A Glen Davis Adventure

29/07/2017

Kent, Tim and their band of merry adventurers.

Glen Davis is a bit of a canyoners paradise. A quick scan of the clifflines shows slots carving through the sandstone pretty much everywhere you look. Yet being a bit further from Sydney the canyons are less frequented than those in the Blue Mountains or over the hill in the Wolgan. Publicised track notes are also scarce and getting up through the cliff lines takes a good bit of route finding, navigation and rock scrambling (if not outright climbing) skills.

All of this means the canyons here retain a bit more of a wild, explorationy feel. It is an epic location.

When Kent sent out an invitation to do the Coin Slot lets just say I was keen as mustard.

it was going be a large group but the plan was to split into smaller groups and take different routes up. Just about every one was carrying ropes and the first group to get to the canyon would set the ropes and the last group would retrieve them before we all met at the base of the last abseil.

I pick up Peter and Ben and we meet the others at Capertee. I’m so use to pulling into the car park, grabbing packs and heading off. This standing around socialising is a all a bit of a novelty.

We roll down into Glen Davis and regroup. More socialising. This is going to be a relaxing day. or is it?

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The narrow slot in the shadow centre of shot is our goal. First though we somehow need to get up through those cliff lines.

Big groups are often hard to get organised but Kent is the consummate ring master and he gathers everyone together, gives the spiel on how the  day is to go and splits us into our group. Climbers here, scramblers there. and we’re off.

The groups soon spread out on the haul up the steep fall zone to the base of the cliffs

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It’s a steep scramble from the river up to the base of the cliff

We gain a lot of elevation quickly but the clifflines still tower above us and the route is not overly obvious.

We harness up. The first pitch is pretty simple. 1 balancey move as you step across a gap and you’re basically up. Autal makes short work of it and I follow him and set ropes. the rest of the group will be roped up. Ruth joins me to haul packs while I belay the others as they climb up one by one.

With everyone up it’s a traverse along a narrow ledge with stunning views before we wind our way up and onto a sucession of ledges.

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I think I spent most of my day capturing this view from different vantage points

The zig zagging route takes us through some stunning erosion caves with sands of  different colours and textures.

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Working our way up through zig zagging ledges beneath erosion caves.

 

I’m caught up in the experience and am snapping photos of the views.

Craig and James we need you guys up this bit next to set ropes on the last pitch. Calls Kent. Apparently we are the “climbers” in the group.

The next pitch is fairly simple as far as technicality goes. Someone has already managed to get up  and so the rope is set by the time I get there. Again one or two moves that are difficult more from the exposure than the moves themselves. We are now along way up. Maybe 50 meters above the base of the cliff, which itself is a hundred meters or so above the river so it becomes a head game.

One step out then up and around. Foot holds are solid and plentyiful but at one stage the hand holds are slopers. I get up and replace Kent who has been on top belay. He goed ahead and direct people through the next section.

I take over rope duties to belay others us to a small ledge below the final climbing pitch. Trust your feet, says I more then once.

Over the radios we hear the first group has already made it to the canyon. With a small group of experienced climbers this route would be quick and easy. The size of our group has definitely slowed things down but we are not in a hurry and it’s all part of the experience and the views were breath taking on a stunning winters day.

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Kent doing a tip top job at keeping the large group under control and moving

A bit of a bottle neck is forming on the small ledge between these two pitches. James has managed to free solo the next pitch and drop a rope down and so he starts belaying others up the last pitch as I bring the last of the group up mine.

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the view for the ledge below the 3rd pitch. That little clearing left of centre is just up stream of where we left our cars. Check out that big nose of rock hanging out of the cliff on the right.

The last pitch is the longest we’ll do, maybe 6 or 7 meters, it’s only about grade 9 or 10 but again you are a long way up and it seems like there is nothing but air between your feet and the river several hundred meters below. It’s an awe inspiring place to be.

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The nose always goes: Sometimes.
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Trust your feet. Nichole on the second of the roped pitches

The last pitch starts on small holds and foot placements are smeers more than anything. But with a bit of assistance on the first meter or two everyone gets over it and from there the climb is pretty simple. As people top out they head off towards the canyon. By the time I’m up and James coils the rope it’s just the two of us.

Sue and Sonya wait for us at one of the turns and Kent waits to lead us through the final bit of scrub. The first group have left ropes set up so all we need to do is head on in and retrieve ropes as we go. So despite the big group we were spread out and you were only ever in groups of two or three with little to no waiting at the abseils. The groups chopped and changed a bit as people waited to help cart ropes out and others went ahead.

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James dropping into the creek

 

 

 

 

 

Click images to enlarge

The unique heart shaped chock stone is the iconic image of this trip. it’s a nice drop and you don’t notice the shape until you look back up from just down stream.

And then the creek drops down into an stunning dark slot.

