It’s been fun slowly getting back into this canyoning caper.
I never completely stopped, we’ve always managed to get down 1 or 2 of the smaller ones each year with the kids, but last season was the first in a while we took on a couple of the more adventurous ones. However with free weekends few and far between it seemed like the season just started when it was already over.
We should do some drier ones through winter. It was a good sentiment but, again, weekends just didn’t align.
As the weather warmed up the keeness grew. A date was set. lets do Tiger Snake. It’s a relatively short trip but if memory served me correctly the abseils were interesting and the slot very tight and deep. The crew were available. Anticipation grew.
As usual the warmth of early spring gave way and in the week leading up the rain set in. Constant drizzle interspersed with heavy storms. Um weekend forecasts predicted an easing of the wild weather. I was looking forward to seeing the slot with water in it. The call was to suck it and see. If it was still raining we’d walk in and if there too much water we’d abort.
Saturday came with perfect weather. The sun was out, birds were singing… Sunday early morning drizzle was back.
Nothing but a groan greeted me as I woke Tal, but he rolled out of bed and we got ready to go. Rain jackets were packed but we we confident it would burn off.
Gaz and Bryson arrived looking keen. We called in to collect Meggs and Ben and then convoyed up to the ZigZag to meet up with Edwin.
Despite, or maybe because of, the rain and logging operations the road out was smoother than usual and in no time we at the car park.
Of the group only myself and Meggs had done Tiger Snake before. Me 20 years ago, Meggs some what longer.
Last time I had done it a bit of careful navigation was needed to find the start from the end of the old fire road. Now a clear trail continued on and we blindly followed it down into a low saddle before deciding to have a quick check on the map. Yep we’d taken a wrong turn and were a little too far east. We retraced our steps slightly, realising that the reason this bit of trail was so well trodden was quiet a few groups must have done the same, walked down then turned around and walked back, doubling the trail wear.
Just a little back up the hill we found our error and an obvious cairne and bit of tape around a tree clearly marking the spot where we should have veered left instead of continuing straight.
Back on track it was clear that a lot of water had flowed down the gully over the last week or so but now it was mostly dry, the catchment area was relatively small and the sandy soil drains easily, and soon enough we found the slot we were looking for.
The was a few dubious looks shared as we considered the narrowness of the hole in front of us. 20 years ago I was 15kg lighter and belatedly I recalled it being a tight squeeze even then.
Meggs wasted no time getting the rope out as we geared up. Tossing the ends into the crevice there was a definite splash. “You said this was dry!” “I said normally dryish”
Anyhoo I volunteered to be guinea pig and roped up. I didn’t get far before realising there was no way I was going to get down with my backpack on and the chest mounted go pro was in danger of being destoyedo so I wedged myself in and striped off the pack, handing it back up, readjusted the go pro then squeezed my way down.
Once past the start it opened out a little and it was more a roped down climb than an abseil.The spanner water in the pool at the bottom was about nut deep and full of the biggest tadpoles i’ve ever seen. No wonder tigersnakes sometimes made their way up into the coldness. Edwin bridged his way out and lowered the packs down to me and then the others made their way in.
The next drop was scrambled down pretty easily and then were were at the dodgy log anchor
I can’t remember if we used the logs last time but there had been a set of equally dodgy looking ring bolts installed. Of course this was back in the day when any permanent fixture in a NP was frowned upon and so they had been removed. Now the Logs wedged across the canyon walls and were the only thing to set the ropes on. About a dozen logs were in place but even a quick glace showed 1 would take the weight. 2 would act as back up and the rest were as useful as a hat full of dandruff.
Ed tested their strength and every one did their best to ignore the creaks and groans of the log as we descended
Another tight squeeze and the canyon opened out and an easy handover hand downclimb brought us to the big over hang abseil that ends the top section. Ropes were set and I was volunteered to go first. I descended the first easy few meters to a tiny ledge and looked out over the overhang. “Are the ends on the ground?” Called Meggs as he saw me pause. “Yep but there’s a big knot in the rope.” I think i’d been set up. Locking off on my balancey stance I hauled the ends of the rope up, cleared the knot and continued down.
This is a nice abseil beside a waterfall, which after all the rain was a picturesque drizzle of sparkling droplets.
From here the creek opened up a little and we wandered down to the next section.
A short time later the gully closed in again and clifflines began to hem us in. The drop into the next section looked very pretty. The green moss almost translucent on the walls but we decided to do the optional entry a little further along. Apparently it has become the more popular way in and after doing it I can see why. Taking Ed’s brand new 60m rope we left him to take some photos then back tracked a little until we could scramble up and along the top beside the canyon walls. Soon this brought us to a section where chock stones have formed a bridge across the top of the canyon.
Is it just me or do new ropes always tangle when you first try and unloop them? A little swearing and much untangling followed.
By the time we had the abseil rigged to go Edwin rejoined us and we graciously offered him first descent on his new rope. Not that we were scared of the drop that disappeared through a tight, cave like hole and into the darkness beyond. It was just the polite thing to do.
Meggs and Gaz followed so they could relieve Ed off belay and give him time for more photographolodating. I Helped the boys rope up and came down last. All I can say is “Wow!”
While short and dry the bottom chamber of Tiger Snake is spectacularly dark, deep and narrow anyway and this entry just adds to it. Almost 30m, mostly over hung and nearly completely dark. Very cave like.
The shortness of the trip gave us ample time to kick back and enjoy the experience. many iphone photos were snapped as Edwin set up his tripod and camera for some proper shots. We scrambled up stream to check out the short section we’d missed before making our way down
Emerging back into the light Bryson decided it was time to eat lunch and set up on the rocks. By the time I told them there was nice sandy cave just a below bags were already open and the rocks seemed just as good a spot.
Bellies full the boys soon darted down the little glowworm caves just below our lunch spot. It was all fun and games until Ben let out a shreek and came bopping out of a tight squeeze as a mid sized bat ran up his back and used him as a launch pad, ducking into the next little hole.
The rock fall above the cave (really just a large low overhang) seemed fairly fresh and hemmed the cave in a little more.
A quick scramble up through the cliff lines and then the exit trail meandered easily along the ridge, pretty much following the top of the canyon close enough that it was tempting to veer off and do the bottom section again. A quick climb up over a pagoda offered stunning views out over Deans crk and the cliff of the Wolgan and then an easy walk back to the car. all in all a pleasant little trip