Abseil To Hell

by Justin Blows

Nothing beats those late night Sunday calls. The ones that wake you from your comfortable slumber. The seemingly endless succession of rings that reverberate in your skull as you slowly raise your eyelids and look at the alarm clock.

I answered that irritating but otherwise presumably innocent call. Only I didn’t know then the full repercussions of lifting that handset.

‘Hello..? I said, speaking into what I thought must of been the handset.

‘Wantogoonatrip?’ the handset replied.


‘Want to go on a day trip?’ repeated the handset, this time trying to force my brain through my free ear by shear force of volume. ‘Who is this?’ I gruffly demanded.

‘Stephen, I’m still in Hobart but I wondered if you would like to go canyoning this weekend?’

Never underestimate the enthusiasm of a mule. It was soon decided that as I was a complete beginner Stephen, Louise and I would try Arethusa, and in the unlikely event of rain wet would do Grand instead.

It rained.

It was pissing down. Unfortunately we had already started our road bash from the station to Arethusa (Having parked my car in Cooma for a Snowy’s trip and being the forgetful person I am I caught a bus back to Sydney, so we had to catch a train to the mountains). To save time we decided to follow a creek down to its junction with the bottom of the Grand Canyon. So through the scrub we went. That scrub was so tough that the canvas sides of our volleys were ripped to shreds, our hands were bleeding from the sharp needles on the vegetation that pieced our leather gloves and to top it off it started to hail Truly! Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye!

We rapidly descended into the glen that cradled the creek until WHAM-we came across a sudden drop into the creek below. I tentatively peered over the edge and watched a few stray pebbles fall into oblivion.

‘Good thing we brought the mother of all ropes’ exclaimed Stephen in a tone a good octave below his usual voice as he pulled out the club’s four hundred and one metre rope.

I had previously expressed frustration that Anne had given me the wrong rope (I was sure I had a 40m in my locker ‘) but I was now glad that Anne had. Or was I? After all, now I would have to follow those little pebbles down.

I geared up for the descent. I felt like a cross between the Terminator and an extra in a Madonna sex movie in my set of dingle-dangles.

Stephen started the rather tricky start, and just before he disappeared over the edge he said ‘In retrospect, I wouldn’t take a beginner here, but what the heck, I’m having fun’. An evil laugh filled the glen. That’s all I needed. My knees started to shake, my teeth chatter and I waited on the edge until I heard the unavoidable ‘Rooope Freeeee.’

I’ll be the first to admit that first abseil of my life wasn’t the most comforting experience of my life But after a few metres, I started to feel comfortable and I looked around at the leaves on the shrubs around me and the interesting rock formations what sort of rock is that? – and the fantastic moss and the .. WHACK. Oh yes, the ground. I forgot about that.

Louise, who had proceeded before me started to engage herself in a strange ritual, obviously brought upon by the rapid drop in air pressure during her descent. Never before, and I dare say never again will I see anyone juggle three balls in a canyon.

There were two more abseils down the creek, being far less demanding then the first including a water fall. The country was pristine, and the abseils were “fun”. What more could you ask from an “Abseil into Hell”.

Yes, yes I can hear mumbles of ‘What a lot of bullshit’ from oldie land, but who cares, I beat you down Jugglers Canyon