Canyoning trip reports

Trip reports, stories, track notes. Multiple/large photos are OK in this forum.
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Canyoning trip reports

Postby FatCanyoner » Mon 11 Feb, 2013 9:09 pm

G'day folks,

There's a few of us who share canyoning / abseiling trip reports on here from time to time, and while a few previous discussions about setting up a canyoning sub-forum on bushwalk.com have come to nothing (feel free to add your voice to the discussion here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=11025) I thought a single point for canyoning trip reports might encourage a few more to be shared. Sort of like the "Where-is-it" games, it means you can add a new report or link (or even just a link to a recently discovered trip someone else did) and those of us interested in canyoning can check it out, without clogging up the forum with lots of new topics. So in that theme, I'm going to simply add any of my future canyoning trip reports to this topic, and I'm hoping others do the same.

To kick things off I thought I'd also pull together a couple of the interesting trips that have been recently added to bushwalk.com that people may have missed:
Dargans Creek Canyon: viewtopic.php?f=47&t=11187
Blue Gum forest via abseils off Fortress Ridge: viewtopic.php?f=47&t=10971
Arethusa and Alpheus canyons: viewtopic.php?f=47&t=11825
The discovery of Midwinter Canyon: viewtopic.php?f=47&t=10632
David Crevasse: viewtopic.php?f=47&t=9966
The Fat Canyoners: trip reports, technical tips, gear reviews and more: http://fatcanyoners.org
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby FatCanyoner » Mon 11 Feb, 2013 9:13 pm

Kanangra Main — via The Slot

Canyons don't come much more epic than Kanangra Main... that is unless you enter the canyon by the much less visited route known as The Slot. Loose rock, big abseils, lots of exposure. What more could you want!

A couple years back, as I abseiled down beside the massive 150m waterfall at the start of Kanangra Main, I remember looking across to the other side at the dark, ominous slot. I didn’t know anything about the route, or what it involved, but peering into its shadowy depths I knew I’d like to experience it one day.

When I spoke to the only only member of our group who’d descended this route, and his reaction was nervous. He described the challenges — a slippery waterfall to access it, lots of loose rock, sharp edges, awkward abseils. His summary: it’s a trip you only do once. Despite that description (and the fact that when he’d done it one of the sharp rocks had sliced half way though his rope), he didn’t take long to talk around.

Full trip report, with photos: http://fatcanyoners.org/2012/12/16/kanangra-main-slot/

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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby FatCanyoner » Mon 11 Feb, 2013 9:20 pm

Oh, and this is another one of my favourite canyoning trips from this season. Hartleys Mistake and Twilight Canyons.

Newnes seems to be a pretty popular spot for a lot of canyoners. But most (and I'm guilty of this) seem to stick to the accessible classics like Devils Pinch and Starlight (Newnes) Canyon. Admittedly, they're absolutely brilliant, but this trip confirmed for me just how good some of the other nearby canyons are.

We did the trip over a weekend, with pull packs. Hartleys Mistake was a great start -- with a stunning constriction -- but we got some bonus action when we discovered some of the side canyons that also slow in here!

Day two was Twilight Canyon, which I'd heard very little about. All I can say is wow! Lots of slides, jumps, scrambles and general excitement. And best of all, the canyon constriction seems to go on and on.

A video that gives a taste of the trip: http://player.vimeo.com/video/55149402

And the full trip report, including plenty of pics: http://fatcanyoners.org/2012/11/17/hart ... -twilight/
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby FatCanyoner » Tue 19 Feb, 2013 6:13 pm

This January I was planning on doing a six day canyoning trip in the northern Wollemi. Unfortunately I got a call a few days before I was due to go asking if I could start a new job, so canyoning was put on the back burner.

But the good news was most of the group decided to press on, doing a slightly abridged four day trip over the Australia Day long weekend (you may remember it as the weekend that brought flooding across a good chunk of eastern Australia!)

They ended up avoiding the worst of the weather, and getting to check out some amazing canyons.

