Seems like you guys had a great time too, and the weather must have been awesome as it was 26 deg in CTN on 21st July.
andre w wrote:
....and markings difficult to find on the coastal section, where a lot of rock scrambling had to be done.
Yes, even when I came through at approx 9am, the markings were quite difficult and no existent and I had to doublecheck a few times. Must be quite hard in dark.
andre w wrote:
Although the crossing is not for the fainthearted, we experienced it very different compared to the Ozkaapie group - we tackled it differently:
We all had big survival bags for our backpacks - we had first put our backpacks in strong black refuse bags and then in the survival bags, which were tied tight with cable ties.
Also we had more than 70 metres of ski-rope.
We've also done the B route - but just a bit left of the cove were the fixed ropes can be seen.
From your photos, the water looks a lot lower than when we crossed despite you getting there 2 1/2 hrs after low tide. The route you followed is to the left of where I first crossed and it was too deep and current too strong and you needed to all be strong swimmers (on our day) to cross there. Most of our group shared survival bags. I didn't have one, instead relying on contents being secure in bags, which works for me...the water drips out of bag quite quickly.
andre w wrote:
We've also done the B route - but just a bit left of the cove were the fixed ropes can be seen. ///
Once crossed, we've opened the survival bags to put on our backpacks and scrambled up and over rocks to the left - to the sandy exit of route A.
We actually crossed at the extreme right of your photo, into that rocky cove, then regrouped, made decision to continue or bail out once it was deemed safe for weakest to go all the way around rocks. Once there you can't see around the rocks, but on the photo it actually looks harder than what it is. We went in and out of that cove you mark ..there is a rock you can step on in between waves.
From your photos, the tide is further in but the water appears lower- no swell.
The bed of river, though not rocky, is very inconsistent. I went from walking thigh deep at exactly low tide to well above two metres within one step.
andre w wrote:
I agree with Ozkaapie - the crossing could be daunting and a "tragedy waiting to happen" - IF the crossing is tackled in a careless manner - if you feel it's not safe to cross once you're there, then rather opt for the escape route - BUT, if you do your planning well and respect the conditions of the day, it is very crossable - an experience you'll never forget.
We were mindful of the fact that if the weakest couldn't get through, we turn around and at one point I said to others that we had a 30min window to see if rock scramble was passable or go back over river.
However, my point is this. What sort of trail is this? Is this an 'adventure trail' to be done by very experienced adventurers/canyoners etc only or is it for 'all comers'? If this is for extreme sports people, then fair enough advertise it as such.
Why have 'assistance' i.e. steps etc at lots of other places, but at a point where you have to make sure everybody is safe, there is not even a foot hold?
Why not have steps/path/anchors-foot holds from where we crossed (safest, and a large cove to regroup), to all the way over rocks?
Is this somehow going to ruin the mystique and uncertainty of Blaukrans and Otter itself?
Many people read this and know what 'may' be expected. Others may have someone who did the trail twice (like we had) and they had 'always walked right over at route A- including two 14 yo's'.
What is 'expected' to some is not the same for others, even if you read people's experiences here, you still can't measure it.
We were smack on low tide, yet in retrospect the waves were too huge, but we had no way by means of comparison whether that was 'normal' or not at time, i.e. is it the same for everybody who crosses every day.
The warnings at escape route about not doing it is meaningless, unless you know whether the conditions re normal or not.
Edit: Another important point. Why are those ropes there if it is not advised to use it and there is no indication of where it ends up? It should be removed as an option as it encourages people to use it. From the far side it looks like an official path that is easy enough.
Your decision to bail should be before the river.
What will happen when someone falls there?
When I got back to CTN we met someone at a braai who had done it (again walking through) but knows of a group last year where the leader nearly got washed to sea. Someone else knows of a group who 'lost' two bags.
I googled before , and found two deaths on that crossing ...didn't find that incident now, but here's another one
...so there my be more, and the 'tragedy is not waiting
to happen'. Another article
on same incident- 5 were washed to sea and one died.
Google some more and you find more scary reports.
This is a controlled trail, where you officially register, pay etc- and that, and the fact that people's fitness to do extreme sports is not gauged-makes it even more important that the managers of the trail minimise risk.
Perhaps I have been cocooned in this cautious, litigious society in Oz too long. But when we have had deaths in canyons -wilderness where the access is not managed at all and the onus is on the hiker- there have been coronial inquiries and recommendations.
On a managed trail, those recommendations would be enforced on the owner/manager otherwise you would have lawsuits and criminal negligence.
People think my canyoning is dangerous. But because we know it is uncontrolled, we take responsibility and therefore always have the minimum equipment, experience etc and take precautions (i.e. not after rain etc) , such that it is safer than walking over street.
However where it is a controlled environment, advertised to all comers with passages that are subject to huge variance, then more should be done.
We still had an awesome time, and people are 'better and more confident' for it, but I hope my views are taken on board in the spirit intended, so that it can be safe and fun for all.