/ Tower Gap/ Glover's Chimney Chimney Rockfall

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niallk on 31 Jul 2011
There was a decent sized rockfall down Glover's Chimney yesterday from Tower Gap. We were watching from afar so don't know what state things are in, but probably worth bearing in mind on the gap and also come Winter on the crux of Glover's Chimney.

It appeared that somebody was involved in an incident in the gap at the time and later air-lifted. Thoughts go to those involved and hope all is OK.
petestack - on 31 Jul 2011
In reply to niallk:

Yes, we heard two substantial rockfalls (the first with shouting) and had just seen the source confirmed shortly before you posted... so wondering if the loose block(s) at the gap have finally gone?

Also naturally hoping those involved are OK!
Snoweider - on 31 Jul 2011
In reply to petestack:

Eeek. I really hope all are ok. It would be good to get some more info on the state of the gap and the chimney which I'm sure will emerge in due course, its not exactly an untraveled route.

Fingers crossed for a happy healthy outcome for the rescued parties.
Andy Nisbet - on 31 Jul 2011
In reply to niallk:

I heard the rockfall, which must have been huge, and saw the chopper a few hours later. So no evidence they were linked.
niallk on 31 Jul 2011
In reply to Andy Nisbet:

I was belaying on Trident Buttress at the time of the rockfall and people were crossing the gap. Afterwards, it looked as if somebody was left/stuck in the gap, but hard to tell from that distance I guess. Later the chopper airlifted somebody out of or from near to the gap as we watched from no.4 gully.

So no direct evidence they were related, hence use of term appeared.
butteredfrog - on 31 Jul 2011
In reply to niallk: More info on Lochaber MRT website

http://lochabermrt.co.uk/blog/saturday-30-july-2011

Hope all concerned are ok!
Andy Nisbet - on 31 Jul 2011
In reply to niallk:

Yes we saw you. We were the team on Sioux Wall. I just didn't want folk jumping to conclusions.
niallk on 31 Jul 2011
In reply to Andy Nisbet:

Fair enough. Point of posting was to alert people regards the routes, rather than reporting an incident but had figured it would come up. Probably should have just left the latter out in hindsight.

Guessed it was you on Sioux Wall after chatting at the CIC. Were you on Banshee afterwards?
Andy Nisbet - on 31 Jul 2011
In reply to niallk:
> Guessed it was you on Sioux Wall after chatting at the CIC. Were you on Banshee afterwards?

We were. Scottish VS turned out to be Mild VS, which it surprisingly often does.

benbers - on 31 Jul 2011
we were the 1st group on the ridge after bivving on sat and remember after the crossing the gap that the rocks were fairly loose on coming out. Ended up belaying fairly far away from the gap.
AndyK - on 01 Aug 2011
In reply to niallk:

We were waiting to cross the gap when the accident happened. A woman was climbing into the gap when a huge block disloged and caused a sizeable rockfall down Glovers Chimney. The woman had a suspected broken leg and was stuck in the gap for a couple of hours awaiting rescue.

It is still possible to downclimb the gap without too much difficulty.

Hats off to all inlvolved for keeping calm throughout - especially the unfortunate woman, who held it together really well despite obviously being in a lot of pain.

Scott Kirkhope - on 02 Aug 2011
In reply to AndyK: Here's some useful photos from Richard Bentley and Spike Sellers. http://blog.westcoast-mountainguides.co.uk/
Andy Nisbet - on 02 Aug 2011
In reply to Scott Kirkhope:

I knew Mike shouldn't have removed that big sling that was holding the whole thing together.
Tom Last - on 02 Aug 2011
In reply to Andy Nisbet:

Haha, get in!
DannyC - on 02 Aug 2011
In reply to niallk:

Of all the blocks to go on the route! That should make the step down a fair bit trickier, especially in winter. Hope injured lady's recovering well. D.
Fidget - on 03 Aug 2011
In reply to niallk:

We did Tower Ridge on Sunday (picked the wrong day for the weather!) not knowing about this, but also not having done the ridge before, so we just assumed things were as they always are, although found descending into Tower Gap rather awkward. There was rope in situ that we used - it was looped round the boulder at foot height (rather than using a sling round the higher block as we'd read about), and there was a knot bringing the strands together a fair way down the gap. That meant that your weight didn't come onto the rope until you were at the bottom of the gap, which seemed a long way down. I moved the knot up, but even then it was a case of slide down and then finally let go of the rock and grab the rope, and even then you still dropped the last couple of inches into the blocks. I must admit I didn't look at the rocks to see if they were loose, as they were the only things to stand on, and I was on one rope with another being lowered to me from the other side!
CurlyStevo - on 03 Aug 2011
In reply to Fidget:
"grab the rope" tut tut tut ;)
thomm - on 03 Aug 2011
Any views on the trundling suggestion? It would further increase the difficulty of the down-step. But I for one am glad I've already done Glover's, since people are continually clambering all over those blocks as you teeter up the crux...
Scott Kirkhope - on 03 Aug 2011
In reply to CurlyStevo: Looking at the photos it might well become 'the done thing' in the future.
skog on 03 Aug 2011
In reply to niallk:
Looks like it won't be long before this section is normally abseiled rather than downclimbed.
Fidget - on 03 Aug 2011
In reply to CurlyStevo:

One grabs the rope on an abseil does one not? (which is what we were trying to do, except the knot was a long way down the rope).
CurlyStevo - on 03 Aug 2011
In reply to thomm:
come off it you can still reach the footholds from the ledge. The way i do it is to step down and left (if facing down the ridge) to a foot hold on the wall before stepping to the ledge anway, doesn't look much harder if at all. The move was always soft for a diff in anycase just very exposed for a UK rock route.
CurlyStevo - on 03 Aug 2011
In reply to Fidget:
fair enough it was a tongue in cheek comment but personally I do think abbing down that part of the route/grabbing the tat misses some of the point of actually climbing it.
Markel on 03 Aug 2011 - 143.234.98.137 whois?
In reply to Scott Kirkhope:

Hasn't the easiest (though slightly more exposed) way of down climbing tower gap always been to use the line of holds on the tower gully side of the gap. From the photos, it looks like those holds (the obvious and well scratched ones) are unaffected. As such, it shouldn't make too much difference to the route.
thomm - on 03 Aug 2011
In reply to CurlyStevo:
Thanks for the beta.. I never said it was hard in any absolute sense, just that if all the blocks went it would be a bit harder / more intimidating for those of the scrambling hordes who already find it a bit nervy.
CurlyStevo - on 03 Aug 2011
In reply to Markel: I thought the easiest was was to step down to a good foot hold on the coire na ciste side. It was the way I did it in summer and winter and certainly looked the most traveled in winter that way. Anyway in any case wasn't harder than a diff.
Simon Caldwell - on 03 Aug 2011
In reply to Markel:
Pretty sure that's the way I went a couple of winters ago. No idea if it was the easiest, but does at least look to be relatively unaffected by the latest rockfall.
Markel on 03 Aug 2011 - 143.234.98.137 whois?
In reply to CurlyStevo:

I'm sure there are many ways to do it. I just remember that I always used to perform a 'slither and hang' move from the big boulder and assumed that was the way it was done. Once, in the middle of this manoeuvre, I noticed a friend stepping lightly down a ladder of holds on the far side. This was something of a revelation!

I'll look out for your way next time I'm there, cheers.
niallk on 03 Aug 2011
In reply to CurlyStevo:

I've done it that way in Summer too, dead easy. For some reason, despite knowing this, both times in Winter I've abandoned all attempts at style and clung on to the big block, filled the air with blue language and slithered till my gangly legs can reach the now missing block!
Fidget - on 03 Aug 2011
In reply to CurlyStevo:

Well I wasn't really climbing it, I was scrambling it and my friends were recce-ing for a winter ascent. It's the only time we got the rope out, and the guides / reports we'd read gave us the impression that the done thing is to ab there (plus there was a dynamic rope in situ) and I didn't know there was an alternative descent, so ab we did. I wasn't really bothered about style, I was just enjoying myself.
Offwidth - on 03 Aug 2011
In reply to Fidget:

"I was just enjoying myself" ... that's what they all say when they blow the onsight: the guilt will eat you from the inside ;-)
victim of mathematics - on 03 Aug 2011
In reply to CurlyStevo:
> (In reply to Fidget)
> personally I do think abbing down that part of the route/grabbing the tat misses some of the point of actually climbing it.