Adrian, who took over the logistics of leading the trip, has written up a great trip report and shared some of their photos here: http://fatcanyoners.org/2013/01/25/numi ... canyoning/

All it does is make me even more envious. On the plus side, it'll definitely ensure I make the time to do a similar trip next summer!
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby FatCanyoner » Mon 04 Mar, 2013 6:26 pm

Here's my latest report on two days of more remote canyoning out of Glen Davis. (http://fatcanyoners.org/2013/01/18/glen-davis-canyons/)

I often wonder why Glen Davis doesn't seem to be more popular with bushwalkers. It's less crowded than Newnes, has a beautiful grassy campground, has endless rivers / creeks / mountains to explore. Passes everywhere. And as I discovered on this trip, a massive lake for swimming in!

It's the second time I've done a canyoning weekend out of Glen Davis, and this time I think I've found what must be the best canyon out that way. It was long, deep, dark, lush, green, mossy, adventurous and untouched by man. Definitely something to inspire future visits.
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby FatCanyoner » Tue 12 Mar, 2013 10:30 pm

G'day folks,

This one is a little bit different, and one that will probably appeal to the cavers more than anyone else. In recent years I've found myself doing a couple night canyoning trips each summer. Some are done as part of overnight trips (there are a couple canyons with good camp caves right at the end of them) and others are just visits to short canyons that can be completed in a few hours. One of the draw cards is that there are (usually) glowworms illuminating the moist canyon walls.

I ran a night canyoning trip last week to Empress Canyon in Wentworth Falls (Blue Mountains). In many ways it is more like caving, as you are completely reliant on your head torches. In other ways, where you know the area and can turn off lights and feel your way ahead, it is completely unique.

A friend on the trip made this video:

http://vimeo.com/61384096

I also wrote a more detailed trip report about it here: http://fatcanyoners.org/2013/03/07/night-canyon/

Are there any other folks on here who canyon at night? Or specifically bushwalk at night? If so, what do you do? Is it walking under the full moon or dark nights under the stars? Do you look for nocturnal animals or just like the silence?
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby DarrenM » Thu 14 Mar, 2013 8:49 pm

Good work Tim and crew!

As you say, a familiar canyon takes on a completely different feel at night and well worth trying. The last night canyon I did was Claustral many years ago and not only did we manage to finish in record time (weirdly enough) but we saw so much! The Glow worms were fantastic.

I've done a few night walks over the years, both intentional and non intentional. Hard pushes in the Blueys and amazing Main Range stuff under a full moon and some in soupy whiteout/darkout in winter.

It adds to the experience the way solo does.

Nice vid too!
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby FatCanyoner » Sat 23 Mar, 2013 2:31 pm

G'day folks,

Arethusa Canyon is one of those canyons that for various reasons I've never managed to visit. This is particularly bizarre given it is arguably the birthplace of canyoning in Australia (if not the world). The first roped descent of the canyon was in 1940, which seems incredible!

We were all totally blown away by the canyon. It might not be the longest or narrowest canyon around, but some of the constriction is spectacular. I was particularly blown away by the massive, cathedral-like chamber in it, where the roof closes almost entirely overhead.

Trip report is here: http://fatcanyoners.org/2013/03/18/aret ... d-alpheus/

And some photos to inspire people to make a visit...

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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby Wollemi » Mon 25 Mar, 2013 9:34 am

FatCanyoner wrote:
Trip report is here: http://fatcanyoners.org/2013/03/18/aret ... d-alpheus/



I remain concerned at your naming of places, features and canyons.

or

Where's the consistency?
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby FatCanyoner » Mon 25 Mar, 2013 1:06 pm

Wollemi wrote:I remain concerned at your naming of places, features and canyons.

or

Where's the consistency?


Sorry, not sure what the question is?
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby DarrenM » Sun 26 Jan, 2014 5:34 pm

A trip through Serendipity Canyon (Why don't we do it in the road) on the blog for those interested. Thanks again Tim for access info etc.

http://djm74.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/se ... uS5zJq4bcs

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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby awildland » Sat 01 Feb, 2014 2:10 pm

Our canyons up here on the North Coast of NSW are not the true slot canyons you find, for example in the Blueys, but they still make a fun day out. We've done the two most accessible ones this summer as conditions have been ideal - hot and dry, so creek levels not too extreme. The canyons here are more about following creeks as they crash down out of the mountains but they are lined with beautiful rainforest and are quite narrow in parts. They have their own beauty.

