Dave's Blue Mountains Canyoning Page - Juggler (Pilcher)


Juggler (Pilcher) Canyon - Blackheath

This is a nice short canyon near the Grand Canyon with several fun abseils. You only get completely wet once in the pool at the bottom the first 15m abseil. The rest is walking and spray from waterfalls. Can be done in winter time, the water is quite warm as far as canyons go. This makes a great day out when combined with the Grand Canyon and Evens Lookout walk. Perfect for intermeadiate abseilers who donít like long swims. Not for beginners as there are a few big tricky abseils.

How to get there:

Park a car at either Neats Glenn carpark (at the Grand Canyon) or Evens Lokout, down Evens Lookout Road. From the Great Western Highway at Medlow Bath turn onto Railway Pde and then onto The Grand Canyon road. Keep going until you reach Katoomba airfield, and keep following the track to the left around the airfield (there is metal sign marked ď18Ē high up on a tree). Follw this track for a few hundred meters until you see a track on the left, once again with a metal sign high on a tree marked ď20Ē (this means the 20th electricity tower. Follow this track for about 100m and you will find a small spot to park on the right. There is track right in front of this, follow it for a few hundred meters until you can see the gully on the right, this is the Pilcher canyon gully. Keep waking for another few hundred meters until you can find an easy place to bush bash right down into the gully and the creek (there is no track). Follow the creek into the canyon. The start is at NGR 523724 (Katoomba map). It's very scrubby, so unless you hit the creek close to the start you will be bush scrubbing it. Don't underestimate how long this may take (took us well over an hour).

What to expect:

The first 4m drop into a lovely grotto full of ferns right at the start can be hand-over- handed. Then follow and scramble your way through the canyon (creek) for quite a while (maybe 45min?), the next three abseils are all bunched together near the end.

The first main 15m abseil is down a narrow waterfall into a deep pool at the bottom. There is a small ledge to unhook from before you have to jump in the water, otherwise just land in the water. There is an obvious tree for use as an anchor. When we were there there was an old log right down the waterfall, it can make things a bit awkward.

The next main drop of about 10m is just after this. There is a tree root to use as an anchor. Once again it is down a waterfall, but a much gentler slope, almost cascade like. There are slippery bits after this, and it pays to use the rope to get yourself to the next abseil point about 5m further on, then pull it down. The next drop is small and can be scrambled by the brave and nimble, but itís best to use your handline and abseil it. There is a very large upturned tree trunk which makes it awkward, use it as an anchor.

The final exciting main drop is on a ledge to the left just 50m further down past the main waterfall . A She-Oak tree near the ledge is used as the anchor. Tie the sling up over a branch to make things easier. This is a direct overhang drop of around 22m, a 50m line might just make it, we used a 60m and had a bit of slack. The overhang is very narrow, maybe only an inch before it curves back under, then itís a direct drop all the way.

A further 10min straight down the creek leads to the Grovetts Pass track on the other side of the creek coming in on the left. Follow this track left and back up to meet the Grand Canyon Track. You can then either continue left to the Grand Canyon or right to Evens Lookout. There is Pilcher track that leads from the Grand Canyon track back to the start, but this is very difficult to find (we couldnít!). Better, safer and nicer to make this a 2 car shuffle trip.

The canyon itself should take less than 2 hours, it's quite short.

Equipment needed:

One 50m rope min (60m preferably), a 15m handline, enough tape to make up at least 4 tree slings. Some sort of dry pack (nothing elaborate, you only get dunked once). We took 60m, 40m and 16m ropes plus 5m of sling.

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