15/09/2007 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Rachel Grindlay, James Yorston
After a late night, we slept in a little since I figured it wouldn't be a particularly long day. I assumed that since we didn't have far to go, the only issue would be whether or not we could find the pass up on to the tops.
We set off up the hill at about 10am, and made our way across to where a pass looked most likely. I had heard that it was exposed, and that was just about it. I led up the first obstacle, a short climb on good holds. I scouted around for the route up to the next level, a choice between a step around a very exposed corner and across a narrow ledge, or up an awkward slot. I called the others up, pulled the packs up, and we headed for the slot. James did a beached whale at the top of the slot and went scouting up further. After some exploration he thought it would keep going, so dropped down the rope for us again. A couple more abortive attempts followed before James found a possible route up to the top. We started to climb up to join him.
Rachel: "Do you think I should throw my pack across to the ledge?" Tom: "No" Rachel: "I think it looks alright" Tom "O..K.." Rachel: [as the pack rolls off the ledge, over another cliff 10m below, and continues to crash over cliffs until it is out of sight] "Crap!"
At this point I figured we had three options. We press on without lunch or Rachel's gear and come back tomorrow to find it, we all bail and try and find the pack, or I abseil down and look for it and then prussik back up. We chose the third. I abseiled down James' 60m rope and luckily spotted the pack just below the first climb. It didn't take me too long to get back up, even prussiking, as it was much the same route.
James led the last pitch to the top, which was a pretty nasty piece of work and an impressive lead, and then we were at the bottom of the top cliff line. From there we walked around under the cliffs and into the creek valley. A pad led up through some more cliff lines, although I wasn't sure whether we should be going up or staying down. At an outcrop we stopped for lunch and assessed our options. The main choice was between going up to the ridge and dropping into the creek high up, or heading back down and dropping into the creek near the bottom, possibly missing out on some canyon. What little I knew of the canyon suggested it would be at the bottom, and the fact that it was already after 2pm meant that we didn't really have time to go up any further. So back down we went, traversed under the cliffs, and dropped into the creek.
It was not much walking until we reached the first drop, which I recognised from photos. So I was pretty happy we were in the right place. A short walk brought us to the next drop, a classic canyon abseil. A two stage drop through a hole under chockstones, down a winding, dark chute to a deep chamber. Unfortunately the canyon seemed to end not far past there, with an abseil out into space. How wrong I was! After I had thrown the ropes, I looked over the edge to find that the entire area we were standing on was undercut, and there was a perfectly vertical 30m drop into another chamber. Amazing!
One final long drop brought us to the end, just as the sun was setting on the cliffs above. Unfortunately we still had a way to descend back to the river, and another line of cliffs barred our way. We abseiled quickly, but the light was now fading. We had a slow rock hop down the bouldery creek and it was difficult to see by the time we reached the river. A short walk back to the car and it was time for a fire and some port. Well, after we collected some wood, it was time for the fire and port and cheese and biccies and marshmallows and ...
An excellent day of canyoning.