/ Ratho Strongarm rockfall!

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buzby78 - on 11 Aug 2014
A substantial section of rock has fallen off the upper flake of (Strongarm - pre-rockfall) (E3).

The lower flake now looks dangerously loose and needs trundled before any further ascents can be had.
Fiend - on 11 Aug 2014
In reply to buzby78:

Again?? Sheesh. Got there just in time last week.

Is this the gear corner that's fallen down, and left loose rock at the starting ledge hand-holds before the traverse move left?
JLS on 11 Aug 2014
In reply to buzby78:

What's that? A trad route has fallen down?
I'd best get my skates on if I want to get a sport route up in it's place before the very active trad guys put up a new trad route.

:)
JamieSparkes - on 11 Aug 2014
In reply to buzby78: Hi Buz,

reckon you could pop out and grab a photo or two, will help decide what tools to bring.

cheers,

Jamie
Busby - on 11 Aug 2014
In reply to buzby78:

Crowbar and a mallet worked pretty well last time.... ;)
Fiend - on 12 Aug 2014
In reply to JamieSparkes:

Checked it out and chatted to Buz today. It's a chunk that's fallen rather strangely out of the middle of the remaining Strongarm corner, marked in blue here:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-wchPHnILVl0/U-qIkH8x2zI/AAAAAAAABM8/qM1rl7FisIs/s1600/strongarm.jpg

The problem is that the remaining chunk below that is obviously as dangerous as Buz warned, and it really should come off - but the cracks from the recent rockfall and the main crack to the right don't match up. It could be a right mess trying to get it off neatly.

Even worse is the more one takes off this corner / flake, the closer it gets to the other side of the flake which is a crucial gear crack for Wally 2 (marked in green). When the dangerous chunk is removed it could leave a pretty narrow pillar of rock which itself could be dangerous for both routes, possibly making them redundant or much worse protected.

My suggestion is to take as little of the dangerous bit of as possible to make it stable, then drill through the remaining flake pillar and bolt it to the wall (if you know anyone with good recent experience bolting unstable rock), maybe trying to put some Sika in the back too. This should stop any further deterioration and allow the routes to stay intact.
Kirriemuir - on 12 Aug 2014
In reply to Fiend:

> My suggestion is to take as little of the dangerous bit of as possible to make it stable, then drill through the remaining flake pillar and bolt it to the wall (if you know anyone with good recent experience bolting unstable rock), maybe trying to put some Sika in the back too. This should stop any further deterioration and allow the routes to stay intact.

Hmmm...this sounds like it would just be a short-lived, Heath-Robinson contraption of a thing. Surely it would be better to take it all (the fragile, cracky, flaky bits) off.....and while the ab ropes are there, Mr.Hilti could pay a wee visit with his big bag `o` bolts ;)

JLS on 12 Aug 2014
In reply to Fiend:

Can I just be the first to say that this type bolting and glueing rock stabilisation you propose isn't compatible with my trad ethics. I rather see the whole thing come down. We can then start with a clean sheet. Both trad and sport enthusiasts can sit down and reach agreement on the names of the new sport routes that go up on the effected lines. Personal I think the new names should at least give a nod to the names of the old trad routes they replace. I got the batteries on charge, let me know when you've finished pulling off the loose stuff.

JamieSparkes - on 13 Aug 2014
In reply to Fiend:

Can you remember how wide that crack is below the blue line?

I've just looked back at the photos from the last trundling and it's not even visible, though I distinctly remember it being RP size when I did Wally 3 the other week and I didn't particularly like the look of the green crack then. almost felt like a cam would blow the whole thing off the wall!

looking at the shape of it it doesn't look like Sika is going to help matters, given that the nature of it is basically an inverted pyramid which is hardly attached at the base. I get the feeling that if too much more of it is prised off, the whole thing could quite easily come toppling down, so how to do it without being anywhere near the damn thing I'm not sure, unless you happen to have any spare grenades?
Fiend - on 13 Aug 2014
In reply to JamieSparkes:

Alas I don't have any grenades :(

That crack is about a centimetre. It's visible in this photo: http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=165252 , but understandably has widened a bit.

