I have an abandoned quarry near my house, in which I would like to make a hiking route.

Almost all of it is enjoyable hiking and easy scrambling, except one part, which requires climbing (estimated French grade - 4) up about 5 metres, on a wall with mostly unstable holds. So I wonder whether it would be possible to remove (with bare hands or tools like crowbar) all the unstable rocks, and leave a rock face that would be safe to climb.

The rock at the quarry is limestone with varying quality. We have a climbing wall with bolted routes not far from there (I mention that to make it clear that the rock itself is climbable).

So, is such "cleaning" possible? Does the answer depend on whether explosives were used in the quarry?

(BTW I am not interested right now whether this is legal)

For reference, here is a picture: enter image description here

  • 6
    Maybe it's because I'm no climber, but that doesn't look like a good idea with all those rocks on top just waiting to fall on your head. Jul 24, 2014 at 19:43
  • 7
    Virtually all the rock surrounding where I live is Limestone...It is very prone to instability. There is also a general rule of thumb in the climbing community that you never ever climb on "blasted" rock, ie. alongside highways or in this case a quarry. It is no longer in a natural state and once disturbed it is highly unpredictable! In my most honest opinion this does not look "cleanable" by hand. This would require a backhoe for sure, with a good chance of not even achieving a stable scramble face.
    – AM_Hawk
    Jul 24, 2014 at 20:23
  • If you try that on some of the rock here in New Zealand you will end up with a big pile of loose rocks and no quarry left. The slang term for this sort of rock is "Weet Bix". :-) Jul 25, 2014 at 1:48
  • 4
    My advice, don't go anywhere near that. It looks like a death trap. One, @OlinLathrop is right, all that material on the top could come down any minute. Two, the more you "crowbar" material out of that the more unstable it's going to get. This a) makes your situation worse and b) means the whole lot is more likely to collapse on you (quite possibly as you crow bar it out).
    – user2766
    Jul 25, 2014 at 10:38
  • 2
    Maybe, if you are cautious and brave enough, you could start at top to make it some kind of a slope instead of a vertical wall, where you could insert stairs. Then it´s not that important that there is loose rock below it. Would be a lot of work, though. Jul 25, 2014 at 14:01

1 Answer 1


I live in an area (in the UK) with a lot of limestone (and gritstone) quarries, some still working and many abandoned.

Some of the abandoned quarries have been equipped with bolts for sport climbing (NOT the gritstone though!) and are regularly used. However, the rock itself is a compact limestone with not much in the way of natural fracturing and once the odd loose bit from quarrying operations had been removed, what is left is pretty solid.

Looking at your photo it looks like this area of limestone is highly fractured, probably due to geological movement rather than due to quarrying.

I don't think you would ever get down to a section to solid rock no matter how much loose material you removed.

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