Prison Break

30-04-2016

Mandy, Tal, Edwin and I

So, there’s this spot in Minnesota where the Brule River forks just above lake Superior. The left fork tumbles over the cliff line in a nice but normal waterfall and continues on its way to the lake below. The right fork, however, plunges in to a dark hole called the Devils Kettle and for all intents and purposes is never, ever, ever getting back to… I mean, seen again.

Ever!

Apparently people have thrown all sorts of stuff in there, ping pong balls, coloured dyes, old cars… it just disappears.

And there is another spot in the USA that had a prison on it that was apparently very hard to break out of.

This is like both of those put together. But not so much.

DCIM100GOPRO
Looking up out of the plunge pool

I have memories of cycling out to this area on old klunkers from a school camp in the 80s. The same one we later rode out to deep pass on. We rode out here to be amazed at the cliff lines then a few of us scrambled down the hill with our guide to wonder at the water fall running in “solid” rock.

I’d pretty much forgotten about it. Even hearing stories of Alcatraz canyon I never put 2 and 2 together until my neighbor, the infamous Bob Taylor posted some photos on his facebook page. Right, put that on the list for next year.

Except last week hiking out of Acoustic I found myself working up a sweat in the warm sunshine and I start to think, we use to canyon through to May. I’m sure we could fit in another wet one.

And so plans were hatched.

Information was hard to come by. I could sort of remember how to get to the top but I couldn’t remember how we got down, and more importantly back up, through the cliff line. A few inquiries reveled not much more than I knew already so we decided to just suck it and see.

I’m not sure if this is a canyon trip or just an abseil into a very interesting feature. I’m even less sure if  any of that even maters.

The walk in reveals the stunning cliff lines I remember. It’s great as you skirt along the top of the ravine you are just about to drop into.

DCIM100GOPRO
Mighty cliff lines

It gives a great perspective over the special waterfall. I’d show you a photo but despite having both dry bags and hard case handy I left my phone and it’s $5 “waterproof” case in my pocket as I slid into a pool I was expecting to be knee deep… Um, yeah.  If it drys out I’ll post the photos later. The ones I have now are off my go pro.

Anyhoo, after marveling at the lack of crowds we encountered all summer in the popular canyons we were bemused to see another party doing this obscure one right at the end of the season at roughly the same time as us. We got to see them come out of the hole as we negotiated around the cliff top on our way in.

We follow their foot steps down and reach the canyon in short order. And short is what it is. A small gap between impressive pagodas and a plunge down a corkscrew into a chamber that there appears to be no way out of.

Ed, who opted to forgo the wetsuit, got busy setting the ropes snapping photos as we suited up.

I was nervous and excited as I roped up and went first. It really is an awe inspiring slot. Down through a slight twist and turn and then you look down into a deep shaft. Still there looks to be no way out. Down through the waterfall. It’s my new favorite drop. (They all are)

Once down you can see the spot where the water finally found a weaker clay(?) band and ate is way out of the hole. It would have been an impressive feature way back before the water worked this way out, now it is simply stunning.

Many photos were snapped.

It was not long after this where I baptized  my phone.

Next was finding a way backup. We follow the cliff line around for a while and find some evidence of former use

I’m pretty sure old John Browning ran abseil, climbing and survival camps in the area and would be confident these are his doing. He was old school, had rope burn scars from using around the arms abseil techniques on hemp rope from his army days. Top old bloke, RIP.

Anyhoo. We were soon back at the top admiring the views again. Home to home in about 3hrs, and Mandy was worried we wouldn’t find our way out and she’d miss netball…

Group size. 4, all experienced

Timing. 2hr car to car lots of photos.

BACK

Updated trip to get more photos 26/01/2017

Canyoning footwear: Teva

For a long time the humble Dunlop Volley was the shoe of choice for tennis players, roofers and canyoners alike. Cheap, grippy and reliable. Somehow they had escaped the twist on the old engineering adage of ‘Cheap, Strong, Light… Pick any two.” but then things changed.

Ownership, manufacturing processes, materials… whatever, canyoners started to find the quality and reliability of the good old Volley was a little random, if not far below what they had been. See David Nobles report for more .

