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Tahquitz Rockfall (4/13/08)

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Tahquitz Rockfall (4/13/08)

Postby ksolem » Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:58 pm

Yesterday afternoon my friends and I witnessed a serious rockfall incident at Tahquitz. Two microwave sized blocks and some smaller debris came down from somewhere high above, at or near the top of the face, falling through the area where the route “Fingertrip” ascends. We were on the ground at the toe of the rock just to the right from there and watched as these huge blocks took a lucky bounce sending them just over the heads of a couple climbing the face right there. There were also climbers on El Camino, not so much in the line of fire but too close for comfort in any case.

I think that due to the size of the rocks, and the fact that this was one of the first really warm days of the season with a very hot sun, there is a high probability that the rockfall was caused naturally, by thermal expansion. It could also have been caused by climbers. A number of parties climbed the rock that day.

Since the season up there is just about to come into full swing this is a good time to remind ourselves that Tahquitz Rock, despite its easy access and “local” feeling, is a serious and dangerous alpine crag. Loose rock abounds, and route-finding is a constant issue to pay attention to since once a climber wanders off the correct line they often head into less travelled and looser terrain, where the dangers increase fast.

The couple who were up on the face and very nearly wiped out by these falling boulders beat a hasty retreat and we had a chance to chat briefly at the base. They were visibly shaken by the event, and I did not trouble them for their names. We should all be grateful for their safety. This thing could have gone terribly – it was just a lucky day is all…
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Postby depclimb » Mon Apr 14, 2008 6:50 pm

Hi Kris,

One lucky party to have escaped the chop. I wonder if anyone had a camera for the action.
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Postby ksolem » Mon Apr 14, 2008 7:10 pm

Hi Jeff,

No pictures that I know of. It all happenned very fast, as such things do. Everyone is just enjoying a perfect day, then suddenly there are a few moments of stark terror. Then it's over and everyone is looking around to size up the results.
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Whoa!!

Postby JLIEBERMAN » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:10 am

That rockfall scared the shit out of me!!! Thank God everyone was Okay....
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Postby x15x15 » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:13 am

thanks for the info ksolem. although i agree with you that the rock fall is naturally ocurring, i saw some weird things happening on fingertrip and angels fright yesterday. these routes are not hard by todays standards, but surely tahquitz is not the place to learn how to climb.

anyways, i guess it was you who i ran into yesterday ontop of the rock.

x15x15
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Postby Guyzo » Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:20 am

x15x15 wrote:thanks for the info ksolem. although i agree with you that the rock fall is naturally ocurring, i saw some weird things happening on fingertrip and angels fright yesterday. these routes are not hard by todays standards, but surely tahquitz is not the place to learn how to climb.

anyways, i guess it was you who i ran into yesterday ontop of the rock.

x15x15


Hi..I heard the sound and then saw the flying rocks. They originated from some place up near the top of Jona or the Angle Iron Traverse; they were not set off by anybody climbing on FT or AF. It all started with a loud POP, and then I saw 3 -4 blocks about the size of TV's out in the sky! I didn't hang out watching, rather, I hit the ground right up next to the rock and prayed. I am glad that we were spectators to one of nature’s little displays of power. (and only spectators!)
And to x15x15...I realy think that Tahquitz is one of the BEST places to learn the "ropes". You get easy long climbs, with great natural protection, like the Finger Trip, White Maiden, Left Ski Track and The Trough, you get all day to figure it out and struggle to the top. What could be better?

And that was Kris you saw on top, I was on the bottom!!!!!!!!!!!!! 8)
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Postby ksolem » Tue Apr 15, 2008 5:19 am

Guyzo wrote:
And that was Kris you saw on top, I was on the bottom!!!!!!!!!!!!! 8)


I met a couple guys on top when UberBabs and I climbed the south face earlier. One of those guys must have been an experimental aircraft...
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Postby x15x15 » Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:49 am

learning the ropes... yeah, tahquitz is great for that. but i aint talking "learning the ropes," were talking 'learning to climb'. my buddy and i passed a couple of parties on this glorious day that were wandering all over that rock, and met a couple more at the base who were getting ready to wander too. i will not be convinced that human interaction with rocks was not at least a catalyst for the rockfall. it is all cool though... just have fun... and be safe... or not...

the way it was explained to me recently.... "folks aint after adventure anymore, they're after a tick list"....
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Yikes!

Postby atthecrux » Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:54 am

Scary shit! I think about how many times I've eaten lunch in that nice shady area near FT. I know rockfall can happen anywhere but i've heard that it isn't very common over on the southern side of Tahquitz. The North side is where I've heard of things being more prone to breaking loose. I was on maidens buttress a few years back when a bowling ball sized rock came barreling down the nw recess near long climb. Hit a small ledge 25 feet above someone leading either long or wong climb and luckily turned into small shrapnel! No one was hurt but it was kind of a wake up call for me and my partner, we were definetely not TRing at the local crag!
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Postby forjan » Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:44 pm

I was gonna take a newbie up Fingertrip (FT) this weekend. This is the 2nd time I heard about rock fall near FT. Not sure if I should get on FT or not. What do you guys think? --Miguel
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Postby ksolem » Tue Apr 15, 2008 7:31 pm

forjan wrote:I was gonna take a newbie up Fingertrip (FT) this weekend. This is the 2nd time I heard about rock fall near FT. Not sure if I should get on FT or not. What do you guys think? --Miguel


I think it is a miracle that one or both of a beautiful young married couple did not get killed last Sunday afternoon. As I said it was a very near thing. If this is, as you say, a recurring problem then someone with time on a weekday should get up there and find the source - perhaps the ledges at the top of Jensen's Jaunt - and clean things up. I'll ping Alois and see if he's around, I can get up there and help out.
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Postby asmrz » Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:14 pm

Hi guys

We just got back from skiing in the Sierra. Had a great time. We have appointments scheduled in the desert both Saturday and Sunday this weekend, we will be working.

Re the Fingetrip, the first pitch has clean rock all the way to the jungle. There is little debris when you enter the jungle, if you belay there. The second pitch is really clean, there is nothing there to fall off, but the last 40-50 feet bellow Lunch Ledge there is a lot of loose stuff. Above Lunch Lenge there are big boulders but fairly well compacted. The Jensen's Jaunt after the end of the second pitch (original drawing) has a lot of big and loose stuff that, if dropped down, would go directly down over Fingertrip's 1st and begining of 2nd pitch. If this was natural rock fall (WAS IT?) that's the place to look. I don't want to be pointing fingers, but I understand the weekend here was really hot and there were a lot of people on Tahquitz, most of them on the sunny South Side. Are you guys sure this wasn't human caused event?
Cheers, Alois.

PS. Now that I read Guy's description as to where the fall originated from, the above does not have much relevance.
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Postby asmrz » Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:32 pm

Miguel: I think it would be prudent to find where the fall originated from, before going up any route that is in line with the rockfall. If this was natural, obviously, there might be more up there. Unfortunately, I have so much stuff going on this week, I cannot go up there.
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Postby Dave Daly » Thu Apr 17, 2008 5:14 am

Hey Kris -

Were you headed up there? PM me. Friday works better.

Dave
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