Abseiling down about 6ft of a 1200-odd ft route "misses some of the point"? I think you're overstating that a bit. It depends what your personal aims/ethics/whatever are, no?

For what it's worth I scrambled directly down into the gap from the tower (not on either side) and thought it pretty trivial that way, but obviously that was before the drop got bigger...
Fidget - on 04 Aug 2011
In reply to Offwidth:

Haha, unlikely. The main aim was to get up and get down in the required time, like an alpine day out. There onsight was shared between us anyway, since were climbing it three-as-one, i.e. passing back the knowledge of how to do each part so that we didn't dither unnecessarily by reinventing the wheel. Does one onsight a scramble anyway? I think you just scramble a scramble!
Tim Chappell - on 04 Aug 2011
In reply to victim of mathematics:
>

For what it's worth I scrambled directly down into the gap from the tower (not on either side) and thought it pretty trivial that way, but obviously that was before the drop got bigger...



I'm sorry. It's not a valid ascent of Tower Ridge unless you jump Tower Gap.
CurlyStevo - on 04 Aug 2011
In reply to Fidget:
What was the alloted time btw?

I think most people down climb the gap it is afterall very thrilling and the crux of the route. I hope you don't plan to miss this out of the winter excurtion as it was certainly one of the highlights for me!

Also it's not just a scramble really is it? Thats why you needed the rope. For me anyway a scramble is something I can do unroped.
don macb on 05 Aug 2011
myself and miss p were amongst the first teams to cross the gap after the incident (we were queueing at the eastern traverse while the airlift was going on above us) and it wasn't really much harder.

i'm a short arse and a crap climber, but i led into the gap direct as usual and lowered down onto the remaining blocks without having to aid it on the tat... bit reachy true enough, but if you know where the sloper foothold is as you go over, then swing central to the block so you can get your right hand over to reach that fingery side pull before letting your feet off and lowering in, it's no bother.

in fact- it maybe adds to it!

i'd hoped we might hear more about the girl's recovery by now on this thread... fingers crossed she's on the mend.

Ian PJ Turner on 09 Aug 2011 - 95.146.45.72 whois?
In reply to don macb: The woman involved (my partner) is recovering in the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh were she was taken on the Sunday after the incident. She has a fractured tibia (now with 3 screws inserted) and a fractured pelvis (a piece chipped of it). Thanks to those people who were involved and to everyone for their concern about her well being, sorry the update took so long but as you can imagine it's been a hectic time.
As for the infamous gap, well she was the unfortunate one who put a foot on that block one time too many. It must have been on the point of going for a while. She isn't feeling daunted by what happened but has accepted it for what is was an unfortunate accident. Comes with the territory I suppose.
The hardest part to bear was that we were meant to be heading out to Chamonix last Saturday for a bit of Alpine mountaineering after our last training day on Tower Ridge. Oh well maybe next year..............
Once again thanks to those who helped out on the day and to all you well wishers and stay safe out there.
AndyK - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to Ian PJ Turner:

Thanks for the update Ian, good to hear your partner is recovering.(I'm one of the guys who were waiting to cross the gap when the sccident happened).

If any more rock get dislodged I'd like to see a bolt there. Tower Ridge is a classic scramble and a difficult gap crossing would be out of character compared to the rest of the route. Given that crossing the gap is only getting harder due to the exceptionally high traffic that the route sees I think its justifiable. Plus the danger for climbers below the gap is significant.

Running off to duck for cover now.
Tim Chappell - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to AndyK:


> If any more rock get dislodged I'd like to see a bolt there.

Absolutely not! Deal with it as nature made it. If you don't want to do that, go somewhere else.

Can't see how a bolt would help anyway.
Simon Caldwell - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to AndyK:
How is a bolt going to prevent further rockfall?
J Brown - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to AndyK:
> (In reply to Ian PJ Turner)
>
> If any more rock get dislodged I'd like to see a bolt there. Tower Ridge is a classic scramble and a difficult gap crossing would be out of character compared to the rest of the route.


I guess the key issue is that a bolt would be out of character with the rest of the mountain?
a lakeland climber on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to J Brown:

I wonder what all the tat is wrapped around?

