UKC

Rockfall on Etive Slabs Photos

© Martin Dixon
Chris Hague checks out the rockfall at the Etive Slabs  © Martin Dixon
Chris Hague checks out the rockfall at the Etive Slabs
© Martin Dixon

Martin Dixon leading Spartan Slab just before the rockfall.  © Chris Hague - Mountain Intelligence
Martin Dixon leading Spartan Slab just before the rockfall.
© Chris Hague - Mountain Intelligence
There has been a major rockfall at the Etive Slabs in Glen Etive. The rockfall was reported earlier in the week on the UKC Forums by eroica64, and we now have full details.

Chris Hague from the shop Mountain Intelligence in Leeds was at the crag when the fall occurred last Thursday:

"We were on the last pitch of Spartan Slab, when we heard a massive noise below. We looked down and there was a huge dust cloud and smell of cordite coming up the crag on the updraft."

Several tonnes of rock came away from one of the overlaps below the first belay of Spartan Slab, smashing directly on to the Coffin Stone - a large rock at the base of the crag that is a popular gearing up spot.

"It was a good job it wasn't a weekend," said Chris, "some of the rock landed directly on the Coffin Stone, some bounced over it, but what I also realised was lots of razor-sharp shards of rock showered the area with shrapnel."

Huge rocks smashed in to the Coffin Stone on the Etive Slabs  © Chris Hague - Mountain Intelligence
Huge rocks smashed in to the Coffin Stone on the Etive Slabs
© Chris Hague - Mountain Intelligence

The falling rock slid and bounced down the first pitch of the route The Long Reach, a classic E1 5b. "There's some flakes on that pitch that take small wires and slings," said Chris, "but some of them have been smashed off. I don't know if the grade has been affected."

Some climbers are speculating that after the long and unusually harsh winter, 2010 might be a year for unprecedented rockfall in the UK, and Chris Hague agrees. But he didn't hang around at the crag to see if anything else came off. After warning a pair of climbers approaching the cliff, he hot-footed it out of there.

"We had a super day, but yes, we only did one route - after the rockfall we didn't fancy another!"

  • Links: Brief reports from the BBC and the MCofS.

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18 Jun, 2010
There but for the grace of god and all that. When climbing at venues with clear risk of large scale rockfall (eg. Tremadog) I do think about this, cross my fingers, and hope it happens at night! Clearly not in this instance but at least it wasn't at the weekend as Chris H said.
18 Jun, 2010
I often think of rock fall when sitting at the mid point belay at Boulder Ruckle looking down at the massive boulder field below....
19 Jun, 2010
"We looked down and there was a huge dust cloud and smell of cordite coming up the crag on the updraft." According to Wikipedai: Cordite is a family of smokeless propellants developed and produced in the United Kingdom from 1889 to replace gunpowder as a military propellant.
19 Jun, 2010
Not sure what you mean by that quote - but rockfall most definitely does smell of cordite.
19 Jun, 2010
I wonder how the crevasse block is doing after this winter. That'd be a sight to see.
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