Suddenly more expensive options were becoming more appealing and with the American ‘Canyoneering’ scene getting bigger there are now canyon specific options out there.

The Fat Canyoneers have some good write ups on some of these like the Bestard Canyon Guide  the Five 10 Canyoneer SAR and Canyoneer 2 or the Adidas Hydro pro and I have to say I was a little tempted to give one of those a go. *I’ve seen been trying the Bestards

However I’ve always been a fan of Teva sandals and so I thought I’d give a bit of a report on my latest pair.

My little brother introduced me to Teva ‘Water shoes’ back in the 90s. Originally the Teva guys strapped a bit of car tyre  to their feet to help stop them falling out of their kayaks or something. Things progressed from there.

I always thought they were as grippy, if not more so, as the Volleys and being sandals it was a lot easier to clear the sand out of them. You still got a bit of sand build up under the arch of the foot but a good shake in the water or kick against a rock tended to clear it out, no need to stop and take them off.

teva

The only real issues I had with the older models, other than the less than stylish combo of sandals and woolen socks, was the open toe caught the occasional stick and they were a little finicky when trying to stay dry by toeing across a thin ledge..

Newer models such as the Trail Dozer address those issues (well maybe not the sandal/sock faux pas) by including a toe box. Making them kinda like shoe sandal hybrid.

So I purchased a set of Trail dozers a few years ago on special for about $70 au. We were just getting back into canyoning, doing 1 or 2 a year so they weren’t getting a great deal of serious (ab)use but were being used as a bit of an every day summer shoe.

First impressions were they were more comfortable off the bat than the older models while retaining good grip and easy of shedding of the sand build up. The enclosed toe was much better, both at deflecting sticks and providing more positive grip on those thin ledges.

The tough/ abrasive conditions of our sandstone canyons will take their toll on any shoe but the Dozers have held up reasonably well.

Getting back into things a bit more seriously I’ve pounded these through around 50 canyon trips now, including a fair bit of off track scrub work.

One of the retention laces let go about 3 trips ago, a simple knot reconnected them and I continued on. They are scuffed and battered and the sole is starting to loose its grip but they are still serviceable and adding in the causal day wear I have to say I’m pretty happy with how well they have lasted and at about 1/2 the price of some of the canyon specific options I  will be purchasing another set.

The Dozers 3 and 4 seem a little more shoe like so it will be interesting to see how they go with sand. Other options retain the more open style.

 

 

 

 

Acoustic Canyon and the Crack of Doom

25-04-2016

Hannah Mandy and I

So I’ve been meaning to get back out this way for a while. My first trip to Acoustic Canyon was back in 2002 (I think). It’s a pleasant trip through a short dry-ish canyon within the Pagoda country of Gardens of Stone NP. I had it on the list for this year so when Hannah said she’d like to come on a trip next time we were heading out to Gardens of Stone we locked it in.

Now there are a couple of “Acoustic”ish named canyons and there are also a couple of canyons referred to as Sunnyside canyon,  this is one of those.

The drive up was uneventful. I had debated about whether to head in the way I was shown all those years ago or to try a different route off a different fire trail. In the spirit of adventure we went the later. Parking up we took a bearing and heading into the scrub to the west and it didn’t take long to reach the little water course that would lead us between some majestic pagodas and into the canyon .

 

1
Hannah and Mandy strike a pose.

4The Pagoda canyons around this area have a different feel about them to the deeper/wetter canyons we visit through summer. With much smaller catchments they barely have water flow, if any, so you have to wonder how they have been carved out.

 

I’ve been reading a bit of stuff recently suggesting solutional processes rather than just erosion may play a big role. ie chemicals in the ground water work to dissolve the silica that holds the sandstone together. Make sense to me when looking at the delicately sculptured formations, recessed chambers and pockets.

Anyhoo, this canyon  is renown for it’s “Acoustic Chambers”. Big cave like over hangs carved (or dissolved?) out of the eastern wall.

6

8
Hannah in the large chamber

The large chamber is super impressive. Toward the back of the chamber the slightest noises are amplified. I’m sure there was a tiny fly in there today that sounded a bit like the didgeridoo I added to the video clip.

