Winter canyoning

01/07/2018

Nathan Mandy and meeeee

So my nephew is keen on canyoning but for one reason or another his options for doing a long wet canyon are limitted.

I’ve been meaning to get him down another dryish canyon for a while. My original plan was to take him down Tiger Snake canyon   but we had to get back to town early and I had not taught him to abseil yet so we descided on this one with an optional abseil for the hell of it.

Now some people dismiss the smaller, drier non abseil canyons but this one has one of the prettiest constrictions going and it’s close to home so it was a no brainer

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Nathan and Mandy enter the canyon from the bottom

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A massive storm 18months ago scoured the sand out of this bit leaving a puddle just on balls deep. Today it was icy

 

 

With frozen toes we decide to slip up onto the tops for a bite to eat and a bask in the sun

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It was glorious

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looking back into the depths

 

Warmed and fed we continue on

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And make our way back to the cars for a bit of wedding cake action

 

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The wedding cake…
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It screams adventure

 

What if something is on TV and it’s never shown again? :Smudge- Outdoor type

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Windows canyon with extras

30-06-2018

Chardie, Madie and meeeee

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.

Anyhoo

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.

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A slot above the cave dubbed Penrose Cave by Yuri Bolotin. The photo doesn’t so the size of this justice

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.

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Like a natural chimeny the wind whistles up here and jumpers were dug out of packs while we explored it’s confines.

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Chardie and Madie entering the void
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©Madie

 

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©Madie
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©Madie

After a short stop here we continue around the corner to my pass. A steep gully leads up but soon becomes blocked but chock stones but a hiden 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

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Chardie decides it’s too narrow for both him and his pack and chooses to drop his pack back for us to pass up. But he drops it fair over the edge…..

I slip back down to collect Pete’s bag and opt to climb around the squeeze

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©Madie

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

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Looking up the Wolgan from Jedi Point
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Looking down the Wolgan from 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.

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A worthy micro canyon in it’s own right. It’s more canyony than the canyon

And then it’s down the gully until it canyons up

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Chardie dropping through the hole
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©Madie

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.

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©Madie

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One of the best lunch ledges going.
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Looking back up the canyon

We bask in the sun and have a bite to eat before we continue down to the windows

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Chardie heading down toward the arch which gives the canyon it’s name

 

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An idiot through a window ©Madie
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Madie through the arch
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Madie doing her thing

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

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Glen Davis revisited

16-06-2018

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

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Ethan on a narrow, sloping ledge High above the Capertee valley with Point Anderson, Canobla gap and Mt Gundangaroo in the distance
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Marchelle on the “Non-Climbing” route ©Madie
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Madie about to start a hair raising traverse along a ledge that is at times not much more and 6inches wide.
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The wider part of the Ledge
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The chute. I’m told there is a way around this but I couldn’t see it. I think maybe if we stayed lower and traverse a bit… maybe

Anyhoo we all make it up and in short time are back to doing what we like to do best. Coming back down.

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Autal on the first abseil
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Marchelle belaying Slava on Nivana’s Heart Shaped Rock
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She is a little shy but with some coaxing we got her to pose…. Madie
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Ev

And then we were into the slot proper

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Autal dropping in ©Ev
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©Madie
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Autal on rope

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It’s short but oh so grand
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I’m becoming a photo nerd and loving the colours

 

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The Coin Slot ©Madie
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Ed
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Ethan
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Dick
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Wait for meeeeeee.
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Ev
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Oh noes the rope it be stuck

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

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Meat anchored Z-pull to try and get the rope to come down… ©Madie

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.

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Ev prusiking ©Autal
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Ev is everyones hero after rescuing the ropes. Thanks Ev, massive effort.
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Ethan

And then we are out into the open for 1 last impressive abseil

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Slava beneath some spectacularly coloured cliflines
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Ethan on the final abseil ©Edwin Emmerick Photography

And then it was a simple trudge back down to the camp ground. Another enjoyable day in the bush with great company

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The cliffs we had scaled and the slot we had descended

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

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The Gang ©Autal

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I have a bit of video but I haven’t looked at it yet. I have some prusiking to practice

 

A pleasant little Nightmare

02-06-2018

Marchelle Anna Pete and meeeeee.

