What's The Biggest Chunk Of Granite You Set Loose?


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Dr. Rock

Ice climber
Castle Rock
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 14, 2008 - 02:19pm PT
Just curious, ever hold your breath after accidentally dis lodging a nice size boulder, and did anything happen?
Gee, thanks!

Trad climber
Jun 14, 2008 - 02:27pm PT
Descending from JoJo on the base of WC I took the skate board ride from hell on a fridger sized boulder. . . I barely lept from the frikken thing before it shot over the ledge and BLASTED its ozone clouded way down to the Valley floor.

It beat the shee out of the forest. . . blew up into small chunks. . . and all I can say is I'm VERY glad nobody was humpin' loads to the base or hikin' that trail!


My guts go ten kinds of flippy floppy at the recollection!


Dr. Rock

Ice climber
Castle Rock
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 14, 2008 - 02:46pm PT
Good Lord, that boulder would have snapped your line like a dry twig in a stiff desert breeze, had it got caught underneath.
A fridge is going to be hard to beat, unless we make up for it with some MV^2.
In other words, a smaller rock from a higher distance can sometimes do more damage?

I hear the football players complaining about the hits they receive from the small guys, not the big guys.
More speed = more damage, despite the weight difference.


Jun 14, 2008 - 03:03pm PT
I was descending high in the U-North on North Pal and lowered myself to a slab perched on a another rock. This thing was around 18" thick by 6' x 10' and should have been rock solid. But it must have been just at its balance point as it took off as soon as I put a small amount of weight on it. I had to jump out of the way to keep from getting smeared. It crashed down the chute and went into the bergschrund. Luckily there was no one below us. I was shacking for 10 minutes before I could move. In my top three climbing related close-calls for sure.


Trad climber
Las Vegas
Jun 14, 2008 - 03:35pm PT
Descending the boulders from 'Little Wing', I rode a 1/4 ton pickup bed, sized boulder. I jumped onto it and it began to roll, I back peddled one or two steps and realized it was going to continue it's downhill journey. I bailed in an abaft direction which was scary because the boulder was rolling opposite to my jump which made my distance barely enough to get off of it cleanly.
It did not 'catch air' or explode dramatically. Instead it bobbled it's way down the slope a few tumbles, came to a rest and then split down the middle before coming to a complete rest.


I don't know if mechanically aided trundles count ?
Once while working as a climbing instructor on a Boy Scout camp in Co. My co instructors and I found a boulder of similar size (1/4 ton pickup bed) that was wobbley. It actually would have never gone anywhere, but we wanted to trundle it for fun. So we convinced the camp admin that it was a safety threat and proceeded to make a production of it's removal. We got police tape and bordered off the forest below. We had people policing any/all approach routes to the area.
The first jack we tried was a 1 ton, truck, piston jack, we blew the seals out of it and went back too the shop. We returned with a 5 ton scissor jack. That did the trick ;)
I got to watch it from below as I was policing the woods to one side of the impact zone. There was non-climber helping with the tipping of the boulder. He was a 'Nature lodge' guy that had never seen anything of the sort and was excited to partake first hand.
When the boulder went...
It lobbed off into space and did that remarkable thing where for a nano second it just seemed to hang there in zero G's. Then down it went. It hit a ledge below dislodging perhaps a ton or so of rock and in turn the trundled boulder blew into, large console TV, small TV and lunch box size frags.
The explosion sent a couple sharp, lunch box size shards off into the trees. One pine about 10" in diameter was chopped almost clean through. It was very dramatic. Dramatic enough apparently, the 'nature Lodge' guy lost his bladder control as it sailed.


There used to be a large finger of rock on the East Butt of ElCap, somewhere up around the traverse pitch. I wonder/doubt if that is still there ?
I remember putting a hand jam behind it and moving it with just the outward of a solid hand jam. That was scary, pushing that thing back upright and moving past it.

Social climber
Flatland, Ca
Jun 14, 2008 - 04:28pm PT
In Bishop, got friends, got a car jack.... Plenty of ozone released that day... But nothing happened, as far as damage to property or starting rock falls..

Hey, Euro Brief Guy, tell the story about going to Heaven for a day of bouldering!

Stoked OW climber
San Jose, CA
Jun 14, 2008 - 05:17pm PT
There's a 30 foot pillar on Hawkman's Escape that's waiting for someone to put their back against the wall and push it from the top with their feet. Not quite sure what you'd hold onto after that.