It also has some great examples of the way the ironstone bands permeate the sandstone layers seemingly at random.

As far as I know the ironstone is still a bit of a mystery. For a while people were baffled as to how it ended up crossing layers of sandstone.

It’s seems iron rich water seeping through the sandstone precipitates out as iron stone, sort of like an internal stalactite, but then you get these 3d tube like structures (there are a few in the big chamber if you look about) and that had people scratching their heads. 1 theory is bacteria colonies play a part in how and where the iron leaches out of the water.

That only leaves the question of where the iron comes from in the first place. The most logical answer would be that it leached out of an over lying cap of basalt that once covered the whole area. Except there is no evidence of such wide spread basalt formation… Of course I’ve only read up on the basics so if anyone has more insight I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

11

We stop for a quick mandarin and a drink in the big chamber before continuing on down passing a few smaller chambers further along the canyon. Each would be impressive on it’s own but they get over-shadowed by the large chamber.

15
How’s the light under that over hang?

And we soon reach a big ledge we can follow under a little over hang, 5 or 6 meters above the canyon floor. This brings us to the spot where the walls open out and offers us a bit of a view over the Wolgan Valley.

18

Last time I visited Acoustic Canyon we retraced our steps up the canyon and climbed out an easy-ish (grade 6?) climb up the western wall. Since then I have heard of a hidden slot up the Eastern wall and that’s what we found this time around, hidden to the side of a non flowing water fall (I’m sure last time this had water tumbling over it which may have prevented us looking for the slot).

It was a bit of a step up but someone had stacked stones (loose and wobbly it turns out) to give better access to the first ledge, from there it was an easy scramble to the top of the cliff line

More stunning views awaited on top

A little more scrub bashing brought us to the old fire rd that would lead back to the car

Party Size 3: 2 Experienced 1 beginner

Time:A bit under 2hrs car to car with plenty of faffing about.

 

So it was barely 11am by the time we got back to the car. You keen to check out some thing else, says I. Sure, says they

Now those playing along at home may recall a slight navigational hick up I had trying to show the guys a feature I like to refer to as the Crack of Doom on a trip that included Zorro Canyon.

Well this time I had better luck. Mind you I did head off the fire trail and into the scrub a tad early which wouldn’t have been a problem except traversing across the scrub meant we encountered the most scrubbiest scrub I have yet to scrub bash. Scrub. Like scruby scrub.

I’m guessing a fire ripped through a few years back as there was so much dead, brittle stuff laying about being slowly consumed by dense regrowth. A couple of hundred meters seemed to take forever.

24
It started fine. It got much much scrubbier

Anyhoo, this time had no such navigational anomalies and we arrive at the cliff line smack bang on the infamous crack.

27

 

We have a bit to eat and a look around at some classic pagoda country while I contemplate how tight a squeeze I remember this being while considering the 20kg I’ve  put on since….

I’m starting to doubt I’m going to fit.  Belatedly I remember a squeeze where I doubted I would fit last time. Well only one way to find out

 

29
Hannah follows me into an ever tightening slot

It starts easy enough but 20m down there is a step where the width reduces to half or less. I begin wedging down, I remember seeing this last time and thinking no way.

It’s so tight now I have to take my helmet off just to turn my head. Below it looks tighter before it opens out.

30

Damn I had forgot to bring the butter to smear myself in… . In all probability I could probably have squeezed down. But there would be no coming back up. I choose wisely to abort the attempt (Wisely? I have to admit I had a bit of a freak out and though if I encountered a squeeze I couldn’t pass it was going to take a lot more than Mandy and Hannah to pull me out.) and we back tracked. Just getting myself out of the spot I’d squeezed into was an effort.

We turned tail and retreated

 

 

25

Briefly we considered slipping around the cliff top to descend the exit slot, Cathedral Crack, but as it would be a short down and back up we pulled the pin. A return trip should be good motivation to drop some weight….

Bells Grotto and the Glowworm Tunnel

17-04-16

Me and Mandy

Another last minuet decision to go for a walk. We had something in mind up near the glow worm tunnel but I read my clue wrong and somehow entered a grid reference in my GPS wrong we missed the mark.

