Thank you La Nina – wickedly wet and wild

KANANGRA NP – 20 February 2021
The weather forecast didn’t look promising, but what the hell if we stayed home every time  “showers” were forecast we’d never go out. Mind you, camping at one of the highest points in the area with the forecast for thunderstorms (which didn’t eventuate), wasn’t a great idea with all those dead trees around us.   However, by the end of the weekend I was thanking the weather gods that had sent La Nina our way, I may never see this much water in this creek again!

When I arrived on Friday afternoon and there were clear blue skies, I thought I should take a photo just in case that was the last blue sky I’d see for the weekend (lol)

I need not have worried, for the whole weekend we had brilliant blue skies!

I’ve been thinking about this trip for a long time now, having visited the area on numerous occasions over the last 10 years, doing the odd recce and generally fantasizing about abseiling these  unpublished cascades.  And finally I got enough people interested (needed a lot of people to carry in ropes), so the plan was going ahead.  I knew that natural anchors would be a problem so we took a lot of ropes because the anchors would be way back from the cliff(s), plus we decided to leave each rope in place and collect them on the way out, rather than carry ropes through the creek.  So, we were all set – very excited!

Trish and John scoping out the way ahead and looking for possible anchors, we eventually decided on a large rock about 20m back from where they’re standing. You could either go through the small pools (as Trish did), or circle around the pools to stand just across from Trish & John.

Trish offered to be our crash test dummy, she had a walkie talkie in her backpack so she could give us an idea of what to expect. We also used hand signals and when we could our whistles, but the roar of the falls drowned out the whistle signals.

Trish deploying the rope with the rest of the crew looking on. From a few spots up on the cliff edge we had a good view of what was ahead.

What we couldn’t see half way down the waterfall was a “keeper pot”, a deep hole that Trish abseiled into. I couldn’t see it but John and the rest of the group could. Trish said the only way she could get out was to drape her feet/legs over the edge and let the force of the water take her over. When she spoke to me later she said that she used up all her adrenaline for the whole weekend on that one abseil, looks scary as shit, and I think Trish was regretting her decision to go first. (Photo:  John G)

Was it our inexperience with white water abseiling that caused Trish to underestimate the pool?  Possibly, but we are new to this and thankfully we’ll be prepared for a danger like this in the future.

Trish finally out of the hole. Alissa (who’d seen Trish disappear in the hole) happened to be down the bottom (checking that the rope went all the way down), she saw that Trish wasn’t surfacing, so swam over to try to pull on the rope to give Trish some assistance to get out … well done Alissa, turned out that she didn’t need it but quick thinking on your part!  (Photo:  John G)

After Trish’s experience, we sent everyone over via a shallow depression in the rock, out of the flow. Here’s Kathy about to do her first white water abseil!

And Rob doing his first SRT abseil, talk about “like a duck taking to water”, any chance he got he was in the white water.

Omar on the first abseil. as you can see avoiding the keeper pot meant that you weren’t in the flow of the water, although I moved across to the left a little and had the water pounding on my head. (Photo: John G)

Kathy on abseil #2 into another pool.

John at the bottom of abseil #2.  Because of where we had our anchor, we were unable to abseil in the flow of the water.

Garth on a small cascade, abseil #3, this natural anchor that we used wasn’t in a good position to be in the flow of water either, but you take what you can get.

Abseil #4, we used some caravan sized boulders to set up an anchor, it was John’s job to go down to the pool just below the white water, we weren’t sure if there was an anchor and  as it turned out, our rope was about 2m too short to do the 2 waterfalls at once.

Alissa on this great abseil, some of us did this, others went down the “dry” route but those that did the waterfall loved it.

Because our rope was too short and there wasn’t a natural anchor, we knotted two ropes together and I stood on this ledge (from where I took the photo) to make sure less experienced passed the knot safely, was a no brainer, but better safe than sorry.

Trish in the waterfall.

Penny on abseil #4 (Photo John G)

Omar on abseil #5 (Photo JohnG)

Kathy at the bottom of abseil #5 (Photo John G)

And finally me at the bottom of abseil #5 (Photo: John G)

Me on abseil #5 (Photo John G)

It was at this point that we called it a day, there are possibly 2 more abseils/waterfalls downstream that need to be checked out, will have to save those for another (after rain) day.

We got back to camp around 5pm started up the fire and enjoyed happy hour and a brilliant sunset, thanks for the decadent cheese platter Ali!

How did the spiders survive the fire? were they underground or what? on Sunday morning the area was a mass of large and small spider webs covered with dew, magical.

Big thank you to all the rope carriers and people who made this trip possible … John G, Trish M, Steve R, Alissa M, Penny S, Kathy G, Omar S, Rob C, Garth & Catherine McL. Catherine actually stayed at the top of the falls with baby Adriel while Garth did the abseils – given how much Catherine loves abseiling, that was definitely generous of her.

Extra thanks to Marcia K and David S who drove out to the campsite with me a few weeks ago while I scoped out how much fire damage there was – and we “taped” the route in – sad to say when we went back a mere 4 weeks later on this trip, the tapes were gone, my fault should have written on the first one “leave in place need this taped route for weekend in Feb” will not make that mistake again!

Banner:  Brave Trish and Ali to the rescue!
Thumbnail:  me on the 5th abseil

(PS:  taped the route in case people only wanted to spend half a day there, or for those who might have wanted to walk in earlier than the time set – would save time navigating.)

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

6 Responses to Thank you La Nina – wickedly wet and wild

  1. John says:

    Great creek and superb rock!

  2. Roy Cotton says:

    Another excellent story M. Did 4 pitches down Kanangra walls some time ago camped out at the top overnight. Walked out through the creek a really great adventure.

  3. Jenny Hughes says:

    I think your title was well chosen. It looks like it was a really fun and challenging trip!

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