BLUE MOUNTAINS – Unpublished Canyon 9 April 2017
On Sunday morning we woke to perfect autumn weather at Mt Wilson, brilliant sunshine, and plenty of autumn colour on the trees. So, what was our adventure for the day … for a couple of years now, Steve had told me of an unpublished canyon in the Mt Bell area that he’d visited and had promised to take me there one day, so, today was the day.
Apparently, 15 years ago, the late Dug F had heard about a canyon in this area. Dug, Steve and Theo could see into a side creek from a lookout and saw a “dark hole” and figured this side creek was the one. The first time they went there, they got to the second abseil and figured that their ropes weren’t long enough, so turned around and retreated only to return a little later with longer ropes. They made the trip through and it was 15 years later last Christmas that Steve took a small group down the canyon, and now he was making one final trip to take me through. Steve, Dug and Theo weren’t the first ones through, there were some slings already set up when they went through the first time. Last Christmas he didn’t see much evidence of visitation, but this time when we went, he said that the wear was more obvious, so, this little known canyon is possibly no longer under the radar.
As soon as we started, we were into scrub, not impenetrable, but pretty dense.
Lots of fungi after the rain and humid weather that we’ve had
After half an hour of scrub and trying to keep out of the worst of it in the creek, we dropped down a level and walked under the small cliff line for a while
Then we had to bite the bullet and get into the scrub around the creek
The undergrowth got thicker and thicker
And finally we were in the creek, we walked downstream for probably 100m, it was clear that the recent heavy rain had washed a lot of leaf litter downstream
Finally we’re at our first little abseil, only a couple of metres but no other way down
Others may not have abseiled this as there wasn’t a sling, it was awkward swinging around the tree to drop down
Straight away there was a traverse across a muddy slope. This is where we saw very recent footprints in the mud, so we knew that others had come here recently.
The second abseil from a sling on the left, I went down first to clear the ropes, it’s not usually this wet, and we were unsure how much water would be at the bottom.
A fabulous abseil, about 30m.
There was a pool at the bottom, usually only knee deep, it was somewhat higher this time.
The abseil’s followed by a small climb down, apparently there used to be a log here but it had been washed away, so now it’s a bit trickier, particularly if you are short.
The 3rd abseil is immediately after the climb down, you can just see two old slings in the middle of the shot on the right hand side, we didn’t use them (and I actually took them away). 15 years ago, Dug and Steve had decided that these slings were too dodgy so put a sling around the small boulder in the foreground, it was in very good condition so it’s what we used this time.
One of the old slings, it’s around a small column of sandstone, thinner than my little finger, it would probably have been alright to use, but, with another option, they weren’t necessary and they were in much worse shape than Dug and Steve’s sling.
Looking down the abseil
Steve went down first
Trish on the abseil
When pulling down the rope, it was fine for a while and then got harder and harder to pull, thankfully the tail end was still within reach because eventually the rope jammed and couldn’t be moved, so, Steve prussiked back up the rope to clear the jam. The rope had wedged in a crack between two rocks and he had to find a log to slip under the ropes to keep them out of the crack.
Looking back up the canyon towards the bottom of the 3rd abseil.
It was at this point that my camera’s battery died, so no more photos. The walk out was very easy, we just walked to the end of this constricted part and then climbed to the base of the cliff and found a convenient ramp to the top of the ridge.
We followed a compass bearing through scrub (not horrendous but pretty thick) and from time to time crossed what looked like compacted vegetation, again evidence that visitation has increased.
This is a stunning little canyon, only a short one, car to car was about 5 hours and that included a jammed rope and plenty of time having lunch in the sun. Steve and I wont go back to it, Trish and Brad may but probably not for a few years.
There’s nothing glamorous about bushwalking, caving or canyoning, but it sure is fun! If you’re an armchair bushwalker, someone looking for new adventures, or one of my friends who just wants to see what I’ve been up to, this site is for you, sign up to get email alerts now!