I admit securing the remaining flake (once the block bit on the left is removed) could be awkward, but I am sure this sort of bolting loose flakes in place has been done successfully elsewhere in the UK (probably on limestone). However it really needs a closer look. Maybe the only solution is to take the whole thing off and hope that there is something useful left underneath...


Dr Toph on 13 Aug 2014
In reply to JamieSparkes:

Having seen a fair few bolt/sika reinforced blocks in Italy this last winter, I would agree that this isnt really suitable for that, especially since its the gear crack for Strongarm, and people are going to be tempted to use the block even if its obviously just bolted on. Better to have a clean slate I think, remove any risk of a heinous accident in what is a fairly popular spot, especially with the proximity of novices from the centre.

Agree with Jamie that the resulting overlap further up will need a good careful look, in case the whole lot want to come down.

Happy to take a (long) bar to it myself. Then to work out the new nature of the lines effected...;)

buzby78 - on 13 Aug 2014
Offending loose blocks were thankfully trundled this evening! A lot of rock came down, Strongarm and Wally 3 are now missing a fair few holds...
JamieSparkes - on 14 Aug 2014
In reply to buzby78:

eesh, is there anything left?
buzby78 - on 14 Aug 2014
In reply to JamieSparkes:
The column of rock between both routes has gone completely. There is still s fridge sized block at the top needing to come off so still need to be careful around this area...
Post edited at 04:47
Fiend - on 14 Aug 2014
In reply to buzby78:

Gulp! Updated the logbooks to reflect this.
JamieSparkes - on 14 Aug 2014
In reply to buzby78:

Christ almighty, that's a lot of rock! how easily did it come off?
Kirriemuir - on 14 Aug 2014
In reply to buzby78:

Liked the film on Fb....looked to be about as much fun as climbing those routes!
JamieSparkes - on 14 Aug 2014
In reply to Kirriemuir:

Ooh, is Strongarm trundle: Part 2 on film?
Kirriemuir - on 15 Aug 2014
In reply to JamieSparkes:

EICA Ratho Routesetters have a Fb page with a short film of the deed being done.
punkpunk - on 16 Aug 2014
Dr Toph on 17 Aug 2014
In reply to buzby78:

Current state of the routes:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=244269

Strongarm still climbable at same grade with different protection, not sure how hard Wally 3 is going to be...
JamieSparkes - on 17 Aug 2014
In reply to Dr Toph:

Cheers Toph,

Nice to know strong arm is still in one piece. Wally 3 looks as though it will still go, I seem to recall the flake being used for gear and a rest but not really for many of the moves. there are some reasonable looking RPs (maybe 5?) in the main groove but I couldn't get them in because of little bits of grit wedged in the crack, so you'd definitely want to ab the line to shift them.
Fiend - on 17 Aug 2014
In reply to Dr Toph:

Cheers for that, was going to pop in myself for a closer look but went to Camby instead. Fck me that is a lot of rock gone. When you say "Safely climbable however due to gear at bottom of groove crack which can be approached from below.", do you mean the left hand flake crack you usually transfer into? If so that will be a solid E4 6a as the crucial non-high-flake gear to get across (green camalot) blocks a foothold, as well as being much lower than the old high flake runner.

As for Wally 3, the flake was used for a lot of the climbing up until the crux, albeit not very hard climbing.
JamieSparkes - on 18 Aug 2014
In reply to Fiend:

I've been back to Ratho and reclimbed Wally 3, albeit on a toprope, to see how it's been affected - old crux is slightly easier, but probably still 6a. Several RPs protect, one is reasonable. The hands off rest has unfortunately gone as well. Lower down the climbing is significantly harder, perhaps 5c for a few moves but not as nice. There is also no gear for this section beyond what you can place from the starting ledge, though this does mean you'll only hit the one ledge and not roll all the way down the boulder field if you fluff it!

At a very rough guess I'd suggest it's probably E5 6a (at least) with pretty sustained climbing all the way. Less cruxy, better balanced. The gear isn't as good but at least it's obvious - no more wondering about how good the flake is.