We were in the right spot just not high enough in the creek… Anyhoo we could have circled back up but instead settled on a cruzy walk through Bells Grotto and the Glowworm tunnel.

1We got to the car park are 10:30. There were a few cars there but by the time we got back it was packed.

It’s a nice little walk in and we head up the pagoda trail in search of the something else  but soon find ourselfs bash up a fairy scruby gully. Realising our mistake we decide to follow a dry water course back down the hill and soon find ourselves directly above the tunnel entrance.

We make our way down and then scramble down the embankment into the top of Bells grotto. This is a pretty little canyonette. Yellow sandstone. Green trees. Red water….

It looks weird but the creek has had the red slimey stuff in it for as long as I can remember.

5

The most canyonie bit is the start then it opens out a bit to a tree fern filled gorge. 5 or 6 minuets later you round the bend and come to the glow worm tunnel emerging from the big wall on the right.

6

Lots of families there today which is good see. The not so good was the toilet paper scattered about just before  Bells Grotto meets the tunnel. Seriously there are toilets at the car park 30min walk away. If they are that caught out you’d think they could at least bury the paper…

Anyhoo the tunnel was as awesome as ever. Lots of worm. Unfortunately neither the iphone nor the gopro could pick them up too well

8

A pleasant stroll.

Rigby Hill

Access: A short walk to a great view over the Grose Valley.

Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward once on the trail

Map: Mt Wilson 8930-1N 1:25000

Time: It’s only 15-20min walk out to the look out from car park but the views are worth spending some more time at.

Rigby Hill is a nice lookout near the Pierces Pass track that offers great views Down the Grose Valley

Getting There: Turn off the Bells Line of Road on to Pierces Pass road (In between the Mt Wilson and MT Banks turn offs) and follow it all the way down tot he car park at the end (A bit steep and rough in places)

There are basic picnic facilities and toilets at the car park.

The trail isn’t sign posted but heads off from the Southern end of the car park area (Note the more obvious trail on south western end is the Pierces Pass trail)

Once on the trail it’s a pretty easy walk out to the end with a bit up an uphill climb toward the end.

Return the same way

Back

Note: The great outdoors is an ever changing place. Bush fires, changing weather, vegetation growth and forestry activities can all affect the trail conditions and thus the difficulty of the walk, or even the drive to the car park. These are a rough guide only and are by no means meant to be a definitive guide . They do not replace the need for adequate map reading and navigational skills

Note 1: Taking care  While reasonably well known these spots are still wild places and care needs to be taken around cliff edges and on the steep trails.  Carrying the right gear as well as having adequate food, water and clothing is important. Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to get back.

Cliffs in the area are seldom fenced off and are often under-cut. Fragile ironstone ledges can extend out a meter or more yet be only centimeters thick. the rule of thumb is no closer than a body length and a half to the edge without tying into a safety line.

On pagodas this is disastrous in a different way. It’s taken millions of years for the distinctive Platey pagodas to form but one careless footstep can damage the formation. Platey pagodas are unique to our area. Don’t ruin them from carelessness.

Emergency beckons (PLBs) can be hired from Katoomba Police or Blackheath NP office for very little.

Note 2: First aid A basic first aid kit is essential bit of kit whenever heading into the Aussie bush. First aid training is highly recommended

Note 3: Maps and Navigation Having the right map, a compass and knowing how to read them is very important when heading into the bush. If you are new to bush walking joining a club or accompanying more experienced walker for your first few outings is a very good idea. I found practicing map reading on well defined trails was helpful when I started out.

The Maps mentioned are the 1:25000 series. They can be purchase at Lithgow tourism information center, from outdoors shops or online for around $10 each.

Note 4: These are wild and beautiful places, respect them. If you are able to carry something in you can carry it out. Don’ be a tosser. Leaving your rubbish behind is a sure way to ruin it for every one else.

