KINGS TABLELAND – 30 November 2019
Two and a half years ago, I’d done the exit of a published canyon with no problems at all – in fact a return to the canyon in the summer months was on my wish list. What a difference 2 1/2 years can make. Needless to say, it’s off the wish list now. Probably the first time Jeff’s ever seen me almost in tears and hanging onto rock for dear life!
John G, Anna O-B, Jeff B and I were supposed to go out to Yarramun Creek for 3 days canyoning. But with the fires to the north, we didn’t think it was wise to go out into a remote area that would involve a day’s walk to get there and back. True, the Gosper’s Mountain Fire was still up in the Newnes area, but we’d be out of mobile range and wouldn’t be able to track it, so John came up with a Plan B. A car camp with two multi pitch exploratory creeks.
The plan for Saturday was to walk into a waterfall on our target creek. After pouring over the topo map a few years ago, I’d asked both Jim C and Tom B about this creek, and neither of them (at the time) had done it, and I hadn’t heard of anyone else who’d done it – definitely a reason for us to give it a go. We’d follow the creek downstream to the cliffline, abseil the cliff, then follow the base of the cliff around to a known Pass (approximately 3k off track). But then, around lunchtime, we looked at the map again and decided that their was another known pass (the one I’d done in 2016) that Anna, John and I had done which was only 1.5k so we opted for the shorter route.
From here it got way scary for me.
I’ve looked back on my blog post for the this published canyon and its exit, the leader said in his pre trip briefing it was “quite challenging … involves a few hairy scrambles … some tricky abseils … challenging scramble to exit”, and then I wrote after the trip “obviously I’ve been doing this sort of thing for far too long as the ‘hairy ledges’ were fine and the exit pass (IMO) was pretty good, yes, rotten logs, but not the worst pass I’ve been up”.
I didn’t like the exposure this time, and scrambling up the slope above, what you can’t see is a drop of about 10m below. Then we got to a 50cm climb up and a traverse around a big rock. That was it for me … “Jeff, I can’t do this”, I’ve never spoken those words before, and I’m sure he could see the fear and tears about to be shed! The alternative was no better though, couldn’t go down (too slippery) and no idea if there was another route, so, Jeff took my pack around to a flat area, then came back and walked me through it. I was holding on so tight and checking where my feet were at every step, have never been so glad to be past a rock in all my life – this pass has been promoted to Scariest Pass I’ve Ever Done!
Finally we were up at the saddle and could take a well-earned rest, it was then only an hour’s walk through light scrub to the fire trail and then 2k to the parked cars. We were back at the cars by 6.30pm – a solid 9 hour trip.
So, I’ve done this Creek now – loved the creek, hated the exit, really thought I could fall to almost certain death, never have to return, definitely a Type 3 adventure.
But, 48 hours later, I’m thinking MAYBE I could go back and do the published canyon again, and next time, have someone drop a rope from the top of the exposed bit and use some prussic loops to tie myself onto the rope, then if I did fall, wouldn’t go far, am always a lot happier when attached to a rope.
Thanks so much for leading the trip John and thanks to Jeff and John for carrying the two 60m ropes for the whole day.
So, what will we do on Sunday, Spring Creek? Should be an easy short day – famous last words!
NB: taking Tom B’s approach I have intentionally not named this creek.