Photo - Bob Sault with a complete set of
equipment for canyoning
- In canyons such as Claustral Canyon which are very popular in
the middle of summer - make sure that all members of the party
have their own set of abseiling gear and can get on and off ropes
quickly. The waterfalls should be rigged up quickly to minimise
delays in parties following yours.
- Over the years, belay points in canyons change, Be prepared
for the unexpected. Carry lots of rope and sling. It is useful to
have a high grade rock climber in the party to force a way out if
- An experienced person should set up the ropes and be the first
down any abseil. Be very careful that there are no tangles or
knots in the rope when descending over an overhang. The last
person down a drop should also be experienced and make sure that
there are no twists in the two strands. Before they descend, the
rope can be tested to see if it starts to pull down easily. Whilst
abseiling keep long hair and loose clothing well away from brake
bars and karabiners. A snag could prove fatal.
- A EDK (Euro death knot - or overhand knot) should be used to
tie two ropes together for double rope abseils.
- For very long abseils - be very careful if you tie ropes
togther. Never try and abseil over a knot unless you have the
right equipment for this and have practised.
- Flash floods can occur in canyons. On one trip a few years
back we stopped for lunch under an overhang as storm clouds were
threatening. We dithered over whether to boil up a third billy of
tea - luckily we did as shortly a hail storm started and within a
few minutes the canyon was a boiling maelstrom of water 3 or 4
metres high. From where we had tarried, we could retreat up the
wall to a safe level. If we had gone downstream to where the
canyon narrowed we would have been in very grave difficulties.
These sort of flash floods have to be seen to be believed. Always
be very cautious in venturing down a canyon when thunderstorms
threaten. It may be OK to proceed if you know the canyon well and
know where there are escape points.
- Waterjumps in canyons can be fun but they can also be very
dangerous. Some waterjumps are compulsory as there may be no belay
points for an abseil rope or handline. Always jump carefully. The
first person should check for rocks and submerged logs. Sometimes,
the first person down can go down on a rope and check the water.
Some waterjumps such as those in Claustral Canyon and Twister
Canyon can be partly downclimbed.
- Becoming Benighted. It is not too rare for a canyoning party
to take longer through a canyon than they expect and to find
themselves benighted. This may be due to delays at abseil points,
slow party members or waiting for a flash flood to subside. What
should you do? Possibilities include continuing on if you are
experienced at walking at night - a torch (head torches are best -
those using Leds are cheap and very compact) is often worth
carrying on a day canyoning trips. Always carry matches or
firelighting gear - a fire can make a cold night without a
sleeping bag a lot more bearable.
Photo - A three metre flash flood in
Wollangambe Canyon - this is the first pool of the "tourist section"
where most people normally blow up their lilos and start paddling
through the first pool. Viewed from the north side - we could not
cross back to the south side for a few hours.
- Hypothermia can be a problem for some party members. Waiting
in cold water for an abseil can make party members very cold. A
fit, fast moving party will be more likely to avoid hypothermia.
Canyons are very cold places - if you don't have a wetsuit, make
sure you have thermal clothing or at least a tight weave woollen
jumper or woollen singlets. A short parka or sprayjacket can also
help. If a party member becomes too cold in a canyon - do not
proceed where there are swims (unless an easy exit is very close).
It may be better to stop and light a fire to warm up. I would not
advise stoping if you cannot light a fire or there is not warm
sunlight. In canyons people get cold mainly from immersion in cold
water. A lilo can keep a person much warmer. Another possibility
is to float backwards on your pack as you swim - most packs are
fairly buoyant. This is very practicable for weekend canyoning
trips when you are carrying a full pack.
Above - flash flood in Bungleboori Creek
(North Branch). The water rose 3-4 metres in a matter of about 10
minutes. The waterfall coming into the canyon is one of many that
started up every 20m or so along the side of the canyon.
Above - Hail in Rocky Creek. Beware - Hail
storms are relatively common in the Blue Mountains and can cause
considerable waterlevel rises in a short period of time. Photo
coutesy of Craig and Mandy Flynn.
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