Jeff & John – my heroes!

GLEN DAVIS CANYONING – 18 & 19 August 2018
By now you’ve (possibly) read about the wonderful Friday canyoning on Newnes Plateau.  Well … here’s how the rest of my weekend went!

Trish M, John G and I drove up to Coorongooba campground on Friday afternoon to meet up with Jeff B.  The plan was to go back to an unpublished canyon done in June, Jeff and John would clean out the anchors John had left behind in June and Trish and I would do the 60m abseil and meet them back at the campground, probably by mid-afternoon.

Day 1 – the Epic

I didn’t sleep well on Friday night, had dreams of the rope not being long enough, reminding myself when I got up to remember to tie a knot in the ends of the rope “just in case”, although I knew that they’d done the abseil before with 2 x 60m ropes.

We set off up the hill at 8.15am – a but scrubby towards the middle.

The start of a few scrambles (John and Jeff)

Another scramble

This is a bit of a climb up, I looked at this and was just too high so we got John to put a hand line down for Trish and me. (photo John G)

Trish coming up the hand line, Jeff retrieving my pack that I’d passed up to him (he’s on a dodgy bit that was very loose).

Another small scramble.

Almost at the top now and there’s a nice natural arch in the rock that we’d seen before.

Up at the half way ledge, we would have a considerable distance to walk along under the cliff-line.

Quite a lot of overhangs with very powdery sand on the floor.

Walking along the half way ledge, most of the time I was cool with this, but when we got close to the edge (probably about 5m) and where it was shaly, it started to freak me out a bit (too much exposure). Photo John G.

We arrived at the creek at about 12pm, this was a small rock that you slid down, it would be a bit harder to get up but John would give Jeff a leg up, so we didn’t leave a hand-line in place.

We abseiled into the creek, avoiding a big pool that was further upstream.  This rope would be left in place for Jeff and John to prusik up on the way out.

Jeff on the prussic.

We’re now in the creek, this is the pool of water that we avoided (very manky).

To get to the manky pool we had to chimney across another small pool.

Looking upstream in the creek, not very attractive.

John on the 2nd abseil.

The abseil ended in a ledge with a large pool at the bottom.  John’s anchor that he wanted to retrieve was up above the tree and around on a small ledge (dodgy and exposed).  It was at this point that I started to have misgivings about the 60m abseil as gale force winds had started.

I did the overhang abseil anyway, as I decided if I didn’t do the 60m abseil, then I’d retrieve the anchor and send John on the abseil with Trish and I would walk out with Jeff.  Thankfully Jeff didn’t do this abseil. Photo John G.

Trish on the abseil, showing the overhang. Photo John G.

Trish on the ledge where we landed.

It was at this point that I definitely decided that the 60m abseil wasn’t for me today and we agreed that John would get the anchor from the dodgy ledge (too exposed for me), and he would abseil with Trish.  We backed up this tree (below) to the 2nd abseil rope and put in a long tape anchor.  Trish and John would abseil down to the next ledge with the 2 x 60m ropes, set up the abseil on the tape anchor, and go down to the bottom.  They’d pull the 2 ropes down, I’d untie the anchor and take it with me and prusik back up to Jeff.  I have prusiked a lot and was confident that I’d have no trouble with the prusik.

John abseiling over to the ledge to set up the ropes

Trish abseiling down to John.

Trish at the top of the 60m abseil.

I undid the anchor and Jeff hauled my pack up to where he was.  Then I started the prusik.  I got as far as the overhang lip and couldn’t get any further, I had tired myself out so then prusiked back down to the pool for a rest and Jeff re-rigged the rope and put on another chest prusik loop.  I prusiked up again and still had difficulty but after quite a long time, and the use of Jeff’s ATC, he virtually hauled me up over the lip to where  I could kneel on the rock and work on those damned knots that were so tight I couldn’t shift them (and here I’d been worried about knot slippage!).

