BLUE MOUNAINS NP – 19 December 2021
After three days of outdoor activities, wasn’t sure I’d be up for a full (or almost full) day, but amazingly I managed to do the canyon, and I did the exit canyon too (and not take the early exit out). Yep, slow going up the hill at the end of the day but that’s normal. Perhaps I will be fit enough to do three days of canyoning at the end of the month!
I’d put this low grade canyon on the MSS calendar for one of our members, Randa, who hadn’t been able to go on any trips up until this point. Rod S and Jim C joined me (they’re both very experienced), and two other members came along Alan C and Gary M.
The last time I did Wotta, Jeff B was navigating in, there were only 3 of us, and it was a foggy morning, so I didn’t have a clue which way we went. Alan C and Jim C navigated the way in this time, possibly due to my suggestion we went a little too far and had to back track across a hanging swamp, but it was only a minor readjustment so not a big deal.
I’d read somewhere that the starts were tricky, but as it turned out, only one of the starts was a problem.
Where we parted company with the track, looking out over the valley.
Crossing the hanging swamp back to the right spur after our minor adjustment.
Randa on the first abseil, down into a knee deep pool.
Gary on the first abseil.
Alan belaying Jim, you could avoid the knee deep pool if you wanted, but you had to drop into it eventually anyway.
Randa walking out of the pool.
The abseils came quickly after each other. This one I set the rope to the right length so that each person could abseil off the end, and didn’t have to monkey around with treading water and getting their descender off the rope (and getting their feet tangled in the rope in the pool). Worked well, although some were a bit apprehensive.
Jim on the abseil.
Dropping off the end and swimming out.
Randa about to go down.
Randa on the next abseil, down a slot and around a corner.
And then we’re at the fourth abseil, the only one with the tricky start. Jim offered to go down first, he’s a left handed abseiler. there is a small U that you negotiate through and then the rock is overhung. You need to make sure your descender (specifically a Rack), doesn’t get caught on the edge as then you’re stuck. Jim was going along ok until he got his right hand caught underneath the rope and against the rock. Rod managed to lift him up to take the pressure off his hand, but it was very sore afterwards.
I went next and also got my rack stuck, but again, Rod was able to help me out. In this photo, Randa is going over the edge with Alan standing by to give her a hand if need be. Fortunately Randa was using a Pit Stop so she had no trouble.
Once down Randa was able to abseil down the rest of the rock-face.
Gary came next and tried a different way, but again he was using a Rack and needed a bit of help from Alan.
Big mistake on my part having Rod go last, his Rack got stuck and it took almost half an hour with Alan assisting him trying to get the Rack down over the edge. If I’d been last I think as I weigh less, Alan would have just lifted me enough to get down. Racks are a pain in the butt because of this problem, I’ve been stuck before myself and it wasn’t easy to release the rope. If I ever do this canyon again, I’m going to build a little levy with logs near the edge so that the rope isn’t flat on the surface of the rock!
After our mini epic trying to get Rod down, we set off down the creek – all the abseils were behind us and it was just a case of negotiating our way through logs to get to the junction of Birrabang creek.
Lots of fallen trees.
This pool was deep enough that we could jump in, it’s always good to determine who is going to be apprehensive about jumping in, Randa didn’t even baulk at it.
It was quite a shallow pool, so you had to sit on the edge to drop in.
Rod made a big splash.
We were soon at the Birrabang junction and started upstream. We found a few yabbies in the creek (about 6″ long).
Birrabang is a very pretty canyon (which makes up for some of the scrub and downed trees that we encountered in Wotta).
More canyon formation.
And more – very pretty.
There were two sections of the creek that you had to skirt around (small waterfall that you couldn’t reverse), this was one of the climbs that we had to do. Randa nailing it.
And after the climb there was a traverse of death (2m drop off to the side).
Before long we were at the junction and were able to take off our wetsuits and clean out shoes for the climb out.
Part of the climb out, it’s fairly steep to start and then flattens out slightly. We did encounter gale force winds at the top on the ridge though – wind strong enough to knock me off my feet!
Although the issue with Rod and his Rack wasn’t something that went “wrong”, it’s always good with new canyoners for them to see what can go wrong on a trip, if they only do trips which go according to plan, they get an inaccurate idea of what canyoning can be like!
Thanks Jim and Rod for assisting me on this trip, and well done Gary, Randa and Alan.
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!