Impassable Gorge v3aVI***

20m max drop from partway down a 30m waterfall (40m & 10m rope compbo is the absolute minimum)

6hrs approach, 12hrs canyoning, 4-6hrs back to the road:

A big weekend adventure canyon, some book a helicopter to cut out the 6hr hike into Kime Hut.

A committing adventure canyon

No tumbling streamway – this canyon “within a gorge” loses 300m of elevation in a kilometer over dozens of drops. Improbably scenic & constantly engaging – the v3a3 grading doesn’t do justice to what is involved. However, the VI commitment grade certainly sends the right message: this trip is a solid and committing adventure! A hidden gem – catches the morning sun.

Fit, experienced groups should expect a 12- hour day.

Further canyoning descents of this route will help verify and refine the descriptions, until then, plan for an adventure…

First pure canyoning descent: 22 Jan 2023 & 21 Jan 2024 (Julian Dunster, Ola Lofquist, Justin Hall, Gavin Holden, Alex Horvat)

A warning for tramping parties regarding the early explorations

Several accounts and club records indicate tramping parties descended the headwaters of the Hector in the 1950’s. One account states “one very tricky waterfall which the late Dave Sowry found a route down very close to the waterfall – no ropes involved – no big sidles”.

However, there is uncertainty whether these accounts were about the “impassable gorge” or the stream to the south that Justin and his team used as their exit route.

The direct descent of Impassable Gorge certainly requires proper wetsuits, a minimum of 40m of rope, canyoning gear and experience. Anyone who reads the trampers account and thinks they can get down in the stream without these things is taking a big gamble. There are plenty of spots in Impassable Gorge where you can find yourself committed to abseiling and getting (very) wet. Without wetsuits, ropes and canyoning knowledge, it would be easy to get into serious difficulty, stuck between waterfalls in the gorge, hypothermic in the water…

Compared with the classic ‘tramper’s canyon’ of Chamberlain Creek, Impassable Gorge is longer and a lot more technical and committing. Consider yourselves warned!

Thanks To Justin Hall for the images and topo

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