So I’d been thinking about doing Looking Glass but then had a few other offers. For various reasons I was either unable to get to the other offers, they got cancelled or I decided I’d really rather do Looking Glass. After a bit of a shit week at work a long, complex walk and tricky little canyon was just what I needed
As luck would have it Kent was doing a trip there so late Friday I gave him a call and jumped on board.
Pulling into the meeting place I was pleased to see Louise and Scott as I hadn’t managed to catch up with them for a trip in ages and they are always good value.
Others arrived. Stuff was jammed in cars and before we knew it we were in the Wolgan and on our way.
The haul up through the cliffs was no where near as difficult as I was expecting. The walk along the ridges made up for it though. Lots of spurs where it was easy to loose the main ridge if you wasn’t paying attention, thou a fire in recent years meant there wasn’t much scrub so walking was easy.
We managed to scramble down into the head of the creek then followed it down to the first abseil. I was so caught up in enjoying the bush and the banter it took me by surprise when someone said we’d been going for 4hrs already.
On my last trip with Tim I mentioned we’d been using releasable anchors. Today he packed his “Gate” which he had picked up as a freeby when he bought something at Adventure Base but had never used. And by gate he meant Gigi but none of us knew how “Gigi” was pronounced so “Gate” it was.
I’d be keen to see the figure 8 block. said he.
Did you bring your fiddlestick, Said Scott
Let’s rig every abseil different and see how they compare, said someone else. Oh wait, that was me.
I’ve been loving learning and sharing new techniques lately so this was going to be a fun day.
I started setting up the second drop using a figure 8 block.
Can we fiddlestick this one. asks Allie
I’ve been wanting to try this. Says Scott. I bought one but Louise is a die hard member of the DRT crew (Double rope techniques or, as we re-dubbed it, the Dinosaurs (using) Redundant Techniques…. 🙂 )
Ok well she wont have a choice for this one. I grin
So, I’d been toying with an idea to help manage the pull cord. I’d tested it a bit on the cliffs behind my place and it was working a treat. So confident in it was I that I posted a video of it to the Australian Canyoners facebook group to show people how it worked.
So of course today in the wild in front of a bunch of keen onlookers the whole thing turned to shit, the bobbin fell apart and I’m mid way down the abseil looking at a knotted mess wondering how rectify it….
Back to flaking it into the throw bag like a normal person…
Next up Figure 8 block.
You wont be able to release that when it’s loaded. Says Kent
Yeah I will, say I. Pull on this I’ll show you
Na I’ll get on rope. I’m telling ya, ya wont be able to lift my weight to release it.
Kent gets on rope , locks off so his whole weight is on the system… I pop the lock and lower him down. Easy peasey.
Well I’ll be buggered. Says Kent. You have to show me that
And then we stroll back through the ruins and back to the car
Time: 8hrs car to car relaxed pace with plenty of stops and discussions around anchors
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood. I ignored both, went my own way and discovered more than I ever thought I could
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.
It’s really short shall we follow up with Doomsday (AKA Bull Ant)
They are an argumentative bunch…
Anyhooo, We converge at my place, load gear in ute and head off.
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.
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.
Down into a gap and up the other side then steadily up a ridge.
The canyon must start fairly high up in the system….
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
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
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.
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
The next canyon does not appear in any guide and I haven’t seen it marked on any map I’ve come across but unlike the two previous canyons that none of us had done Ryan had visited this one, stumbling across it on a trip a few years ago.
It will be more aquatic than the last 2, says he….
Anyhoo, it turned out to be a great little canyon
So our intel and Ryan’s memory said there were four drops in the canyon, and this is true, but just down the creek we come to a substantial cliff line which looks borderline to big for our rope.
The general consensus from those who have explored this particular slice of the wilderness before is there are no large drops of any significance.
This one looks significant
Well that’s a bit of a buggar.
We join two ropes and anchor the top one just above the knot on a munter hitch. I get on the bottom rope and head over the edge but due to over hanging ledges I can’t see if the ropes on the ground. The plan is once I get a visual, if it is not touching the ground Ryan will lower me on the munter.
As it was when I finally get a look the rope is close enough to the ground to make it down safe.
It’s getting late and we are a long way down the main creek from our camp site so we discuss options of trying to break a pass up through the cliffline while we still have light or trudge a few kilometres up the main creek to a pass Phil has used previously and climb that in the dark.
We opt for the former, Madie has a pass marked on her map we think we can link up with.
