/ Portland rock warning

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John Alcock - on 17 Oct 2012
Aside of the recent rock fall from Pregnant Pause described elsewhere on the site, there are a number of other routes whose stability may have been affected by the wet summer.
On our first visit to Portland for some months last weekend we noticed:
Blacknor South: Talk 6a+
The big ledge at three quarters height moved when we stood on it. It's got a sloping crack running under it and if it ever gets pulled off people will die. Be careful when mantelling on to it.
Blacknor North: Cinema Paradiso 6a
The bottom roof has cracks all the way round underneath it. We moved left under it without pulling on it, but it's clearly going to come down one day with horrible results. Some other holds were loose higher up. Take care. I've never pulled a hold off it, but I've seen East European climbers breaking multiple holds off as they climbed. I think they were used to climbing totally solid rock!
Cheyne Cliff: Drowning on Dry Land area.
As we walked past to Road Rage. it looked as if this area had suffered significant rock fall and parts of some of the first routes might be missing. We didn't have an up-to-date guidebook with us, so I can't be more precise.
Incidentally the fixed rope below Road Rage is badly worn. I'll replace it next time I'm there but that may not be for some months. If anyone is heading there soon and has a spare 15 feet of rope and a knife, it would be great if you could cut the old rope off and replace it.
nigel pearson - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to John Alcock:
thanks for the heads up
I like climbing - on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to John Alcock:
Thanks for flagging this - I'll let my mates know.
Tom Beaumont - on 20 Oct 2012
In reply to John Alcock:
Another one to add to the above list. Wallsend North, the shared start of Poop Scoop 6c and Pixie and the Milford Powerhouse 6a there is a wobbly block in the ledges just above and left of the first bolt. It is easily avoided if care is taken.
mattc - on 20 Oct 2012
In reply to John Alcock: Thanks I'll b there tomorrow I'll b sure to avoid these
Nic on 21 Oct 2012
In reply to John Alcock:

Wow, I'm surprised by the news on Talk, that ledge always seemed to be "part of the rock" (I know everything is part of the rock, but there are flakes and there are flakes...). Just an indicator of how fast stuff is eroding in Portland I guess.

On the other hand, I am *not* surprised at Cinema Paradiso, it shouldn't have been bolted in the first place! I remember doing it not long after it was put up - it was dirty (though that's often the case for even the best of Portland routes when they're new), but more disturbingly the first 20' or so seemed to be on massive semi-detached blocks.
steven craig on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to John Alcock:

A couple of months back a tufa snapped on Reptile Smile quite high up, and a massive block fell off (fortunately missing the belayer). Worth taking care on that one too.
GridNorth - on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to John Alcock: A cold winter on top of a wet summer may have dramatic affects although I would have thought that normally Portland would miss the worst of any freezing. How was it after last winter, did that have a major affect?
Rob Kennard - on 06 Nov 2012
In reply to GridNorth: Last winter was pretty mild but the winter before was particularly harsh(Blacknor Waterfall froze!), my impression is that after that winter lots more stuff is looser than before(!).
Rob
niallG on 03 Dec 2012
In reply to Nic:

The ledge system at the base of cinema paradiso, once only dramatic, is now trending toward dangerous. It was much stronger when this route first bolted. Having spent some time in this area fairly recently, I repeat the note that cinema paradiso shows considerable objective risk
In reply to John Alcock:

Thanks very much for the info John.

Just for the record - the big rockfall at Cheyne Cliff to the left of Drowning on Dry occurred sometime between the publication of Steve's CC Guide and the latest 2012 Rockfax. It wiped out the starts of about three lines.
Mick Ward - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to John Alcock:

I spent about 15 hours cleaning Cinema Paradiso before bolting it. Since then it's provided a pleasant experience for hundreds of people. But, if it's become dangerous, I'm happy if you - or anyone else - removes the first two bolts (from Megs Got Leukaemia?) to stop people doing it. I don't want anyone to come to grief.

As a generalism: Portland is both a free outdoor climbing wall... and a collection of sea cliffs, with all that this entails. Sea cliffs are constantly changing. Who would have thought that Yankee Doodle would mysteriously disappear?

While cleaning Cinema Paradiso, I removed a telegraph pole hanging down the slope above Megs Got Leukaemia. It would have taken someone's head off.

The overhangs above Neddyfields bouldering wall are tottering death. Dozens of people saunter underneath every day.

Be careful out there.

Mick
niallG on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to Mick Ward:

Mick, Thank you for a really pragmatic approach as always. I remember this route as well cleaned and thrillingly stable some years back, but it does seem to be deteriorating low down.

I guess its worth leaving it for this winter and re-assesing it march-ish time. I really hate the thought of de-bolting something (especially something that is a part of the thrill of Portland climbing)- I guess it needs a few opinions, maybe a few other people would take a look and give theirs.
Mick Ward - on 11 Dec 2012
In reply to niallG:

Hi Niall, thanks for your response. Maybe a compromise would be to tape up the first two bolts now and come to a decision in March. I'm in Spain until then and can remove the first two bolts, if need be, when I get back.

Best wishes,

Mick
Al Evans on 11 Dec 2012
In reply to Mick Ward: Mick just interested, are they staples? If so how do you remove a staple? Just asking.
Rob Kennard - on 11 Dec 2012
In reply to Al Evans: Hi Al,
You get a small drill-bit and drill down the sides of the 'legs' of the staple until its loose enough to wangle free. It's a long and painful process though!
Rob

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