Hard Core or Crazy?

KANANGRA BOYD NP – 17 & 18 December 2023
It’s a fine line between being hard core, or just plain crazy when doing wet canyons in freezing cold temperatures.  Dione Dell on Saturday wasn’t that bad but I was questioning my sanity on Sunday, when the 8am temperature was 3°C and we were going to do Box Creek Falls (a very wet canyon). 

The planned trip on Saturday was Dione Dell canyon (using the wet route where you abseil in the waterfalls) and I’d be leading it whilst Shiva, Jai and Onni were off doing Kanangra main.  When we got up on Saturday morning, it was really cold so we all agreed that we’d do the dry route and not get wet, we wore wet suits anyway, just in case!  Not really a blog-worthy trip, but we did use a new route in and out which saved a lot of time (thanks to Shiva and her gpx file).

There were eight of us for the day (too many really, we were very slow!), l – r Jim C, Catherine McL, Omar S, Rachel T, Rob C (my co-leader), Matthew C and Cheryl W.

We took a new route in (one I hadn’t done before), and this cut off 1.5 hours of creek walking. We easily found the first abseil and sent Matthew down.

Rachel on the first abseil. I started out taking a lot of photos and then forgot about happy snaps!

Catherine on the next abseil.

The second abseil, the water was higher than it has been (for me) in the past. The rock on the left where you drop into the water, is usually easier to get off onto a ledge so you can keep dry – not today.

Rachel’s spot to watch everyone abseiling, would have been lovely on a sunny day.

This waterfall always confuses me, I drop down to where it goes over the edge and then have to back track to go up higher. In actual fact, I later found out that you could go down to the right of the waterfall and there’s another anchor there.

This was a bit of a stuff-up. We got to this abseil and rather than look at what length it was, I was busy replacing the anchor and looking after a person with a cramped leg, and someone else set up the rope, using one of our 30m ropes and not the 40m one. Poor Rachel went over the edge and discovered that the rope wasn’t long enough. Luckily she had a ledge to sit on whilst I sorted the ropes out and changed the 30 for the 40. I went half way down to make sure the ropes were clear then stood on another ledge and watched everyone abseil past me (that’s when I found the other anchor).

Omar abseiling down past me.

Cheryl abseiling down – this would be Cheryl’s first Kanangra canyon, she did really well.

And the last one abseiling down, Rob, I could then attach myself to the rope and continue down.

Before long we were at the end and heading up the exit route (another new route for me – much better than what I’ve done in the past).

The gully gets really scrubby at the top, but when we popped out onto the plateau I was pleased to see that all the banksias that I’d had to crawl through in the past were burned. The walk out was much easier than the one we did a couple of years ago. All up an 8.5 hour day, no-one hurt themselves and we got out in daylight, so a successful day.

We were back at camp by 5pm and after sitting around the fire for a while, in bed around 8.30pm.  There was steady drizzle overnight and when we got up, someone said the temperature was 3°C.  I knew that Box Creek would be a wet abseil, the sky was overcast and I just didn’t feel like getting wet for the whole day – a bushwalk was more appealing.  I packed my bag anyway and thought that I’d walk in and if I didn’t like the look of the trip, I’d just watch everyone else.  By the time I got to the top of the first abseil though, I thought it would probably be the one and only time I’d do this trip, so what the hell!

Shiva and Jai at the first abseil, 30m – it starts off dry, but then you’re in the flow.

Jai is managing the rope, bleeding it fractionally so that there are no wear points on the rope. He would be the last person down and would be abseiling double rope, not single like the rest of us. The rope was set at a length so it just touched the water and we could each abseil off the end.

Cheryl, this would be her first, really big trip in Kanangra. You can see more of the group down in the distance setting up the next abseil.

Jai abseiling down to the bottom of the first pitch. We all had to swim away from the bottom, so by now I’m soaking wet and very cold!

A view of the first pitch from the top of the second one. Pretty impressive.

The second pitch, about 25m (although looks like less). You could get off this pitch at the water level and skirt around the deep pool.

Cheryl on the third pitch, about 3 or 4m and you could get off on a rock, keeping dry.

The top of the 4th pitch, 25m down a waterfall. By now I’m shivering almost uncontrollably, it was overcast, and the wind had picked up a little. When it was my turn and I got on the rope, I realised that this was the waterfall that you couldn’t keep out of, and down the bottom you were smashed by the water on your head. I’m sure everyone loved it but I was just glad to get out at the end! Great view though!

Despite my reluctance to put on my yellow jacket (the damned thing tried to drown me not so long ago) I put it on and got a bit of relief from the wind.  I was too cold to take any photos of the next four pitches (the camera was shaking!).  Finally, I was at the last pitch (pitch 9), 65m down into a deep pool.  I struggled with whether I’d do it or not but then decided that I probably wouldn’t be back again and would regret not finishing it off.  I didn’t wait around, when I could I just got on the rope before I could change my mind.

That’s me in the middle, the first part of the abseil was fine, just down a gradual slope, but when you got 1/3 of the way down, the rock was very slippery, and you had to be careful where you put your feet. (Photo:  Shiva)

And then I got to this part, and there was a big rock in the way that I had to pick either side to go round it, the rope was hanging over one side, so I had to flip it over to the side I selected to go down. A metre or so and I was back in the flow and getting pounded on the head with water. (photo: Shiva)

And finally I’m in the pool and the big swim across. I was relieved to get down I have to say! (photo Shiva)

Once out of the pool, I changed into warm dry clothes and felt much better.  Once our group was ready, we started the cruisy walk up a gully and then to the side of the waterfalls.  We were at the bottom at around 2pm which was pretty good considering there were two groups in the creek and there was quite a bit of waiting around.

Would I do it again?  I’d love to do it on a hot sunny day, where you could sit on the rock in the sun and warm up.  A bit hard to pick your day though, it’s a 4.5hour drive out to Kanangra from where I live, long way to drive only to find that it’s cold and windy when you get there (lol).

Big thanks to Shiva for putting this trip on the MSS calendar, and thanks to the rest of our group, particularly Onni and Jai who were managing the ropes, you did a great job guys!

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

3 Responses to Hard Core or Crazy?

  1. Roy Cotton says:

    Thank you once again M a really interesting report. I have done a similar trip and agree best done when it is warm.
    Have a wonderful Christmas.

  2. Kathy Leslie says:

    Hi Marilyn!
    Bonus night for me! I just found three if your blogs in my junk mail so I am binge- watching! Always a treat! Hope you had a nice time ringing in the New Year and have more adventures planned. We are expecting another snow storm tomorrow with another 8 inches of snow predicted. I have a condo in Florida reserved In February which cannot come soon enough!!!

    • marilyn says:

      Haha, that’s so funny Kathy, love it when you binge watch! The rainy weather here has finally finished and now we are in drought again!

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