Unfortunately we get on to a ledge too early that doesn’t go and are forced to abseil off as light fades where the decision is made to retreat to the main creek and take Phils pass out.
It’s longer and more complicated than I expect but we eventually get to the top and onto the fire trail. We have a couple of kilometres to get back to camp.
The others are staying an extra night, a wise choice, myself and Russ break camp and trek a further several kilometres back to the cars for the long drive back to civilisation
All in all a great experience
Group Size: 6
Time: Car to Camp. 1 and a bit hours. Camp to camp 14 hours. All up just shy of 25 hours and 36km in the wilderness
So what did I think of the Fiddle Stick?
Well… It’s a lot slower than throw and go and has none of the advantages of lowerable anchor systems. There is also a lot more to be mindful of when setting up so will need constant practice but for wilderness canyons where the aim is not to leave anything behind, including slings, rope burns on trees or grooves in rock, it makes a lot of sense.
Another handy tool in the quiver, but as I said one you’d want to practice a bit to stay familiar with it’s use.
You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself: Alan Alda
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.
And then the canyon opens back out and we wander down the pleasant creek to the main section.
How did you get down the log? Asks Naomi
I’ll teach you to hump it. Says Madie. I’m a log humping expert…..
Naomi does it with style
Me… Not so much
The canyon here is deep and impressive. A stunning bit of canyon
We stuff around trying to re-enact the pose that features on the back of the 5th edition of the Jameison guide
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.
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.
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.
Then set a top belay for the girls
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.
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.
I often browse websites, blogs, trip reports and photos looking for inspiration and in doing so years ago I stumbled across a name of a canyon I’d not heard of before. My interest was pipped. More research revealed nothing but another name of a second canyon close by.
After some assumptions, deductions, guess-work and staring at satellite imagery I mark 2 points on the map with question marks. But at the time I didn’t have a group I thought would be willing to go in search of a probably low quality canyon through thick scrub just for the hell off it. And, well life got in the road And that was the end of that.
But the other week I pulled out my old map and those 2 question marks burned into me. I put out a call to see who’d be keen on an exploration trip that would probably involve a wet canyon but probably not stunning or wow material.
To my surprise the above mentioned folk said yes and so we found ourselves parked on a seemingly random bit of otherwise highly trafficked firetrail and we headed off into the untracked scrub.
Only then we stumbled over an old vehicle track that was heading right where I’d marked would be the most likely easy way to enter the creek.
The track stopped at a rock outcrop and while there was no obvious path down it was an easy scramble into the creek. Surprisingly there was a footpad of sorts along the creek edge. OK this must get more visitors than I thought.
I was pretty sure I was looking at a small Wollemi Pine. But this isn’t where they were suppose to be. I fire off a few photos to compare images later on but I convince myself it was something else.
What going on? says they
I thought that was a Wollemi pine. say I
The plaque says it is a wollemi pine.
OK I missed that. It seems it was planted in 2008 as a memorial to two people who enjoyed the area. OK that explains that.
From here the faint track disappears and is replaced by not so faint scrub.
At some point the conversation turns to buggery and bestiality. WTF? the weird conversations you have in the bush. Those who recognise where we are may get the reference.
Anyhoo Chardi, who missed the memo that it was going to be a wet trip until Tim picked him up and asked if he had his wetsuit packed, is not impressed with the scrub so far. He makes comment on our 6 dope trip and threatens to wipe me off his list if things don’t improve dramatically
Luckily we round a bend and are greeted by a drop into a heavenly looking pool. Well it would be heavenly looking if it was 28° summer day instead of at 14° mid spring day…
How’s the water?
Bathy and only knee deep, or sumfink…
What follows is a delightful little Sheep Dip style of canyon with lots of slides
Chardi forgives me for the scrub on the way in.
And in-between were some surprisingly nice bits of canyon. Not mind=blowing wow but nice
And after another little drop we find a spot in the sun to warm up and have a bit of morning tea. There are signs that this spot is more visited. I point out there is a popular walk in the area and this bit could be visited from the bottom up before the waterfall stopped you.
We continue down a track of sorts but now I’m looking for a pass out to try to link up with the other possible canyon. I’m starting to think there wont be one when a steep gully appears that looks like it might go.
Tim and Gabby follow Madie up a steep bit of scrub out of the creek. Chardi and Marchelle follow me a few meters down stream where I think looks to be an easier ramp.
I scramble up a steep rock using a small sapling as a hold and reach out with my other hand to grab a reasonable size tree root.
