Three and a Half Thousand 20: Jez, Madie Aleasha. Top rope Russ, Me (Failed)

Corner from Heaven 18: Aleasha, Jez, Madie: Top rope Russ

Madie and Jez then lead some pumpy little over hung route in the cave. Aleasha had a fair crack on top rope. Me and Rus were done

Make sure you become part of the glorious past in someone else’s future: A Penny

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Scrub, Slots and knots

22/06/2019

Little Miss Sunshine, The Russian Gangster, The Dare Devil, Badass Barbie, Archie, White Water Wizard and Meeeeeee (the eeejiot)

When Kylie said her crew were keen on a trip to this area and invited me along I jumped at the chance and then pretty much rearranged the trip… But they were cool with it.

Anyhoo

There has been a lot of good discussion on the Australian Canyoners group about rigging releasable contingency anchors and with Mark’s guidance we took the opportunity to practice setting up with a figure 8 block. A method I’ve not used before but one I’ll make use of in the future.

I’ve always like the idea of releasable anchors and have used munter-mule knots in the past but found them too much of a pain in the arse to bother with on most recreational trips, however there are a bunch of devices out now that take the hassle out of the equation. And for those not into buying more gear (weirdos) most people would have a spare figure 8 in the gear bag somewhere. I was surprised at how simple and quick the figure 8 block was to rig.

But I get ahead of myself.

It’s -4 when Little Miss Sunshine arrives at my place, minus the sunshine, and we head off to meet Mark and the others. I know the others only from online interactions so it’s cool to finally meet them in person.

After a gentle stroll up the hill, wait. No, that’s not right. After slogging up the hill we dump bags and set off for a side trip to our first canyon of the day, slipping up the usual pass and short cutting through the scrub to the top of the slot

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

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

Kenobi
It’s short but the light is always impressive
It was bad enough they were twinning…. 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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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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6 dopes go to 4 Dope Canyon

05-05-18

Chardie, Autal, Al, Madie, Maarten and me

Ok I wanted to get my young nephew out to do Tiger Snake canyon and invited the others along for the trip. But 2 things happened

a. Nathan broke a couple of fingers, so he wouldn’t be able to abseil and

b. an alert cames through saying the area would be closed due to Hazard reduction burns

That also ruled out my back up plans and after a bit of thought I threw up the idea of Four Dope canyon.

It was going to be a big walk for a shortish canyon but  I had enjoyed the neighboring Dead Tree Canyon last year and it was ment to be a similar sort of trip. Plus it’s one I’d not done before and I’m always keen on checking out new adventures.

The others were a little dubious. They had asked around and got reports back saying it was a very ordinary canyon and not worth doing. Oh well I’m going anyway. In the end they came too.

Madie had been introduced to Maarten somehow and asked if he could tag along. He was a backpacker out from the Netherlands and keen to do some canyoning, he already done solo trips to Calustral and Kanangra and so Autal picked him up from Paramatta station and now we we a group of 6.

Slight hickup early on as Al rang. Where are you guys at? Asked he

My place. says I

I’m looking for it and there is no 33 Shaft st….

Wow I’d moved out of shaft street 3 years ago. My tired brain must have malfunctioned (it often does)when I texted the meeting place through to him… That doesn’t bode well.

Anyhoo. We eventually all meet up at the Waratah ridge car park and start the walk out.

It’s a long walk along an old fire trail and then onto a foot pad, but it’s fairly flat and the company is good so time passes quickly

The foot pad comes and goes towards the end. I’ve always found it odd, you’ll be on a very clear obvious trail and 20m later it disappears. Then, if you are lucky, you pick up a faint trail, step over a log and it disappears, then you stumble over a clear trail again. And so on and so forth. Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera…

Anyhoo we get to the spot where the track notes say we need to veer off. I may have come a fraction far and we need to skirt back around the head of the gully which would lead into arch canyon and we pick up a faint ridge which begins to drop down early.

The track notes are a bit vague, saying to follow the ridge until it starts to descend then drop into the creek. Well we’ve only just got onto the ridge but it sure is descending. The Canyon is still 1km down stream but we drop into the creek.

Big mistake. It’s scrubby as all get up. We do come across these cool over hangs and erosion caves thou

It takes us a stupid long time to push through 100m of scrub and we make the call to scramble back out onto the side ridge to traverse above the worst of it.

Some interesting scrambles along the halfway ledge bewteen clifflines and we  finally drop back down and suit up.

Are you sure this isn’t 6 dopes? Chardie asks

The slot would want to be special or it’s making my first entry on the never to be repeted list. says I

All kitted up we enter the creek and wade on down stream. Just as it was getting uncomfortably warm in the wetsuits we make our way through a horid mess of tree fall and the canyon drops away below us.

