05/01/2008 - report - photos - Ranon Canyon track notes

Participants: Tom Brennan, Rachel Grindlay, Matt Dowle, Bec Carmen

Our third attempt at Ranon for the season didn't have much better weather than the first two. A few spots of rain fell as we came over Mt Tomah, and plenty of low cloud hung ominously over the Carmarthen Creek valley. Still, there were six cars in the Claustral car park as Matt drove us to the top of the hill above Mistake Ravine.

The fires of Nov 2006 have completely cleared the hillside, and the scrubby fight that has been required in the past to get into Mistake Ravine was non-existent. It took us a few minutes at the bottom to find a route through the last cliffline, but it was pretty straightforward.

It was only a short walk from there to the first drop. Bec hadn't been canyoning before so we chose to abseil that drop, which was a pleasant, easy one. I had planned to abseil the next couple of drops as well, but they both looked rather awkward. The first we handlined as the rock was pretty wet and slippery from the rain, and the second we climbed down the first bit, and then bounced our way down a long log to get down the last few metres. We then had a long flat walk down the corridor of ferns to the Ranon Brook junction, as the rain started to come down quite hard.

My notes had a log slide in the main canyon, but this never turned up. Just three short tricky abseils which tested everybody, with plenty of water pouring over the falls. Bec did well considering they were her first canyon abseils, and not easy ones to boot. At the Claustral junction we decided to do the long drop from the high ledge, as I had not done it before. We weren't sure whether we'd have enough rope, but a party arriving at the bottom of Claustral was able to give us the thumbs up when we tossed it. It was a nice abseil although it seems a shame to miss the twisting series of drops down the main falls.

At the end of the long constriction we had a brief lunch under an overhang and then pushed on. The first hand-over-hand had plenty of water coming down and I chose to rig it as an abseil. Rachel and Bec took a swing at the bottom under the water and came out looking rather bedraggled. I was lucky enough to find the rock hidden underwater and avoid a dunking. A few more obstacles and we were at the exit gully.

At the last tricky climb in the gully we found a group of three having some trouble getting up. They let us play through, and since they had managed to get someone up with a rope, were happy enough to deal with it themselves, though we did offer to help. It had stopped raining by the time we emerged on the tops. We passed one more group back near the fire trail and arrived back at the cars with our feet crawling with leeches. Obviously the little suckers were out in force in the weather!

After retrieving Matt's car we reconvened at the KFC at Richmond for a bit of fat replenishment courtesy of the Wicked Chicken. An excellent day.