Rock And Slope Types

Different types of rock and different slopes present different hazards. The following paragraphs discuss the characteristics and hazards of the different rocks and slopes.

a. Granite. Granite produces fewer rockfalls, but jagged edges make pulling rope and raising equipment more difficult. Granite is abrasive and increases the danger of ropes or accessory cords being cut. Climbers must beware of large loose boulders. After a rain, granite dries quickly. Most climbing holds are found in cracks. Face climbing can be found, however, it cannot be protected.

b. Chalk and Limestone. Chalk and limestone are slippery when wet. Limestone is usually solid; however, conglomerate type stones may be loose. Limestone has pockets, face climbing, and cracks.

c. Slate and Gneiss. Slate and gneiss can be firm and or brittle in the same area (red coloring indicates brittle areas). Rockfall danger is high, and small rocks may break off when pulled or when pitons are emplaced.

d. Sandstone. Sandstone is usually soft causing handholds and footholds to break away under pressure. Chocks placed in sandstone may or may not hold. Sandstone should be allowed to dry for a couple of days after a rain before climbing on it—wet sandstone is extremely soft. Most climbs follow a crack. Face climbing is possible, but any outward pull will break off handholds and footholds, and it is usually difficult to protect.

e. Grassy Slopes. Penetrating roots and increased frost cracking cause a continuous loosening process. Grassy slopes are slippery after rain, new snow, and dew. After long, dry spells clumps of the slope tend to break away. Weight should be distributed evenly; for example, use flat hand push holds instead of finger pull holds.

f. Firm Spring Snow (Firn Snow). Stopping a slide on small, leftover snow patches in late spring can be difficult. Routes should be planned to avoid these dangers. Self-arrest should be practiced before encountering this situation. Beginning climbers should be secured with rope when climbing on this type surface. Climbers can glissade down firn snow if necessary. Firn snow is easier to ascend than walking up scree or talus.

g. Talus. Talus is rocks that are larger than a dinner plate, but smaller than boulders. They can be used as stepping-stones to ascend or descend a slope. However, if a talus rock slips away it can produce more injury than scree because of its size.

h. Scree. Scree is small rocks that are from pebble size to dinner plate size. Running down scree is an effective method of descending in a hurry. One can run at full stride without worry—the whole scree field is moving with you. Climbers must beware of larger rocks that may be solidly planted under the scree. Ascending scree is a tedious task. The scree does not provide a solid platform and will only slide under foot. If possible, avoid scree when ascending.

Continue reading here: Rock Classifications

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  • john
    How to descend rock slope on foot?
    8 years ago