We waist no time roping up. Not even half way down the abseil the walk in is forgotten. Wow.

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Autal belaying Chardie
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Madie locks off to take some photos
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Ahead the canyon looks quality
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Charlies angle or sumfink

After a short section of narrow, dark canyon it opens out slightly

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And then it drops again and there is a couple of abseils in quick succession

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Chardie on rope
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The last one is the most awkward drop of the trip but not too difficult

And some nice canyon follows

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Now we hadn’t seen any sun in the canyon, it felt like late afternoon twilight the whole time and there was a bit of a cool breeze flowing down between the walls. I was just starting ot feel a bit chilly when we get to the 1 compulsary swim of the trip.

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Chardie braving the cold, clear waters

But is is such a nice spot

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Maarten asking Madie if he can jump it
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And then it opened out and we were at the junction with the Bungleboori.

We now needed to make our way about 40min upstream to Arch canyon and a convenient pass out.

I’d used this pass before but approached from the upstream side where we made use of the current to carry us down the deep pools of the Bunglebooru. I was thus expecting some cold swims as we made our way upstream but other than a few wades we made good time along the banks and sand drifts in a stunningly wild section of the river

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We soon found ourselves at the juncton with Arch canyon and I was super keen to slip up the canyon a little to have a better look at the arch.

It’s well worth the effort of climbing up the bottom drops and steep creek to reach the arch just as the canyon proper stars (or is that ends…)

Madie admiring the arch from below and giving it a bit of scale
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It’s a stunning bit of landscape
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Looking up Arch canyon

We make our way back down to find Chardie and Al have made a head start on the exit track. Maarten and Autal follow. I’m getting out of my wet suit. I hate walking uphill in a wettie.

Me and Madie get into dry gear and give chase up the hill.

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A shot of the arch from the exit track.

Autal is waiting at the base of the upper cliffs and we set off after the others. We can hear them ahead which is a good sign as we scramble up the first viable option and find every one waiting to regroup on the ridge

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Looking over the gully that hides Arch canyon and out into the Bungleboori wilderness from the top of the pass out

And now for the long slog back to the car.

Was it worth the 20km of walking and nearly 800m of elevation gain for a short canyon?

Well, whenever you are out in the bush with a great bunch of people it’s worthwhile and to be honest I was impressed by the canyon itself. It had a beauty to it and the first abseil was stunning. It also has a less traveled feel to it, like you are one of the privledged few to experience it’s wonders.

I wouldn’t rush back next week and I’m glad we didn’t do it in the height of summer but would definately consider doing it again in the future if the company was right.

Party size. 6 All experienced, all a little loopy

Time: 8.5hrs car to car with some stuffing around finding our way in.

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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

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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

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

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A wander around some Wollangambe wilderness

08-07-2017

Ed, Etham, Ciaus, Jake and me.

Another trip to this short but pretty dryish canyon out the back of Clarence, and a stop at Goochs Crater on the way back

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This is an awesome sheltered cave. The creek, when it’s running flows through the back of it.

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Venturing up the stuning side canyon. First recorded exploration of this slot by a bushwalking club was a group from Sydney Uni Bush Walking club in 1962, though I suspect Col Oloman would have visited previously either on one of his solo trips or with friends as they explored the areas through here across to the Bungleboori and beyond. Neither bothered to name it.

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I keep forgetting how short this slot is. You get caught up in the light and ambience and time ceases to have meaning

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the large cave in a 180 bend in the canyon.It’s like another world. Ciaus and Ed desided when society falls apart this might be a good place to live

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Ed in one of the more open twists and turns in the very narrow upper section of canyon

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tight and twisting canyon formation

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Ed on the peak, the canyon carves around either side of him. The cave at the bend can be seen in the cliff line, though the scale of it is hiddne by the trees

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We seem to be climbing out to look down on the top of canyons a lot lately

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Ciaus and Jake as the canyon opens out slightly near the cave

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Ed in the canyon

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On our way back out

Then it was over the ridge and out to Goochs Crater

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Ed looking down on the cliff lined swamp known as Gooches crater

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Looking down on Ed and Ethan through the Sky light in Goochs arch

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It’s an interesting feature

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Jake heading over to join Ethan and Ed under the arch

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It really is impressive

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Jake in the well used camp/party cave looking back towards the arch

All in all a pleasant winters day in the bush

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“Life must be lived as play.” – Plato.

