29/12/2004 - report - photos - Closet Canyon track notes - Thunderstorm Canyon track notes

Participants: Tom Brennan, Rachel Grindlay, Jonathan Potts, Gill Fowler, Charles Blumer

I had wanted to get up the other side of Rocky Creek for some time, and this combination of canyons seemed like a good opportunity. Our navigation out along the ridges was spot on, and we were into the creek in good time. We scrambled the first abseil on the right, and headed down towards the canyon. The others suited up at the first drop while I headed down the 15m abseil, hoping to somehow remain dry. Some tricky bridging got me across the deep pool at the bottom which was a relief. Pottsy couldn't quite get the bridge, and decided to drop into the pool rather than be pulled across using the rope. Gill and Rachel were pulled on to the dry ledge, and Charlie managed the bridge quite easily. A short drop into another cold pool awaited, and the boys elected to do a fairly dodgy bridge again to avoid getting wet. The girls took the safer option of an abseil and a short swim.

We were soon out of the canyon section and heading down the creek. The first drop was easily scrambled, but the second involved some dirty and dodgy moves, and by the time we all got to the bottom, we probably would have been better abseiling it. It was a little more scrambling to the big 40m drop. This was quite spectacular and very like Mt Hay in feel. You can exit before it, but I don't know why you'd bother.

At the bottom we walked to Rocky Creek, and downstream to the exit of Thunderstorm Canyon for lunch. Leaving Rachel napping at the lunch spot, the other four of us headed up the climbing exit to Thunderstorm. The first drop had a slippery piece of tape hanging down, that we used to get up. I don't know how tricky it would have been otherwise. I did an exposed little climb before the others found an easier way around on a ledge. From there we had a few easier and less exposed scramble to the top, where there was one final exposed and more difficult section. Relieved, we walked up to the top line of cliffs. I was hoping that by traversing under these, we could avoid climbing all the way out, and possibly drop right in at the start of the canyon. It worked a charm, scrambling down to the creek just above the first abseil. This was a 40m drop, down a classic slot.

However, at the bottom, disaster struck. As the rope pulled through the anchor, it jammed in the next pool down. Charlie, Pottsy and I first tried flicking the rope around, then put all our weight on it, but with no effect. I rigged up a pulley system, but still no luck. After a bit more of this I decided to cut our losses ... and the rope. So if you find 20m or so of rope in Thunderstorm, you know where it's from.

After all that effort, the canyon was extremely disappointing. It opened out immediately into a gorge - more like the lower sections of Rocky Creek. It was similar all the way to the Rocky Creek junction - a pleasant creek, but not a canyon. You'd be rather disappointed if you were doing this as a long day trip from the Natural Bridge.

Back at the lunch spot, we retrieved Rachel and went for the exit. This was a quick climb up to the ridge, and there were good views of the lower section of Rocky Creek from on top. From there it was a brisk walk back the way we came along the ridges to the car. An interesting day.