 

 

 

 

click to enlarge

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Kent descending the first big abseil into the dark slot

It was here we struck the only glitch in the smooth running of the day. The rope refused to pull.

Kent scrambled up the bottom drop, throwing himself backward over the lip, legs akimbo. I’ve heard of looking up old friends but that was a bit much. Nichole averted her eyes…

Trying different angles the rope still wouldn’t budge. I climb up to Kent and between our combined weight of mumblemumble kilos and a bit of backwards and forwards on the different rope ends we manage to free it with out needing to resort setting up Z lines or the like.

The biggest hold up of the descent, 15min freeing a jammed rope. Not too shabby.

Just around the corner it looks as though the slot is finished but it wasn’t done with yet and the best was yet to come.

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Nichole on rope with the stunning view of the valley in the back ground.

The “Coin slot” abseil it breath taking. A scramblie start then down through a hole and the bottom of the world seems to fall out from under you. It looks and feels far higher than it is. I lock off to try and get a photo looking down but as I take my top hand off the rope I start to swing back…. Um normally on a big drop my pack is pretty much empty. As rope mule this time around I have 2 60m ropes in there. Lesson learnt. I quickly grab the rope as a guide and continue down. Photos can wait.

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Sue coiling ropes at the bottom of the fourth abseil. This is my favourite shot of the trip. What an awe inspiring place

Oh did you notice the faces in the rock?

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And still we weren’t done.

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Sue bridging out to get to the final anchor

 

 

 

 

Click images to enbiggen

With the group back together for the first time since we left the cars we dolled out ropes and head off back down the hill.

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Hi Ho

All in all an enjoyable day with a great bunch of people.

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Group size: Large but spread out with lots of ropes and capable leaders

Time: About 6.5hr car to car with bottle necks on the climbs

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of
changing himself.”
Leo Tolstoy

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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.

Wollangambe Fire trail

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Access: Getting to the carpark involves a dirt road with a few rough bits. Nothing extreme but a 4WD is handy just for the ground clearance and traction

Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward.

Map:  Wollangambe  1:25000 These can be purchased at Lithgow Tourist information center or online for around $10

Time: Less than 2hrs with a bit of time for lunch on the clifflines at the end

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View from the end of the fire trail. Mt Banks in the centre distance, Mt Wilson to the left.

Depending on which map you look at or who you talk to this is either the Wollangambe or Dumbano fire trail. Open source and google maps seem to show it as Dumbano fire trail. Wollangambe fire trail is what I always knew it as and makes more sense to me as at the end you lookout over the ‘Gambe just upstream of Wollangambe crater.

Anyhoo, whatever you want to call it, it’s a pleasant stroll with some stunning backdrops.

 

Getting there:

Turn off the Bells Line of road at the ZigZag Railway onto the Newnes Forest rd. Follow this along for around 4.8km and turn off to the right at the bottom of a hill below Bald Trig.

Unfortunitely the start of the fire trail looks a bit like a rubish tip where grubs seem to dump there soft drink bottles and coffee cups… But it gets better.

Set your odeometer here, you want to stay on the main fire trail but there are a couple of intersections where it is easy to take the wrong fork.

At Approximately 1km keep left (right follows the old Wolgan Railway easment around Bald trig to the sand quarry.)

At Approximately 2.5km stay right then at approximately 6.4km stay left. After a little over 8km you will come to the locked gate (GR 499952).

Park up and follow the old road on foot past the gate. The first couple of hundered meters is steep then it is easy going along a flattish ridge for 2km.

Either side of the ridge are sheer sided gullies and at the end of the ridge is a rocky point (GR 505931)  in between where these two tributaries meet the Wollangambe.

This is a nice spot of a bit of lunch (or as we did today cheese on smith chips…) there are some great views with Mt Banks straight ahead, Mt wilson slightly off to the left and Bell out to the right. And the wild Wollangambe can be heard gurgling below.

For the more adventurous this route, with some off track navigation at the end is the shorter way to access the Wollangambe crater which is usually done as a over night bushwalk from Bell. (its not a real crater but a circular depension holding a hanging swamp.  I think it is the reminants of a large billabong type feature made in a sweep of the wollangambe. It sure looks craterish from aerial photos and satelite images though.)

 

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Easy walking along the old fire trail.

Note: The great outdoors is an ever changing place. Bush fires, changing weather, vegetation growth and forestry activities can all effect the trail conditions and thus the difficulty of the walk. These are a rough guide only and are by no means meant to be a definitive guide . They do not replace the need 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.

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. 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 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.

 

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Tiger Snake Canyon

01-07-2017

Ed Tal and me

Tiger snake is a cool little canyon. The two canyon sections are very short but the top one is tight with some interesting climb downs/absiels and the bottom section is magnificantly deep and narrow making it very cave like. One of the few “dry” canyons where you need a head torch in the midde of the day.