That’s not a tree root. Tigersnake! Big one. Now I’m generally pretty good around snakes so I slowly stand and be as non-threatening as I can be. Old mate has flattened out but on a cool spring day I doubt he is going to waste energy on me if I don’t threaten him. I slowly reach for my camera. The bugger stands up and comes straight at me. I jump back off the rock.
Did I mention the rock was steep. so now it’s on top of the rock where I was just standing and I’m at the bottom of the rock which pretty much puts us eye to eye about a foot and a half away from each other.
It comes at me again. Shit!
Ok so snakey people know that Tigersnakes put on pretty good threat displays but unless you try and pick one up or step on it they’ll often do a bit of bluff where they launch a closed mouth headbutt to scare you off. This one had it’s mouth closed. I highly doubt it was looking to bite but when it’s coming at your face all that goes out the window. I launch myself backwards down the hill.
Chardi is wondering what the hell is going on, surely I didn’t fall of that bit of rock, did I break and handhold or…. Oh Snake.
I stumble in the loose rocks and fallen branches, I’ve put a good couple of meters between us but I look up and it’s still coming at me. I’m all tangled up on the ground and have nowhere to go. Shit Shit! Shit! I’m f#$ked.
It gets to within about a meter and veers off. Shit!
Marchelle cottons on to whats happening. The Snake coils around. Takes another good look at us, sees there is now 3 big things not just 1 and takes off into the undergrowth directly towards the other group.
Watch out! Angry Tigersnake coming across towards you.
They all take it nice and calmly and continue up the hill. I compose myself and do likewise.
Later, back at the cars Chardi brings up the snake encounter.
What? Where? Oh wow we thought you called out you couldn’t continue up where you were and were coming across toward us. Then we wondered why you didn’t
No wonder they were so calm about it.
But we get ahead of ourselves. For now we continue up and reach the top of the gully only to be blocked by a small overhang and the last little bit of the cliff. Using Chardi as a ladder a scramble up the overhang and the dirty, not quiet vertical scree and set a rope. I call,Rope below .
Don’t bother there is an easy pass up to the side.
Now they tell me.
Once through the cliffs it was an easy stroll through fairly open scrub down into the next gully along until we are stopped by a reasonable sized cliffline. We had plenty of ropes but as they say in the Bluies “The nose always goes! Sometimes.” Just up-stream on a bend I see a steep nose that looks like it would indeed go.
The scrub to get there was horrid but it gave us a way down. It was steep and slippery and at one stage Gabby slipped bounced into me and like a snooker ball I shot off down the next bit. Then again she slipped and landed on me…. Well she says she slipped but I’m taking it as a compliment or sumfink.
Anyhoo we reach the creek. The dry, dirty creek filled with razor grass and dead fern fonds and choss and disappointment.
We fight our way down stream. Chardi revokes his forgiveness and when we are sure this isn’t going to be a canyon suggested the creek be renamed Flynny’s Folly.
And then a trickle of water. Then a rocky bottom. And then, out of nowhere
I didn’t think the previous creek was as cold as I expected. This one seemed to make up for it.
At one point we drop into a pot hole to find the other side to be rimmed with a 2 meter high wall (Water must flow underneath but the passage was silted up with sand. I scramble up. The wall is about a foot wide and drops straight back down into a pool on the other side. I help Gabby up and then use her pack to lower her down until her feet touch the water and drop her.
I must admit I didn’t really pay attention to her landing. I help Tim up. Just slide down the wall and land soft it’s only about waist deep. says I.
Tim slides and disappears under the water. OK chin deep….
But just around the corner it opens up into a glorious amphitheatre and we warm ourselves in the sun thinking that’s it. But just just down stream
One more short swim through the darkest and prettiest bit of canyon so far on the trip
And then the gully opens out.
Near by was far more popular canyon and while we were in the area we thought why not
And then it’s up the hill and back to the car.
Party size: 6 all experienced
Timing: 6hrs car to car
Life is more enjoyable and less oppressive with some mountain air, a little adventure and just the right company
So I wouldn’t normally repeat this one so soon as there are other trips nearby I prefer but Tim was back and his trips are always awesome, plus I was keen to see if it was possible to descend the side slot we visited from the bottom last time, also Ed still hadn’t done Windows and was free, and, well, what the hell
Anyhoo, Ed arrives at my place and we head off to meet the others. With a couple of extras the group was going to be over the max group size recommended by NPs so we decided to break into 2 smaller groups.
