Pilcher by Night

thumbnail2Pilcher/Juggler Canyon – 5 November 2016
It was meant to be a quiet weekend but sometimes there’s just too much to do!   I had persuaded Albert and Eli to go and do Pilcher by Night on Saturday night, David S came along for the ride, then I managed to squeeze some rock climbing (if you can call it that), and parasailing into the weekend, it’s no wonder I’m a little average today.

If you can remember Saturday night, the winds were pretty fierce (around 25k) and the sound of the wind through the power line wires was deafening.  PLUS, David and I left from Sydney where it was a lovely warm spring day, around 25 degrees, by the time we got to Katoomba it was down around 16 or 11 (whatever it was, it was bloody cold).  As someone who shall remain nameless says “what do you expect, it’s the mountains!”  Fortunately, I had brought along thermals and a wind-cheater, David at least had the canyoning jumper that his mother knitted for him (in the dark ages).  He assured us he wasn’t cold with only shorts on (shades of Lindsay B!).

It took a while for us to put together our glow sticks (for a bit of fun), and then we were off, arriving at the first climb down just on dusk.

Ready to rock and roll (l – r, David S, Albert & Eli H)

Doing Pilcher by night is certainly a very different experience to in the day, it’s sort of like caving (without being underground), you only really see what’s in your light, you don’t even notice the massive cliffs beside you.

We’ve had little rain over the last couple of weeks, so there weren’t many glow worms around (would have been one of the highlights).  The wind didn’t let up and it wasn’t until the last 2 abseils when we got really close to the valley that it started to affect us, barrelling down the canyon, with the deafening noise of the wind in the trees above us and (for me) really cold.

Albert at the first pitch, which can be a climb down but was very wet so we elected to abseil it

David on the first climb-down/pitch

The glow-sticks on our helmets (and ears) (Photo: Eli)

David  lit up the rocks with his Big-A caving light (Photo: Eli)

Eli on the 2nd pitch

Me on this pitch notice the Red Socks (an MSS tradition, both David and I wore them even though it wasn’t an MSS trip!) (Photo: Eli)


Eli belaying

David on the pitch with the log and the pool (you can barely see the pool) (Photo: Eli)

David on the ledge that you use to avoid getting wet feet! (Photo: Eli)

Me on the ledges avoiding getting wet (photo: Eli)

The group my glow-sticks looked a little like a spider on my head) (Photo: Eli)

It wasn’t as easy to see the crossing at the main creek so we went down a little further than needed but were soon across and on the exit track, I was a bit concerned that we’d go too far and hit Beauchamp Falls, but David assured me he had it covered – by this time my caving headlamp had flattened (serves me right for forgetting to fully charge it), and I was relying on my secondary torch!

Supper on the Grand Canyon walking track, tea/coffee and Italian biscuits by candle-light! (Photo: Albert)

We stopped in a sheltered spot and had supper, it was supposed to be at the look out (not that we’d be able to see anything), but the wind was still too strong so we opted for a small overhang, it was nice having a cuppa without tourists passing us and having the whole of Grand Canyon to ourselves!

We then resumed the climb out, car to car it was 5 hours, with a long break for supper!  Thanks Eli, Albert and David for coming on the trip with me.

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9 Responses to Pilcher by Night

  1. Jeff says:

    Looks just like caving but above ground Nice

  2. Jenny Hughes says:

    Wow! I can’t believe you did a canyon at night! How exciting. It was really great to see photos of Albert and Eli, feels like old times! The photos were really good, night photos don’t always turn out so great !

    • marilyn says:

      Yes, Jen was pretty good and it was like old times being out with Albert & Eli. Eli has a you-beaut camera and took a lot of good shots, mine weren’t so good, all without a flash though which was impressive.

  3. Aine Gliddon says:

    Looks like fun – only ever done Grand Canyon at night.

    Just a comment on the first ‘down climb/abseil’ in Juggler.

    Commercial groups are all required to abseil it and would ask that everyone else consider doing the same. I have been monitoring Pilcher/Juggler since 2011 and the changes throughout are noticeable (some caused by fallen tress which have necessitated deviations in the route). Although a very short drop, down-climbing tends to lead to grabbing fragile tree roots and the possibility of (further) damaging the ferns. Abseiling allows a more controlled descent. Thanks 🙂

    • marilyn says:

      Hi Aine, yes, apart from back in the early 90s I’ve always abseiled it, should I ever do it again, I’ll make sure the rest of the party abseil. Regardless of that, (imo) it’s too slippery to down-climb. I have to say that I saw Juggler with new eyes this time, and was disappointed to see the amount of compaction in the canyon. There’s a visible track through it about 1m wide, hard compacted earth, or maybe because I’d been into Wounded Knee just the week before, the degradation of Juggler was so obvious. Because Juggler is a “year-round” canyon, maybe there’s a case for taking it off the grid for the summer months when there are so many other canyons that can be done, let it have a rest each summer and recover a bit.

      • Aine Gliddon says:

        I agree. I’d like to take it off ‘the grid’completely for a while but that might be hard. It does not get flood regeneration that many other canyons do. Commercial groups don’t tend to do it in summer (unless everything else flooded or burnt) but recreational groups certainly do often in conjunction with Grand. An issue for our canyon association-:)

        • marilyn says:

          Yes, might be hard to take it off the grid, and you’d always get people sneaking in. Yes, it is an issue that could fall under the association.

  4. David says:

    Top Trip!

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