TRIP REPORT - Gobsmacker
28/11/20 - Dave & Roger
Arrived at the Wynnes Lookout road carpark at about 9:40am to find one other party there.
We started to unpack and heard "Dave Jones from the EEVblog! I recognised your voice!" LOL what are the odds of one of my viewers being there. And it's rather scary that people recognise my voice...
Started 10am in front of the other group and arrived at the ant hill at 10:30. Took us a few minutes to find the track down, it wasn't that obvious, and there were several different tracks on the way down, but they all eventually met up. Not unexpected after the fires. Once down into the rainforest gully it's still as nice as it always was, no fire damage down that low. A couple of fixed hand lines in good condition.
Got to North Bowens creek at 11am but could not find the track on the other side as I had remembered. After 5 minutes of searching the other party turned up and they also couldn't find it, and had the same memory I did of the track on the other side. Roger went high up on the right side scrub but couldn't not find anything.
I explorded in the creek with the others. None of us had any memory of going on the left side of the creek and that didn't look like an option.
So it was finally decided that the creek was the best option and we scrambled down a point that had a little cave with a waterfall that would make a nice small drop down a slab into the cave, maybe next time. The other party continued on and we decided to suit up on a small slab in the creek.
It wasn't long before we reached the usual abseil/jump/suitup point at 11:30. 1.5hrs for the walk in was longer than expected, but given the new route finding, it was reasonable.
We suited up and would have done abseil practice here if our expected beginners came along, but they had to cancel last minute. There was a sling and rusty 6mm quicklink.
So we just scrambled down on the right side down to the creek. I swum back up to check the pool and it was about 6-7ft in places, but rock ledges in various places. This is not ones you want to jump without knowing exactly where.
It wasn't long before we hit the first compulsary abseil from a sling up on the right wall. The sling was in good knick with a quicklink. I used safety line here as there isn't much room, and I had my pack on which makes it squeezy. I used a 30m rope which was plenty for this approx 12m drop. I went left (facing wall) as that was an easier start , but then came around to the right when I lande on the large rock platform. From here I could have jumped into the narrow 1m wide slot, but decided to abseil into the slot as I was trying my new Crittr 2 descender for the first time and wanted a water disconnect. It's a nice descender, the first stage friction is plenty to easily stop with with maybe 85kg of me and pack.
My (crap) pack was missing the waist strap so that was not easy as the pack floated up and pushed my head forward. But the water was pumping here and it was a fun abseil.
I filmed Roger coming down and he took the same path I did.
It was only meters to the 2nd abseil up on the right ledge, this is another good 12m drop with two options. There were two anchors, one a long rope with a steel ring on the end danging down to do the under-chockstone drop. And the other a rope and sling around the tree to do the direct drop into the slot past the chockstone. Both of these options were backed up with extra ropes and slings to other trees, pretty bomb-proof!
Once again the water was pumping and I took the opportunity to stop half way down and shoot some video just hanging there. The Crittr 2 descender allowed me to do this without having to actually lock off, just put extra tension on the rope and I stopped dead - nicer than my Hydrobot.
After Roger came down we both looked at the classic waterfall chockstone and realised it would have been more fun to take the under chock-stone abseil, as the water was pumping.
I had forgotten how good the rest of the canyon slot is, there are a couple of gorgous sections that are as good as any canyon out there.
About 100m or so from the south bowens junction we found a single 9m edelrid rope hanging fro the cliff line. At least a good 20m overhanging drop and anchored to a tree at the top of the cliff. Why on earth you'd set up an abseil here we had no idea, there is none of the cayon left at this point, and if for abseiling practice, that a long hard in/out just to do that! The party behind us saw the same rope and commented later online they had no idea either. Wierd.
After lunch at the south bowens junction we changed and headed 50m upstream ot the obvious exit gully on the left. Three hand lines were in place and it was an easy climb.
It was at this point we encountered the fires again and the almost total devastation. Although regrowth has been quick, it's obviously decimated the track so it's basically chose your own adventure at this point. Several vauge track options took us up to the cliff line. At the cliff line you have to head left and then switching back and up through a few small burnt out gullies got us up into more open terrain. At this point any resemblance of a track vanished as we had expected and we knew we had about 900m or so back to the fire trail north. So once again it was a chose your own adventure, but the fires have decimiated everything, so it wasn't really bush bashing, it was almost as easy as following a track. We stayed with the obvious water line for a bit but then tended right as that seemed a nicer option. But really you could have picked any line and it would have been easy going. A few rock cairns along the way showed we weren't the first ones to take various routes. I had however forgotten how steep this climb out was, and with the ridiculously hot day, my foolishnes in bringing just water and not electrolytes started to pay it's toll as I could feel the possible onset of heat exhaustion as the sweat leeched all the good stuff from my body.
So it was just constantly up hill through ridiculously light scrub. In fact I don't recall having to actually wade my way through anything at all, there were countless easy options through the scrub. We then took a hard left west to make up a bit more height and just after this we stumbled across what was obviously the original track, albeit quite feint.
We hit the fire trail 5 minutes later and was back to the ant hill entry by 3pm, and back to the car by 3:30pm, only 30 minutes longer than expected. And give that we easily wasted that 30 minutes on entry searching for the track, I thin kthe walk our was the same as it would hve been if we had the original track. Maybe 5 mintes wasted on the climb out just standing there at various spots trying to decide the best line, but that was about it.
Roger overlaid aour track log onto Tom Brennans track and we were fairly close most of the way except for the start were maybe we shouldn't have tacken those short switch back gully climbs. In the end it didn't matter, at present you can walk out of here any way you like, just make it NNW and you'll get there.
5.5hrs total trip time for what was a really great trip. We hadn't done Gobsmacker for maybe a decade, and it was a joy to experience it again. We both gave it a solid 8/10 for canyon experience. And know we know the route in along the creek which we'll certainly do next time. I don't remember the climb out being as relentless as it was though, it's a lot of height to cover, over 350m total ascent, and certainly not the best choice for a 35deg day.
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