29/04/2007 - report - photos

Participants: Tom Brennan, Lisa McGinnigle, Mike Baldwin, Sarah Jones

Convening at Mike's place, we jumped into Mike's car (well, SUV) and headed up to Katoomba. Rachel had decided to stay at home due to illness, so I didn't have my usual star to lead off the abseils. Rather than doing Malaita Wall, which was the original plan, I suggested we do Malaita Point first and then we could do the Wall in the afternoon if people were still keen.

With a bit of a refresher at the top of the first drop on prussik knots, calls and rigging descenders we let Sarah test out the strength of the rope. It seemed fine, and we were all soon doing the slightly dodgy and unnecessary scramble down to the mini-saddle. Another group was starting the Wall next to us, so we got a good view in preparation for the afternoon. Other than the "bushwalk on a rope", the remaining abseils were pleasant and straightforward for everyone, and we were soon at the bottom. The tourists soon came into hearing, and then view, and we got the usual stares from people carrying nothing more than their cameras - and us with our harnesses, descenders and ropes.

A quick march up the Furber Steps and we were back at the car again. We had lunch in the sun near the Malaita Point lookout, and then headed down the track to the top of Malaita Wall. Lisa commented that it was lucky she wasn't scared of heights as she went over the edge of the first, exposed drop. A bit of an understatement!

My notes for the second abseil said a 28m drop. I figured that my 56m rope should be pretty much right, and that Sarah would be OK to test that! In the end there was a metre of each end on the ground - and 2m with rope stretch - so there were no worries.

Once below the cliff, we could hear nothing but the carolling of bellbirds, despite the fact that the myriad tourists were only a few hundred metres away. We may as well have been in the middle of nowhere - which we almost were when I looked around for the other rope and couldn't find it. Luckily Lisa had put it in her pack!

The next abseil said 34m, so I was less inclined to chance rope stretch. Of course, there turned out to be plenty of spots to scramble off before the 34m mark, so the gung ho approach would have worked. A couple more drops and we were again at the bottom. Another round through the tourists and a 300m climb and we were back at the car again.

We stopped at Hazelbrook for hot chips on the way back and played "Guess the song on the Ipod". I got about one right the whole trip, while Mike and Lisa blitzed them.

A lovely autumn day in the mountains.