Kanangra Main Canyon – The Ultimate Canyoning experience?

Image“Grade 6 – Very difficult – The Ultimate Experience”

That’s the description for Kanangra Main in the canyoning guide book and so that was the introduction I got to our plans for the weekend.  The final details came together through a facebook post by James on Friday –

“BIG day ahead tomorrow in the Blue Mountains. 4am start required and it’ll be a late finish… who can guess what we’re up to? so pumped!”

4am – where did the 4am come from ?  I didn’t sign on for that!

So 4am has been and gone, true to the plan around 4am we collected James from his place and started the hour and a half drive out to Kanangra Wall in the Blue Mountains National Park.  Apparently the 4am start is to avoid the storms expected later in the day but at 7:30am when we are putting the final touches to the gear, before commencing the walk into the first abseil, there’s no sign of adverse weather in any direction.

30 minutes of walking and we are in a stream approx. 50 metres back from the first waterfall and we can hear the thunderous noise of the waterfall and we can see the mist rising up on the air currents.

It’s game on now guys – wet suits, harness and helmets on and spare equipment packed into dry bags.  From here on it is all concentration.  By the time we reach the exit we’ll have dropped approx. 500 metres in height and completed 10 abseils several up to 55 metres in length and many alongside, or in the waterfalls.

The first drop is 55m and dry so we’ll call it a good warm up.  We complete that one with ease , the only real problem being James’ descender, a figure 8 that despite all the warnings he’s received from Hugh, he’s decided to bring.  Now there can’t be any other way to get more twists in a rope than by using a figure 8 and this sets off a playful banter between the 2 of them for the remainder of the morning.

Hugh in the waterfall (centre top).
Hugh in the waterfall (centre top).

Abseil 2 and we are still dry but  we’re moving closer to the main column of water and by the time we are into the third drop we’re battling the cascading water and slippery rock that comes with it.  Now the abseil portion has got its challenges but reaching the bottom only brings a new problem to overcome – unhooking from the rope and getting out of the backwash in the pools at the bottom of the waterfalls.  It’s not something that I’ve had to deal with previously and my first attempt wasn’t that impressive.  Fortunately I was to get plenty more practice during the day.

The abseils are coming thick and fast now.  It didn’t take us long to establish a pretty slick routine of setting up on the anchors, the three of us descending the ropes pulled down and then into a repeat process at the next set of anchors.

And so after 5 hours of descending we reached the valley floor and the relatively easy walk down the stream bed to the exit point back up Murders Gully and as the guidebook says “… and so up(one and a half hours) to the car.  Simple – we are capable of that – correct?

Wrong!  A navigational error and we find ourselves on the wrong ridge, heading to the top but unfortunately approximately a kilometre from where we ideally want to be.  And I’ve managed to strain my lower back and need Hugh to assist by carrying my pack for a time while I get some relief from a dose of Nurofen.  By the time we reach the foot of the Kanangra Walls cliff line we’ve been on the move for around 4 hours and we still have another estimated 2 hours to detour east to get above the cliff line and back to the road end.

In the end it all works out, but it was summed up very well by Hugh at some point in the last half of the walk,when he said “we’re about a kilometre from the car”.  The irony in that is that when we stopped for lunch along the valley floor James had pointed out that the GPS indicated the car was only 950 horizontal metres away.  6 hours walking and we’ve got further away from the car!

I’ll leave it at that, a great day with good mates in a great location.  I’m sure we’ll be back for more in the coming months but James – please upgrade from that figure 8.

We’ve put photos from the day on our facebook page  www.facebook.com/aussie7summits

and there’s video on you tube.

LIKE the facebook page to stay in touch because we’ve got some interesting events planned for the next  few months.