*Abseiling trip report*

*Scott leads one last trip, in true Scott style, before he heads back to the US of A.*

*Castle Head*- 2 August 2011

Party: Albert Allada, Astley Friend, Chantal Bronkhorst, Emma Spencer and Scott McCoy

*-by Chantal Bronkhorst*

“….So, there we were, we had done the math. Emma added it all up and knew we would not make it in time for the next abseil (boars head). Chantal concluded that we would not be able to take Albert on his first abseiling journey. Astley thought he was gonna die there, totally alone. And that’s when this feeling came over us like a warm blanket…”

Our journey of epicness started early on a Tuesday morning. Mind you, it was a beautiful day. The sun rose in a hurry, as if trying to make up for setting so early the evening before, bouncing into the sky like a great fiery yo-yo and sending what was left of the moon packing. The sky (with blatant disregard for the overuse of alliteration) was a brilliantly bright baby blue. On this particular Tuesday morning we, the five fearless adventurers, decided to give uni a skip and instead make the best of the day by heading to the blue mountains for some spontaneous abseiling.

Chantal (7$)- with two 60m ropes, a 40m rope, 2 harnesses, 4 helmets and 4 decenders and 12 locking biners in her backpack- arrived at central station, in true style, and like a champion awaited for her fellow adventures. One by one she saw Emma (Koi) and the American trip leader, Scott (Dingo) enter the station…. The train was due to depart in 1 minute and there was still no sign of Albert (the f***k) or Astley.

That was when Scott (Dingo) received a text from Albert (the f***k). The text read something like this: “Busses are retarded. I am going to be late”. With quick thinking skills (that every trip leader should have), Scott decided to press on regardless and we caught the train anyway. On the train it was decided that we will do two abseils and that Albert could meet up with us in time for the second abseil. This was when we heard from Astley. He decided to ditch the train and drive up instead. This was very good news indeed, since it meant that Astley could pick us up from the train station and drive us to the Castle Head abseil instead of us having to walk there. The joys 😀 !

On the train ride we discovered that Emma is someone you want to take on a trip with you. She had everything we could possibly need if we got benighted. We could have been stuck there for a week and survived. (Maybe Emma heard rumours of the type of interesting trips that Scott has led before and thought it would be wise to bring some emergency items. Good thinking Emma.)

We arrived at Katoomba, found Astley and headed off to Castle head. We messaged Albert and told him to meet us at Scenic railway in about 4 hours so that we could do the second abseil, boars head…. (little did we know…)

We started the walk in towards the first abseil. The track has a few great spots to stop and check out the views. All of the Katoomba cliffs are visible, as is the massive bulk of Mt Solitary on the far side of the Jamison Valley. To get to the first abseil we had to scramble down a few sets of ledges to the first set of chains. Whilst preparing the ropes for the first 25m abseil- Emma, Scott and Chantal decided to initiate Astley (this was his first trip with SUBW). We scared him by telling him stories of Scott’s previous trip leading. It was safe to say that Astley, who has not done any abseiling since his school days, was now rather apprehensive. (Emma herself was confidently un-confident with Scott’s trip leading since this was her first trip with Scott as trip leader…… but she has read the trip reports……)

Here is the interview led by Chantal, to gain insight into how people felt before the abseiling officially begun. (Does Chantal have a future in reporting?)

*Chantal*: “So, Astley, how do you feel before this first Abseil?”

*Astley*: *[Nervously] “*uhm… Yeah… Okay, I guess. Once I figure out how to put this on… *[pointing to his decender]* I will feel more confident”

*Chantal*: “So Scott, feeling confident as trip leader today?”

*Scott:* *[Confidently]* “Oh always. When am I not?… *[3 seconds later.]*We will just see how it goes.”

*Emma*: *[Nervous laugh]*

*Chantal:* *[Responding to Emma’s nervous laugh]* Emmaaaaa?”

*Emma*: “I’m keen for it to be more of a success than your last trip”

*Chantal*: *[Shut down]* “Oh Snap”

Scott, wearing his usual abseiling gear (kaki pants, brown t-shirt and the only pair of shoes he bought along to Australia), throws down the rope: “baaabby beelooow”. This was when Astley noted there is no knot tied at the end of the rope.

