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Other Oahu Canyoneering: "Communication Breakdown" & Nona Keikikane Falls

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by NateFlet, Jun 22, 2018.

  1. NateFlet

    NateFlet

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    Location:
    Oahu
    "Communication Breakdown" is a nice canyon located on the eastern side of Oahu. First descended by Kitt Turner, and his crew back in 2014, this canyon seemed to be very overlooked and a hidden gem, as I could find absolutely no information about it online besides Cory's (semi-finished) write-up on his blog (AlohaFrom808). This made for a lot of hiking exploration above and below the canyon before we (Bobby Houser, Luca Battles, Oliver Hanley, and I) actually made the descent on June 1st.

    *The name Nona Keikikane came from us when we first hiked to the last fall of the canyon. The large ~365ft fall had absolutely no information or pictures of itself online, even no Hawaiian name was found (which is pretty rare, since the Hawaiians practically had a name for everything on the island. This lead us to name the falls ourselves, resulting in Nona Keikikane.*

    We woke up nice and early at 4:30 and left our houses at 4:50. We staged my car at where we would be hiking out of, and then all packed into Luca's Xterra and drove off to the ridge trail head. We parked at a beach park across the street since parking in the neighborhood next to the trail head leaves you with a high possibility of returning and finding your car without most of its parts (These locals aren't the nicest people you'll meet).

    We started the hike still in the dark, and reached our drop-in point after a sweaty 3 hours later. Now if anyone has ever gone hiking on Oahu's Ko'olau ridge, they'll know exactly what i'm talking about when I speak of the abundance of Ulehe ferns. Where ever is isn't a trail, the mountain is covered with these ferns that will cut you up and eat you alive. There was no easy way down into the beginning of the valley. We choose a spot down the ridge that looked the least painful, and bushwhacked our way down. The combination of steep valley walls and the Ulehe ferns made for a very slow hike down, but after a grueling hour and a half, we made it to our first drop.

    The first drop was a small, ~25 foot waterfall. I noticed there was no trace of prior anchors to be found (I guess the last group must've bushwhacked into a different drainage and gone from there), so I set up an anchor, threw on my harness, and we all hit the first rappel.

    After the first drop, there was a bit of stream hopping to be had. We followed the stream bed until it intersected with a much larger stream bed, which would eventually lead to the larger ~200ft drop and the ~365ft final drop. After a quick lunch break and about 30 more minutes of rock hopping, we finally reached the ~200ft drop and the real slotty part of the canyon just before noon. I setup the anchor, threw down the rope, and down we all went. Taking in the views of the narrow canyon walls and the beautiful waterfalls left me in awe. Something about being in places where next to nobody have been really gets me going.

    As we pulled down the rope, we encountered the first of our problems. There was a massive fray in the rope that left the core exposed. Very stupid move of mine not to see where I had been placing the rope on the rocks as I was the last one down :facepalm:. We all looked at each other with a slight fear in our eyes and we still had the ~365ft drop ahead of us and a ~200ft drop behind us, so there was definitely no going back at this point. We figured we'd continue on with the canyon until we reached the big drop, which we knew was not too far away. We easily down climbed a ~15ft cascading waterfall, and rappelled down a ~100ft waterfall which placed us immediately on top of the big boy.

    We pulled out the two ropes we had, a 10.5mm 600ft rope, and a 9.2mm 200ft rope. (Yes I know that the 600ft rope was completely overkill but it was all we had for the time being). The fray was on the 600ft rope, and after estimating how much rope we had until we hit the fray, we all felt pretty good. The fray was located less than 200ft from one end, meaning we had over 400ft of clean rope to rappel on. I tied off the fray with a butterfly, then tied off the 200ft rope to the end of the 600ft and used that as the pull cord with a biner block.

    Not gonna lie, hanging off a waterfall this massive can really blow your mind. While still at the top, I looked down and saw my ant-sized friends at the bottom. Rappelling took a while as the weight of the rope gave for an exhausting arm workout. But sooner than later, we all made it down to the valley floor.

    Here's some footage of the descent:
  2. Anthony Dye

    Anthony Dye

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    Springville, utah
    Great video and quality! What kind of camera were you using?

    If the core shot had been necessary to pass, do you feel like it could have been done with the waterfall at that flow? or too dangerous?
  3. NateFlet

    NateFlet

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    Location:
    Oahu
    The whole thing was filmed with a Gopro 3 (And a bit of editing in premiere pro to remove that fish eye effect gopros give). And with the rope... I will be honest, this rope was definitely not preferred rope for canyon conditions. I believe the sheath was only like, 30%, or something like that. Ill have to check when I get back from a trip I'm currently on. But with the core shot bit tied off, I strongly believe that we could simply pass the knot, if it so happened to come to it. The water flow wasn't too bad in most places down the fall (except for a few ledges where it got projected outwards and into your face) so I dont think it would be too much of a problem. I definitely learned my lesson with that rope though, and there is a replacement soon to be purchased.
    Anthony Dye likes this.
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