It’s a hard subject to photograph well but we had a goal in mind for sun set shots at a spot close by and thought this would be a good way to fill in the day.

-7.5° is almost a record low over night temp for the ‘Go, lucky its a short day and we weren’t planning to leave until 10am. By then most of the frost had melted and while cold, the sun was shining nicely.

The walk in was fairly uneventful and we reach the cleft where the small creek drops into the upper section without incident

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It’s an awe inspiring fissure, Narrow and dark

In all our previous trips we have absieled directly down here. It is an awkward absiel, as you have to bridge out over the narrow section to a bit that gives a bit more room, then you are pretty much down climbing on rope, if you slip you are going to swing in and get grated into the narrow bit… This time we deside to check out the alternate anchor point from higher up on the pagodas next to the slot.

 

The views fromthe top are amazeballz

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Tal and Ed checking the view and enjoying the sun shine

It also gives you a great perspective over the top section of canyon. It really is narrow and short

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That dark slot drops 15-20meters down before openning up just around the corner
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The abseil from the higher anchor point is still narrow and awkward but you don’t feel you are goign to get pulled back into the narrow slot, plus you miss a little pool so keep your feet dry for a bit longer
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Ed dropping in

Once in there is a slipery down climb, another advantage of the high anchor and long ropes is you can leave them set to assist you dont this bit and along the log to keep your feet dry again

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And then it’s the infamous bundle of sticks anchor. Where some one has placed a surperfluous fixed line.

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Hmmm that water looks cold, might take a few balancey moves to keep our feet dry
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Tal descends as Ed watches on
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Ed unclipping on a tiny ledge as he contemplates how to keep his feet dry

With the advantage of a bit of hieght I managed to bridge across easily. Tal had a bit of a go but decided the risk of slipping in outweighed the thought of getting his socks wet so just stepped in. Ed took a bit of time and all but done a Van Dam like set of splits but made it across the small, wet, slippery, sloping ledge.

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The top section finishes with this 17m absiel next to a small water fall

 

It is possible, with some good scrambling and down climbing skills to do the entire top section, including this bit, without abseiling but it is risky and why would you miss this one? It’s a very nice abseil

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Ed on rope Tal on firemans belay

 

It’s a short walk down the gully, the creek is dry again with the wtare from the canyon soaking into the sandy soil, to the lower constriction

There are acouple of ways in. Entering straight down the creek is nice but it is an awkaward drop and you do get wet at the bottom. This is the way I have been on all previous trips except the last one.

The other way is to scramble along the top of the canyon on a dodgy ledge to a anchor high up on a chock stone bridge. You do miss a bit of very pretty canyon but with a bit of scrambling/climbing skill you can make you way all the way up to the bottom of the awkward drop.

On the plus side the high entry is a great absiel down a dark hole and you keep your feet dry

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Ed Disappearing down the rabit hole
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It’s 20-25m straight downinto the darkness between walls so narrow that half way down you turn around to put your feet on the oposite wall

We spend some time in the dark depths snapping photos. Hopefully Ed gets some shots he can work with. My little TG struggled a bit in the darkness with my small head light trying to light paint the walls. My bike lights might have been better able ot illuminate the scenes.

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Ed sitting high up on a delicate arch within the darkness of the canyon
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Ed on a narrow bridge getting ready to defend 13 dwarves and a hobbit against a Balrog!
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Ed at the exit portal
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Tal and ed making their way downthe boulder scramble below the canyon
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What goes down must go up. Climbing out
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Climbing out

After doing all the “extreme” stuff I go arse over tit on the flattest part of the trail back to the car. I slipped on a slimey log, thought I’d caught my slef only for the momentum of the haeave pack to tip me over and drive my head into the ground. Mush laughter was had at my expense..

Driving back along the Coach rd we are stopped by a car coming the other way. How much further is the camp ground? says he

Which camp ground ar you looking for? say I

The one at New-nes, is it New-ness? says she

Newnes. You wont get there going this way.

We lost GPS when we turned off the highway.

Yep but you turned off the highway 20km to early and have gone 30km out of your way. 45years ago you could drive down from here…

they ask if there were any spots to camp up here and decide on a rough camp rather than trying to drive all the way back around in the fading light. Did I mention -7.5°? The night promised to be just as cold and they don’t really look like the outdoors type.

We point the way to a bit of a area where they might set up camp and wish them well then head off to capture a sun set from the cliff lines above the Wolgan

 

 

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Sun set over Donkey Mt. People might pay thousands of dollars per night to stay atthe resort below us but they wont hae views like this.

Tiger Snake canyon

Party Size 3 all experienced

Time: about 5hrs car to car with a lot of photo phaffing

 

‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”” — J.R.R. Tolkien

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