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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tiger Snake Canyon

Spring is here and as two friends from Canberra were in the Blue Mountains on a climbing trip it seemed a great opportunity for an early season canyon. When I arrived on Friday night the temperature put paid to wild fantasies of doing Mt Hay Canyon and we spent the evening deciding where we had the best chance of enjoying a canyon with dry feet Eventually we settled on Tiger Snake Canyon near Newnes.  We got to the carpark a bit after 10.00, chatted with another canyoning party, and by 11.00 we were at the entrance to the canyon. Here is Chris about to back-climb the crack. Geoff and I decided to  abseil in from the pagoda on the right instead (double click on a photo to just view the images as an album).

Soon we were scrambling inside the constriction. Chris managed to use this very dodgy log to keep his socks dry.

The next drop is off a very dodgy anchor. There was once a bolt here, but rebolting has been forbidden in the Wollemi Wilderness. Chris went first while we sat on the pile of logs to give him a bit more security.

Geoff abseiling off the dodgy anchor. At this stage Chris had decide to take his socks off - they were going to stay dry whatever it took!

Chris sizing up a narrow bit of the constriction.

A little more scrambling brought us to the end of the first constriction and into the open section of the canyon.

The highlight of the open section is this nice abseil.

The open section is quite short and very soon we reached the next constriction, where we found the chockstone we had read about. It seemed to have been purpose-built to jam the rope and prevent it pulling down cleanly. What is needed here is something like a length of plastic guttering suspended from the anchor for the rope to run through. At present the last person needs to to balance the rope on the point of the rock and then not dislodge it on the way down.

This seemed like more trouble than it was worth, so we headed off on ledges on the left to where you can abseil from a natural bridge across the canyon. Here I am heading down the hole.

And here is Chris apparently enjoying himself immensely - perhaps the thought of those dry socks.

Geoff had the good sense to keep the camera out as he came down, and snap us looking up from the bottom of the slot.

Then he slid the camera down the rope, so we could snap him coming down.

When we saw the wonderfully complex passage coming down from the section of the constriction we had skipped, starting with this little rock bridge, we were a bit sorry to have missed it - despite the nice abseil.

Chris tried to scramble back up to take a look. This is what it actually looked like using headlamps.

And here it is with the flash on. It seemed a bit too slick for safety, so we decided this was a good incentive to come back and do the canyon again.

Here I am captivated by a heavenly light from above.

The heavenly light:

Geoff unimpressed by the heavenly light:

The walk through the remainder of the constriction to the canyon entrance is really nice. It's impossible to do justice to these places in photographs.

We finished the canyon at about 14.00, having taken it pretty slowly to enjoy the beauty of the place, and stopped for lunch in a lovely patch of coachwood trees and tree ferns just where the canyon ends.

The exit track is nice and varied. An easy scramble up a dry gully,

then a clear track to the top of the ridge (Chris as Samson),

and a nice scramble over an adjacent pagoda to regain the main track.

Here we are feeling very satisfied, with a beautiful view over the pagoda country of Gardens of Stone National Park and the gorge of the Wolgan River.

From here it was a 3km slog back to the carpark, and dinner in Katoomba. A great spring day, and hopefully the first of a long summer's canyon season.

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