With the worst of the scrub still recovering the effects of last years hazard reduction burn this is a pleasant trip at the moment.

I pull into the meeting spot and note someone is missing. Ev broke down on the highway, Marchelle informs us. She wont be coming.

Buggar.

But we load ropes and packs into my ute and off we go, weaving our way down into the mighty Wolgan valley in between green pastures, towering cliff lines and Kamikaze kangaroos.

We park at the start of the Ruins walk for Newnes shale works and make our way down river to everyones favorite little pass, The pipeline track

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Some carefull tip toes to keep our feet dry on a cold morning
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Why you’d need to carve an arrow here is beyond me. Its a clear track and there is no other way to go…..

Well that’s a good way to warm up. We gain the top and make a quick side trip to the lookout.

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Looking back up the Wolgan towards Mistry Mountain
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Last months hazard burn on the otherside seems to have added some colour to the cliffscapes. Marchelle looking down the valley towards Big Glassy
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©Marchelle

After a brief stop we continued up the Pipeline trail spearing off just before it heads down green gully towards Glen Davis.

The trail out along the ridge between the Wolgan and the Capertee is reasonably clear indicating the canyons up this way are getting more visitation than they use to. The views out over the Capertee towards Tayan Pic are superb but soon we veer off trail and make our own way along a side ridge.

In the trackless terrain it is easy to veer off on the wrong ridge and end up in the much wetter Devils Pinch canyon but with the scrub mostly clear after the Haz burn following the right ridge is much more obvious.

Before long we begin descending into the gully that will soon drop into th etop of the canyon. We scramble around the first abseil described in the Jamison guide and find a big tree with an bright yellow tape anchor right at the start of the main constriction.

There has been much talk about using Single Rope Techniques (SRTs) on the ozcanyons group over the last few years and they seems to be gaining more momentuem, especially in the newer generation of canyoners. It’s the norm in most other countries. Thou other countries also tend to have either much higher water flows or much less prevelent anchor options.

Though I trained in their use and used SRT way back in my brief stint as a guide and it made sence to me in thate situation for private groups I’ve always preferred the throw and go, loop the rope through the anchor and every one abseil on double ropes.

When heading out with Tim’s group I’m happy to fit in with their SRT method of isolating the stands with a butterfly knot and people abseiling on alternate stands.

Last weekend I attended a training day with the Upper Blue Mountains Club where we practiced setting SRT with a releasable anchor. IE isolating the abseil strand with the Munter/mule.

The advantage of this is if someone gets stuck on rope for whatever reason you can undo the mule under load and use the munter hitch as a belay to lower them to the ground.

Now in mumblecoughmumble years of canyoning I’ve never come across a situation where I needed to do that but it got me thinking (must be getting old or the weekday job of Safety Cordinator is rubbing off on my weekend self) What if that 1 in 100000 case came along. Sure there are other methods to preform a rescue but are they as safe and as quick and if they didn’t work would I be kicking myself for not using the “Rigging for Rescue” technique?

Anyhoo Anna is pretty keen to put this technique to use in every canyon trip she leads and I thought it might be a good idea to run this trip that way for practice (Ev had done the training day too, so it’s a shame she missed it.)

So I rig the first drop. I really had to think about it as it was a long abseil requiring 2 ropes working out where to put the munter so the knott would not impede it took more thought than it should have, It’s pretty bloody obvious but I guess thats why you practice these thing is relativel benign situations so these it become second nature.

All sorted I head down first.

Hey Chardie,  Calls up I from a ledge halfway down. This isn’t where we normally drop in.

It’s a very nice abseil down over 2 big ledges and around a corner.

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Marachelle on single rope

If it wasn’t for the very dry conditions this would land in a pool that looks like it might get over waist deep, probably the reason we don’t normally drop in there but today was dry enough to get around.

Was a bit worried about the pull down around the corner and over the ledges but a test pull indicated it should come fine and Anna stopped on the last ledge to pull the knot down to her so it owuld be less likely to catch.

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Anna. Last person comes double rope as usual.

A short down climb and we round a slight corner to see the cliff face we usually come down directly above the next short drop.