So, now I’m up with Jeff (virtually kissing the ground he walked on), shaking like a leaf, thirsty-as and it was getting late.  We pulled up the ropes and headed up to the other prusik to get out of the creek, no dramas there, a straight forward pitch where I could use my feet!  Jeff pulled up that rope and then we headed out.  It was about 3.45 by now and we knew that it was a 3 hour walk back to the cars, so we assessed the situation and decided that worse case scenario we’d get as far as we could in daylight and then stop, we had matches to light a campfire and space blankets and plenty of food, the only problem was water, which I’d almost run out of.  So we set off as fast as my exhausted state would allow.

At 4.45pm I though Jeff said “ah here’s John’s footprints” (indicating we were on the right part of the ledge, but it was “Ah, here’s John”.  What a legend, John had gone back to camp with Trish and must have been worried about me and the prusik, he said that he just felt that I “wasn’t myself”.  So, at 3.30 he’d set off back up the hill at a cracking pace with water and head torches, his turn around time was 4.30pm but as he hadn’t come across us, he kept on going.

I’ve never been so pleased to see someone as by now I’m almost out of water and whilst Jeff and I had both been up and down this route twice before, John was much more familiar with it.  We got to the climb-downs right on dark.  We proceeded down in the dark with John and Jeff’s head torches, we used the ropes as hand-lines in a few places to make it safer in the dark and eventually got down to a flatter section beyond the rock scrambles.

We got into camp at 7pm (Trish had been worried sick), cleaned ourselves up and tried to rehydrate.  Trish was outstanding, she looked after all of us, particularly John who was stuffed.  Needless to say, we decided that the Sunday canyon wasn’t going to happen and we’d do a bit of hike instead – but only if we felt up to it!

Day 2 – Let’s do some caving – it’s not as scary

After a good night’s sleep (and heaps of Nurofen) we sat around the campfire over breakfast and all agreed that we could manage a 3 hour walk.  Although on the start of the walk up the hill, I knew that my poor muscles needed a bit more rest (ah well, there was always Monday to rest).

John was taking us to a “pinnacle” that he’d found a few months ago and wanted to look around.

Initially the walk was flat, through light scrub, but then there was quite a bit of uphill.

We got to the pinnacle and there was a cool wind cave, Trish climbed up in it but the floor was very steep, you couldn’t sleep in it.

Just around the corner was a large crack in the rock, Jeff’s in the entrance – the most caving he’ll ever do I suspect. Photo John G.

Once in the cave it opened up and this is obviously where a lot of rock wallabies hang out (lots of scat). Photo John G.

Me in the cave, photo John G.

Trish following John out of the cave, Jeff and I’d had enough excitement for the weekend, we stayed behind.

Trish where she’d followed John to – photo John G.

Photo shoot by John G. Note the tape on the small sapling – there was tape and motion cameras all over this small spot, obviously monitoring rock wallabies and (maybe) foxes. Photo John G.

Out of the cave, and into another tunnel that Trish and I explored.

Trish and me at the end of a tunnel (crack in the rock), where the climb down was too high, so we had to reverse back through the tunnel.

There was a small (optional) crawl through so I did a bit of caving to get out of the tunnel.

The other side of the pinnacle was a section of rain forest which we explored.

There were loads of small caves created by the rock fall.

The pinnacle behind me. We had lots of ideas as to why it had been created, maybe there was a natural arch above it which had fallen at some point in time, very unusual. Photo John G.

We’d had enough exploring by 11.30am so headed back down to the campground and were all on the road by 12.15pm for the long drive home.

Thanks so much John for putting this trip on, and a big thanks to John and Jeff for getting me out of the wilderness!

This entry was posted in Abseiling, Bushwalking, Canyoning, MSS. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Jeff & John – my heroes!

  1. Jeff B says:

    I remember signing up for an easy weekend to retrieve a couple of anchors left behind on an earlier trip. Will I ever learn, its always an Adventure with M.
    Another memorable trip to share around the campfire!

  2. Jenny Hughes says:

    What a great trip! I can’t believe you got tired M! Who ever thought that day would come you are such a machine! You must have had a bit of a virus that day.

  3. Kàthy Leslie says:

    Your idea of a Sunday stroll and mine are a bit different!!! Like light years apart!
    Good for you!!!

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