We've done a short trip report and video on Bangalore Canyon on our blog page here - http://awildland.blogspot.com.au/2013/12/bangalore-creek-warehouse-of-waterfalls.html

Urumbilum Canyon is the more dramatic of the two and we've done a video on it here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzN8gJyhW4Q - sometimes the video won't play because of copyright issues with the music we chose (sorry if it doesn't work for you. If you are desperate to watch it just message us and we can drop the music for a while).

:D
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby DarrenM » Sat 01 Feb, 2014 7:32 pm

Cool trips Chrissy!

Urumbilum Canyon looks very nice indeed.
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby awildland » Sun 02 Feb, 2014 1:16 pm

Urumbilum Canyon was certainly a great day out Darren - i've not done a lot of canyoning so it was a pretty exciting trip for me, a real buzzy trip, especially down that long slotty fall in the middle. By the last abseil (55m over Mirrong Falls) I was nearly all out of abseil juice. Caz is keen to get in there and take some good still shots at some stage soon, then we might post it on the blog page.
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Wollangambe One - a novice's perspective

Postby johnw » Tue 04 Feb, 2014 10:38 am

This is not true canyoning as a purist would see it, but it is my first attempt at something that fits within the broad description, other than bushwalking through them on tourist tracks. My son Andrew has become more involved with canyoning over the past couple of years and had been asking me to try an easy canyon with him for a while. He has the abseiling/rope skills etc for the more serious stuff. We had been tentatively planning Grand Canyon, which is OK for beginners, but it is now closed for several months while they work on the walking track that skirts above it. So he suggested a liloing trip through the Wollagambe One canyon instead. It was going to be a hot day.

We originally thought of using our Klymit LWD packrafts to traverse the canyon's considerable watery parts. But got a bit nervous about their fragility negotiating sharp rocks, scrub, sticks etc. We eventually decided to buy cheap rubberised cotton lilos, the traditional craft for this type of trip. Relatively heavy but relatively indestructible. I identified a source near Andrew's workplace and they had 2 in stock at $35 each; perfect. A test inflate proved them seaworthy and we just had to decide what else to take. From his previous canyoning experience he tells me I need thermals and a wetsuit. "But it's going to be 30 degrees at Mt Wilson tomorrow." "Yes, but you'll get cold in the canyon." (he is about 6 feet, with no body fat and feel every bit of cold). "What does Tom Brennan's Ozultimate web site recommend?" I ask (I trust Tom, I know his online presence). We look it up and the key says Lilos - both wetsuits and lilos are recommended. "OK I have a cheap spring wetsuit, I'll use that. It's light and compact." "No you'll get too cold, you need a full steamer." "It doesn't fit properly, I can't move in it." "OK take the spring suit then; and you'll need your climbing helmet as well." "But I thought there are no abseils?" "Correct, but you should really use one in any canyon due to rockfall possibility."

By now I'm starting to wonder how I'm going to carry a 2kg+ lilo and all this other clobber. Saturday morning I eventually sort out what I'm taking, keeping everything I can to a minimum. Acknowledging that I'm going to get wet, I double and triple dry bag everything should it get submerged.

Mid-morning Saturday, somewhat later than planned, we leave for Mt Wilson to do the trip. Around 11:45 am we arrive at the car park next to the Mt Wilson rural fire brigade building. It's packed and there are young and young-ish people everywhere. It's hot. I'm mildly disturbed by the number of brand new $15 Kmart inflatable boats being removed from their boxes for the first time. And the lack of gear, adequate clothing and footwear. We can't find a parking spot and have to park across the road.