This one is shortish, maybe 10m but its a tad narrow, and I’m not. Big shoulders and stomache bones or sumfink

This results in some gentle exfoliation as I squeeze on down.

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Chardie about to get to the narrow bit. There is some balancing on sticks to avoid more than wet toes at the bottom

From here there is short tunnel like bit and some careful bridging

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Marchelle staying high to avoid wet feet

The canyon opens out for a bit with some short abseils and tricky down climbs. We are blown away at how dry it is. Little holes that usually involve contorionistic moves to stay dry are now little more than damp sand and sometimes not even that.

Then there is 3 long abseils in a row. All of them can be done as shorter ones using intrim anchors on ledges and chock stones but they are nice to do as long ones and the rope pull seems fine on all of them.

The first of these involves a tricky start then some delicate moves to stay above some chock stones (going under would make the pull down difficult) then round the corner and down down down.

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Chardie towards the bottom
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Marchelle about 2/3rds down

The next one use to be rigged off the log but pull down was very dificult. An eye bolt has been installed backed up by 2 very old climbing nuts whose wires seem very rusted… IF you are going to use that anchor I’d take nuts to replace the ones there.

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A tricky start onto a ledge, around a corner, over a boulder and another tricky start and a narrow slot . Seems to be a theme in nightmare.

 

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Looking out the dark final chamber over the Wolgan

The final abseil is awesome but lands in nut deep water. We opt to have lunch in the chamber at the top figuring it would be better to eat up here while we are dry than to get wet and then stop to eat down there in the wind.

It was a nice spot for a bit to eat.

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©Marchelle
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©Marchelle

3/4 of the way down the last abseil I run into the spot of bother and think maybe I’ll need Anna to put the lowering me down method into practice. There is a knot in the rope below me. Usually no big deal. Just stop pull the rope up and undo it (tip for young players. Stop early and pull the knot up to you. The closer you get to the knot the harder it can be to get slack and if you abseil down onto the knot you’ve got buckleys of getting it undone)

Usually when the rope knots itself it just a few loops caught on themselves and a bit of a shake get is clear. This had somehow done a proper job on itself and I had trouble getting it undone while hanging in space. I was nearly ready to call out for Anna to pull the mule and lower me when I got it sorted and continued down.

Now what if I hadn’t been able to undo the knot or hadn’t been on a lowerable system?

I hadn’t yet locked off properly and was trying to undo the knot left handed so I could lock off  to get both hands free as my first option. Second option would be to prusik back up to the ledge or top and sort it out there so I’m confindent I could get myself out of that situation. But what if it happened to someone less experienced or without those skill sets? (Other than the obvious everyone on a private group should get themselves those skills sets. Good point but we were all beginners once.)

Those at the top could deploy the spare rope, someone could even abseil down to me to help out. That all takes time and hang syndrome becomes a factor. Abseiling down to help out puts the rescuer at risk too. So much to consider.

Anyhoo I clear the knot and continue down

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Looking up from the bottom of the last abseil

I land in the pool. It’s cold. My outie becomes and innie and I make my way to the side to belay the others

 

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Chardie

 

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Anna on the last drop ©Marchelle

With a bit of team work the first person down can pull the others across to the dry bosun chair style. if all works well. Chardie had rigged a bit too much friction and struggled to pull him self across and ended up in the drink. Anna and Marchelle managed to stay dry.

From here we follow the base of the cliffs around and back down to the car.

All up another great day in the bush with great company.

Party size: 4 all experienced

Time: 6hrs 50min car to car.

I wish I was a glowworm. Glowworms are never glum. How could you possibly be sad when the sun shines out your bum : Anon

How much did the rigging for rescue slow us down? Last year with a slightly bigger group the trip took us 6hrs 23min car to car. Today practicing what’s still fairly new to us took us 6hrs 49min. Though there is probably a bunch of other factors in there as well

 

So what are my thoughts? I’m still undecided.

Anna was keen to only lock off one side of the rope and keep the other stand at the top to avoid confusion.

I prefer to do a munter/mule in both strands to allow people to rig up alternate strands and quicken things up. If you then need to lower then the person on the spare strand gets off and  it’s quick to undo that one altogether and lower the other. Which is fine until you have 2 ropes joined with a knot at the top and then it’s not posible.