ALC
Tim Chappell - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to a lakeland climber:


All what tat? Sometimes there's tat at the Gap, and sometimes there isn't. Clearly people are cutting it back from time to time. Good job.

When there is tat, it's normally a long sling over the bollard-shaped boulder at the top of the Tower side of the Gap.
Hardonicus - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to J Brown:

Can't we just tie a long fixed line to all the bolts in five finger gully?
AndyK - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> (In reply to AndyK)
>
>
> [...]
>
> Absolutely not! Deal with it as nature made it. If you don't want to do that, go somewhere else.
>

My point is that nature didn't make it that way, the route sees more traffic than Piccadilly Circus. Thats what causes the rockfall.

The route is still ok right now. But if, as others have suggested, it gets to a stage where an abseil is required then bolt it I'd say.

And while we're on the subject, I'd like to see a road and a carpark at the CIC. A pub with beer garden would be good too. Its about time we adopted some European ethics around here.
Tim Chappell - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to AndyK:

Bah. You want European? So go to Europe.
simon_D - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to AndyK:

>
> And while we're on the subject, I'd like to see a road and a carpark at the CIC. A pub with beer garden would be good too. Its about time we adopted some European ethics around here.

Wild places should remain that way, that's why we go into them isn't it?? Nature always finds a way to fight back, can you even imagine the environmental impact a public house would have in that area on local ecology and habitat...the stags would be queueing up by the bins and drunken accidents on the cliff..mmm nice :[
a lakeland climber on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to Tim Chappell:

You sort of got my (sarcastic) point - there are enough solid features either side of the gap around which to place a large sling. From the photos, it looks like the rock that fell away was part of the dyke that forms the back of Glover's Chimney rather than the solid mountain rock. As someone else has noted, there is an easy if exposed step down on the left side as you leave the Great Tower.

ALC
Offwidth - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to AndyK: "the route sees more traffic than Piccadilly Circus. Thats what causes the rockfall."

You may find freeze-thaw action had a lot to do with such erosion as well.
Andy Nisbet - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> When there is tat, it's normally a long sling over the bollard-shaped boulder at the top of the Tower side of the Gap.

I thought that was what fell off?

Milesy - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to AndyK) "the route sees more traffic than Piccadilly Circus. Thats what causes the rockfall."
>
> You may find freeze-thaw action had a lot to do with such erosion as well.

Probably more so. There are areas with a lot looser rock that sees more rockfall due to there not being as much traffic. The rock that has came off has joined the millions of bits of rock which has crumbled away over the history of the ben.
CurlyStevo - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to Andy Nisbet:
> (In reply to Tim Chappell)
> [...]
>
> I thought that was what fell off?

no its the first bit of rock you step down on to which has gone (according to the pics that were linked from UKC)
Kid Spatula - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to Tim Chappell:

by - Tim Chappell on - 14:11 Tue
In reply to AndyK:

Bah. You want European? So go to Europe.



Errrr.

AndyK - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to simon_D:
> (In reply to AndyK)
>
> [...]
>
> Wild places should remain that way, that's why we go into them isn't it?? Nature always finds a way to fight back, can you even imagine the environmental impact a public house would have in that area on local ecology and habitat...the stags would be queueing up by the bins and drunken accidents on the cliff..mmm nice :[

Be good watching people struggle up the Bat while kicking back a few beers though. Could get Grindlewald-style telescopes as well. How about a viewing window in the Orion face as well?
Andy Nisbet - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to CurlyStevo:
> no its the first bit of rock you step down on to which has gone (according to the pics that were linked from UKC)

It used to have a sling on it, didn't it?

AndyK - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to AndyK) "the route sees more traffic than Piccadilly Circus. Thats what causes the rockfall."
>
> You may find freeze-thaw action had a lot to do with such erosion as well.

Freeze-thaw combined with the hang-drop action of scramblers.
CurlyStevo - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to AndyK:
Andy check this link for tower gap
http://blog.westcoast-mountainguides.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/gap.jpg

http://blog.westcoast-mountainguides.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/gap2.jpg

I've only been on tower ridge twice (probably a small percentage of the times you have). But those times most the tat was on the block sitting above the ledge you step down on to (at the level of the climbers helmet in the first photo where they have placed a sling)
petestack - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to AndyK:
> If any more rock get dislodged I'd like to see a bolt there. Tower Ridge is a classic scramble and a difficult gap crossing would be out of character compared to the rest of the route. Given that crossing the gap is only getting harder due to the exceptionally high traffic that the route sees I think its justifiable. Plus the danger for climbers below the gap is significant.