Trad climber
In the mountains... somewhere...
Jun 14, 2008 - 05:36pm PT
I once rode a slab of snow about the size of half a tennis court for a hundred yards. Does that count? Does it help that I hung 10 off the nose?

As far as rock goes, we have trundled coffin size pieces of rock into the Gorge. We have set loose boulders down slabs that were about 5 feet around and took trees out. But I haven't ever launched anything as large as a fridge.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 14, 2008 - 06:15pm PT
Would this be a good place to talk about chain reactions and boulders?
Sioux Juan

Big Wall climber
Costa mesa
Jun 14, 2008 - 06:20pm PT
just for a heads up ! at tahquitz on whodunit there IS a block ready to go!!! its hard to spot and seems safe to stand on ? and has been done 1,000,000 times. its big and I've seen it move ......true !
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 14, 2008 - 08:00pm PT
Here is a classic article about boulder trundling, from the Rucksack Club journal for 1931, and reprinted in Mountain 29 (November 1973).

It was accompanied by a fine drawing by Sheridan Anderson, illustrating one of the most famous incidents in Alpine climbing, the boulder trundling from the summit of the Matterhorn by Whymper & party in 1865.

Jun 14, 2008 - 09:47pm PT
Granite Mountain back country. Wanting to rid our staging area of a large t.v. sized block we pried at it with a fallen branch, my friends and I watched in disbelief as a chain reaction set loose a golf cart (I was thinking VW Bug but..)sized block which mowed down pinons in slow motion down the steep hillside. The smell of sulfur and pure shock was strong. This is a very remote area never visited. Seeing a fair amount of natural rockfall and doing my share of trundling, I have never seen anything like this.

Sport climber
Lexington, KY
Jun 14, 2008 - 10:19pm PT
Mr. Way and I cast off the boulder that was at base of the crux pitch of Supplication (is that the 11b one?) at Arch Rock. You can see the offending looseness in Yosemite Climber in the photo of Spencer Lenard stemming out above the belay. It was the middle of winter and nobody was around. It went almost all the way to the road.

Trad climber
Jun 14, 2008 - 10:49pm PT
Several pitches up on Steck-Salathe I latched onto a large chockstone about 2.5' x 4' x 12' thinking no way this could move. About half way up out it comes with me on it. There was some slack in the upper belay and by the time the rope caught me the block had enough speed and rotation to give me a very painful bruise on my thigh. A few seconds latter there was a massive explosion as the block made contact below.
Dr. Rock

Ice climber
Castle Rock
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 14, 2008 - 11:06pm PT
Incredible stories, you guys.

Do these punks even know where this thing is going?
I learned to check the runout in my later trundling years, just on general principles.


What's withthe wood and the penstock?

Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 15, 2008 - 12:08am PT
Those are some OK videos, plus all the other ones on youtube.

Many of the trundlers shown have deficient technique. Long experience has shown that the best way to trundle is by sitting, and pushing with your legs. You get about five times the force, and it's a stabler and safer position.
Dr. Rock

Ice climber
Castle Rock
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 15, 2008 - 12:32am PT
You meean like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azVPcoVloOw&feature=relatedI swear,

I swear I thought I saw these dudes in the park last weekend...
I think they were drilling Half Dome.
Listen to the trundle induced euphoria:



A long way from where I started
Jun 15, 2008 - 12:39am PT
Long experience has shown that the best way to trundle is by sitting, and pushing with your legs. You get about five times the force, and it's a stabler and safer position.

Tami and I, and her then BF, and MH's brother and two other climbers found a boulder perched on the very edge of a ledge above a drop-off of about 1,500 ft on our way to the top of a mountain where we saved Canada from splintering apart (it's all on another thread, can't remember which one, but it's true). The thing was about the size of Rhode Island, and there was a wall behind us so we could all sit and push with our legs.

Even with six of us pushing with all the force we could, it almost wasn't enough, but eventually...

It was a pretty impressive trundle. And we saved our country. Now that's what climbing is all about.

Dr. Rock

Ice climber
Castle Rock
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 15, 2008 - 12:50am PT
Next time take a camera!

These guys did the same thing I did, only my drops were from 805, not a wimpy 467.
Off the Forrest Hill bridge, tallest in California.
Auburn Ravine.
I wonder if the people knew what was in my sagging backpack as I trundeled across the bridge.
I did get the same shock wave blast-listen to the initial impact:

Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 15, 2008 - 01:01am PT
I wonder if the symbolism of what they were doing was apparent to Ghost, Tami, et al? Forcing the mountain (Rexford) apart, while trying to unite the country.