So here what I see as the pros and cons. Feel free to comment if you have other ideas.

Pros of releasable SRT using Munter/mule

  • Simple to set up and fairly quick to tie once you practice a bit
  • Ability to quickly and safely lower a stuck abseiler down to the ground.
  • Ability set the end of the abseil strand just on ground/water level to make getting off the rope at the bottom quick and easy

Cons of releasable SRT using Munter/mule

  • It does take longer to tie and untie (not to mention it’s a ugly looking knot)
  • Rope wear and tear. A single strand taking full weight obviously is under more strain than if you were abseiling on double strand.
  • Chardie pointed out abseiling on double rope with an isolating knot at the top gives you some back up if you cut one strand on a sharp edge. Not an advantage if you use throw and go with out isolating.
  • Only possible to use one strand if the abseil involves joining ropes.
  • Can be tricky if the anchor is close to/below the edge but not too much more than normal.

So I’m still tossing this one up.  the ability to quickly and safely lower a stuck abseiler down to the ground is a big consideration though if you have a competent person at the top with a spare rope is it that much quicker and safer?

If the stuck person is unconcious I’d say yes.

What is the liklihood of that happening though? And does that likelihood justify the slightly longer more complicated set up of each and every abseil?

Also when lowering do you increase the risk of having the rope fail while rubbing over unprotected edges fully wieghted?

I don’t know.

Is it appropriate for all situations? Maybe not.

I’m leaning towards it  being a valuable tool that is appropriate for certain applications but should be backed up by various other skills and knoweldge.

Being able to set the end of the rope just to water height is a big advantage in highwater but we don’t tend to have that in Australia.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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Views over the wolgan

19-05-2018

Madie, Autal, Catherine, Chris and meeeeee

With the weather turning cold it’s time to focus on dry trips. Depite popular opinion there are a number of dry(ish) canyons not to far from the usual summer trips that are worth a look. This one is a short day in the Wolgan.

The canyon itself isn’t that great in regards to length and depth of the constriction but it has a couple of standout features and great views.

We met at the servo bright and early and sorted car pools to drive down to the car park. Mick was joining us for the haul up through the cliff lines but then leaving as he had afternoon plans in the bigsmoke

Madie was running 5min late but, hey she had a 4hr drive to get here so no one blamed her. Oh, in a previous blog I stated she needed a constant supply of chips and chocolate. that was just a bit of fun after she brought a large pack of chips on the trip I didn’t mean it to sound like she was a snack scoffing fatty. She usually eats nothing but kale washed down with a cup of steam, or sumfink. I’m the fat guy on our trips.

Anyhoo.

The frost was lifting off the tops and down in the valley it was a glorious morning so we wasted little time in setting out up the hill.

Our path up is typically steep but relatively easy for the Wolgan.

Some Pretty section of creek and grand overhangs break up the climb

 

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©Madie
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Ignore me, I’m an idiot… ©Madie
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Autal reaching up for that last hand hold….

and soon we are bathing in sunshine on top of the stunning clifflines that seem so impenetrable from the valley below.

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Chris stretches out in the warm sunshine
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Nice spot of a morning tea break

This is where Mick leaves us and heads back the way we came up. For the rest of us it’s a relatively easy stroll up through the scrub to intersect a faint trail along the ridge.

There is a pleasant bit along the ridge before we drop back down through the scrub to our first anchor point above a 30m abseil down through one of the  highlights

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©Autal
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Me in my happy place ©Autal
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Autal filming Cat as she starts her descent into the unknown. ©Madie

Over the millenia water running down a sloping face have carved a deep groove into the rock befre hitting a band of iron stone that created a small pool halfway up the cliff line. Evenually this pool eroded deeper and deeper  until it bored a hole staright through the cliff

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Abseiling down through that hole is an amzing experience and somewhat scarey as at first it looks and feels like you wont fit ©Madie

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Madie preparing to drop into the hole ©Autal

From below the hole is stunningly circular

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And once through there is still a long abseil to the gully below

A short, dark cave section follows

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Then there is some bounder hoping and scambling down beside the creek before it tries to canyon up

