• Kevin Cartwright

TRIP REPORT: 300 Metre Winch Pull. Two Day Insane Recovery!

Updated: May 11, 2019


Kenilworth copped a solid dose of rain over the Easter Saturday weekend and with it, brought the notorious red clay that is ice slippery. Our flagship track, Winterfield Peaks, bit hard yesterday with the torrent of rain mother nature provided.

The vehicle to get recovered, a beast of a V6 Amarok with solid 33" mud tyres took about 8 or 9 hours to recover. I called a mate with a chopped 80 Series with an LS1 and armed with a winch both front and back. It was a steep, slippery 300 metres drop into the valley where our vehicles were, so we had the 80 - using the rear winch - absail down like a sinker on fishing line. The main issue that had to be carefully thought about was the major lack of traction, and worse still, was the aquaplaning to be experienced by the recovery vehicles to get to the rigs that needed recovering.

After we got the 80 down to the recovery site, it was dark and the rains downpour was merciless. The track was a mud bath of slop!

The recovery process began at 6pm, and we worked hard to get the Amarok about 100m up the steep slope. It was a long and tedious process and although we had head torches and the track lit up like a stadium with flood lights, the rain, 3 hours later, was relentless. By 930pm, we decided to call it a night and slept in the cars and recommence the mission at dawn the next morning. Being soaking wet and each carrying 2 inches of mud on the soles of our shoes working at pace on a steep track, we pulled up stumps for the night. In the cars we went for some shut eye and with clothes saturated with sweat and rain it was time to rest up and try and get some sleep.

At first light, 6am, we were back at it. The rain hadn't really let up overnight, so work conditions on the track did not improved. Had the rain stopped or had a breeze blown over, it would have helped dry up the tracks a little. ANYTHING for some traction.

The winches and the two snatch blocks we had put to work when needed worked over time. We recovered the Amarok by 11am after a massive winch job from the 80, pulling him over 300 metres all told. Well done. The 80 flexed some muscle. That being said, the 80 had only a quarter tank of fuel left in it. So we four wheel drives back out of the bush for 50 odd minutes and went back into town. We bought to jerry cans and filled them with fuel - along with some well deserved meat pies and some cold beverages. We also had to buy 3 bottles of brake fluid and coolant because the poor 80 had major brake issues that was discovered during the recovery the night before. We needed coolant because one of the two fans that cools the radiator was not working.

Happy ending for the recovered Amarok. But it was far from over. Now it was my turn to get the Triton out. But because the 80 Series had brake issues and overheating problems, common sense and risk mitigation called for the 80 to clock off recovery duty and bring in another vehicle. After a 300 metre pull, the 80 and its owner needs a Victorian Cross.

Moving on, my vehicle was further down from the Amaroks recovery start position by a further 30 metres. I called upon another vehicle, a 200 Series V8 who specialises in big recoveries. My recovery began 5pm on the Sunday afternoon and after another 300 metre pull to the top, I was out by 11pm. Towards the last 100 metres, I had very good traction and alleviated the strain on the snatch strap that was attaching me behind the 200 Series. Within this time, even the 200 got stuck and winching was needed to bring him up further up the hill to get out. The only way to see the mess was to have been there. The recovery was officially complete by 1:35am Monday morning.

Just goes to show, that no matter what, preparedness is key and can happen to any of us and you can never know everything. There's always new stuff to learn and new predicaments to negotiate. This was a recovery that no one could have prepared for. The stars just didn't align that day and Mr Murphy's Law was alive and well because whatever could have gone wrong over the past 36 hours, went wrong. But all involved are all the wiser for it and this is what build wisdom and experience in our 4WD careers.

This is a transparent article that needed to be written and out out there for the community, because in 4WD, it's not always a friendly drive in the park. Still, looking back, it was fun and one hell of an adventure.

See ya at the top,


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