Messing about on a rope

CENTRAL COAST – 7 September 2023
When abseiling, I can’t help but think of Water Rat’s words in The Wind in the Willows “There is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about” on a rope. Up or down, “it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it.”  “Whether you never get anywhere at all,” abseiling down stunning rock formations is “simply good enough“.

Whilst I do a lot of abseiling, it’s rarely “just for the hell of it”, so, big thank you to Shayne for organising this day out with a couple of his WW friends. Stunning location, massive rock platforms, and only 45 minutes from home!

I met up with Shayne, Warwick and Deslie at 9am and we drove along a 4WD track to the end of an old fire trail.  A mere 200m or so and we were at the top of the cliff.

The first warm up abseil, you can just see Warwick’s orange helmet down the bottom. An easy abseil down a 2-level rock face, the rock lilies took a bit of a roughing-up but they’ll recover. Most of us did each of the abseils a couple of times.

An easy walk out from the bottom of the cliff, Shayne had rigged a hand line just in case. The others didn’t need it but I used it to get up a small iffy 1m climb, good to have the rope to pull myself up.

Deslie on the 2nd abseil, the start wasn’t that great as there was a bit of lose dirt and rocks to contend with but the rest of the abseil was great, nice easy pitch.

Deslie at the bottom of the pitch. I wish everyone would wear nice bright shirts to have their photo taken in.

The third abseil. The start of this wasn’t easy, I sat down to get over the edge on the first go (and managed to get my VR prussic and Rack stuck on the rock – Thanks Warwick and Deslie for helping me out. When I abseiled it the second time, we rigged the anchor up a little higher and it was way easier.

Looking up to the top of the 3rd pitch. Lovely rock face, once you got over the edge.

Delsie on the third 3rd abseil (the one that was difficult to get over the first time).

By now we’ve come up this exit track at least 8 times, it was a good workout, didn’t have to go to the gym today.

The 4th and final abseil for the day, and it was probably the best one. Silhouette of Warwick descending.

Warwick close to the bottom, where it was tricky to stay out of the scrub.

Shayne going over the edge of the 4th abseil, you abseiled down about a metre and then there was an overhang.

You can see the overhang here, everyone did the overhang in the way we’re all taught, lowering yourself slowly until your head is lower than the overhang shelf. I on the other hand took the opportunity to spring off the edge and swing out under the overhang (much more fun). Not great for those on belay to watch me launch myself though, gives them a bit of a shock.  You also can only do this launch if the rock is such that it wont damage the rope (in this case it was nice and smooth).

Warwick on the 4th abseil. This photo gives you a good view of the beautiful sandstone formation at the top, layers and layers of different coloured sand sediment that has been formed millions of years ago.

Delsie about to descend.

Big thanks to Shayne for this video of  me on the final abseil.

Photo: Shayne

We would have done more, but in exploring further around the base of the cliff, we inadvertently disturbed a pair of nesting Peregrine Falcons, so, even though we found some truly stunning sections of cliff to abseil, we decided to call it a cay and let the Falcons settle back on their nest.

It was a great day out, perfect weather, a new area for me and great company.  Looking forward to the next time Shayne.

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