[SUBW-A] Trip Report - Canyon Exploration - Northern Blue Mts, Easter 2002

David Noble dnoble at ozemail.com.au
Tue Apr 2 00:49:03 AEST 2002

Trip Report - Canyon Exploration - Northern Blue Mts, Easter 2002

Party - Dave Noble, Dave Forbes, Don Cameron, Rik Deveridge

The two Daves, picked up Rik at Wentworth Falls and met Don, Tara and
Pitta at Glen Davis on the Thursday night. The next morning we
farewelled Tara and Pitta and set off for a pass up the cliffs. We had
hoped to find some canyons at the top of our pass and were not
disappointed. We checked out one small side creek - and it showed some
promise (and a large carpetsnake) - but the next two upstream were much
better. We walked up a miniature canyon until we got to a waterfall. We
called this canyon "Trauma Canyon". Almost opposite was another canyon -
we only checked out the lower part (we called this one "Opera Canyon") -
which had a nice waterfall that entered a grotto. This creek looked
worth checking out properly from higher up. A large cave proved to be a
nice spot for lunch.

After lunch we headed up a convenient pass through the cliffs onto open
grassy tops. As we walked, Don gave a good commentary on the local
flora. Further along we selected a nice campsite, put up flys and tents
and then headed down a nearby creek to look for more canyon. We soon
entered what we called "Deep Red Canyon". This was a more significant
canyon than those we had found earlier. An abseil or two took us to the
bottom of the canyon and downstream a convenient pass led back to the campsite.

After dinner, it began raining, so we retreated to shelter. During the
night the rain was quite heavy - but next morning it had more or less
cleared up. This was just as well as we had plans to find more canyons.

A short walk along a ridge saw us at the top of another hopeful creek.
Again we were not to be disappointed. The canyon began with a drop into
a deep dark pool. Rigging the rope a little downstream allowed us to
abseil down avoiding the water - however the belay tree was quite dodgy
- and this time we were abseiling with full packs. Anyway, we got down
unscathed, and we found ourselves in a nice canyon (we called it
"Phenomena Canyon") - it was better than than the previous one we had
found. It had the usual tricky climbdowns, abseils and deep wades but no
swims. At the end of the canyon we found an excellent cave for lunch.
After our break we descended further to join up with a major creek which
we followed for a short distance to a nice grassy campsite. Leaving our
packs we went up a sidecreek - and then up a smaller tributary to look
for another likely canyon. Again we struck gold. We found ourselves at
the bottom of a deep slot. We could climb up a few lower drops - but no
further up the stream bed. A ledge above offered a possibility - and we
could climb up to it and traverse back into the canyon. Again, further
waterfalls blocked our progress - but it certainly looked worth coming
back to. Before retreating back to the campsite we scouted out possible
nearby passes, and Don and Rik scouted out another possible canyon.

Early the next morning (it was going to be "late the next morning..."
but I have just realised daylight saving has ended!), we headed back up
to our canyon and this time entered it high up. The canyon began with a
waterslide and swim and continued with 5 fantastic abseils down a very
nice tight slot. We called this marvelous canyon "Succubus Canyon".

Back to the campsite, we packed up and headed up another side creek. Out
plan this time was to have lunch and then head up one of its tributaries
to get into the headwaters of the creek that Don and Rik had checked out
late the day before (and they had reported a definite canyon above an
amphitheater). However our plans were put on hold when the small creek
we were going up emerged out of a most amazing slot. 

We scrambled and swam up an incredible deep and narrow slot for a few
hundred metres until we came to a beautiful larger chamber with a high
waterfall at its head. On a nearby ledge we paused to admire some very
complete skeletons of small mammals. This slot was so incredible that we
vowed to return and check it out from above. We found this easier than
we had anticipated. After retreating back downstream, we found a very
convenient pass that took us to the head of the canyon. One short abseil
and a nasty hand over hand led us to the start of the  main slot. It was
awesome looking downstream! The canyon was very narrow and very deep. It
was also twisting - so we could only get an impression of what was
downstream. Leaving our top rope in place so we could retreat if
necessary, we set up the second rope down the next drop. It didn't quite
seem to reach the bottom, but did appear to reach a lower chockstone. I
set off down with some trepidation. With stretch the rope did almost
make the bottom - but retrieval would be a problem. This was later
alleviated by using a sling around the lower chockstone to descend the
last part. Then followed a series of tricky small drops - we managed to
scramble down these. As we descended the canyon was deeper and narrower.
Luckily a faggot jammed in the canyon provided a suitable belay point
for the next long abseil. Rik descended first and confirmed that he had
reached the skeleton chamber. The rest of us followed him down. So ended
our descent of this incredible canyon. We all agreed it was surely one
of the best canyons any of us had ever done. We called it "Black Crypt Canyon".

After this adventure we rested in the sun for a while to get our body
temperatures back up and our adrenaline levels down. In what remained of
the afternoon, we climbed up the major sidecreek and camped higher up in
the rainforest.

On the last day of the trip, we climbed up to a ridge, and then
descended another creek that headed back to our end point. This creek
was suprisingly nice, with open going at the top, a short canyon section
in the middle, then some amazing caves, then a steep scramble on an
animal track poised above the talus slopes and a descent to the valley
floor. It was then a trudge back to the car and a pleasant drive back
home. On the way we stopped at the Capertee pub for a few beers and the
Gardeners Inn at Blackheath for dinner.

As canyon exploration trips go - it doesn't get any better!

Dave Noble
David Noble
dnoble at ozemail.com.au

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