18/05/2003 - report - Tiger Snake Canyon track notes

Participants: Tom Brennan, Lisa McGinnigle

Third time lucky for Tiger Snake Canyon? I'd tried to do it twice before - once stopped halfway down by an accident, and the other by two flat tyres on the way to the canyon. The portents weren't good.

I was camped up on the plateau, from some mountain biking the day before, so I met Lisa at Bungleboori Picnic Area and we drove to the end of the Old Coach Rd. We quickly made our way to the start of the canyon - I remembered the route pretty well from a couple of years ago.

We went through the first section fairly quickly, although the first tricky abseil posed its usual problems. I climbed, with a prussik on the rope as a pseudo safety. Lisa half abseiled, and then climbed the rest. We used the rope four times in total, including the third drop (second abseil) from a dodgy looking set up of logs. The ring that used to live up to the right has long since been removed, although there is an unsightly scar.

There was another party having lunch at the bottom of the first section - looked like a commercial group from the amount of gear, and matching equipment they had. We said hi and quickly moved on to the bottom section. We decided to enter at the start rather than climbing over the top and doing the big abseil.

The chockstone at the top caused problems. Lisa went first and the rope slid into the crack on the right. We did a pull down test when she reached the bottom - no good. The left side was better, so I figured to leave the rope on that side as I descended. Good plan, but the angle was such that I couldn't get it across with my weight on the rope. The best I could manage was to leave it near the middle and hope that we could pull it down carefully without the rope sliding into the crack. It didn't work. The rope jammed in no time at all, and I was left cursing.

We thought about waiting for the party behind and asking them to free it, but didn't - luckily in the end, since they went over the top to the big abseil. I pulled out the prussik loops and prepared to use them. I'd done plenty of prussiking outside canyons but this was my first rope jam. Getting up to the chockstone was easy but from there it was difficult. After what seemed an eternity but was probably only a couple of minutes, I managed to jam myself with enough free rope to move it to the other side. I clipped back on and we were easily able to pull it down.

With that excitement out of the way, we scrambled through the remainder of the canyon - deep and dark, but surprisingly short - to the end.

The sun had come out in the meantime, and we had lunch on a sunny ledge on the way out. It was an easy walk back to the car, and a good day of canyoning. But Tiger Snake had managed to stop me from completing it incident free!