/ NEWS: Major Rockfall at Blacknor Central in Portland
Anyone know if this makes the path even sketchier? Can you approach from the north?
Damn! Was planning a trip down to Portland in a couple of weeks and was intending to visit Blacknor.
Is there a definitive list somewhere of all of the areas of Portland that have been affected by rockfall in recent years? (i.e. since the last guidebook was published) I know quite a lot was lost in the storms a few years back.
I know on some of the UKC crag pages there is info on rockfall, but you have to check every crag individually which is a bit of a pain. A definitive list of crags, routes and access would be really helpful.
This will be localized. Even the the last very major event during the storms that moved many many tonnes of earth and rock only affected a very small fraction of the routes on Portland. You can see which routes were affected by that event here Blacknor Far South and Battleship Edge
Portland is inherently quite unstable as the limestone is not sitting on a firm foundation, also the rock quality can vary a lot and being UK limestone can shed small to medium blocks when climbing. Most the larger scale erosion occurs during storms / very wet periods.
It sounds like the rockfall was at almost exactly the midpoint between the North and South access paths, certainly everyone has a different opinion on whether it is quicker to get to Pregnant Pause by the North or South route, so while the path may be blocked/destroyed at some point, access to all remaining routes should still be possible from one end or the other.
I saw the rock fall happen exactly at the time when I was finishing a route on the Fallen Slab at Blacknor beach. When I peered over the top to admire the view, I saw two huge blocs in free fall from quite high up in what I believe to be the Pregnant Pause area. There was a massive crash. I heard that everyone in the area was safe but I believe we were lucky.
I've been down to have a thorough look - and a much longer think!
There has certainly been a rockfall, seemingly quite localised and, from what I can see, no routes were affected. Specifically, some blocks about twenty feet to the right of the start of Valerian have collapsed. There was the usual mess on the path. I've cleared up the worst of this and heaved some blocks into the vegetation below. They should be (relatively!) OK here. The path is perfectly passable. I've been all the way round to Monsoon Malabar to check there aren't any other rockfalls. There aren't.
So - not as bad as feared. However, as Curly Stevo rightly notes above, the rock on Portland is prone to varying degrees of instability. In my view, Blacknor is one of the most affected crags. (The bottom of Fond Farewell collapsed some time back.) Crudely speaking, the farther left you go from Return to Roissey area to Pregnant Pause, the more on your guard you need to be re the initial bands of rock. (Though last time I did PP, about a year ago, it was OK.) Wearing a helmet is strongly advised. This morning, I noticed a big block by the first staple on Valerian which doesn't appear to be held up by anything. Nearby, the rope to access The Viper's Tale/Narural Born Drillers is looking a bit dodgy. There's a massive perched block to the left of the finish of One Fine Day, which again doesn't seem to be held up by anything. Must have been there for centuries but... On the other side of the island, the bands of rock above the Neddyfields bouldering wall are in a horrifying state. Why they haven't collapsed, years ago, is beyond me.
I know none of this is selling Portland! Thousands of people have good times here with no problems. But you need to be on your guard - particularly on the west side, particularly on this part of Blacknor.
Re the initial report, I know what velocity falling rocks have when they reach the Diamond slab etc, below Blacknor. To the people who witnessed the blocks coming off, it must have been absolutely terrifying. And always better to report stuff than not.
Ironically, on the way out, an empty cider can bounced down, as though to remind us of the other danger - the local scrotes slinging stuff off.
As the great John Lennon wisely wrote:
'You know it ain't easy you know how hard it can be...
Good work Mick! You beat me to it.
In answer to someone above, the path from Blacknor north to south is in good condition ATM, I walked it on Saturday. Thanks to dorset bolt fund et Al, getting past pregnant pause area is now easy. And as Mick says it hasn't been affected by the rockfall yesterday, it should still be fine.
Could I mention that some locals have thrown a sofa over the cliff... I am going to see if the Free Portland News can print something about this (that's always assuming the sort of people that do this can read).
Just ask them to couch it in simple words.
I've often longed for a sofa when belaying some of the slower-climbing people of my acquaintance.
> I've often longed for a sofa when belaying some of the slower-climbing people of my acquaintance.
.....although you probably don't want it landing on your head first.
I remember years ago someone rolled a van off the top of the Cuttings. Lovely place Portland.
> As the great John Lennon wisely wrote:
> 'You know it ain't easy you know how hard it can be...
He knew what he was singing about. Sergeant Pepper's CO was probably Major Rockfall.
I’d love to know the story behind the route name Arc of a Fridge at Battleship ...
I suspect it's the same story as for Kamikaze Moped at Blacknor South!?
Lol, hadn’t noticed that one!
John Lennon also wrote
Goo goo gajoob
Which, uncannily, is the exact same noise that came from the trousers of those nearest the falling rocks.
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