Pierces Pass

Pierces pass  is the shortest way into the iconic Blue Gum forest. It’s a steep walk but the views are stunning and the tranquility of Grose river at the bottom is well worth the effort

Access: A moderate to hard walk on a well defined trail. Steep stairs, a bit slippy in places and exposed cliff lines.

Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward

Map: Mt wilson 8930-1N 1:25000

Time: it’s 16km return so give yourself at least 6.5hrs, longer if you want to enjoy a bit of time at the River.

 

It’s been a while since I’ve done this walk in its entirety and looking back over the trail notes it may have been a tad ambitious taking the kids down to the river for a picnic when they were little…

But they handled it at the time. It’s a long, steep walk but there is plenty to distract you along the way. Expansive views over the upper Grose. Towering Cliff lines, often with climbers making their way up the sheer faces. Little fairy grottoes. The beginnings of a failed attempt at coal mining and much more

On that trip we didn’t go all the way to the Blue Gum, instead spent a bit of time at the river crossing and then turned around.

 

Getting there: Turn off the Bells Line of Road onto Pierces Pass rd (Well sign posted in between the Mt Wilson and Mt Banks turn offs) Follow this down to the end. Steep and a little rutted in places.

Basic picnic and toilet facilities can be found at the car park.

From the car park the start of the trail is well sign posted

The water in the Grose river needs to be filtered or well boiled before drinking so you’ll need to take plenty of water, food and clothing to cope with changing weather.

 

Back

 

Glowworm Tunnel

Probably one of the best known walks in the area and for valid reasons.

Access: Easy walk though, there is some uneven ground to negotiate and you may get you shoes wet and you will need a torch

Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward

Map: 

Time: You could probably get through and back in 1.5hrs or so but why hurry? Give  yourself a few hours to enjoy the experience.

8

Back in the early 1900s the Wolgan Valley Railway was built to haul shale oil out of Newnes to the main line near Clarence. To negotiate the steep cliff line at the rim of the valley 2 tunnels were needed. The railway was abandoned after just a few years operation and a lot of the infrastructure was pulled up and sent over seas for the war efforts.

With the trains no longer using the tunnels the glowworms moved in. This has since become a great tourist attraction

The first tunnel is dry and you drive through it on the way to the car park.

Getting there: From Lithgow head up State Mine Gully from Atkinson st, up Dobbs Drift rd and follow the Glowworm Tunnel road across the Newnes plateau to it’s end (Approx 35km). The road is rough at times (very rough at the moment), the pine plantation is a working forest and road conditions can vary greatly.

From the car park a 1km walk on a well defined trail will bring you to the mouth of the main tunnel where the trail deteriorates somewhat as a small water course flows down it.

You will need a torch for the tunnel. It is approximately 300m long and curved in such a way that the ends are completely obscured from the middle.

Note: Glowworms are faint. If you want to see them in all their glory find a spot to sit down in the middle of the tunnel, turn the lights off and give your eyes time to adjust to the dark. So many people march through with lights fully blazing and then say they didn’t see many worms. Just like stars the darker it gets the more you will see.

Also keep the noise down and don’t go swiping hands all over the walls.

The far end of the tunnel emerges in to a scene out of the lost world or something. Big tree ferns  have you feeling like you have stepped back in time.

From here there are a few things to explore.

Following the cliff line up to the left will take you up in to the bottom of Bells Grotto, a small canyon that can be used to bypass the tunnel (apparently an option taken by train passengers wishing to avoid the smoke in the tunnel)

Alternatively continue along the rail easement (some creek crossing and a slight scramble) around the corner to stunning views over the Wolgan valley. You can continue down the rail easement to Newnes (11km – 3hr one way) or do a loop walk down to the coach rd junction then up the Coach rd and back across the Pagoda trail which brings you back to the entrance track just before the Tunnel (7.5km.)

Back

Trip report 17-04-2016

Note 1: Taking care  While reasonably well known these spots are still wild places and care needs to be taken around cliff edges and on the steep trails.  Carrying the right gear as well as having adequate food, water and clothing is important. Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to get back.

Emergency beckons (PLBs) can be hired from Katoomba Police for very little.

