COLO WILDERNESS – 15 & 16 June 2019
We had heard about an unpublished abseil trip which ended at the Colo River. Not many people had done it before, probably because it was a full day just to get to the start, you’d have to carry all your abseil gear, plus ropes, plus overnight stuff, and there wouldn’t be any water from the time we left the Colo until we reached it again 24 hours later. Sounded like a trip for the A-Team!
This would also be a recce for a 5 – 7 day expedition that is planned for October, sort of a shake down trip to see how we would go with so much gear. It was a small-ish group, Murray & Emma, John G, Jeff B, Marcia K and Garry S. Our packs, after we filled up with water, ranged from 20k down to 13, that’s a lot to carry up a big steep hill!
We set off at 8am from a well known pass which took us down to the river. The Colo isn’t what it used to be, we found a well defined track all the way along the river until where we had to cross. The 3 guys lept across pools of water, I didn’t like jumping from rock to rock so went further on.
Marcia crossing where I crossed.
John went back across to take some photos while we were filling up our water bottles. Love the platforms and cliffs at the back.
And then it was up the pass. It was relatively easy going for the first 50m.
And then it got steadily steeper, you had to hold onto trees and rocks to pull yourself up. It’s not a well-used pass so there were a lot of loose rocks too.
Resting half way up the pass.
And finally we’re up on the top. It took me about 1.5 hours to do the pass, I’m sure younger, fitter people could do it quicker (lol).
Once on top the view was amazing.
We also found this big rock that had been eroded by the wind, lots of honeycombing.
Around the other side of the rock, more honeycombing. This is all sandstone rock, so it’s always interesting for me to think back about when this area would still have been underwater.
Our 5-star campsite for the night, all it lacked was a good source of water, oh yes, would not be good on a windy night!
The guys sitting around enjoying the views during happy hour.
We packed up next morning and were off by 8am, there were some ramps and downclimbs, it was very steep off the top.
We walked downstream for a fair way and then found this overhang which had lots of strange rock formations in it, some of ironstone that had been weathered.
And this really strange formation that was embedded in the sandstone.
Once we got away from the rock formations, the scrub was a bit average, but then it opened out and was easier going.
There was the occasional downclimb in amongst the boulders.
And then it would be nice and open.
Emma and Murray at another small downclimb, this creek would be amazing to see after heavy rain. The amount of leaf litter on the rocks is evidence that there hasn’t been much rain there for quite a while.
We rigged up a handline here because of the bad landing area, and handed packs down, just safer that way.
Some sections were very canyon-like. There was very little evidence of others having gone through the creek, all the moss was in place, I guess given the effort it took to get there it’s not surprising.
We’re all kind of happy with the creek by now, probably one of the nicest, least scrubby creeks we’ve come across. It was at this time that my camera battery died and the second one wasn’t working – a true Blog emergency, but we had other photographers along on the trip so all was not lost.
More canyon-like section of the creek. We’d dropped a lot of elevation and we still hadn’t come to an abseil – yet! (Photo: John G.)
Opening out again, either side of the creek there were caves and overhangs, we passed about 4 or 5, and just didn’t have the time to check them out. We were on a mission to be down at the Colo by 1pm to give us enough time to walk out in daylight! (Photo: John G.)
Murray on a huge dead tree, I was hoping he’d give us another rendition of “Dirty Dancing”! (Photo: John G).
All up there were probably 4 abseils. And a bonus one at the beginning that everyone else downclimbed (and I abseiled) followed by an abseil on double 6mm rope (interesting), which got us down to the top of this waterfall, so this is abseil #2 (or 3 for me) (Photo John G).
Garry S on abseil #3 – we all wanted to keep our shoes dry so the aim was to step on the middle of this dodgy slippery log and then step backwards onto a rock – not easy! (Photo: John G).
Abseil #3 – me descending (Photo: John G).
Me on abseil #4.
After abseil #4, the creek got very, very scrubby, lots of lawyer vine and fallen trees. We were down the bottom at 1.30pm and started to make our way on the bank to a spot where we could cross and then had a quick lunch.
Looking at the cliffs that line the river, there are very few passes, and many of them are difficult. The creek we came down is to the right of the cliffs you can see in the distance. (photo: John G)
Garry crossing the river, the water, surprisingly, wasn’t that cold. Once across the river, we found the well defined track and were able to make good timing back to the pass we’d used the previous morning. (Photo: John G).
It took us about 3 hours to get back to the cars, arriving just on dark at 5pm. Jeff and I were stuffed, everyone else looked ok, but it had been a big day.
We’ve all done overnight canyons before, but not when we had to carry water for the night and following day, so this was a real test for me. I managed just fine so looks like the Expedition in October will go ahead, and I know exactly how much water I’ll have to carry for the first day. All that remains now is to sort out the logistics of the massive car shuffle.
Banner: lovely honeycombing of the sandstone rock Thumbnail: Marcia “I’ve lost my stick can someone give me a hand?“
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