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Autal at the start of the short canyon section ©Madie
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Autal dropping in ©Madie

On our trip last year we were greeted with a deep, very cold pool here that soaked every up to their necks. Today we didn’t even get our feet wet.

click to enbiggen

 

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Cat and Chris in the canyon ©Madie

And then the next highlight is a drop down through this stunning hole through the rock

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©Madie
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The light in this section is just magical but hard to capture with a little point and click camera

At the bottom is usually a deep plunge pool that takes some manoeuvring to get across without falling in. Today it was nearly dry but I made them do the bridge anyway 🙂

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Madie demonstraighting the technique
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Autal emerging from the hole

The hole opens into a chamber with an amzing window out over the Wolgan

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Autal in a hidden slot int he wolgan cliff line
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Yours truly heading back out into the sunlight ©Madie
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Autal emerging from the upper cliff line
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Chris

We have lunch in the sun light on the halfway ledge and then there is one more long abseil before the quick march down the hill to the cars

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It doesn’t get much better than this on a warm Autumn day ©Autal Farkas
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Autal high above the Wolgan ©Madie

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A day in the bush with a fun bunch of people is the perfect chatharsis for the stress of the modern world

 

Party Size: 5 all experienced

Time: 6hr car to car

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6 dopes go to 4 Dope Canyon

05-05-18

Chardie, Autal, Al, Madie, Maarten and me

Ok I wanted to get my young nephew out to do Tiger Snake canyon and invited the others along for the trip. But 2 things happened

a. Nathan broke a couple of fingers, so he wouldn’t be able to abseil and

b. an alert cames through saying the area would be closed due to Hazard reduction burns

That also ruled out my back up plans and after a bit of thought I threw up the idea of Four Dope canyon.

It was going to be a big walk for a shortish canyon but  I had enjoyed the neighboring Dead Tree Canyon last year and it was ment to be a similar sort of trip. Plus it’s one I’d not done before and I’m always keen on checking out new adventures.

The others were a little dubious. They had asked around and got reports back saying it was a very ordinary canyon and not worth doing. Oh well I’m going anyway. In the end they came too.

Madie had been introduced to Maarten somehow and asked if he could tag along. He was a backpacker out from the Netherlands and keen to do some canyoning, he already done solo trips to Calustral and Kanangra and so Autal picked him up from Paramatta station and now we we a group of 6.

Slight hickup early on as Al rang. Where are you guys at? Asked he

My place. says I

I’m looking for it and there is no 33 Shaft st….

Wow I’d moved out of shaft street 3 years ago. My tired brain must have malfunctioned (it often does)when I texted the meeting place through to him… That doesn’t bode well.

Anyhoo. We eventually all meet up at the Waratah ridge car park and start the walk out.

It’s a long walk along an old fire trail and then onto a foot pad, but it’s fairly flat and the company it good so time passes quickly

The foot pad comes and goes towards the end. I’ve always found it odd, you’ll be on a very clear obvious trail and 20m later it disappears. Then, if you are lucky, you pick up a faint trail, step over a log and it disappears, then you stumble over a clear trail again. And so on and so forth. Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera…

Anyhoo we get to the spot we’re the track notes say we need to veer off. I may have come a fraction far and we need to skirt back around the head of the gully which would lead into arch canyon and we pick up a faint ridge which begins to drop down early.

The track notes are a bit vague, saying to follow the ridge until it starts to descend then drop into the creek. Well we’ve only just got onto the ridge but it sure is descending. The Canyon is still 1km down stream but we drop into the creek.

Big mistake. It’s scrubby as all get up. We do come across these cool over hangs and erosion caves thou

 

It takes us a stupid long time to push through 100m of scrub and we make the call to scramble back out onto the side ridge to traverse above the worst of it.

Some interesting scrambles along the halfway ledge bewteen clifflines and we  finally drop back down and suit up.

Are you sure this isn’t 6 dopes? Chardie asks

The slot would want to be special or it’s making my first entry on the never to be repeted list. says I

All kitted up we enter the creek and wade on down stream. Just as it was getting uncomfortably warm in the wetsuits we make our way through a horid mess of tree fall and the canyon drops away below us.

