Falling rocks

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Crashed stones below Pottenstein Castle
Nets to protect against falling rocks

Under falling rocks most often refers to the decline of stones on a slope or a cliff.

Rockfall can have different causes:

If larger contiguous rock areas break off, one no longer speaks of rockfall, but of a rock fall . A more extensive, mostly sliding and more avalanche-like disposal of rock and earth masses is known, however, as a landslide or landslip .


Rockfall is a form of geodynamic mass movement (geology) .

In addition to secondary effects of other movements, the reason for falling rocks is generally frost blasting . But even stones that were previously frost-bound can start moving at temperatures above freezing point. Therefore, both the first hours of cooling through shading (afternoon hours in the winter half-year and high altitude) as well as the first hours of warming through solar radiation (morning hours in the summer half-year) pose a particular risk of falling rocks.

Rockfall as a risk

Warning sign rockfall (sign 101 / 15-25, StVO , Germany)

Traffic routes in mountain regions can also be affected by falling rocks. In this case, the user must expect that more or less large stones are in the way, which can represent a dangerous obstacle under certain circumstances. Roads are therefore marked in such cases with the danger sign Attention falling rocks.

Both "natural" and man-made rockfalls pose a significant risk in alpinism . Even if the nature of the rock (brittle stone), weather ( rain , thaw), time of day, direction (warming caused by solar radiation) and the local structure of the terrain ( gorges , gullies ) Allow conclusions to be drawn about the extent of the rockfall risk, rockfall is one of the great, often unpredictable dangers in mountain sports. In areas at risk of falling rocks, rockfall helmets are strongly recommended.

See also