Geronimo and Yileen Canyons – 12 & 13 November 2016
After 4 trips down Geronimo Canyon and 2 to Yileen, a return to both wouldn’t really be blog-worthy, but given that the last time I was in Geronimo was 2010 and the last time I did Yileen was in 2001, it was like visiting the canyons for the very first time. But it really became blog-worth when the track that used to be well worn to Geronimo was virtually non-existent, involving an unusual entry into the creek.
Brad decided to move his weekend canyoning to this weekend to accommodate me and Denise W, and then Lindsay decided to join us, shortly followed by Laurie and Chris A and Albert H. So, Saturday was a small group and Sunday was slightly larger.
The weekend didn’t start off auspiciously as it was bucketing down at 6.10am when we left Berkeley Vale, and we kept asking each other “what are we doing?” But we sent Jeff an sos to look at the weather again for us (neither Brad nor I had checked on Saturday morning), and Jeff assured us that the bad weather would clear by the time we got up to Mt Wilson, and sure enough it did. Brad and I had debated whether or not to take wetsuits (I couldn’t remember how wet the canyon was), and as the air was a little cool by the time we got to the fire station at Mt Wilson, we packed them “just in case”. By the time we got down to the Wollangambe though, it was very sunny and we were sweating so the three of us hid our wetsuits behind a tree and Lindsay was the only one who wore one.
The Wollangambe flooded about 18 months ago and washed away the track going up to Geronimo, it didn’t help that fires went through the area in 2013 obliterating the track at the top, and because we were “locked out” of the area for 12 months, the vegetation grew back and evidence of the track disappeared. We found our way up, but it was definitely a different way to the one that we used to take.
We headed for the “high point”. Denise, Brad and Lindsay at the top, just a matter of route-finding down to the creek now.
Dropping down into the creek, it didn’t look like anything I remembered. Brad negotiating the way down, no track, lots of drop-offs between us and the creek, hard to know which was the best way to go.
One of the benefits of a bushfire, a lot of the wildflowers do well after the fire, a great stand of waratah, in amongst the still burned out banksias.
It was touch and go, either we’d be too high, or too low and miss the first abseil. We could hear another group in front of us now, but couldn’t tell how they’d gotten down. As it turned out we went in a little higher than normal (only about 50m), and had an interesting climb down that proved difficult for short legged me.
Denise at the first abseil, the water was a little high so we all got wet in the small waterfall, our first taste of how cold the water was going to be.
Brad at the bottom of the first abseil, the waterfall wasn’t so small down the bottom!
Denise at the bottom of the second abseil
Second abseil followed by a compulsory wade, the decision to leave the wetsuits behind was now looking decidedly ill-advised!
With four photographers on the trip there were a lot of stops to take photos, here Lindsay and Denise taking a photo of Brad on the second abseil
Lindsay getting ready for another compulsory swim
There was a bit of a log to walk along here, Brad trying not to get wet!
Lindsay at the 4th Abseil. We caught up with the other group here and sat in the sun for a while to let them get ahead of us, we were “steaming” as we sat in the sun. This abseil was difficult, over a chock-stone, we all took our time to figure out the best way of doing it, there wasn’t one! Big pool at the bottom (again)
The canyon had some really pretty sections in it, and because it was around mid-day the sun offered great photo opportunities.
Another pretty section
Again we caught up with the larger group (8), so we had to sit and wait for about 10 minutes, the three wet-suit-less in the group were all pretty cold by now, but we could feel the warm air from the Wollangambe coming up the canyon so it wasn’t long now until we’d be warmer.
The bottom of the fourth abseil I went first on this one so couldn’t take action shots of everyone.
Almost straight away after the 4th abseil we were down at the Wollangambe, the “guide book” says “you can swim a 50m abseil or walk along a ledge on the right”, well, I was expecting only 50m of swimming but it seems that it was much, much longer than that. Here’s Denise and Brad crossing, only knee deep.
We came to a large rock fall, maybe this was the ledge, but it looked dodgy, so we elected to swim, more than 50m, fortunately the water was quite warm so we were no longer cold.
Shot of the rock fall, I think it’s fairly recent, I don’t remember it from past trips on the river.
Denise trying to find a way across at a rock block-up
Lindsay and Brad at the same rock block up, choosing to cross in the fast flowing water, taking care not to get swept into a channel.
Right after the block-up there were ledges to walk along, we’re getting close to the Dufaurs junction.
At the Dufaurs junction the water was flowing very quickly, hard to cross without being swept into low-hanging trees.
Just after the Dufaurs junction. You used to be able to walk along the bank on a nice “track”, unfortunately with the flooding of the Wollangambe and the fires that went through, this track is now non-existent, so we walked/floated downstream, which was really nice. There were sections of fast flowing water where you went really quickly.
Great night around the campfire at Mt Wilson where Laurie and Chris joined us, the wind had come up but that didn’t stop us from having a good campfire.
Sunday morning we did the car shuffle dropping a couple of vehicles at the bottom of Pierce’s Pass and set off for Yileen, whilst I remembered the last bit of the track, it was definitely a longer walk in than I recalled!
Great views of the Grose Valley on the walk in
Just before heading down into the creek system. The track to the canyon is well worn, when I did it 10 years or so ago, I don’t remember there being a track, we had to navigate in.
Once in the creek, we had to walk along a little way in the scrub
We stopped at a small open section of the creek and put wetsuits on and then were into it, it’s very green and really pretty.
Because I was at the back with Denise, most of my photos were of Denise or Brad! Here’s Denise showing her good log walking technique
Small section of the creek where you could avoid wading in the water if you stuck to the ledges, are we competitive (of course)
Nice section of canyon
At the first big climb down, the rest of us did the (easy) squeezy climb down, but Brad and Lindsay decided to use this rope that someone had put in. Why they put in a rope at a perfectly good abseil is beyond me, and getting down was a pain, both Brad and Lindsay had difficulty, although Lindsay managed a little better than Brad!
There were lots of small pools that you could avoid with care, otherwise you’d be in deepish water
Lindsay on a slippery climb down
Opening out, we walked through a coachwood forrest
The canyon closed in again after a brief section of open bushland
Albert getting down the small climb down
Denise on the abseil, the trick was to skirt around to the left and walk along the ledge to avoid a deep pool
This small “climb down” came after the abseil, it was awkward, might have been easier to abseil it
Another nice constricted section
Albert on another swim, by now we’re all over the swims and it’s getting cold
A really cool section of the canyon, a tunnel with a bright well-lit area beyond it.
Laurie who led the canyon today and Chris
Yet another swim
Laurie on the second last abseil
Denise on the same abseil, it’s really nice and has a small overhang at the top, very nice.
Lindsay on the final 45m abseil, although there is another one below this which we didn’t do, I think we should go back and do the canyon again and do the “real” final abseil!
Stunning canyon, definitely one to do again before I hang up my abseil gear! Thanks for taking me along Brad!
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