First time climbing in The Napes with a good weather forecast for the Saturday and poor for Sunday. Earlier in the day had ascended from Ennerdale and scrambled a route up Pillar Rock. The plan was to approach from Pillar and climb the Sphinx Ridge and Pinnacle Ridge (Therefore not approaching via the climbers traverse). We had no physical guide book but had been sent photos of the route which only one of the party had read. On approaching the route we initially struggled to find the start of the route, and began by ascending a minor ridge which eventually led to the Sphinx block. Due to the lack of guidebook, we are still insure if this was intended as part of the grade 2 scramble we were attempting. The section following the sphinx was harder than expected and we swapped leaders, pitched a short section. At this point in time a large weather front began to move in over Scarfell, and worrying about Sundays forecast storm and the unexpected difficulty/potential of being off route we tried to speed up. At this point the leader dislodged two large blocks (each microwave sized) from a stack of unstable rock. The leader attempted to stabilise the blocks but was unable to. In focusing on stopping the rocks from falling did not specifically vocalise the serious imminent risk of rock fall. The second was in a relatively stable stance with good hands and view of the leader and could see the incident unfold. The second was therefore able to take evasive action, bracing and shouting rock loudly. The falling rocks caught on the ropes coreshotting (2m) above the second. The initial rockfall triggered subsequent substantial rockfall below the second. We decided the safest exit was to isolate the coreshot rope section and continue ascending until an exit gully on the right (we could see from the incident location). No one was harmed and a nearby party called over to check we were ok. We were able to quickly and carefully descent off the face. The storm passed over Wasdale head without affecting The Napes.
Things which should have been considered:
1) Both parties should have read the guidebook (initially only the second had read the guide). More time should have gone into researching the route.
2) We considered abbing off an obvious anchor before the rockfall (when the storm became apparent), but had not brought any tat. We should have brought tat/bail slings (despite traveling light)
3) Knowing we were both tired from a long day on the hill (and our first mountain day in a while), seeing the weather come in should have been a reason to modify our plans rather than speed up. Rushing when tired contributed to the incident.
4) The leader should have called to alert others of rockfall danger as soon as it began to unfold.
Route Selection, Adverse Weather, Falling rock, snow, ice or object
Rescue Services Involved?
21 June 2021 at 08:20:36
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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.