It looked like possibly two very large groups would be ahead of us and we started to wonder how that would affect our progress. We decided that they would take longer than us to get ready once at the start of the canyon section. That should give us a chance to get going relatively unimpeded. We sort out gear and comfort stops. Eventually we are underway but immediately have a minor stuff up locating the access track. I had bushwalked from here a couple of times but not for many years, and it now looks different to what I remember. I'm confused by the new signage at the track head. We head off down the correct track but decide it's wrong then head down the wrong one. Eventually realising our mistake I ask for either the topo map or the Jamieson canyon guide that Andrew brought along. "They're at the bottom of my pack". Groan. At this rate we'll never get there. We unearth the book and ascertain that we can simply continue and will link up with the correct track, which we do. I now recognise this as a walk I had done before down to the Wollangambe River and back. This time I'll be heading downstream.

The walk-in is not difficult but gets steep in places. My dodgy knees object now and then. The extent of the recent bushfires is quite confronting, but recovery is underway and there is clear evidence of regrowth despite the dryness. When it arrives good rain will improve things immensely. Arriving at the river it looks like possibly the second of the two large groups is still getting underway. There is literally a flotilla of inflatable craft of every description, and a cacophony of blowing and pumping going on. We try to outmanouvre the masses and manage to get started ahead of 50% of them. Those ahead had stopped at the first deep/wide pool, probably waiting for the others. While seemingly underprepared they look to be having a good time. We negotiate our way past them and they seem friendly. The water wasn't very cold. Feeling completely overdone and hot in my wetsuit and thermals, I now concentrate on trying to understand the navigational capabilities of my lilo.

The canyon is quite wide and open here but bound by high rock walls. We continue downstream and the first portage arrives quickly. I complain that we have hardly gone anywhere and already have to get out and walk. Andrew has done this canyon once before, a couple of years ago, and comments that there was a lot more water then and it now looks much different. I've done a reasonable amount of riparian rock scrambling in the Blueys but not while trying to drag/carry a 2m x 2.1kg fully inflated rubber air mat up and down slippery rocks and through the scrub with me. I find that part of the trip tiring and a bit frustrating at times. Particularly as there seems to be a lot of portages; likley more than usual due to the low water level. I could see the tidal marks on the cliff walls providing some evidence of the usual depth. At least it was quieter now that we had left the entourage some way behind.

We needed a lunch break and found a shady spot on a rocky ledge where we could put ashore. A few from the large group arrived as we finished lunch and I noticed one young girl floating past on a pool lounge of some description, barefoot, wearing a bikini and carrying no other gear except a tiny plastic shopping bag tied to her craft. Minimalist canyoning? While her appearance was good for my eyesight I hoped she at least had footwear for the walk out.

More portaging, arrgh! It becomes clear from watching others behind me that you simply throw the lilo and hope it lands approximately where intended. My arms are getting tired, so the lilo throwing helps. We pause to admire a particularly large Eastern Water Dragon sitting on our next target rock. Conditions start to ease as we get more long, deeper pools. Having established considerable distance from the others the canyon becomes very quiet and it is relaxing to simply float downstream enjoying the scenery, with an occasional course correction. I've decided that lilos are strange beasts, I found it almost impossible to get mine to travel in a straight line.

We complete an easy portage arriving at what I consider the best part of the canyon. It changes to a narrow constriction, a little more like a true Blue Mountains slot canyon. The walls are scalloped into a number of separate "chambers" along its length. I had packed my small P&S camera but it was triple bagged for its own good. This was the best photo opp I had seen so I dug out the camera for my one and only photo session of the trip. Back underway we do more liloing and less portaging (thankfully). We observe the fire damage from our vantage point and understand why most of the other canyons in the area have been closed for recovery. We pass a side creek that is thought to be Water Dragon canyon.

Time is now marching on and we speculate on how close the exit is. I have to make a quick bathroom stop. Not easy but I find an environmentally acceptable spot a reasonable distance from the river. As I get going again the leader of the large group and her partner catch up to me and ask for advice about negotiating the 1/2 metre wide, 90 degree angle slot that I'm trying to persuade my lilo through. I attempt to sound knowledgeable and advise not taking my approach. They also ask if we know how far the exit is then soon shot past us pointing out a large yabby further downstream.

