02-03/02/2013 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Rachel Grindlay, Richard Pattison, Andrew "Smiffy" Smith
Another planned trip to Dumbano Canyon, another cold, wet weekend forecast! I suspect the only way to do Dumbano will be like the last time. Wait for a hot, dry weekend and make the decision to go on the Friday.
Instead, we made plans to head to Glen Davis and do a couple of creeks that none of us had done.
Leaving Sydney on Friday night, we drove through variously light and heavy rain to the campground at Glen Davis. With a fair bit more rain forecast, and no-one else there, we did the naughty thing and put up tents on the verandah of the community centre. Unfortunately, an hour later, a storm came through and overflowed the gutter, sending water pouring down on to us! We shifted as far as we could while still being undercover, and hoped that the rain would die down.
The storm raged for quite a while, and I was a bit nervous as we headed off the next morning. I wasn't any more comforted as we approached the creek we intended to climb up, to find a pouring waterfall where there would normally be a dry slab. A section of the creek we were going to descend had a catchment some four times the size of this, which could mean a fair volume of water.
In the meantime, we had to get up to the ridge. Smiffy negotiated the first couple of tricky climbs, the second straight up the waterfall itself. Above this the creek flattened out and soon narrowed into a pleasant horizontal canyon. There was one spot we had to do an awkward climb to get above a small waterfall, but otherwise the going was pretty easy.
The canyon opened out, and at what looked like an easy spot, we headed up the slope. A couple of interesting climbs later (well, I walked around the first!) we were at the top of the cliff having lunch in the chilly breeze.
Then it was along the ridge and down into our creek. We came in fairly high up in one branch, as the aerial photos looked like it might be canyon. Unfortunately this upper section of creek had no canyon, and it was a scrubby walk to where we suited up at a deep pool. There was a fair flow of water by this stage. Not long after, the canyon started with some narrow sections. Then the highlight, two drops down into a deep chamber. There were a couple more short drops, but I was surprised to hit the junction with another, larger canyon so quickly. I was also happy to see that while there was a strong flow, it looked manageable.
The next half kilometre or so was classic canyon, deep, dark and spectacular. The high flow of water made it extra impressive and a little more exciting. After numerous little drops and a couple of jumps we reached the end, and headed down the creek a little way to a camp cave. The only downside to our pleasant evening around the fire was that neither Rachel nor I had packed the port, which lay safely back in the car. We had to make up for it with three different sorts of cheese, including fried haloumi sandwiches.
The next day we walked around to another branch of the creek and left packs. Rachel decided that she had had enough and would walk back to the car. The other three of us climbed up to the cliff line and walked along searching for a pass. Rich made it a fair way up one slot, and while he thought he could get up, it was unclear whether the next cliff line would be a goer. We retreated, trying a couple of other spots along the way. Rich and Smiffy managed to climb up one bit, while I walked around. Rich led the way, zigzagging up ledges, until a couple of exposed moves near the top got us to the top of our pass. A long morning tea ensued, while we enjoyed the views.
We were still umming and aahing where to drop in as we walked along the ridge, but I pushed for a higher entry point based on the aerials. It took a couple of abseils to get to the creek, and after lunch, we hit canyon only a short way downstream. There were a few short abseils, and a couple of pools with some prodigious bridging required to stay dry. At a creek junction we check up the other branch, which was also canyon though nowhere near as good. Then we had some long sections of canyon, including a dark tunnel formed by rockfall, interspersed with deep gorge, until the creek opened out and then started to drop through boulders.
We had a quick afternoon tea, repacked, and rockhopped our way down to the river, walking back to the campground where Rachel had driven the car. An excellent weekend of canyoning.