Note 2: First aid A basic first aid kit is essential bit of kit whenever heading into the Aussie bush. A basic first aid is highly recommended

Note 3: Maps and Navigation Having the right map, a compass and knowing how to read them is very important when heading into the bush. If you are new to bush walking joining a club or accompanying more experienced walker for you first few outing is a very good idea. I found practicing map reading on well defined trails was helpful when I started out.

The Maps mentioned are the 1:25000 series. They can be purchase at Lithgow tourism information center, from outdoors shops or online for around $10 each.

Note 4: These are wild and beautiful places, respect them. If you are able to carry something in you can carry it out. Don’ be a tosser. Leaving your rubbish behind is a sure way to ruin it for every one else.

Mt Hay canyon/Butterbox canyon, A short canyon with lots of adventure

3-04-16

Edwin and myself

As far as constrictions go the one in Rocky Point Ravine, known as Mt Hay or Butterbox canyon, is fairly short. It’s more of a vertical slot with barely any length. That said it is a damn impressive vertical slot and the getting to and from adds greatly to the adventure.

11

Ed has been regaling us with the time he did Mt Hay canyon in flood, as the second canyon he’d ever done with some guy he met at the climbing gym (Sounds like the start of a news report…). Seeing the video of him abseiling off the chock stone in a torrent of water is a little scary but he maintains it was a great fun canyon.

Meggsie on the other hand did the trip back when he was a scummy youth, which I’m guessing was some time around 1624. Back then it was longish walk in and the usual exit was down to the Grose river and then up and out Lockleys pylon, a massive day. A few members of his party had heard of a new, shorter exit that involved a bit of a rock climb. The rest went the usual way. Getting back to the cars after dark the noticed the guys who took the shortcut were still not back…

So, when I found myself with a freed up weekend at the tag end of the “wet canyon season” and I asked who was keen Ed said yep and Meggsie said… well what he said can’t be typed on a family friendly blog but he wouldn’t be coming.

Gaz was keen but got called in to work and unfortunately Tal came down with Tonsillitis and was out.

There was a lot of fog and a smattering of rain as I drove up to meet Ed at Leura fairly early. By the time we got to the car park we were the first car there and the fog was just starting to lift.

Between the 2 of us we have about 120m of rope jammed into our packs. Eds 60m for the big drop. My 20m for the smaller drops. A 50m dynamic for the climb and some hand/safety lines. Needless to say the packs were a fair weight sitting high on our backs

2

The old entry track cut straight down through a section of hanging swamp which was not good. In recent times National Parks have done a great job in putting a new trail down along the ridge, which seems just as quick and has some nice views down into the upper gorge. They have also installed signs. I know some people are against signs as taking away from wilderness experience but in such a high trafficked area, close to town I reckon its a good thing.

The signage is pretty informative too and gives good reasons why it’s important to avoid the swamp as well as some explanation of the terrain. Top work NPs, top work

Anyway the walk in is fairly short. Down the ridge, first little obstacle is a short climb down a fixed rope. The scenery changes into more rain forest style vegetation as we enter the gorge.

As I said earlier the constriction itself is very short but the descent down the gorge to get to it is pretty action packed. 3 short abseils, a few down climbs and a couple of swims. There doesn’t seem to be any boring bits. It’s one mini challenge after the other in a pleasant gully.

Occasionally the 20m seemed a tad short but it generally gave enough to get us to a sloping ledge we could then scramble/slide down (and eveything was freakin slippery), saving the need to uncoil and recoil the 60m each time

And then we came to the show piece as the creek tumbles down a narrow cleft and disappears around a bend far below us.

This is negotiated in 2 stages. The first abseils down a series of small drops over awkward ledges to a chock stone, wedged delicately into the cleft. There’s not much room on the stance for more than 3 maybe 4 people and once on it and clipped into a safety anchor the ropes are pulled down and reset for the next stage.

Ed went first and I have to admit I was a little nervous about this one. Seeing the video of Ed being pounded by the waterfall and hearing stories of people having trouble getting on to the chock stone had me apprehensive and excited.

In the end getting onto the chock stone was fairly straight forward, and if you miss it there is a ledge just under the inside of it. Still, in my nervous excitement I messed up setting the rope through the next anchor and had to recoil it and try again.

