Abseiling Wolgan Falls (Blue Mtns, Australia)

Party (8): Joel Palte, Uyen Nhan Thai (AKA Grace), Shania Rodgers, Peggy Liu, Steven Adler, James Tugwell, Lisa Ryan and I
Trip: https://www.subw.org.au/members/tripDetails.php?tripid=1857

«Wolgan Falls is a new abseil trip created by Laurie Cohen and Mick Barr… Abseil 1 is only a short walk from where we park. The pagoda landscape is spectacular with the Wolgan River twisting through the sandstone gorge then plunging over the falls. There are four abseils with drops around 40m. The final abseil is next to Wolgan Falls. It is a dry trip with no swims or wades.»


After my first day of work since returning back to Australia I returned home, muscles usually left unused a little sore.
I received no surprise emails and the one cancellation earlier in the week meant that our group was sitting at the club’s current maximum of eight. I’d talked to mum a little about the route, but Philip Clegg also gave me some welcome pointers before I retired for the night.

Waking early (though not early compared to those coming from Sydney!) I finished sorting out all the gear and was soon on the way to Lithgow. I picked up a pungent smelling hitchhiker in Marangaroo and soon collected better smelling Lisa and Grace from the station. Driving up through State Mine Gully we were soon waiting at the Bungleboori camping area where we rendezvoused with Joel and everyone he was driving up. Continuing along the Blackfellows Hand Trail we kept close together as we drove through and around puddles and mud before finally turning off onto the fire trail we were looking for. We car pooled the rest of the way, though it turns out the rd was in much better condition than i’d been led to believe (2WD friendly!). We parked at the top of a steep descent, distributed club gear and shared items and were soon on our way.

Turning of the fire trail we followed the ridge down towards Wolgan Falls which drops into the Wolgan Valley after passing though some twisting gorge. A little surprised, we picked up a distinct track which as James(?) first noted, had been raked by someone to make it more obvious.
We paused at some pagodas on the way in rigging some ropes off a tree for everyone to go over various safety guidelines as well as practice abseiling and belaying. For some ppl it was their first time! (Thanks for helping out Joel!)

A: Anchor
B: Buckles
C: Carabiners
D: Decender
E: Everything else (‘elmet)
F: Friend

Everyone satisfied they had the basics down, we continued to the cliff edge, but some scouting didn’t turn up an anchor… maybe the track just led to a lookout? Skirting around a gully, we found an anchor beside a second much larger pagoda… in hindsight it was probably not the abseil point I’d been told about, as this one turned out to drop around 50m! as opposed to the 30m I’d been told (I think this one is in the gully we passed).

Joel formed the vanguard, abseiling down to the first ledge using a self-belay. As expected, the rope was short so the munter-mule was released until we heard Joel shout up from below.

As everyone was waiting their turn, I decided to rig a second abseil line to get us moving a little faster; it was a little later than I would have liked.

Lisa contemplated sitting out the abseil; it was afterall pretty intimidating for a first abseil. Showing grit however, she braved her way over the edge. Pulling down the ropes, we were all safely down the first cliff-line.
Joel led us along under the cliff to the cairn that marked the next anchor he’d discovered. With so many trees available, I couldn’t understand why it had been bolted (xx).

Joel’s belay seemed to have one too many twists, and deciding to be cantankerous, locked up. Passing down an ascender, he freed it, but it was easier to just lower on the releasable anchor.

After having difficulties communicating on the first drop, and discovering many of the group had whistles on their pack buckles (certainly not better than having a dedicated whistle!), we developed a whistle system to communicate for the two ropes. We got better and better at it for the next couple of drops.

Shania on the second pitch

At this point I think we all knew that we were running a little behind schedule. The plan of having lunch at the bottom of the falls faded away, and everyone now snacked whilst waiting for the ropes to free up.

The next pitch was also bolted (xx) and we established two lines, one passing through a pair of trees (to then use one as a redirect), the other passing right over a large slab of rock. Everyone seemed much more comfortable now which was nice to see.
The pitch was very chossy, probably worse than the last pitch which already wasn’t great even after some gardening.

I had spied the last set of bolts (xx) set into a large upright boulder from the top of the previous pitch. Its probably the most memorable drop since it leads you right down beside the final and largest of the cascades, depositing you one some convenient stepping stones at the edge of the large pool.
It was about 5 by the time we were all down, the daylight noticeably faded. I was happy that the majority of the group had headlamps, but we didn’t don them yet; it was better to let our eyes adjust

Following a faint track back up to the cliffline, there was one section of loose scree/dirt that posed a bit of a challenge, before we the track again emerged leading us around under the cliffs. Negotiating a narrow ledge the cliff soon ended and we turned back on ourselves taking a ramp up to the next cliff-line. Following this around to the point, we rounded the corner, the bright, near-full moon suddenly appearing in the sky. We quickly got cliffed-out, but exploring the broken rock at the nose with what headlamps we had, we found an easy way up.
Up and over a couple of pagodas and we were suddenly back at where’d abseiled in! It had taken far less time to get up than it’d taken to get down!
Locating the track we’d walked back in on, we were quickly back at the car where we enjoyed some brownies that Lisa had baked. They were delicious! (Esp since I hadn’t really had lunch).

Reunited with Joel’s car we sorted gear and were soon on our way, again staying close to make sure everyone got out safely.

Shania, Lisa, Grace and I arrived at the Lithgow station just after 9:30. I asked the guard about the next train… we’d only just missed one by 3 mins! Drats! With tow ours to spare, we went in search of somewhere to have a feed. Despite being local, my time overseas made it seem like a far-off place. We tried a couple of places that hadn’t existed before. Zambreros had ran out of rice so we walked over to Hungry Jacks. I tried the new vegan burger and used the wifi to let family know we were all out safe. We killed an hour and a half and it was then time to drop everyone off at the station. I was getting drowsy and didn’t want to drive too late.

Thanks everyone for a fun day out. Sorry for finishing late and hope to see you all again 🙂

Anuncio publicitario

3 comentarios

Deja una respuesta

Introduce tus datos o haz clic en un icono para iniciar sesión:

Logo de WordPress.com

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de WordPress.com. Salir /  Cambiar )

Imagen de Twitter

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Twitter. Salir /  Cambiar )

Foto de Facebook

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Facebook. Salir /  Cambiar )

Conectando a %s