The dark heart of Canadian climbing - we're a bunch of closet boulder trundlers.
Dr. Rock

Ice climber
Castle Rock
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 15, 2008 - 01:14am PT
Their rock just landed:

Inner City

Trad climber
East Bay
Jun 15, 2008 - 01:33am PT
E gad a rina, that sounds really scary...mine was with a party of three on Hobbit Book nearly 20 years ago. I was climbing second and about 15 feet up the first pitch. My friend Craig was waiting to start his first ever real rock pitch. As I stepped up on a block, it gave way and I jumped up to keep from falling with it. It started quietly and then became louder and scarier as it went. Craig was out of the drop zone, but his eyes looked otherwise. He didn't speak for two pitches and even then seemed mildly in shock.

It was such an incredibly loud noise as the thing broke up in the lower bowl (block size was 2 by 4 feet or so.)

....I think I know who cleaned out the block on east butt of el cap that was spoken of...I guess there may have been more than one though...

...there was an incredibly loose-seeming flake on overhang bybass a bit back. That thing is gonna go...or has.


Trad climber
Memphis, TN
Jun 15, 2008 - 07:04am PT
Not exactly related but close. The most "scared" I've ever been climbing.

Topped out on "Mungeanella" in the valley, waiting for my partners to finsish the first pitch on the next route, I was gathering gear, drinking water, etc. sitting on a big tree covered ledge.

Without any warning, no whistle, no nothing, a grapefruit sized rock, lands (explodes) about a foot from my right knee. It must have been going about 300 miles an hour as it cratered and then zoomed off into space. I have never seen anything with that much engergy. It was almost like a bomb.

I did not have my helmet on at the moment but quickly placed it on my head. Not that it would have done any good with that thing. If it had hit me on the head, I would have been DEAD, regardless. I was trembling.

When I got up to my partners, I asked why they never shouted "ROCK!" They said that they never loosed a rock and that they never saw or heard it. That it must have come from above them. OK I guess, but still. Damn close call.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Jun 15, 2008 - 08:21am PT
1985 Rojers Rock. We are at the tree rap station at the top of the slab on the right side . It looked brushy so we didn't throw the rope . Mike was in the rapell and jut ready to start rapping when the ledge fell out from underneath us leaving us hanging from the tree. It was truck hood size and a foot or so thick. crashed down the face splintering trees like matchsticks, leaping and bounding with sparks and ozone finally hitting the water 600ft below with the biggest splash I have ever seen...
We were so lucky that it went before one of us started the rap and that we had not thrown the rope.

Big Wall climber
Hong Kong & Wales
Jun 16, 2008 - 03:59am PT
This reminds me of a good story from a friend... he was coming out from pushing a new cave, a good few hours of jugging from the surface - the rope was deviated on what looked like a solid pillar twice the size of a fridge... it appeared to be bomber for the duration of the trip/expedition when unfortunately it decided to come loose whilst he was on it, it blew away from the wall, flew down towards him missing him... thinking it was going to snap the rope, fortunately the shonky bit of dive line used to deviate the rope snapped before the rope did (good reason to use low breaking strength cord for deviations...), however it ripped a leg loop off his harness, shredded the rope nicely and f*#ked one of his jammers I think... a guy waiting below heard it coming down bouncing off the walls from a long way up and literally crapped his pants...
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jun 16, 2008 - 04:15am PT
Where's Dave Turner. He's got some bragging rights on this thread for his "block party" affair.

for me, starting the West face of El cap in a day with Corbett BITD, I was cleaning a pitch and a TV sized block came off in my hands. I swung it past me (or me past it) but it headed straight for the loop in the rope. It barely missed then I heard it crashing and exploding below



Jun 16, 2008 - 10:27am PT


You haven't lived until you've trundled at the Gunks. Noone trundles at the Gunks. Serious.

Jun 16, 2008 - 12:10pm PT
Hopelessly waiting for the heat to subside, Richard Leversee and I lay in the parking area with haulbag and pack packed. We arrived to do an FA on North Dome at Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon NP. Then this guy comes up to us, asking if we were going to climb. In the following conversation we discovered that 'Mike' had minimal experience, but was 'volunteering' to sign-up. Lever and I looked to each other with the, "are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Sure, someone to help with the load (haul slave). Mike was an employee in the park and we drove back to his place to pick-up his gear. Soon after that we were humping to the base in the summer heat.