From the chock stone there a two options, over the outside or under the inside. last time, with the water levels high Ed’s group had no option but over the outside but then they had trouble retrieving the rope so this time we would try under the inside. I’d go first give the rope a test pull to make sure it would come freely then Ed would either follow or reset.

Now I’m not sure whether it was a combination of my nervous excitement and the awesome location or just the shear pleasure of this drop but i’m going to put it up there as one of my favourites. Usually for me the abseils are just a means to get to the next bit of canyon. In this case the abseil is pretty much the point of the canyon. It’s a tip top rappel down a dark slot.

The anchor makes for a pretty easy start down the inside of the chock stone to the afore-mentioned ledge and from there down into the darkness through the water fall to a small plunge pool. With a bit of care/good luck I avoid dropping to the pool and work my way over to a small ledge to a tight squeeze which separates the plunge pool. from the rest of the drop The bulky pack makes it an interesting challenge to get through the squeeze and turned around to start the next bit.

As the water poors out of the pool the slot takes a turn this means the water flings out towards the far wall so you abseil first through the waterfall, then under it and back through it again. heaps of fun

12
Final 8 meters or so of the chock stone abseil

A quick swim and the next drop or two are climbed/jumped and then the slot opens back out

15
Looking back up the slot
16
Looking back up from where it opens out. Short, Vertical and Impressive 

So the slot opens out but the action is still not over. There are two more short abseils to negotiate then we de-wetsuit and grab a bite to eat before we tackle the exit.

Even with a bit of stuffing around with photos and what not we’d made good time and were surprised how early it was, barely 10:30. Obviously with just 2 people we were getting through the abseils fairly quickly. Just a 2 or 3 more people stacking the abseils would add an hour or 2 the trip.

Apparently people have trouble finding the exit climb but as along as you spot the start of the trail to the right of the final abseil, or at least know you need to get to the base of the right hand cliff line, it is pretty well trodden and easy to follow.

Perhaps the confusion is that you follow the trail further around than the impression you get from the various guides available. It’s steep and loose in spots but after 30min or so we find our selves heading up a steep gully to the big ledge we need to cut back on. The ledge goes a fair way back towards the canyon before the upper cliff closes in and there is a narrow pass around the point, made super awkward with the big pack, luckily at this point it there is a low, cave like over hang you can crawl through to save getting too close to the edge. Once out of the cave a little rock climb heads straight up.

19
Ed making easy work of the climb

Its a short, fairly easy and , well protected pitch but the exposure is awesome as you are a  hundred meters or so up the cliff and  3 or 4 hundred above the valley floor before you start so it’s easy to see how newbies could get intimidated. The top section was also a little blank for the worn out grip on my tevas. Lucky it’s not a style comp or grade chaser so pulling off the hangers and using the big U bolt as a foot hold is fair game.

 

We are still perched under a fair chunk of chossy cliff but a narrow pass leads around the corner and up a steep gully, so steep it might as well be a rock climb without the rock.

Looking up at Ed a few meters in front but more meters above I can’t help think, holy crap this is steep. Looking back… well it’s best not to look back. At one stage I dislodge a loose rock. The thuds of it tumbling down seemed to go on and on and on, broken by a few moments of silence as it hurtled over the cliff line followed by more thuds, getting quieter as it tumbed into the depths of the valley. I sincerely hope there was no one below.

there were a number of places to stop for a lookout and, again the views kept getting better the higher we climb

20
Edwin at the top of the steep gully after the rock climb pitch. The canyon can be seen cutting the cliff on the left
21
Looking back down to where the canyon opens up out of the cliff line
22
The going gets easier towards the top of Margarine point
23
It’s not often you get such a clean view back over the length of the canyon, the horse shoe like gully on the edge of the shadow middle picture is the extent of the gorge
24
Margarine point, a little bit of a side detour but a great spot for lunch with the Gross Valley as the back drop

So yeah its a big trip for a short constriction but well worth it.

Party size: 2 both experience 1 having done the trip before

Time: 6hrs car to car. Steady pace with some photo faffing and a good lunch stop.