*Astley:* *[Concerned]* “Don’t you tie a knot at the end so that you don’t slip off”

*Scott:* “naahh”

*Everyone:* *[laughs]*

*Astley:* *[Mumbling]* “Confidence incresing.”

Without further adue Scott heads down, officially starting the first abseil of the day. Scott was followed by the all mighty Emma. Next up was Astley. After Chantal checked his decender he was off. “It was nice knowing you”, he told Chantal as he started the decent. Was this the last time we saw Astley? Ofcourse not! … Like a pro Astley reached the bottom. Having survived his first abseil, Asltey had a new found confidence. Chantal was next and with some fancy foot work reached the bottom in one piece.

We completed two more 15m abseils in warp speed. To get to the next abseil involved a couple of scrambles, and the whole section is quite exposed. We walked along the ridge until we reached a gap of about a metre, with a drop of a couple of metres. With no concern for his dying knees, Scott decides to jump down the gap. He was followed by a jumping Koi. Then followed by Astley, who did some fancy koala like move down the rock. After posing for a photo Chantal fearlessly jumped down the gap too.

We walked abit further and found a spot which Emma discovered would have been a great spot lunch.

*Chantal*: “It would be, but we have no food for snacking. It is in the car”

*Scott:* “I got some nuts if you want.”

*Emma:* “Thats what he said…..” .. Bjorn??? Just kidding

*Astley*: “WTF?”

Meanwhile, in Albert-vill, Albert is patiently waiting at Scenic world, recording a Zombie film….. featuring …. himself.

Next up was our 45m abseil. It was epicly awesome. Scott heads down with his signature phrase: “Peace out.” As the rest of us head down the abseil, Scott decided to entertain himself by swinging us whilst belaying us.

This was where things got interesting. Some people may argue that we got lost, but those people obviously do not know our trip leader. He merely wanted to show us “the scenic route” (As Astley would say.)

Our detour involved a lot of scrub bashing, butt sliding, bad-ass-ness and two improvisation abseils. One of those abseil came with bonus “killer vines”. These killer vines are not to be messed with. Each time an abseiler went down the abseilers above heard a few screams. A trend was started where we did not tell each other what was in store, and instead we were left to find the source of the screaming (the vines) ourselves. Scott, Emma and Astley each got attacked by one of the three vines but Chantal was bad-ass enough to be attacked by three of the tree vines. (Bets were apparently placed on how many vines would attack me. You sick puppies.)]

It was slowly getting darker and we still did not find the path… EEEEeeeek! Atleast we had the chirping sounds of the birds to keep us calm. (We also had no signal to let Albert know of our epic detour which took abit longer than expected.) So, there we were, we had done the math. Emma added it all up and knew we would not make it in time for the next abseil. Chantal concluded that we would not be able to take Albert on his first abseil. Astley thought he was gonna die there, totally alone. And that’s when this feeling came over us like a warm blanket… We found the path!! The path lead to the golden stair case. After quick stop to show off Emma strength (see photo) and Scott’s balancing skills we made our way to the golden staircase (which to my disappointment is not made of real gold! WHAT IS THIS?

Back in Albert-ville, Albert is still running away from zombies.

We reached the car, and traveled to Scenic railway, but not expecting to see Albert there. We all thought he would have headed back to Sydney… We however under estimated the fearless zombie chasing adventurer…. There he was….. We saw Albert and as he saw us he had a big smile on his face. We were however surprised by his clothing selection for an abseil. Motorbike pants Albert? Really? (It should also be noted that packed in his bag Albert had candles, magazines and a book. Albert, you are such entertainment!)

At this point the sun was getting ready to set and we had not yet had lunch so we were rather keen to stuff our faces with food goodness. We went to a view point where Emma provided us with her signature lunch! (Her lunches are always amazing). As we ate we stared into the beautiful sunset, birds whooshed past our ears and the silence of the mountains were screaming at us. The smell of the plants intoxicated our lungs. As we sat on the cliff top looking over the valley we got lost in our thoughts. It’s the end of another epic journey.

It was time to catch the train back to the city where a new adventure started including wearing our helmets into pubs, singing karaoke (in bars where they do not offer karaoke), mints and beer. The adventure continued late into the night, but this I cannot speak of.

A great trip, where the only requirement was to have a personality. Remember to always take a map on a trip. Unless you wanna be gangsta. So long peeps, and once again, thanks for all the fish.