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No picnic at Ben Lomond's hanging rock


A team of contractors worked with Parks staff throughout Friday in extreme weather conditions to stabilise a large rock slab that threatened to topple onto the road at Jacobs Ladder.

The Ben Lomond Road was closed to all traffic on Thursday evening as a result of geotechnical advice about the risk posed by the rock.

Given the seriousness of the risk to traffic and the fact that closing the road to the Ben Lomond Ski Resort would have consequences for commercial operations and public access, Northern Region set up an incident management team to deal with the unfolding situation.

Contractors Adams Tree Services, along with Pitt & Sherry, were engaged to begin stabilisation work on Friday. In less than ideal conditions they assessed the weather and the work to be carried out and at one point it looked as though the remedial works would have to wait for improved weather conditions. A short break in the weather spurred on the contractors to make a start and despite the atrocious conditions which included winds gusting to around 50 kilometres per hour and a wind chill temperature of -11¢ªC, they perserved and finished securing the rock about 7pm. Stan said that by the time he took off his Gore-tex coat on Friday evening, it was so heavily coated in ice, it would have stood up on its own.

Adams Tree Services worked with contract engineers Pitt and Sherry and Parks staff including Stan Matuszek and Justin Widdowson, to install a steel cable to support the leaning rock. The support measure allowed the road to be re-opened about 9.30 am on Saturday after snow ploughs cleared the road, allowing access to Ben Lomond for those keen to make the most of the fresh snow.

At the Prospect office, other staff involved in the incident put a big effort into communications, phoning and emailing key stakeholders, putting out media statements, doing radio and TV interviews and updating website and Facebook pages.

Northern Region manager Chris Colley thanked the contractors and PWS staff for their efforts on the mountain.

"To have achieved the road being re-opened within 24 hours of its closure, given the conditions on the mountain is a real credit to the contractors and PWS staff,” Chris said.

He also thanked the Ben Lomond businesses and interest groups for their patience and support. Further work to stabilise or remove the rock will be undertaken in spring when visitation to the mountain is minimal.

No picnic at Ben Lomond

The rock perched above the roadway between Watchtower Corner and Gateway Corner on Jacobs Ladder. Photo courtesy Pitt & Sherry.

No picnic at Ben Lomond

Workers on the road during the stabilisation works.

No picnic at Ben Lomond

Wire cables have stabilised the rock.

No picnic at Ben Lomond

Contractors and Parks staff battled snow, winds up to 50 kilomtres per hour and a wind-chill temperature of -11 degrees.