Abseiling

“Just Do It!”: two days of Katoomba abseiling

Party: Trang, Kshitij, Nicol, Karen, Albert, Peggy —

Albert’s photos of Malaita PointAlbert’s photos of Boars HeadKshitij’s photos of Malaita Point

In April I ran a two day trip with the aim of abseiling Malaita Point, Malaita Wall and Boars Head. But before I begin recounting my trip, I want to share with you why I decided to revisit these places. I’ve done these three abseils before, but there’s a funny story to Malatia Wall that enticed me to return.

Most SUBW members that have been round long enough will know about Kosta’s catch phrase: “Just Do It”. Well, the phrase first came about in May 2011 when Kosta ran a trip to Malaita Wall. I signed up not knowing how much of an impact this trip would make.

Malaita Wall is a very exposed multi-pitch abseil and can be an issue for people who are less experienced and less comfortable with heights. The first abseil was a highly exposed 45m drop down to a nose. It was overhung, which made for a very awkward, tricky and intimidating start.

Jamison Valley from Malaita Point (photo Albert Chetcuti)

Jamison Valley from Malaita Point (photo Albert Chetcuti)

Most of the less experienced abseilers (understandably) took a long time to get started. The trip leader Kosta thought he could speed up the process by repeating the mantra “Just Do It!”. And if this encouragement didn’t work the first time, Kosta would repeat it in a deeper, louder and more German accent. I’m still not sure how effective this method of “encouragement” and “motivation” is, but at the time it was very funny and gave us all a good laugh.

Perhaps the funniest part of the situation was the fact that Kosta clearly believed that his so called “motivation” and “encouragement” would help. We all knew he wasn’t trying to be mean, but it was still funny watching him trying to be encouraging and failing.

From this trip, the phrase “Just Do It! Do It Now!!” has became quite popular amongst members of the club. Even members who weren’t on Kosta’s Malaita Wall trip know about the story and use the phrase frequently (complete with the German accent!).

Every time someone is about to start an abseil: “Just Do It!”. Every time someone has to jump into water on a canyoning trip: “Just Do It!”. Every time someone wants you to do anything we use the phrase “Just Do It!”.

Two years on I thought it was time to go back to Malaita Wall, but this time in Kosta’s shoes, as the trip leader.

Karen abseiling down the first drop at Malaita Point (photo Albert Chetcuti)

Karen abseiling down the first drop at Malaita Point (photo Albert Chetcuti)

As we had some less experienced people on the trip, we decided to warm up by doing Malaita Point before Malaita Wall (as this is the less exposed abseil).

We found the anchors and completed all the abseils for Malaita Point without any dramas. We bumped into another bushwalking club and had a good chat and mingle. Our group was a lot faster, so they kindly let us pass.

Before the last (and optional) abseil we stopped for lunch. The last abseil involved a fun tree swing for the start. It was so much fun we had to walk up again to do it multiple times.

Karen did a HUGE rope swing. There was so much rope between the anchor and her body, everyone was impressed, but bordering on anxiousness. Karen did the jump and took the biggest and hardest smack on the wall out of all of us. However, she completed the abseil safely and only sustained a light graze on her elbow.

The valley dropping away below us (photo Albert Chetcuti)

The valley dropping away below us (photo Albert Chetcuti)

At the bottom of this abseil we bumped into a familiar face, Jonno from SUBW. After a chat we got a move on to Furber Steps which would lead us back to Scenic World. There was a lot of new construction and tourist attractions so we phaffed around the new scenic railway, scenic cable way and coal mine displays to check out the new developments.

Albert was photo phaffing way too much, so we just left without him and continued on to Furber Steps. It wasn’t long before he noticed we were gone and he finally came after us.

We tried to knock over Furber Steps in about 30 minutes, which is half the time estimated. But with our frequent stops to chat up the tourists and photo phaff, we took about 45mins to make it up.

Time had slipped away and we ended up with no time for Malaita Wall. This was quite sad, but we could come back soon to do Malaita Wall. We couldn’t “Do It Now” but we will “Do It”.  The benefit of leaving it for another day was we wouldn’t have to do Furber Steps twice in the one day.

It was way too early for a pub dinner and too late to start a second abseil, so we lingered at Scenic World for a while before driving to Narrow Neck to set up our tents.

Sunrise across Ruined Castle, Castle Head and Mt Solitary (photo Albert Chetcuti)

Sunrise across Ruined Castle, Castle Head and Mt Solitary (photo Albert Chetcuti)

At the campsite we bumped into Jonno again. He showed us to a camp cave called the upper Psyn Cave (aka the SUBW overhang). Perhaps an option for camping in the future. As it involved a bit of a scrub bash we were too lazy to camp there and preferred to car camp for now.

Albert had a good time doing some bouldering while we were down at the cave, but it was getting too cold for the rest of us so we headed back up to the original campsite to finish setting up the tents.

When the tents were all done we left for an early dinner at the Gearin. Nicol left before dinner and Kshitij headed off just after. This left just the four of us for the camp and abseil tomorrow. After some discussion, we decided on Boars Head, because doing Malaita Wall would give similar views to our abseils today.

We returned to the campsite and enjoyed some marshmallows and dessert by the campfire before retiring to the tents.

The next morning Albert did some morning photo phaffing. He got some good pictures of the sunrise.

Peggy abseiling down the narrow slot of Boars Head (photo Albert Chetcuti)

Peggy abseiling down the narrow slot of Boars Head (photo Albert Chetcuti)

We then drove up to abseil Boars Head. We phaffed around looking for the first anchor of Boars Head. There were five abseils, including one at the end that looked more like a rock scramble. On most of the abseils the rope got messy, tangled and knotty, which slowed us down. Somehow, a knot managed to get into the rope between the second and third abseils (and all we did was pull the rope down and carry it a very, very small distance to the start of the next pitch).

The second abseil and the exposed traverse before it were the most spectacular and scenic sections. It was only a 15 m abseil, but most people chose to abseil it slowly and linger on the rope to prolong the experience. The start of this abseil was a bit swishy, as it involved going through a narrow slot, but the rest was very easy and relaxing.

The third abseil was 25 m and getting there involved treading carefully across lots of loose rocks.

Trang abseiling the big overhang (photo Albert Chetcuti)

Trang abseiling the big overhang (photo Albert Chetcuti)

The rest of the abseils were pretty straight forward and completed with no dramas.

Our luck with the rope gradually improved throughout the day. Getting further down and away from the wind certainly helped with this.

After the last abseil, we headed up the Devils Hole track and back to the road where the cars were parked.

A great weekend of exciting abseils, reminiscing and spectacular views, but I still have to come back to Malaita Wall another time for some unfinished business.

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