Vass-oconstrictor v5a3IV***

Highest drop 155m

5-6hrs from 900m contour. 

Heli-access to a steep, low-flow canyon, with about 20 pitches. Multipitch descent of the main drop with exposed belays. The longest pitch is about 75m.

The canyon varies between semi-open streamway with waterfalls and sections of bedrock canyoning. There are a number of places where descent is possible, but plenty where there aren’t.

There’s a fair bit of downclimbing over blocks, but the combination of heli-approach, length of the canyon, and the impressive exit series make this a classic day out.

This canyon was named in honour of Dave Vass, local canyoning pioneer, who suffered a paralysing neck injury in a climbing accident in Jan 2015. Vasoconstrictor (with one ā€˜sā€™) is a medical term for something that narrows your arteries, increasing your heart rate and blood pressure (which matches how the team felt at the top of the 155m waterfall).

Private land – Permission required.

Although the nearby Albert Burn Hut is on public conservation land, this canyon is on Mt Albert Station. Study the WAMS information for this area very carefully before a visit to understand what land is public, and what land is private.

Contact the Farm Manager well in advance to request permission to access this canyon. Permission is also required if you intend to walk out from Mt Albert Hut, either to the river mouth or to Makarora.

Mt Albert Station Manager: Scott Patterson

The manager is usually out on the farm during the day, so it is best to contact him in the evenings on (03) 443 4497.  Permission should be requested at least a few days in advance, in case the manager is away and you are unable to contact him.

For more information on the canyon and suggested logistics, check out the Canyoning in NZ guidebook.

Photos courtesy of Neil Silverwood and Toine Houtenbos.

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