Tim, Yuri, Scott, Louise, Peter, Sophie, Craig, Autal and me
Ah Windows 95, while Machintosh ensured “1984 wouldn’t be like 1984!”, Windows 95 took Graphic User Interface and plug and play and made it accessable to the microsoft masses who had thus far been stuck in MS-DOS. It may have been the first and last time people got excited about a Windows release.
Windows Canyon is nothing like that.
It’s more of an absiel trip with canyony sections and the access as well as the length and tricky starts of the abseils has probably kept the masses at bay.
We park up and do the meet and greet. This time around Tim is going to be ringmaster it’s his circus and we’re his monkeys and he rallys us up for the pep talk then we are off
Don’t worry it is a bit of an illusion as there is another wide ledge just below and the pedistal is way more solid than it looks.
Autal thought he’d replicate Yuris photo and handed me his brand new TG5 camera. Now over night it was windy. All morning it has been windy. But we really didn’t get too much wind all trip, except as Autal approached the pedistal where a gust of wind plucked the beanie right off his head and made it soar.
Like wow, I’ve seen some pretty impressive paper planes in my day but nothing that caught on the wind like that beanie. Go little beanie. Go!
It went and went and went and went before finally dropping down into the tree line and snagged in a tree in the distance.
Bye bye beanie
Oh well a bit of scrub bashing later and we were in our gully
Another great day in the bush with great people
Time: a tad under 5hrs car to car
Thanks to Tim for organising and making it run so effortlessly.
“Get out there now and make sure you become part of the glorious past in somebody else’s future!” Andrew Penny
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?
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
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.
The zig zagging route takes us through some stunning erosion caves with sands of different colours and textures.
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.
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.
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.
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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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.
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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.
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.
Oh did you notice the faces in the rock?
And still we weren’t done.
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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.
All in all an enjoyable day with a great bunch of people.
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
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
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.
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.)
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.
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
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
It also gives you a great perspective over the top section of canyon. It really is narrow and short
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
And then it’s the infamous bundle of sticks anchor. Where some one has placed a surperfluous fixed line.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
“the great French climber called it ‘The conquistadors of the useless.’ Yeah, the end result is absolutely useless, but every time I travel, I learn something new and hopefully I get to be a better person.” – Yvon Chouinard, 180 Degrees South”
Bob told me about this one a while ago but I hadn’t managed to go for a look for it yet.
Apparently some time in the distant past they explored it, looking in from the top, then finding their way to the bottom. They thought it was 2 abseils and dragged logs in for anchors. Only just past the second drop where they expected it to open out was a 3rd drop… with no anchor point. Lucky they had some kids with them and they lowered one down to drag some more logs up to jam between the canyon walls.
Anyhoo me and Tal had nothing on so we decided to go for a walk to see if we could find it. Bob had given me some good directions but I still managed to swerve a little to far right trying to avoid the worst of the scrub, still thinking I was on top of the ridge so not checking the compass we ended up on a little spur.
Back tracking we regain the main ridge. Thinking Tal would be hating me for the scrub I asked if he just wanted to head back to the car or continue on.
Continue on says he.
We work our way down into the little depression that would eventually become the canyon but skirt around the side of it to get a look in from the top.
The veiws from the end of the ridge were outstanding.
We enjoyed a bit of lunch on top of a fantastic pagoda. Bob tells me there is a colony of Broad-Headed snakes that frequent this area and we spend some time peering into crevices but have no luck in seeing any.
With a little look around we spie a likely route back up from the valley below then head off to check out the canyon.
We hadn’t really planned to drop in today, just a scouting mission but we had thrown the ropes in at the last minute just in chase.
The short canyon looked as awesome as Bob had described, an arcing slot that dropped steeply through the cliff line. But it sounded like there was a bit of flow over the falls.
we make our way back along the tops and find a way to scramble down just as the canyon begines to slot up. A short way in there’s a down climb to a short pool. Crystal clear, deep enough to jump into but freezing cold. We back track slightly to see if we could get past on leadges and drop in on the other side.
We make our way along a serries of thin ledges but the further we go the less options to set up an abseil. We do, however spy the top of the first drop. The trickle of water in the creek srpays out from the wall. We’d definately be getting wet. We hadn’t planned on that so we deside to stick with plan A and back track out.
Know I know the way in and what to expect it will be on the list to do at a later date.
I have to say after our scrub bash to nowhere I was fairly surprised the others would still be keen on coming out, let alone head back with the same goal in mind. Something about unfinished business. The more we looked over maps the more convinced we were right there, just misinterpreted the trail notes.
With a whole range of schedules and commitments finding a date where every one was available was the tricky part.
The date was set and eagerness grew. Then Illness struck. Ed rang saying he was crook as a dog. I called Gaz saying I was reluctant to do the trip without Ed as it was his idea in the first place. I was just heading to the chemist to drug myself up, Says he, as I’m the same… Trip off.
It was going to be w while before everyone would be available again.
Then I got the opportunity to do the trip with others who had been there previously and a mid week reconnaissance mission took place. It had me more eager than ever to get the crew back there.
Another date was set.
Another set of circumstance meant not everyone could make it.
Finally 12months later every one was getting keen again. Ed suggested the June long weekend. We had a big MTB race on at Rydal which ruled out Saturday and Sunday. I needed to go to work Monday morning but arranged to go early so I could meet the others around 9.
I threw out an invite to Julie just in case she had a day off and luckily she did so it would be a party of 6.
Well Friday and Saturday pissed down. Like constant drizzle interspaced with good heavy rain. Sunday dried out just enough that the race at Rydal was on perfectly tacky trails but I warned the others that while usually dry above the knees with this rain we might get wet up to our waists… A slight under estimation.
Anyway we met up and made our way down into the Wolgan. A good fog rolled through the valley with the promise of clear blue sky once it lifted.
We made good time up the hill and through an easy break in the cliff lines. Much easier than the first way I lead them 12 months ago.
Julie guided the way and we surprised ourselves by arriving bang on target at the lunch spot above the abseil anchor with surprisingly little scrub to be bashed at all.
While some tried in vain in the end there was no option but to wade on through, except after we all had, Ed pointed out a high ledge we could have scampered across with a convenient abseil tree almost directly above the end of the pool.
And next is a fun little abseil down through a hole in the rock. It’s almost like a mini Alcatraz but darker and narrower
next up is 2 awesomely exposed 30m abseils above the spectacular Wolgan valley
Our track notes said 2 ropes needed here but both center marks were on the ground so conceivably its doable on 1 genuine 60m (Note mine is about 63m and the center mark was just off the ground.