18/10/2008 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Caoimhin Ardren
I had arranged to meet Caoimhin in Richmond at 9 o'clock on Friday night. However, it wasn't til 10:30 we were both eating pizza at the Pizza Place in Richmond and by about 11 we were on the road to Glen Davis. It was fairly smooth sailing from there to the ford on the Capertee, which was nearly half a metre deep, and well above the doors and floor of my Camry. After a fair bit of post midnight umming and ahhing, we went for it, and made it through, albeit with a fair bit of moisture on the floor.
With all the lights and noise we made setting up our tents I'm sure we woke up the one other group camped at the Coorongooba Camping Area. We finally got to bed about 2:20am.
So it was a fairly late start the next morning. We got away a bit before 10am and headed up a spur to the cliffs. I had some notes on an alternative route and thought we would give them a go. We found the starting point, a short, relatively easy climb, with a nasty landing, and Caoimhin led up trailing a rope.
This led with a scramble up to a great lookout over the valley. From there it was more traversing on narrow sloping ledges to another pitch. I was expecting a scramble, but it was simply an exposed rock climb, out a cave and on to the sloping face with a large drop below. Caoimhin was happy enough to lead it, and I was happy enough to let him, so off he went again with the rope. I joined him, anchored to a small tree, with another climb of 8m or so directly above. He set off again and made it to the top. Getting his pack over the little overhang was a bit awkward but we eventually managed, and I climbed up with my pack on.
We still weren't at the top, although another narrow ledge brought us to a gully that led up to the main cliffline. Phew. Not a route that I'll be taking again in a hurry, but a great lead from Caoimhin!
From there we traversed around to a little outcrop for morning tea (well, it was after midday). Then headed up a gully that took us pretty much on to the tops, where we spent a bit of time having a look around. The walking was excellent, through nice open forest, and we were quickly dropping into our gully.
It started dropping almost immediately, but we were able to bypass most of these drops on ledges to one side or another. After a while we reached one without an obvious bypass, and abseiled in. Some more drops came and went, some abseiled, some bypassed. While they were quite pleasant, we hadn't really found any canyon.
At about 4pm we stopped for lunch, still quite some way above the valley floor. A couple more abseils and things started to look promising. After a drop into a quasi-canyon section, we could see a nice looking slot ahead, and it didn't disappoint. The first abseil was a lovely long one into the slot with nice (and avoidable) pool at the bottom. Unfortunately there were a couple of short but deep pools just after, and while I tried bridging I couldn't find the moves. Caoimhin did better, making it across both without a dunking.
Then there was another long drop down a sloping waterfall into a deeper than expected pool. A chilly swim that I could have avoided.
This was followed by a traverse over a dodgy log bridge to a chockstone that moved. Luckily it was fine in the direction of pull, but it made for a somewhat awkward start. The final abseil was a two-roper, also with an awkward over the top start, compounded by a narrow slot on the other side. This led to a great overhang to the end of the canyon.
The sun had set by the time we were down, so we headed down to the main creek and started our walk back to camp. We were not far past the next major creek junction by the time it got dark, and with one head torch between us, things got slow pretty quickly. We were hoping to pick up some kind of old road, but we didn't find anything until we were a few hundred metres from camp. By this stage it was about 9 o'clock and we had both had enough of bashing about in the dark!
We settled in for chips, cheese and biccies and roo on the fire with potatoes and carrots. We were in bed by about 1:45am, so a bit earlier than the night before!
The next morning we got up pretty late and weren't really in the mood for a hard day. There were storms forecast for the afternoon and I wanted to make sure we beat them to the ford. Instead, we headed up a nearby creek and tried to find a pass up. We ran into a very short section of canyon with a 5m waterfall that we couldn't find a way around. Instead we traversed around on to the slopes and eventually made our way back to camp, noting some potential passes on to the tops on the way.
The water leaked into the car again on the way back across the ford, but we made it to the other side.