The route followed this crack system to the left of TM's route (a huge corner), diagonaling out left towards the center of the face. Mike, being the last off of the belay had to do a big lower-out on this one pitch, "Hey, there's this huge loose block out here, what should I do?" We looked down at Mike and his new friend, a one-foot thick, fifteen-foot high and four-foot wide block literally teetering on its end. We had Mike get just above the obelisk and gather up any spare rope that may be dangling around it. Then we screamed, "ROCK!" for about five minutes to the tourists below and warnings for them to clear out.

Then with a gentle kick, Mike sent this thing down! First, it fell outward, hinging at its base falling down the face like a huge surf board. The sound of it pushing air was unnerving. The block hit the slab below and exploded into gazillions of pieces, sending many large chunks rifling through the forest. Lucky, no touroids were injured in the making of this FA.

Uh, and I'll never do any of those slab routes down there now, either!

Dingus Milktoast

Jun 16, 2008 - 12:25pm PT
SammyLee a similar thing happened to Burl and I in the Cathedral Chimney. We were standing at the bolt marking the first optional rappel on the descent. Out of the Higher Cathedral Rock blue a football sized rock exploded BETWEEN US. We were like 4 feet apart. Damn that was scary. This spot also marks the place where a tourist scrambler died some years back. Burl and I had done the E Butt route a week or so after SAR had extracted the poor guy's body. There was still a lot of blood about.

That spot has some weird juju vibe - we dispensed with the rap that day the rock sploded and down climbed as quickly as possible.

Looking up? The rock had clearly fallen from the visor-like overhangs and landed BOOM! Right between us.

Biggest trundle?

Stu and I were cragging up Sonora Pass way. We found this large boulder standing on end, on a sloping ledge, near the top of this 30' cliff. It was a free standing pillar, about the size of a full sized van. REALY BIG. Ole Stu hopped on to it across a 2-foot gap and the bloody thing teetered. Just as quickly he hopped off again.

"That thing could kill someone." He commented. "It would be a community service if we knocked if off, you know?"

I agreed. So we spent some minutes trying to just nudge it off. It wasn't going to fall that easily though. We could get it rocking but we were worried it would slip, slide and tip backward, pinning our legs under a few tons of rock.

In the end it took us both pushing with our legs - got it rocking and finally it achieved the tipping point and went over.

The crash was legendary - shook the ground it did. Broke into a million pieces.

Was on the Column one day and heard a ruckas - big rock fall off the south shoulder of Half Dome. Went all the way to the valley floor, whatever it was.

The weirdest one I ever saw was in Zion. Again with Stu, we were in the process of either getting a permit or getting some food. I was standing near his truck in a parking lot when I heard the cracking sound of very large rock. Its different somehow, primal and earth moving, than smaller blocks.

I looked up in the direction of the sound, at the rim, in time to see this entire sandstone pillar formation fall outward and down.

BOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM! It was like a nuclear explosion! Sh#t people were running every which way after that and I saw the whole thing.

Within a couple of minutes a dist cloud worthy of the depression enveloped us like a plague of locusts - it blotted out the sun! Now this rock fall wasn't as big as the Glacier Point fall that killed that belayer dude. But it was pretty big. No one was hurt so far as I know.

Sorta unnerved me about climbing in Zion frankly.

Dr. Rock

Ice climber
Castle Rock
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 16, 2008 - 03:21pm PT
For all you enviro types out there, just a reminder, us Trundlers, we are simply speeding up a process that is going to occur naturally, long after we are gone, am I not correct?
My gravestone is probably going to fall over in the middle of the night and wake me up, semi instant Kharma.
Great stories!
Glad to know I am not the only boulder trundling freak out there.
On the contrary, it seems to be popular all over.

Trad climber
Anchorage, AK
Jun 16, 2008 - 05:56pm PT
Ah the trundle, unfortunately I've never had the opportunity to pull any big mama's off, just the occasional microwave sized block. I was out soloing today at lunch at came across a good trunk sized block that would have made for a dandy trundle. Unfortunately the busiest road in the state is at the base of the rock, and it's summer tourist season. I'm sure some folks would give me a pat on the back if I could drop such a rock through an rv, but I'm content to just leave such blocks lie, maybe I'll come back in winter.

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