I’d head off with the first group and Tim would follow with the second group 15min later. Well I say Tim but we all know Chardie is the real leader, or so he says or sumfink.
We planned to take my pass up for something different. It adds about 30min-1hr to the trip depending on how long to spend soaking in the ambience as the route takes in an impressive bit cliff line that is riddled with slots and niches.
We spend a bit of time enjoying this and the second group breifly catches back up as I’m leading my group out.
The plan is to meet up again at the top and stay reasonably close until we find the top of the side slot but first we need to get up my pass
Now we had a breif bit of scrub to get through then we should drop down right on top of the slot I wanted to look down and, sure enough I come to the top of a slot except I turned off the ridge slightly too early and living up to the reason I orginally dubbed this spot Kenobi point, this was not the slot I was looking for.
I should have used the GPS….
Anyhoo. It was a tad scrub-bashy but the slot lead us down into the valley easy enough and while it did threaten to canyon up at one point it was nothing on the other slot
The Slot we descended
The slot I wanted to descend
Click to enbiggen
And then we split up again. My group would push forward with the bulk of the ropes and set the first couple of abseils. Tim’s group (Chardie’s group) would follow collecting the ropes which would then be exchanged again at the lunch ledge.
Actually, I don’t mind this one either
I set the rope just to have it out of my pack and headed to the lunch ledge. Pointing the way to the ledge to those behind. Laurie missed the memo and as I was eating lunch I hear him call, On rope is any one on Belay?
NO, we’re up here.
I can here them down there but I cant see them. Is some one on belay?
We’re up here. No one is down there.
Best lunch ledge in the Wolgan
Click to largify
We finish lunch and have a bit of time to soak in the ambience before we hear the second group behind us so we meet them at the base of the abseil, exchange ropes and continue on
Looking up through the arch
Trying not to make it a but shot of Marchelle in the arch
click to size up
Once down we wait for the second group to catch up before all stringing out for the short walk back to the cars.
Another great day out with awesome people
Most of us are pretending to awesome while struggling to be normal. But what’s the point of normal? Normal never left it’s mark on anyone.
Windows is a nice winters canyonish abseil trip and I was keen to link it up with a slightly different way up the hill using the pass we mistakenly discovered on our scrub bash to nowhere, using the approach I later took with Yuri, as I thought it would add to the trip with out adding much time while also avoiding the need to go right to the top of the ridge before fighting our way done through the scrub.
Turns out it works well.
We meet up at the usual spot and head on down the valley. Up top a bitter wind made things nippy at best. Once in the valley we we’re out of the wind. Still jumpers and beanies were on as we crossed river via the log and made our way up the old rail line.
Soon though, beanies and jumpers were stowed in bags as we left the easy grade behind and headed steeply up beside Penrose gully.
Instead of continuing up the slot through the final cliff line like normal we skirt around below the upper cliff. This section cliff between here and my pass is riddled with slots, erosion caves and other interesting features.
Following the cliffs we pass many slots, most finishing too high to explore from the bottom but eventually we come to the micro canyon I call Kenobi.
Like a natural chimeny the wind whistles up here and jumpers were dug out of packs while we explored it’s confines.
After a short stop here we continue around the corner to my pass. A steep gully leads up and soon becomes blocked by chock stones but a hidden pass up an alcove in the walls lets us continue up. I slip up and drop a rope down for the others to use as a hand line. We are now on a ledge which will let us get on top of the chock stones.
What follows is a narrow squeeze
I slip back down to collect Pete’s bag and opt to climb around the squeeze
Once up we have a quick look at the Top of Kenobi but the harsh contrasting light made it hard to photograph so we slip up the other side to take in the views from a spot Yuri has dubbed Jedi Point
And then we are only a couple of hundred metres west of where we normally drop into the gully that leads to Windows canyon right next to the side slot.
And then it’s down the gully until it canyons up
It was here admist banter and laughter I pull the ropes and then realise there is a second part to the abseil….. We hitch a make shift anchor and go again.
We bask in the sun and have a bite to eat before we continue down to the windows
And then it’s down the hill and back to the car
Group size 3: all experienced
Time: 5hr 45 car to car.
If life gives you lemons you might be a lemon tree
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
Anyhoo we all make it up and in short time are back to doing what we like to do best. Coming back down.
And then we were into the slot proper
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
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.
And then we are out into the open for 1 last impressive abseil
And then it was a simple trudge back down to the camp ground. Another enjoyable day in the bush with great company
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