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Loose rock warning - Buckstone How

 cocomosey 15 Jul 2020

Just to warn others that there was some significant rockfall of person sized flakes from the second pitch of Honister Wall on Buckstone How on 11/07/2020, and there may well be more rock waiting to go. Don't be below it!

We aren't local to that area so I'd like to let local climbers/clubs know.

I was climbing the HS 'Honister Wall' on 11/07/2020 at Buckstone How and had a very narrow escape when I lent back on a cluster of blocks/flakes at the end of the overhang on pitch 2, just as I was starting up the arete next to/below it, and they completely gave way. The largest flake, which was bigger than me, fell over my shoulder, snagged one of my ropes and severed it halfway through the core. The rocks landed at the belay at the start of the climb, gouged out a large patch of turf and continued off down the hill. Luckily I didn't run pitches 1&2 together so my belayer was no longer standing there. 

We promptly bailed from the next tree, trying not to touch any more rocks on the way!

I checked my guidebook again afterwards (the Wired one) and it describes the rock as something like 'comfortably solid despite its reputation'... I was ready for some loose holds and found plenty, but unstable rock to this degree came as a bit of a surprise. We cancelled our trad plans the next day and went bouldering instead 😅

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In reply to cocomosey:

Sounds like it's worth avoiding that route, but don't write off the whole crag. Sinister Grooves is awesome! (Although I did get a bit lost and climb a 5b groove instead of the end of P2).

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 bw54 15 Jul 2020
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Absolutely Sinister Grooves awesome, as are Cleopatra Alexas and Caesar 

Honister Wall has always had a few loose bits Cocomosey has no doubt improved it

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 bw54 15 Jul 2020
In reply to cocomosey:Lake District Rock says Buckstone How will reward you with memorable experiences :0)

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 cocomosey 15 Jul 2020
In reply to bw54:

Pleased to be of service... I guess!

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 cocomosey 15 Jul 2020
In reply to bw54:

Maybe, as long as you survive them 🤷‍♀️

I will be much more cognisant of guidebook allusions to poor quality rock in future, however esoteric. In that sense it's been a very valuable experience for me, I suppose. But if I lived locally I think I'd be going back to ab in and check out the rest of route, certainly the overhang, to see if anything else is about to go. Would be a great shame if someone was seriously injured or worse because some folk think loose rock and close shaves are character building or something!

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In reply to cocomosey:

I don't recommend Lower Falcon Crag, if you don't like "character building". In general Lakes rock is fairly solid but it's variable and pretty much all crags have loose bits.

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 cocomosey 15 Jul 2020
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Thanks for the tip! Loose rock is obviously a possibility anywhere, but this is the only time I've had such a close shave, and on a 2* route. Loose holds are one thing, but completely unavoidable large falling blocks are another, in my opinion.

Post edited at 15:16
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In reply to Jon Stewart:

> I don't recommend Lower Falcon Crag, if you don't like "character building". In general Lakes rock is fairly solid but it's variable and pretty much all crags have loose bits.

It's pretty much par for the course on many crags, certainly Lower Falcon is risky, Gowder, Bram, Buckstone, Castle Crag, Bowderstone, Castle Rock all have rockfall potential. There are regular collapses, often due to earthquakes, growing tree roots or very dry conditions creating shrinkage.

The top of Buckstone, left side of final pitch of Sinister Grooves is not held up by much, would be interesting to see if the crack has widened. Honister Wall trad P2 was always a loose proposition, glad no one was hurt this time.

DC

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 bw54 18 Jul 2020
In reply to Dave Cumberland:

Christ this climbing lark sounds dangerous🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

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In reply to Dave Cumberland:

Watched a big chunk come down off one the Langstrath craglets the other day. Left a nice track through the bracken and crossed the path, but didn't quite make it to the beck. Not big enough for problems (like the majority of Lakes boulders, with notable exceptions), but a fair old chunk has found a new home on the valley floor.

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