I suppose the big question is who is going to climb the line of excellent looking crimps that were hiding beneath the flakes?
Fiend - on 28 Aug 2014
In reply to JamieSparkes:

Had a closer look at this area today.

I agree with the tentative assessment of E5 6a for Wally 3. I suspect you can get tied down skyhooks and possible some dodgy RPs low down, but it looks like E5 5c to the crux and then E4 6a as normal. I think it will be an inferior route due to this - more dangerous (above a grim landing) and worse balanced.

I think Strongarm will be E4 6a now, maybe steady E4 but not as easy as Pettifar's Wall. I tried it before Robert D trundled the previous bad flake - essentially the same gear situation as it is now - and it was pretty pokey for the reasons given above. Doing in the brief window before the latest trundle felt fair at E3 and a grade easier than that previous attempt and the current method.

Both routes still look in good nick despite these changes, so still well worth getting on.
buzby78 - on 28 Aug 2014
In reply to Fiend:
Apologies if I come across as controversial but what are people's thoughts on bolting up the new version of Wally 3? Where's Wally? could be a fitting new name..;)
Post edited at 23:00
DannyC on 29 Aug 2014
In reply to Fiend:

Aww no! Only just seen this thread. I tried (and failed...) on Strongarm at the start of this month after you and was looking forward to another attempt this Saturday now I'm feeling a little fitter post-Alps :-(

Ah well. It'll definitely be a bit harder, although it looks like long armed types like me can probably still reach the low runner in the left hand crack from fairly low down (especially by doing the cheeky larks-footed nuts trick). Strongarm's probably a better line now actually, as it removes the temptation to place very high right hand runners.

Well done on getting rid of the loose stuff. A good decision.

Danny.
Fiend - on 29 Aug 2014
In reply to buzby78:
Well now, at least you're asking!

I can see the merits in the idea given the route has significantly changed. The way I see it:

Pros:

+ This is definitely a different issue to last time's attempted retro-bolting of unchanged routes.
+ Wally 3 currently could be unappealingly dangerous i.e. un-fall-off-able at the start which although not a reason to bolt anything in itself does mean it is a bit out of character with even the other bolder routes in the quarry, and is an inferior proposition to what it previously was.

Cons:

- It should still be climbable at a reasonable standard i.e. E5 is within the reach of many Central Belt climbers.
- The route will stay clean and dry due to it's position on that "always in condition" wall, so it won't suffer too much from neglect even if it gets climbed less.
- It may still be a reasonable proposition at the start - like Wally 2 which someone claimed was "effectively a solo", which is definitely isn't and is tameable with a bit of nouse. It needs further inspection just in case.
- It's unclear what will happen to the project up the middle of the new wall and how bolts would interfere with that.
- It's likely to start the wedge thickening again, the entire wall is going to start looking rather well bolted and people are going to start looking for more excuses to add bolts (simply because that is the undeniable trend in modern climbing).

I would say no for the reasons given, but unlike last time there is actually a reason to do it given how much the route is changed (more so than how Strongarm has changed). It's certainly worth further discussion (and seeing if anything happens to the project up the middle)
Post edited at 13:14
Dr Toph on 29 Aug 2014
In reply to Fiend:

Hoping to try it out in its current condition and see how it compares with the boldness of its namesake neighbour. Will take all my micros and hooks and report accordingly.

Who is cleaning/working the central project btw? Looks spicy. Any objections to me fingering it?
Adam Lincoln - on 30 Aug 2014
In reply to Dr Toph:

> Who is cleaning/working the central project btw? Looks spicy. Any objections to me fingering it?

Iain small.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Dr Toph on 04 Sep 2014
In reply to Dr Toph:

Wally 3 still E46a. Bold but easy start, good micro(s) before crux. Not dissimilar to how it used to be, possibly easier at the start. 2 stars imho

Please dont bolt it :)
Adam Lincoln - on 12 Sep 2014
In reply to Dr Toph:

> Who is cleaning/working the central project btw? Looks spicy. Any objections to me fingering it?

7cish climbing, okay gear, bold start though. Probably just worth E8.

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