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We went climbing on a glacier recently. There was one issue which I couldn't find a solution to. While belaying from below (on the first pitch), it was pretty much impossible to protect self from rockfall.

The rocks falling to the left or right side of me would still bounce off the ground and there was no way to know where they would land up. There were quite a few rocks that zoomed past our faces after bouncing. And being a belayer, it was even more difficult as I had to focus more on the climber than on the possible rocks that bounce off the ground.

So the question - what other safety/protective gear is there around to protect one from rockfall? A helmet provides limited protection only to one's head. The limbs, chest, even neck are left exposed for a possible rock bouncing off a surface.

Note: The rocks were falling from around a height of 40-50m and had significant momentum that would make them bounce up to 5m from the ground.

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    Don't climb there. – paparazzo Oct 24 '18 at 12:25
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    "it was pretty much impossible to protect self from rockfall". That should be an automatic abort. It would be for me anyway. The only option would be to go for an even earlier start. – Gabriel C. Oct 24 '18 at 12:33
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    @GabrielC. The question is about possible safety gear. If you think about it, during any kind of rockfall, you run a high risk of getting hit by the rocks. The best you can do is to hope that you've made a good estimate of the trajectory of the rock. – Ricketyship Oct 24 '18 at 16:12
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    Your question is akin to asking "Is there any gear that can protect me from crossing a firing range?". The only correct answer is "Don't do that." – Gabriel C. Oct 24 '18 at 18:15
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    Maybe a luck charm, if you're into those things... – QuantumBrick Oct 24 '18 at 18:46
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There are two things you can do,

  • Before climbing, look up the glacier and see which areas have had rockfall in the recent past and then avoid them. Rockfall will leave some rocks in the area that didn't make it all the way down, and vertical streaks caused by the rocking rolling down the glacier.

  • Start earlier, before the rocks start to warm up and pop loose. Most of the time what happens is that the ice is holding the rocks in place and then as the sun comes up it melts and the rocks go flying.

Beyond that there isn't much you can do and any possible gear would be more weight that would make you slower.

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