We waist no time roping up. Not even half way down the abseil the walk in is forgotten. Wow.

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Autal belaying Chardie
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Madie locks off to take some photos

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Ahead the canyon looks quality
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Charlies angle or sumfink

After a short section of narrow, dark canyon it opens out slightly

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And then it drops again and there is a couple of abseils in quick succession

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Chardie on rope

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The last one is the most awkward drop of the trip but not too difficult

And some nice canyon follows

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Now we hadn’t seen any sun in the canyon, it felt like late afternoon twilight the whole time and there was a bit of a cool breeze flowing down between the walls. I was just starting ot feel a bit chilly when we get to the 1 compulsary swim of the trip.

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Chardie braving the cold, clear waters

But is is such a nice spot

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Maarten asking Madie if he can jump it

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And then it opened out and we were at the junction with the Bungleboori.

We now needed to make our way about 40min upstream to Arch canyon and a convenient pass out.

I’d used this pass before but approached from the upstream side where we made use of the current to carry us down the deep pools of the Bunglebooru. I was thus expecting some cold swims as we made our way upstream but other than a few wades we made good time along the banks and sand drifts in a stunningly wild section of the river

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We soon found ourselves at the juncton with Arch canyon and I was super keen to slip up the canyon a little to have a better look at the arch.

It’s well worth the effort of climbing up the bottom drops and steep creek to reach the arch just as the canyon proper stars (or is that ends…)

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Madie admiring the arch from below and giving a bit of scale
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It’s a stunning bit of landscape
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Looking up Arch canyon

We make our way back down to find Chardie and Al have made a head start on the exit track. Maarten and Autal follow. I’m getting out of my wet suit. I hate walking uphill in a wettie.

Me and Madie get into dry gear and give chase up the hill.

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A shot of the arch from the exit track.

Autal is waiting at the base of the upper cliffs and we set off after the others. We can hear them ahead which is a good sign as we scramble up the first viable option and find every one waiting to regroup on the ridge

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Looking over the gully that hides Arch canyon and out into the Bungleboori wilderness from the top of the pass out

And now for the long slog back to the car.

Was it worth the 20km of walking and nearly 800m of elevation gain for a short canyon?

Well, whenever you are out in the bush with a great bunch of people it’s worthwhile and to be honest I was impressed by the canyon itself. It had a beauty to it and the first abseil was stunning. It also has a less traveled feel to it, like you are one of the privledged few to experience it’s wonders.

I wouldn’t rush back next week and I’m glad we didn’t do it in the height of summer but would definately consider doing it again in the future if the company was right.

Party size. 6 All experienced, all a little loopy

Time: 8.5hrs car to car with some stuffing around finding our way in.

BACK

Butterbox

AKA, Mt Hay canyon, AKA Rocky Points Ravine

14-04-2018

Dick Madie and me

So it looked like we’d get another warm Autumn Saturday before the cold change was due to roll in so a good oportunity for another wet canyon. A few ideas were floated before Butterbox was settled on, as Julie hadn’t done it for ages and was super keen for a revisit.

Unfortunately She had to pull out last minute and so it was me Dick and Madie who set off fromthe car park amongst laughs and giggles. We spoke to another group in the car park who were leaving just behind us and a tour group was some where ahead of us.

With the other two offering to carry ropes I got to enjoy a relatively light pack. Winning!

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Dick on the first down climb
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Dick on the first Abseil

Madie was keen to show us some alternate ways down various obsticals. Like, instead of down climbing in the creek or abseiling from the side why not slide down this log

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It works.

Butterbox is an interesting creek with a very short canyon section. It’s normally the rock formations, greenery and play of light in the constriction that draws me to a canyon but the sheer amount of adventurous fun that Butterbox offers makes it a trip worthy of repeat visits

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Mind you, while short the main constriction is spectacular.

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We catch up to the group from Eagle Rock Adventures at the top of the main constriction.

2 tricky abseils with very little stance between them mean we are going to have a bit of a wait here.

Let’s do the Slide! Madie busies herself trying to wet down the sloping rock by using her helmet as a bail.

