Caltrans climbers will rappel down a roughly 150-foot slope along Pacific Coast Highway today to dislodge boulders that could roll into cars along a closed section of the road just north of Malibu.
Though the road is not expected to reopen until late January, Caltrans will start cleaning the area by concentrating on the hardest part first, according to Caltrans spokesman Patrick Chandler.
Climbers, using only their hands, feet and crowbars, will dislodge any unstable rocks before other measures are taken to stabilize the hillside, which is about a mile south of Mugu Rock.
Chandler said Caltrans has a unit of certified climbers, who spend most of their time painting bridges, and about 10 members will be on the PCH job. The work should last about a day, unless the crew runs into complications, he said, adding that Caltrans geologists will be assessing the hillside and helping direct the boulder removal.
A 9-mile section of the coastal route between Las Posas and Yerba Buena roads was closed after a series of rain-driven mud and rock slides in early December left the road with 4-6 feet of mud and rocks covering it. The nearby hillsides were denuded in the May 2013 Springs Fire.
A contractor has been hired to remove mud and rock that flowed over K- rails and inundated the road.