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Unstable rock warning. Sgumain Stone Shoot, Isle of Skye. See comment below and thread with same title
© Mike Lates, Jun 2016
Route: Vulcan Wall (HVS 5a)
Camera used: Research In Motion BlackBerry 9320
Date taken: 14th June 2016
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Sgumain StoneShoot is probably the most commonly used descent for parties who have climbed the Cioch and other routes. Many people will have seen this white scar in the past few years but I had a scare recently. This rock fall happened in 2015, the huge disk slipped out and now lies across nearly the whole width of the stone shoot. It was remarkably stable that season. The following winter the next layer slipped out and shattered leaving the area considerably less stable but still passable with care. Or so I thought... In November we took shelter immediately above the block for lunch. As I stood up a medicine ball block moved but stayed with my hand on it but then the sickening grating of other blocks moving started. All in a split second I leapt, screamed to jump and watched Eilidh more fall than jump out of the way. Then it stopped. Hard to be specific and didn't hang around to inspect but it looked mainly like 3 small fridge sized blocks that had moved a metre or so and stopped, one resting where Eilidh had been sitting.
My livelihood depends on judging which blocks in the Cuillin are going to move or not and this is the first really close call I've had, touch wood. The roughness and density of gabbro does make boulder fields considerably more stable than most rock types but clearly it has limitations! Eastern Gully is the next most popular descent route from the same face and that is littered with fresh fall as well. This isn't a "don't go" warning but I felt it would be irresponsible not to put this experience out there.
Mike Lates - 18/Jan/20Report
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