We reach the exit, which is somewhat further along than estimated, just behind the leaders of the big group. The bottom of my pack has been immersed for most of trip and needs to be emptied again. It's still hot and I'm grateful to relieve myself of wetsuit, wet thermals and climbing helmet. I start wringing things out and hanging them on a log to dry. Now down to undies which double as swimwear I dive into the deepest pool I can find to cool off before preparing for the walk out.

The exit track is initially a very steep climb with some mild exposure. Being somewhat vertically challenged and with 1.5 bad knees, I struggle to negotiate the first bit of it and have to pass my pack up. We are wedged in between members from the large party and have to queue along a narrow rock ledge above a drop awaiting our turn for the exposed climb. I'm told I have to get both myself and pack up the hairy bit. I feel less intimidated when one or two of the younger males in front are having difficulty with it and need a hand up. When my turn comes I manage to find enough hand and foot holds and do my best impression of the arm and leg actions of a rock climber. Happy that I've climbed up unaided we leave the other group behind and set off up the easy but relentlessly steep track back to the car.
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby tom_brennan » Tue 04 Feb, 2014 11:22 am

Nice report.

On a lilo and in a 30 degree day, you'd be fine without a wetsuit or thermals. Mainly because the canyon gets a fair amount of sun, and as canyons go, it's not overly cold. Unfortunately it's hard to write track notes to cover all situations, so I have to aim on the safe side.

There is an art to manoeuvering a lilo through the boulder blockups. And yes, throwing is an accepted techniqe! The next section of the Wollangambe downstream has a bit less portaging. If you want an easy abseil canyon, try Fortress Creek since Grand is closed.
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby DarrenM » Tue 04 Feb, 2014 4:08 pm

Nice report Johnw. Rocky Creek would also be another non technical day out that is definitely worth a look.
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby johnw » Tue 04 Feb, 2014 7:05 pm

tom_brennan wrote:Nice report.

On a lilo and in a 30 degree day, you'd be fine without a wetsuit or thermals. Mainly because the canyon gets a fair amount of sun, and as canyons go, it's not overly cold. Unfortunately it's hard to write track notes to cover all situations, so I have to aim on the safe side.

There is an art to manoeuvering a lilo through the boulder blockups. And yes, throwing is an accepted techniqe! The next section of the Wollangambe downstream has a bit less portaging. If you want an easy abseil canyon, try Fortress Creek since Grand is closed.

Thanks Tom. It was actually quite a fun day, my lilo chucking was getting better near the end :wink:. I agree - we took your advice as a general guide and also decided to err on the side of caution; better to be prepared.

DarrenM wrote:Nice report Johnw. Rocky Creek would also be another non technical day out that is definitely worth a look.

Thanks Darren, will keep that in mind.
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby Grabeach » Wed 05 Feb, 2014 6:16 am

My first ‘canyon’ trip was Wollangambe. A long time ago, but probably No. 1. Didn’t own a lilo, so took an old body board. Everyone at the car park thought I was crazy (“you won’t even make it down to the creek”), but as I’d carried one through the bush and down some very steep pads to out of the way surf spots I didn’t expect any problems. By the end of the day, a few others were thinking of giving them a try.

Pros:
1. They cost nothing. If you haven’t already got one in the garage, you’ll find one at the next council clean up.
2. They don’t need to be inflated.
3. They weigh next to nothing, even when wet.
4. They’re virtually indestructible, so you don’t need to avoid rocks. You can actually position them against sharp rocks to avoid damaging yourself.
5. If carried on your head, you can walk out in the shade. They are excellent insulators.
6. Good conversation starter at the beginning of the walk.

Cons:
1. Obviously if you’re the type who are needs both hands free when walking, forget it. You need to have a reasonable sense of balance.
2. They are not as buoyant as a lilo, so you won’t stay completely dry.
3. They have weird aerodynamic properties. If you drop them from a great height or try and throw them they can end up anywhere.
4. You may be ridiculed at the beginning of the walk.
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby johnw » Wed 05 Feb, 2014 8:12 am

Grabeach wrote:...took an old body board. Everyone at the car park thought I was crazy...

