Colo River Canyon
18-19/04/2009 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Caoimhin Ardren, Rachel Grindlay, George, Kathleen, Guy, Pete, Helen, Andrew, Helen, Peggy
It was Caoimhin's birthday, and the original plan had been for a cave out at Kanangra. After all the burnoffs on the Gangerangs, Caoimhin had changed plans to a camp cave on the Colo. Being a party of 11, there was a fair bit of pfaffing at Windsor before we piled into less cars for the trip to Hollow Rock. Rachel and I got a lift with Peggy and Helen to the end of the fire trail. A bit more pfaffing ensued before we set off.
I led the way off to Hollow Rock, as the others hadn't all been there before. Andrew, Rachel and I left after a few minutes, heading off left down the hill. At the fire trail junction we were still waiting ten minutes later, wondering where everyone else had got to. After another five minutes, I left my pack and went looking for them. A couple of cooees and the rest of the party emerged from the bush, having missed the left turn and headed straight down the ridge!
Beyond the top of the next hill, Rachel and I left everyone else and headed left down into the creek. The slopes were infested with lawyer vine and we were both bleeding from numerous nicks and cuts by the time we reached the bottom of the gully. Once there the going was much more pleasant, through lovely open rainforest. It was a little while before we reached the first drop, and first canyon like section. We probably could have walked around this, but since we were carrying two ropes and harnesses, we figured we may as well abseil.
Below this drop was more creek walking. We passed a creek coming in on the left and then started to get glimpses of the Colo River as the main creek began to drop away more steeply ahead of us. It was not long before a big drop appeared, about 20m or so into a nice slot. It was also into water, but luckily the water turned out to be only thigh deep. After this the abseils came thick and fast, mostly longish and into slots. It's a bit of a stretch to call it a canyon, more a series of slots, but then it's still more of a canyon than plenty of other "canyons" I've descended.
After a big slab abseil, we boulder scrambled down to the big drop above the river, and tied the two ropes together for the first time. Rachel thought they wouldn't reach, though she hadn't had the advantage of seeing the drop from the bottom before. Just in case though, I got to go first. They reached with four or five metres to spare - 50m ones might have just reached. Rachel came down, but when we tried to pull the ropes they refused to budge. They had pulled ok when we had done a pulldown test, but now they weren't moving.
After twenty minutes of trying we gave up. It wasn't far from the junction, and it was going to be easier to come back tomorrow and sort things. We headed up to the junction, and then upstream on the Colo where the camp cave supposedly was. There were recent footprints - heading in the wrong direction - but no sign of the birthday boy or the rest of the party.
I went exploring for the cave, not having been there before, and found one nice one, though rather small. Not long after we started hearing voices and soon Guy and Andrew came into view. The cave I had found was the go, so we did a bit of housekeeping, flattened out a bit more floor, and laid in a supply of firewood. The rest of the night consisted of food, enormous quantities of it. Multiple cheeses, mushroom hors d'oeuvres, marinated tomatoes, fetta, chicken, chips, strudel, chocolate. Rachel and I didn't bother even getting out our dinner that I'd spent a few hours cooking the night before!
A few sparklers and balloons topped off the birthday atmosphere, before people started to turn in.
Caoimhin cooked us pancakes with bananas and caramel sauce the next morning for breakfast. George, Kathleen, Pete and Helen headed off first as they needed to be back early. The rest of us left a little while after, and Caoimhin, Rachel and I left the others to start the climb out while we went to try and retrieve our ropes. They didn't pull any better today than the day before, so Caoimhin and I went off to try and get back up to the top. Caoimhin was half way up something pretty exposed and dodgy, so I went off to look for an easier way. Luckily there was one just around the corner and I was soon back up at the ropes. Caoimhin soon found his way up and we retrieved the ropes and made our way back to the junction, where Rachel had returned.
I had never been up the Colo side of the Crawfords Lookout spur so Caoimhin led up. It was pretty easy to the top of the spur, but there were a few challenging scrambles up the ridge to where the route rejoined the usual track. From there it was straightforward and we had lunch on the lookout
The rain started to fall lightly as we made our way back to the cars, and we got back just in time to avoid getting a good soaking. An excellent weekend.
© Tom Brennan : firstname.lastname@example.org : updated 2009-04-21