Working off the Christmas feast!

Yileen – 27 December 2016
MSS has a tradition of liloing the Wollangambe on Boxing Day so I decided to support the Club by joining in, plus Jeff B and I wanted to do Yileen Canyon again so I scheduled that for the following day.  The Wollangambe was a great success and we abseiled the final (usually overlooked) cliff at Yileen so all round it was a good weekend.  Ordinarily this wouldn’t be blog-worthy but as you’ll see, the Wollangambe was a different trip to what I expected and in Yileen we had an unwanted encounter.

Boxing Day started out in brilliant sunshine but by the end of the day we were clouded over for the walk out which made it hot and muggy.

The group was too big so we formed into two logical groups, Jim (the co-ordinator) and all his friends  and the MSS members/friends/family members, we set off with a 15 minute space between the two groups and caught up to them once at the “suit up” spot and then again at a block up when we overtook them. There were a lot of people on the river, this is the MSS group and some others at the morning tea stop.

As I didn’t want to carry a wet lilo and wetsuit up the hill, I elected to “noodle it” (two noodles that I floated on), I had paddle gloves too so I could keep up.

The noodling worked out well enough, I thought I’d have sore arms from floating backwards and paddling but woke up Sunday morning with no ill-effects, perhaps the paddle gloves made it easier.

Overall, I was disappointed in the Wollangambe experience.  There had been considerable rain on Christmas Eve, so the river was up slightly, you could see from wet marks on the cliff face that it had been higher (about 60cm) but the level had gone down by the time we arrived.  The amount of silt and suspended particles was very high though, consequently the water was not crystal clear as I’d experienced in the past.  There was also a lot of “mud” on the rocks (about 3cm of it where the water had retreated).

Rod and Chris fooling around, you can see how murky the water is, ordinarily it’s crystal clear.

Regardless of the water, it was still a great trip (as always), rapids to negotiate around …

and rapids to shoot!

And the peace and tranquillity of long pools and majestic cliffs.

After the liloing trip, Rod and I joined Jeff B at Cathedral Campground for a campfire … BWOC were also there so we had a few BWOC members drop in for a chat, plus Tony L of MSS and his friend caught up with us too, so even though there were only the three of us, it was a very social campfire.

Next day we met Rob C, did a car shuffle so we wouldn’t have to walk the big hill at the end and set off for Yileen.  It was a beautiful day, very humid but you still needed wetsuits for the pools.  As always, Yileen is a great day out!

Rob trying to stay out of the water, I tried for a while, but eventually, my legs just weren’t long enough!

Not far into the canyon, I stepped off a log and almost trod on a small snake, after the usual shrieking, I retreated down the canyon and stood on a big log where the snake couldn’t get near me, leaving Rod, Rob and Jeff to take care of it.

Yes, I know, looks very small doesn’t it, probably only 30cm but it was reared up ready to have a go at us. I asked my herp acquaintances about it and it would appear that there’s a 95% chance it’s a Small-Eyed Snake, apparently they are venomous with at least one death attributed to them. Fangs wouldn’t have gotten through my wetsuit but could have gotten through Jeff’s thermals that he was wearing. Eventually Rob used a stick to move it out of the way.  The snake definitely made the trip Blog Worthy!

We’re came to the pitch that someone had put a hand line down, why they’d want to do that to a perfectly good abseil is beyond me. Last time I climbed down a slot avoiding the handline, this time we moved it out of the way and abseiled the pitch, much easier. Here’s Jeff on the approach to the anchor.

Jeff on the 1st abseil, you can see why it would be a nasty climb down, there is a 1+m overhang.

A few small climb downs and swims follow, here’s Rob trying to keep from having to swim!

Jeff trying to avoid another small swim, I climbed up around the top but none of the others wanted to follow me

Rob on the 2nd abseil, you can skirt around to the right and stay dry which I did but Rod and Rob elected to swim the deep pool.

Rob looking good at the end of the 2nd abseil, this has a nasty bit at the end, you can down climb it but it is overhung.  I elected to abseil this bit.

Rod elected to down climb it and was dunked!

Another compulsory swim, this one much more sustained

Rob at the top of the 3rd abseil

Jeff on the 3rd abseil, although awkward at the top, it’s a lovely abseil. Normally this is a little dryer at the bottom.

Jeff at the top of the 4th abseil, 45m, apparently he thinks this is his “best” side for photographing, hence the pose!

Rob on the 4th abseil, we had a heart stopping moment when we pulled the rope down, it first refused to budge from the top anchor and then got caught around a rock on the ledge, some expert manoeuvring by Rob released it just as Jeff was checking out the climb (looked nasty).

And finally! the 5th abseil which most people don’t do, Jeff asking why he had to go first (again), it was very slippery at the top, in fact Rod took a slide, thankfully he had his safety on the anchor (a heart stopping moment for Rob & Rod, I was already down the bottom by this time).

Rob on the 5th abseil, it has a nasty start, a sharp 90 degree angle on the rock, very slippery. It’s about 20m and everyone was asking why we had to abseil it when we’d just have to walk up 20m to get to the exit track, BUT, it was the whole reason I put the trip on.

Thanks Rod, Rob and Jeff for joining me on this adventure.  There were a few “side creeks” coming in to Yileen and a little muttering about exploring them, we’ll see, could be worth while!

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6 Responses to Working off the Christmas feast!

  1. Aine Gliddon says:

    Hi Marilyn,
    For future reference the maximum group size in non-abseil canyons is 12 … (Blue Mountains NP Plan of Management) few take any notice (or possibly even know about it) but perhaps if some started setting examples, others may follow.

    The Wollangambe was ankle deep when we crossed it a couple of weeks back on the way to Water Dragon. On the way back down to the exit many of the swims were silting up with sand and soot washed down from after the 2013 fire. Someone also told me that the mining company no long puts as much water into Wollangambe as it used to which would also account for reduced water levels.

    Yileen – must check out that last abseil one day (doing on Thursday so see how we go). There is another anchor for the big abseil at the end – canyon centre – which takes you straight down the middle. Much easier pull-down, but still need to careful that last person sets the knot low down. The way you went – have not done since last with you in July 2014. I understand there is a bolt now about 2/3 down. The last person abseils to that and pulls the rope from there and then re-riggs for the last bit making it less likely to get the rope stuck.

    • marilyn says:

      HI Aine, yes, whilst I’m aware of the numbers, many aren’t and of course by the time I found out how many were coming it was too late and even splitting the group it was still too big! Re Yileen, although I did it a month ago, it’s been many years since I did it prior to that. Was aware of the option to stop on the ledge but we all wanted to do the big abseil. We had a rock climber who could have climbed up to the ledge, it was slippery but doable. I haven’t had a problem with the pull down in the past, but knew it could be an issue. The last abseil is ok, but I can understand people for-going it.

  2. Jenny Hughes says:

    Hi M, As always wish I was there! I am so disappointed to miss the snake…and especially your reaction to it!
    I didn’t know Yileen had another abseil! How come we never did it!!!! I feel cheated! 🙂

  3. Wen Adams says:

    Great read, I’m with Jen…disappointed I missed out on your reaction with the snake.
    Surprised you got down the river at all with all those people to bump into. As usual love the photos. Looks like you all had a great time!

    • marilyn says:

      Yes, I did shriek like a girl when the snake moved and reared up at me! Yep, river too crowded! Hope you and Geoff have set aside the weekend of 18 & 19 March for the Decadence walk, Jenny is coming along too!

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