 

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The water isn’t normally that deep here and it looks lower than normal. A few of the clients in the tour group are not quiet sure what to make of it all and I’m sure the guides were wondering what the hell was going on.
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It’s really fun

 

Me and Dick have a couple of goes to amuse ourselves while waiting, it’s bit of an effort to climb back up. Madie must have doen it a dozen times.

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Did I mention the main constriction is spectacular?

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We emerge back into the sunlight with a jump into this stunning pool

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And that’s it for the short constriction. A bit of fun getting too it. Very stunning when you get there and the adventure isn’t over yet as the climb out, usually the most hated part of any canyon trip, holds a bit of adventure to it and is another highlight.

We follow the cliff line up hill and down dale, up and down and up again. But mostly up.

Until we find ourselfves on the halfway ledge. The halfway ledge is a feature found through out the Blue Mountains. A fault where different sandstone layers of the Narrabeen group such as the Banks Wall formation and the Burra Moko formation are separated by a thiner claystone layer, often resulting in a traversable ledge.

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Don’t fall right

Sometimes the ledge disappears, sometimes the claystone erodes in under the top layer of sandstone making for some interesting scrambling.

 

 

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Views like these don’t come cheap

Through the cave and then the ledge ends. Above us the sandstone cliff still towers.

A short rock climb is required to get us to the next ledge up.

photos thanks to Madie, click to enbiggen

and then it’s up a snotty little gully to the ridge line

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it was a tad windy but the views!
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Looking back down into the canyon
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The up hills not finished yet but ther are still smiling

A quick side trip to the top of Butterbox point for even more views and then an easy walk back to the cars.

Another great day in the great outdoors.

Party size 3. All experienced

Time: 6hrs car to car with about 30min mucking around on the slide waiting for the tour group to clear the chock stone abseil, a relaxed lunch, a bit of stuffing around on the climb and a bit of time at the lookouts.

You should be silly and do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.

BACK

 

Lower Bell Creek Canyon

07/04/2018

Madie, Autal, Marchelle, Craig, Ev and me.

Madie told me she had trouble finding the entrance to the lower section of Bells creek on a solo mission. So we threw a few dates around. Nothing worked for us both

Poo i have to go to Zanzibar. Says she. I guess April wil be too late.

Na Aprils good. And shit Zanzibar!

Great Now I have a Hoodoo Guru song stuck in my head. And it’s not even one of my favourate Hoodoo Gurus songs

Anyhoo.

Man I’m back, keen for bells creek???

Apparently Madie’s back. We lock in a date. Others were invited. The weekend came and it was a warm one for this time of year. Perfect for Bells

I breifly considered a car shuffle from the Bells line of road out along the ridges but group size would make that awkward so I opted for the standard slog down to Du Faurs creek and over the ridge. A couple of people dropped out but any way it not a bad walk

I pull into the carpark next to the Mt Wilson fire shed. Marchelle, Ev and Craig are waiting. I look around sure Madie would have camped. Oh that looks like Autal down there.

Autal wanders up. Madie’s there. She is making coffee.

Yep she has a full on camp kitchen going on with a frying pan full of water on the boil. Anyone want coffee. I need coffee.

Sometime later we are all ready to go and set off along the fire trail.

It’s easy walking and with some friendly banter distracting us it seems like no time and we are making our way down the rope into Du Faurs creek

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Marchelle on the hand over hand

 

We reach the standard start point for Clatterteeth canyon but head straight across and make our way up through a series of little cliff lines on the oposite side

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Some interesting traverses are required

There is a slight track leading up to the ridge top but then we are on our own. The scrub has grown back since the last lot of fires but nowhere near the horror stories of yore.

I take a compass bearing and we make our way along the ridge and drop off the other side. I considered trying to drop into Little Bell but opted for the easy gully where a track comes and goes at random and soon we reach the start of Belfry Canyon.

It’s taken us just under 2hrs. Which is fairly good going.

For a trip that has a relative beginner rating of 2 in the guide book there are some tricky bits. The navigatioin being one and some interesting down climbs being another.

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In any other canyon this would be an abseil for most people.