But it's not the first time stuff's come away there and won't be the last...
'The Gap itself presents no difficulty, although a large boulder on which hundreds of climbers must have stepped came away in June 1935, leaving the Gap deeper than formerly.'

(Quote from G.G. Macphee's 1954 Ben Nevis guide!)
Andy Nisbet - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to CurlyStevo:

I had looked, but got it wrong. On careful inspection, it's a smaller block that has come away. Thanks for that.
Jamie B - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to petestack:

> it's not the first time stuff's come away there and won't be the last...

Definately not; there's a block on the other side that now feels looser than before.

I went and checked it out yesterday and would have to say that the step down is a lot harder now; I'm 6'4 and only just got my foot onto the block from the most comfortable-feeling handholds. I'm also unsure about whether using the in situ tat for a handhold actually helps at all.

My partner climbed down on the Obs Gully side and found this feasible but not straightforward; I think more people will be inclined to do this as abseiling into the Gap is going to be awkward at best.
AlH - on 16 Aug 2011
In reply to Jamie Bankhead: I'd got out of the habit of going straight into the Gap when it was damp anyway and now find the Obs Gully side descent pretty straightforwards. One slightly smeary foothold and then jugs and big holds all the way. I'm back from Bolivia now but on the bike tomorrow. May have to go up to take a look later in the week. Al
don macb on 17 Aug 2011
In reply to Ian PJ Turner:

well i'm sorry to finally hear the details about the seriousness of your partner's injuries, but it's also somehow a relief to get an update on her condition (it has of course been on our minds ever since) and it's impressive that she's managing to be circumspect about such a traumatic incident.

hopefully she'll make a full recovery soon and if, like you say, she remains undaunted... well, maybe she'll be back on the hill sooner rather than later. cham' will still be there when she's ready.

for what it's worth: best wishes to you both, from two random folk who were queueing below at the traverse when the chopper came in, hoping it was just an exercise.

as has already been mentioned above: by all accounts she held it together well in what must have been an agonising and scary situation. impressive.

regarding the gap: the boulder with the tat is intact and- as has been said already- it's just that the lowering in from the boulder is now more reachy than it was before. the first block that folk previously would have lowered their feet onto is away.

jamie bankhead's a big guy while i most definitely am not, but i managed it direct style without any difficulty- just as i've done before- immediately after the incident, so it's still a goer.

the old tat was removed by mike pescod a while back i believe (i vaguely recall him posting on here to declare he'd cleaned it- correct me if i'm wrong mike!), so i was a little surprised to arrive at the gap to find new tat. it wasn't there a few weeks prior to ian's partner's accident on my previous ascent- i don't know if the lmrt left it there on the day.

i used my own sling on the boulder on the day of the incident and expected my partner to remove it when she seconded the gap, but she being even shorter than me was unable to make the traditional move. in the end she moved to the left on the jugs above obs' gully and found this less reachy and a team of guys soloing behind us were kind enough to retrieve my sling so that she didn't have to faff with it. most of them opted for the jugs on the obs' gully side too, but i've got to be honest about this: the stuff on that side of the big boulder looks ready to disintegrate and i wouldn't fancy it... sticking to the direct descent into the gap still looks safer to me.


bolts? nope- we're a long way off needing to ab' into the gap yet! pub at the cic? hell yeah ;p
John Workman - on 17 Aug 2011
In reply to Jamie Bankhead:
> (In reply to petestack)
>
I'm 6'4 and only just got my foot onto the block from the most comfortable-feeling handholds. I'm also unsure about whether using the in situ tat for a handhold actually helps at all.
>
Jamie your never 64 are you? You don't look a day over 55.
AlH - on 20 Aug 2011
In reply to anyone:
I went for a trip up Tower Ridge on Friday 19th August to inspect the Gap for myself. I took some video and pictures which are here for anyone interested:
http://alanhalewood.blogspot.com/
Gwilymstarks on 20 Aug 2011
In reply to AlH:

Thanks Al, that is a useful video.


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