Scrub bash to somewhere

12-06-17

Julie, Ed, Ethan, Gaz, Jodie and me

I have to say after our scrub bash to nowhere I was fairly surprised the others would still be keen on coming out, let alone head back with the same goal in mind. Something about unfinished business. The more we looked over maps the more convinced we were right there, just misinterpreted the trail notes.

With a whole range of schedules and commitments finding a date where every one was available was the tricky part.

The date was set and eagerness grew. Then Illness struck. Ed rang saying he was crook as a dog. I called Gaz saying I was reluctant to do the trip without Ed as it was his idea in the first place.¬†I was just heading to the chemist to drug myself up, Says he, as I’m the same… Trip off.

It was going to be w while before everyone would be available again.

Then I got the opportunity to do the trip with others who had been there previously and a mid week reconnaissance mission took place. It had me more eager than ever to get the crew back there.

Another date was set.

Another set of circumstance meant not everyone could make it.

Postponed again

Finally 12months later every one was getting keen again. Ed suggested the June long weekend. We had a big MTB race on at Rydal which ruled out Saturday and Sunday. I needed to go to work Monday morning but arranged to go early so I could meet the others around 9.

I threw out an invite to Julie just in case she had a day off and luckily she did so it would be a party of 6.

Well Friday and Saturday pissed down. Like constant drizzle interspaced with good heavy rain. Sunday dried out just enough that the race at Rydal was on perfectly tacky trails but I warned the others that while usually dry above the knees with this rain we might get wet up to our waists… A slight under estimation.

Anyway we met up and made our way down into the Wolgan. A good fog rolled through the valley with the promise of clear blue sky once it lifted.

We made good time up the hill and through an easy break in the cliff lines. Much easier than the first way I lead them 12 months ago.

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Julie leads Ethan up through a convenient pass

 

 

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Another magical vantage point on the Wolgan cliff lines

Julie guided the way and we surprised ourselves by arriving bang on target at the lunch spot above the abseil anchor with surprisingly little scrub to be bashed at all.

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We need to squeeze down through that hole

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Usually dry it was nice to see water flowing down here, though it was a tad chilly. The hole opens out into a nice circular window

 

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As far as constrictions go it’s a fairly blah. But the abseil features make it worth it

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The start of the only real canyon section. I’m told last week this was ankle deep. Last year when I came through with Julie and the Cooks it was about nut deep. It looks a bit deeper today….. Chest deep for me. So much for not getting to wet today. Lucky it was a bluebird day

While some tried in vain in the end there was no option but to wade on through, except after we all had, Ed pointed out a high ledge we could have scampered across with a convenient abseil tree almost directly above the end of the pool.

And next is a fun little abseil down through a hole in the rock. It’s almost like a mini Alcatraz¬†¬†but darker and narrower

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Gaz descending into the Hole

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Julie offering Jodie some tips as she bridges across a deep plunge pool within a Hole in the Rock

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Ed emerging from the Hole in the Rock. The Creek drops down a tunnel behind the rock face

next up is 2 awesomely exposed 30m abseils above the spectacular Wolgan valley

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The slot in the cliff line opens up with some grand views

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Julie leading the last abseil, a fun jaunt down a big slab with stunning views.

Our track notes said 2 ropes needed here but both center marks were on the ground so conceivably its doable on 1 genuine 60m (Note mine is about 63m and the center mark was just off the ground.

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Looking down the slab from the top of the last drop. You may be able to make out the gang at the bottom.

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Our slot is not obvious from below, pretty much center of the shot.

 

 

Party Size. 6. all experienced to intermediate

time: 5hrs car to car at a steady pace

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“There is no such thing as spare time. No such thing as free time. No such thing as down time. All you have is life time. Go!” Henry Rollins

 

 

 

Clarence Dams 11-01-17

With all the people who visit the Railway dams on Dargan crk at Clarence now days I wonder how many have ventured up into the backwater. It had been ages since I’ve done it.

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As well as leaps of faith the main wall is also great for deep water soloing

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There are lots of climbable lines on the wall, however most involve a blank section 3/4 the way up that require a long stretch or balancey moves on tiny climps while trying to smear with bare feet.

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If you have a bit of reach the green route is by far the easiest. For someone around the 180cm mark it’s only about a grade 16. Where the higher climber’s elbow is in the pic is a sneaky under cling. By stepping down and to the left ¬†you can then come back up right, use your right hand to pull you into the wall with the under cling, this allows you to push up off your right foot while stretching your left hand straight up. A seemingly small hold just within reach is in fact a very nice jug. The black line is the hardest I have managed to do, way back when I was climbing lots. It involves a cool move to get over the shelf and a big dyno further up where the wall gets blank. I only managed it once. the Blue and purple traverse lines would be around 17. The red and Yellow lines were always a bit beyond me.