No one wants to carry in abseiling gear if they don’thave too, despite the unnecessary ring bolt above a realy nice natural anchor….. It looks worse than it is. It’s a pretty simple down climb and a deep pool below, if you land in the right spot…

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After a warm/humid walk in this looks that inviting it’s not funny
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the Temptation is too much for some

Bellfry is such a pretty canyon in it’s own right and the early Autum sun light gave us some rays in the narrow bit

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The yellows and oranges of the sandstone som give way to lush greens

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sun beams starting to show through
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a lot of photos were snapped by the group in this section
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There are usually some very dark sections on this trip
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Last time this was pitch black. Such a nice light in here today thou

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We emerge from the dark swim and fnd ourselves at the junction with Bell Creek

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From here there is a bit of creek walking interspaced with some bounder scrambling and a couple of down climbs that have you scrtching your head at the beginner rating

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Again, I’ve seen abseils set up on easier down climbs. Autal and Craig giving Marchelle some tips while Ev takes photos and watchs with some apprehension

And then we descend into lower Bell Creek Canyon.

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The constrictions in Bell Creek are really top notch. It’s a high quality canyon for a long way

Hulks fist? The Angry green man seems to like canyons.

The canyon closes in.

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There are some big log jams that are tricky to negotiate. Testimate to the raging power of this place in flood

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This time I decide not to make the same mistake as last time and suggest we blow the lilos up.

Oh, we didn’t bring any.

So me and Madie blow our lilos up and the others will be swimming

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You can see by the moss that the water level is down a bit 

Again there is so much more light in this section than on my previous visit.

longish lilo/swim sections are broken by some wading, down climbing and boulder hoping

 

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And then we get to the long dark tunnel like swim.

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some soft sun rays in the usually dark section

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Who needs a lilo? Not Autal, turning floating on his pack into an art

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and just when you think it’s openning out it goes froma narrow dark canyon to a deep grand gorge

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Madie and Craig adding some perspective to the scale

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Madie waiting on Autal, Marchelle and Ev. It’s well past lunch time. I think she is getting hungry.

What time’s lunch? I’m hangry

How about we get to the junction with Du Faurs, there might be more sun.

How far it that?

Just around the conrer…

It was a bit further. but we continue

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We eventually stop on a sandy beach and replenish enrgy supplies.

Then make up way up into the lower section of Du Faurs creek

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Traffic jam with another group coming down Du Faurs. AKA Clatterteeth Canyon
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There are so many cool rock formations in this trip. Every time you look up you see something cool
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Lots of options in Du Faurs to climb up the walls and jump back in

And then we exit up Joes canyon.

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From there it’s a quick walk around to meet the usual Wollangambe entrace track att he big Pagoda and a final slog up to the car park.

Another enjoyable day with a great bunch of people.

Party Size: 6 all experienced

Timing: A tad under 8hrs car to car

Include some foolishness to you serious plans. It’s wonderful to be silly at the right moment.

BACK

Jinki Ridge

Access: A nice walk along a gentle ridge. Tar to parking area

Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward though the trail can be a little vague further out

Time: 30min out. 30min back

Date walked: 31-03-18

Jinki ridge is another spur off the Bells Line of road that gives nice views over the Grose Valley. A trail runs from the Bells Line of road out between Jinki and Dalpura creeks and the Pagodas out the end are reminiscent of the Lost city.

 

Getting there: From the weigh station at Bell follow the Bells line of road toward Sydney for approximately 4km and just after the concrete lane dividers end there is  an old fire trail which goes right just as the road swings around to the left. Turn off into this fire trail and park at the locked gate (Obviously try not to obstruct the gate)

The fire trail goes South and then veers East to start and is easy to follow (note: there is another fire trail just back a bit at a more open park spot, but it goes West then swings North) . Jinki ridge offers great views over the upper Grose over towards Mt Victoria.

The fire trail eventually deteriorates to single track. It can be a little vague  but just stay on the top of the ridge

Views change to your left side with some vantage points looking down the Grose. Towards the end of the ridge you get views over to Valhala Head and Thors Head from high pagodas. Be careful near the cliff edges as they are all over hung and brittle.

Also care is needed on the pagodas. The plate pagodas are fairly unique to our area and iron stone bands that make them so unique break off very easily. These awesome rock formations take thousands of years to form, the last thing we want is for them to be damage by a careless footstep.

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Return: The way you came in

 

BACK

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