Thanks for the interesting anecdote Graeme; that actually does sound quite practical. You may have been amused to see some of the craft I observed on Saturday, including one girl using a blow up pool toy in the shape of a turtle :).
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby north-north-west » Wed 05 Feb, 2014 8:32 am

Anyone done it with an inner tube?
That's what they mostly use in Karijini. I was sceptical, but after borrowing one for a short paddle must admit that they are practical, comfortable and easy to handle.
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby Allchin09 » Wed 05 Feb, 2014 9:22 am

Grabeach - We still travel down a section of the Tumut river on body boards each year. I guess it's a bit different as it usually as more water flowing through it than most lilo canyons, but we also wear flippers so that you can get a little more control, and you can speed things up as necessary. I'll have to try it out on the next suitable canyon I do. Thanks for the tip!
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby tom_brennan » Thu 06 Feb, 2014 3:51 pm

I did a section of the Wollangambe with a bloke who brought a bodyboard. It was fine in the canyon, though a bit colder as you do ride lower in the water. But he found it a PITA on the walk in and out. Otherwise I'm sure they'd be more popular.

You can see a couple of alternatives to lilos in this series of pics...
http://ozultimate.com/canyoning/reports ... photos.htm
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby davidf » Thu 06 Feb, 2014 6:57 pm

Anyone travelled any distance with pack inside a dry bag. On my experiment list.with the pack sitting ona folded sleeping pad inside the dry bag I can see this working. Wet lilos are heavy.
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby DarrenM » Thu 13 Feb, 2014 8:30 pm

Had a stroll through Twister Canyon and Rocky Creek last weekend. A report on the blog can be found here - Trip report

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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby tom_brennan » Fri 14 Feb, 2014 9:34 am

davidf wrote:Anyone travelled any distance with pack inside a dry bag. On my experiment list.with the pack sitting ona folded sleeping pad inside the dry bag I can see this working. Wet lilos are heavy.


I think you'd get a similar result to this
Image

But please take some pictures and post them if you try it!
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby Allchin09 » Fri 14 Feb, 2014 11:09 am

tom_brennan wrote:
davidf wrote:Anyone travelled any distance with pack inside a dry bag. On my experiment list.with the pack sitting ona folded sleeping pad inside the dry bag I can see this working. Wet lilos are heavy.


I think you'd get a similar result to this
Image

But please take some pictures and post them if you try it!


I've tried it before. Went on a solo walk late last year where the walk finished on the opposite side of the Port Hacking to where I lived. I decided to try placing my pack inside a lightweight pack liner that I have, and then with it under my chest, kick my way across the water to the other side.

It seemed to work well, but the downfall was that my thin liner has some small scratches which meant the the air slowly escaped and the flotation contraption began to sink...

I think any setup like this really need a proper thick dry bag to work successfully!
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby DaveNoble » Fri 14 Feb, 2014 11:56 am

You need to do what Bear Grylls did in the Sierra Nevadas - when he needed to cross a lake (rather than walk around it - which looked easy to do - but doesn't look so good on TV) - he took off his pants, tied knots in the ends of the legs and then filled them up with air and twisted the waist part to seal the air in - and floated across. All was going well until he got half way across - and all the air escaped. It was funny seeing him treading water and waving the open pants in the air as high as he could in an attempt to get more air in them..............

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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby puredingo » Fri 14 Feb, 2014 8:27 pm

I thought he turned a sheep inside out and used it's gut like a dry bag, then he swam a "river' that looked more like a large dam. That bloke is totally shameless.

Re Bodyboards

Cons. An absolute PITA in the surf.

Pros. The more time they spend in canyons the better :evil:
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Re: Canyoning trip reports

Postby DarrenM » Tue 29 Sep, 2015 6:07 pm

I had a nice stroll through Koombanda Canyon on Sunday. Trip report can be found here - Blog

A note on the exit route if you choose the road option....The landslips are substantial now and may degrade further if we have more large scale rain events. Doable for now but keep the Kamarah gully exit as a backup plan.

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