Jugglers Canyon – Friday 14th April 2006

Photos

Mick O’Neill and Michael Buchegger

After a day of drizzle doing Serendipity the day before, Michael and I were pleased to wake to a beautiful sunny day. We were looking forward to Juggler, as neither of us had done any canyons in the Katoomba area before. We certainly weren't disappointed. We took three 9mm ropes: 25m, 27m and 30m but we only ended up using the 25m rope for the whole of Juggler. We appreciated the lighter load as the day before for Serendipity we carried three 11mm ropes: 55m, 42m and 29m and wetsuits. A second rope, or a longer one, would be needed for the overhang option at the last drop.

Being our first trip to this area we took lots of time navigating and making sure we were going the right way. We found the airfield and then the "carpark" at GR 518716 which we reached at 9.50am. At 9.56am we were on our way and soon noticed a sudden change in the landscape and vegetation as we passed under the power lines. At 10.07am we were at the start of the canyon and 3 minutes later were climbing down the first small drop. At 10.30am we were at the first abseil but decided just to use a rope for a hand-over-hand descent, which we found quite easy.

The second abseil, "the log waterfall" was reached at 10.55am. It is about 14m and is quite easy if you put one foot on the log for the lower half. At the bottom, we edged around to our left (facing downstream) to avoid a chest deep pool.

We arrived at the top of the third abseil at 11.15am and Michael was doing the mandatory ABCDE checks when he noticed the knot in the rope retrieving sling was slipping under load. It was tied with very short tails, about 4cm, and was too dangerous to use. We removed it and used the remaining slings that looked fine.

Soon afterwards we reached the last abseil. There are two obvious options here. The first involves a short scramble down the creek to a 10m abseil down the slippery, trickling waterfall. The second is an 18m overhung abseil from a tree up on the left (facing downstream). We inspected both but opted for the shorter waterfall abseil this time. THis meant we only had to use one 25m rope for the whole canyon. The overhang would be tricky for the last person down on joined ropes if the knot was over the edge at the start. If the high anchor point is used, there would probably be no need to put the knot over the edge. Due to the angle, the knot would probably slide over the edge quite easily. It's just a matter of testing it beforehand. A longer rope doubled would make it much easier.

This abseil had an extra short rope sling as well, also tied with orange 9mm rope. On inspection, to my shock, I found that one of the very short tails had slipped completely into the knot and with a gentle two-finger tug the knot fell apart! Whoever was last down is very lucky to be alive.

At the end of the abseil, we walked down to Greaves Creek, crossed it, and scrambled down the old track to Beauchamp Falls. We didn't know at the time that there is a newer safer route now. After looking at the falls and a bit of a chat with some people we met at the falls, we eventually found the clearly marked tourist track and headed back about 12.25pm.

We soon reached the intersection of the Evans Lookout and Grand Canyon tracks at 12.38pm and headed left up Grand Canyon. There were signs at this junction. Five minutes later we were greeted by two lyrebirds which took no notice of us at all as we approached them to take a photo. At 12.50pm we were at the Pilcher Track intersection, under the power lines (which are very high above and not as obvious as we expected), and only about 20m before the Grand Canyon meets the tourist track. There are signs here as well. We headed left up the relatively indistinct Pilcher Track and reached the top of the steepest section 15 minutes later. After five more minutes, we were pleasantly surprised with a spectacular view through Govett Gorge to Clarke Head. At 1.25pm we were walking back under the power lines and 5 minutes later we were back at the car.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable canyon with a very short walk in, (less than ten minutes if you are familiar with the route), and an easy climb out. There is only about 15 minutes of steep section and a one hour total for the exit trip. The entire trip took us about three and a half hours at a leisurely pace taking plenty of photos and exploring options. It was a trip we had no intentions of rushing. It was enjoyable the whole way and we were in no hurry to get back to the rat race. ...back to Wolgan Wombats' Home Page