27/10/2007 - report - photos - Tiger Snake Canyon track notes

Participants: Tom Brennan, Rachel Grindlay, Bel Kinneally, Dan Smith, Carlie Ryan, Mark Langsworth, Geoff Facer, Igor Neumann

Driving up along the Glowworm Tunnel Road, we were greeted by a swarm of bicycles weaving back and forth across the road in front of us. A large group of perhaps 30 kids were out for a ride with a few adults. Where they were going we could only guess. One of them seemed quite oblivious to the parade of cars behind him and continued to weave back and forth for some time, until one of the adults pulled him over.

At the Old Coach Road car park we were beset by another swarm, this time the flies. I hadn't seen them this bad anywhere for about five years. Once we got underway they just sat on people's hats, backs, packs and didn't bother us quite as much.

Another group had pulled up at the car park at the same time as us. We jokingly talked about racing them, but they were ready to go within a few minutes of arriving, unlike us. They had done the canyon a few times before, and with our large group of beginners I thought it would be better to let them head off. We probably wouldn't see them again.

Reaching the start of the canyon, I was quite surprised to find them still there. They were having some trouble with the first drop. They were abseiling it, which was causing part of the problem, and from the low anchor as well. I hadn't abseiled that drop since the first time I did the canyon, and it was an unpleasant experience. I mentioned to their leader that there were other options such as downclimbing or abseiling from an anchor up on top of the pagoda. They managed to get down safely, while we waited and practised tying prusik loops.

Then we all downclimbed without too much difficulty.

The pile of logs at the next drop looked more ricketty than usual. I thought about climbing over but a short easy abseil was a good opportunity to practise. I pulled a few of the logs out as they just seemed to be getting in the way, and everyone abseiled down into the water. I managed to bridge on to a ledge and avoid the knee deep wade.

We all climbed down the roots and abseiled the main drop at the end of the first section. It was only when I got to the ground that I realised I hadn't put the handline back in my back, and that it was sitting up the top of the abseil still.

I had a few choices - leave it, come back later, prusik back up, or traverse around and scramble back on to the ledge. I knew that the latter was possible, but a bit dodgy, so decided to give it a go while everyone else headed off. In the end Igor stayed with me, but waited at the bottom of the abseil while I scrambled along the ledges. If I had known I would be edging along a vertical section of pagoda with a 20 m drop below I'd definitely have prusiked. There were several hairy moments before I regained the ledge, the rope, and abseiled back down. Phew!

We had lunch on the chockstone above the middle of the lower sections of the canyon while Rachel set up the abseil. Everyone did well negotiating the tricky start to the drop. Down in the canyon we explored up and down and then headed out to the pass. I hung around to take some more photos and climbed up on the arch. From there, it was an easy walk back to the cars, punctuated by a couple of stops for views.

We drove back to Barcoo Swamp where we camped, complete with plenty of wine, cheese, and lots of other yummy food. A couple of other groups turned up to camp after dark.