Loose rock on Lochnagar – Please be aware. Its an annual event on most big mountains.

As we all start venturing out please be advised that many of the mountains will have loose rock. Few have been on the big cliffs recently and loose rock is always a objective danger in Mountaineering. Glencoe has already had a problem on the Curved ridge area. I would imagine most mountain routes will need care. Treat and test every hold if climbing or scrambling.

Lose rock above Black Spout Lochnagar PHOTO Aberdeen MRT.

From Aberdeen MRT “Please be aware that there are some significantly sized boulders lying loose on the remaining snow patch at the top of Black Spout on Lochnagar. We estimate several are well over one metre across. Clearly these will dislodge as the snow melts further; be aware thaT they may travel well beyond the base of the Black Spout when they move. Please take this into consideration if you are in the area, even if you are not within Black Spout itself.”

Black Spout – Lochnagar. Loose rock. PHOTO – Aberdeen MRT

Loose rock is nothing knew sadly its an annual event after a winter and heavy rain. This was what I wrote in 2017

Most folk enjoy Scrambling and a few rock climbing it is good to be aware and reminded of the danger of loose rock on mountain cliffs. Please read this and be aware and when teaching new skills please pass on this simple advice it may save your life?

2017 – Unfortunately there has been a couple of bad accidents in the Cairngorms over the last few  weekend  some 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 – Cairngorms

Fingers Ridge was my second rock climb in the Team in 1972 and I did it fairly often afterwards mainly in Summer. It is a mountain route but sadly holds onto a lot of loose rock.  Tip,Tap and Test  with your hands and feet sounds good to me.  Please share with other climber and walkers and be aware that mountain Ridges like Skye , Glencoe and the Ben may have loose rock awaiting those who are not careful!

Fingers Ridge Cairngorms.

From Mountaineering Scotland/ Glenmore Lodge. 2017

Events last weekend (2017) in Coire an’t  Sneachda in the Northern Corries of the Cairngorms have highlighted the need for all hill-walkers and climbers to be vigilant when climbing on or passing below mountain crags.

Two separate teams over the weekend were injured by rock fall. On Saturday a team on a route known as Fingers Ridge had a very lucky escape when a large slab of rock gave way.  Ironically they were clearing loose rock from the route when the accident happened. (Read Ron Walker’s own account of his accident.)

And on Sunday a team were injured on Pygmy Ridge, in the same Corrie.

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.

“Specifically, hillwalkers should be particularly cautious when ascending or descending the Goat Track in Corie an’t Sneachda when there are climbers above them.”

There you are simple advice take it and pass it on even local rock climbing venues should be treated carefully especially the friable sandstone at Cummingston?

Very loose in Summer in places!

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

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