Fingers Ridge in the Cairngorms a classic summer/winter climb but beware of loose rock on high mountain Crags!
As the better weather comes it’s great to see folk out climbing my own crag was busy at the weekend at Cummingston but even on an all year crag there are still loose holds about and you must always be aware of them! Many climb without helmets and until you see an accident it is hard to get the point of wearing one.
In the high mountains this was a big winter with the thaw freeze massive and the effect on the cliffs of natural erosion as the snow melts.Every year there are accidents with loose rocks especially at the beginning of summer!
This was written recently and is worth reminding those who venture out into the mountains and crags to climb! “Unfortunately loose rock and rubble is normal on mountain routes and is to be expected even on the most solid and well-travelled line, treat every handhold and foothold as if it were loose because many are or will be in the future – so take care. Tip, Tap and Test with your hands and feet as you climb, remember the three T’s!”
Unfortunately there has been a couple of bad accidents in the Cairngorms over the weekend two tears ago one involving a pal Ron Walker who was hurt when a loose block came away. Ron has given his permission to repeat his tale and hopefully pass on some tips when rock climbing in the mountains. It was a great effort to help Ron off the cliff by Cairngorm MRT and the Helicopter, something we should never take for granted. Next day they had another incident on the same cliff. The mountain weather, the dry May and heavy rain in June will not have helped the natural erosion in this area so be careful out there.
The picture below was one I used to advise on our training whilst with RAF Mountain Rescue where many had limited knowledge of the cliffs.
It was advice that we passed on. Fingers Ridge was my second rock climb in the Team in 1972 and I did it fairly often afterwards mainly in Summer. Tap and Test sounds good to me. Please share with other climber and walker s and be aware!
Walkers and climbers are familiar with the shattered, loose rock around the crags and corries of Scottish Mountains. The process of freezing and thawing through the winter season continues to dislodge and shatter rock faces, and natural erosion processes continue as they have since the mountains were created.
Shaun Roberts, Principal at Glenmore Lodge, said: “I do believe that the nature of winters over the last decade, along with the generally more intense precipitation has had an impact on Coire an t-Sneachda.
We have experienced a number of winters with very deep snow packs, including snow laying at depth on the steep broken ground of the Coire. Over a season and under the influence of gravity this snowpack will displace, but often not dislodge, blocks and boulders of significant size, leaving behind a significant challenge for the summer climber.
“And this year we enjoyed a super dry May but then received almost our monthly quota of rainfall on one day in June.
“I suspect these weather patterns are having an impact on the stability of some areas and we continue to approach climbing in Coire an t-Sneachda with a more heightened sense of the objective dangers.”
Heather Morning, Mountain Safety Advisor with Mountaineering Scotland said: “Hillwalkers, scramblers and climbers should be extra vigilant when journeying either below or approaching scrambles and climbs – particularly if there are other parties above or there has been heavy rainfall in the previous few days.
Thanks to Ron Walker and others for the use of their words and wisdom!
Loose rock is a natural part of Mountaineering just be aware and use the Tip, Tap, Test when climbing!
Finally Skye is a special place but it can be very loose in places be aware of those above you! Wear a helmet an essential whilst scrambling on Skye !
Even on clean rock folk can knock of rock from ledges above !