My Partner and I had just arrived at the upper tier of waterpipe bay and were checking the topo of 'Locust'. we became aware of some activity above us and a little way to our left (maybe around 'mean mr mustard'). we briefly moved off to the right to get a better view of the route. at this point we could see someone attempting to begin descending into the bay. somehow they dislodged a large block which caused a fair rockfall down the face of the upper tier and into the trees below. luckily we had moved out of the area. upon topping out of our climb i spoke briefly with the climbers involved but they were vague about what had happened. I am unsure whether the block was part of their abseil anchor setup or had become dislodged another way. one of the pair sustained some cuts/graze to their leg. the pair decided to leave after searching for a hold brush they had dropped in the incident.
1. The climbers in question were clearly novices. it appeared they had some basic knowledge of what they were trying to achieve but little practical experience. they also lacked crag knowledge as they seemed unaware that it is a simple prospect to walk into waterpipe bay. with the continued ease of access to information on trad climbing online, content providers need to continually reinforce the advantages of practical instruction from experienced climbers.
2. Awareness. the pair seemed completely unaware of activity below them. we were not the only climbers in the bay at the time of the incident. the pair had not shouted down or seemed to have done any visual checks of the area they intended to descend.
3. Helmets. Both my partner and I, and another pair in the bay were wearing helmets and would have had some level of protection had we been caught in the rockfall. only one of the pair who caused the incident was wearing a helmet.
Trad rock climbing
Falling rock, snow, ice or object, Abseil or rappel failure or error
Rescue Services Involved?
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All reports are self-submitted and have not been edited by the BMC in any way, so please keep an open mind regarding the lessons and causes of each incident or near-miss.