Searching for a pot of Honey at the end of the snow fall

26-06-16

Edwin, Mandy Tallis and I

After the previous few weeks of easier walks we were continuing with that theme but adding a little canyon in to the mix.

The problem was we didn’t know exactly where the canyon was. I knew the rough area but the few clues and a grid reference we were able to garner online turned out to be a little bit deceptive as they suggested it was in the main gully.

I was pretty sure it wasn’t but knowing the rough location a quick look on six maps and google earth showed up some likely slots in the top strata and we penciled the one we thought most likely on the map and set off bright and not too early. Interestingly I also circled another feature and sent the image to Ed with the notation “This looks interesting”

Veering off the tourist track we easily gained the top of the escarpment and the views were stunning.

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We quickly located the assumed slot but decided it didn’t look right. It was running up hill for a start. So decided to look a little further up the gully. No luck. Maybe that little slot was the start and there was a deeper slot hidden in the center of the main gully at some point?

Our slot was interesting. It started with a ramp heading upwards and rolled over a peak before descending steeply to the gully floor. We would revisit this later.

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This gave us pretty easy access to the gully but it wasn’t the constriction we were hoping for. Our plan from here was to follow the creek along to see if it did drop into a hidden slot at some stage along it’s course. It was slow going with thick vegetation and everything was slippery as snot.

We were getting close to the end of the gully and I knew there was no slot further down. Voices were heard emanating from the far cliff line so it was decided to head that way in search of easier progress.

As luck would have it it was a group of walkers from the Blue Mountains bush walking club who after a friendly meet and greet graciously offered to point us in the right direction.

We followed Geoff, Peter and their entourage up a ledge well out of the scrub to a convenient pass up through the cliff lines… The very slot we had descended earlier.

After a quick consult over the map we then left them to their lunch and continued on our way with some fresh information. It seems my “This looks interesting” feature was where we should have headed to begin with.

We stopped for a quick bite to eat on top of the ridge, made quicker due to the fact we had left our lunch on the bench at home…

With the new info it took no time to find the entrance to our canyon

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Narrow and wetter than expected

From the description we got from the bushwalkers we knew we could bypass this abseil and pool at the bottom by scrambling down a side canyon but as we were already running late we decided not to waist time looking for the other entrance and just put jackets and jumpers into the dry backs and just suck it up.

It was a bit of a squeeze with the pack on but not too bad. Peering over the ledge bracing myself to get wet I notice the rope has a knot halfway down.

I lock off with a double half hitch around the robot while balancing on a tip toe ledge and pull the rope up to clear the knot and continue on.The spray off the waterfall as I go over the edge wasn’t too bad but the knee deep pool at the bottom turns out to be mid thigh deep and a tad bracing.

So much for rolling the pant legs up.

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A second drop was soon encountered. It looked short, tight and awkward and again into a pool of water. Small ledges meant you could bridge out over the gap and I went for a look. Right on a short section where the ledges decreased to small to non existence a seepage of water had them wet, slimy and, in this weather, icy. It was dodgy as all get up but I managed to get across. I follow the ledge further but it seemed to be getting higher, the canyon wider and I can’t see a way down.

Rather than get the others to risk the ice ledge of death I back track. I had a bit of a BLM (Bowel Liquefying Moment) getting back across the hairy bit as the small handholds were much better going the other way but managed to dig my fingernails into solid rock and get passed.

We rope up. It’s going to be awkward as the anchor is a long way back and the slot is too narrow at it’s start to even contemplate squeezing down. A few less pies over the years and it may have been an easy down climb. Tal might have made it…

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As it was I rope up left handed so as to keep everything the right way around and free up my back hand as I slide out sidewards. I bridge out to a slightly wider gap and with the rope threatening to pull me back into the tightness of the slot I was able to bridge down 2 sloping ledges most of the way.

Then both walls widened out in undercuts a fraction too high up for me to reach the ground.

I give myself a bit of slack rope and drop into the pool below. Not quiet enough slack as I do swing in a bit but down all safe with just a few scratches to my back (I had put my shirt in the dry bag)

Have I mentioned the water was freaking cold? The water was freaking cold. The air temp not much better.

Ed, Tal and Mandy follow and I try and hold enough tension on the ropes to stop them swinging in too much with varying degrees of unsuccess.

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Tal less than impress about being sopping wet on a cold winters day.

Just a bit down from where I decided the ledges were getting too high and risky  we notice a bit where the tiny ledge swings around a nose and gives an easy scramble down into a side chamber… Oh well.

Next abseil was from an anchor a long way back from the edge. Geoff from the walking club was a bit concerned that a 50m rope may not be enough. I’m not sure I told the guys ours was only 45m…

I did have a couple of 10m safety lines packed as well so was thinking if it looked close I’d send the others down on single strand then tie the safety lines on and practice my knot passing abseil skills…

As it was it reached with plenty spare. It was a short drop but the wettest so far.

Lots of other little streamlettes of melting snow water had increased the flow just enough that there was no option but to get wet in the waterfall. The pool at the bottom was a classic example of spanner water, it tightens your nuts. Or it would have been if we weren’t so cold already that said nuts had long since retreated.

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Edwin trying hard not to swing in under the flow. Didn’t work

And then we were out of the canyon and quickly fishing what dry gear we had out of the bags.

We still had a couple of cliff lines to negotiate but managed to get through all but the last one without needing to rope up.

This trip usually finishes with an iconic absiel in a special location but it appears we scrambled through too many cliff lines. The ledge we were on ran out about 50-100m down stream of where we wanted to be.We even heard a call of ropes echo down the gully. We hadn’t seen fresh foot prints in the canyon so assume another group followed us through and then over took us as we searched for ways down.

 

Looking around for a likely anchor I spot a freshish sling around a big gumtree… Apparently we weren’t the only ones to go the wrong way.

It was a bit of a dirty wall but a simple rap down to the valley floor just above the tourist trail.

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and hence a quick walk back to the relative warmth of the car

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3 thoughts on “Searching for a pot of Honey at the end of the snow fall

  1. Nice work Jon. I did have a look at that knob of rock and consider a hero loop but dismissed it. Had I have kept on the ledges to the corner I would have seen an easy scramble down. As it was it was a tricky drop but all part of the fun

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