Processes – Gabion Walls

As I’ve mentioned in a couple previous posts, a deep ravine has cut its way through the center of our property for decades and thus created steep, sheer cliffs dropping 35 feet straight down at their highest points. While we were well aware that messing with the natural inclinations of Mother Nature is usually an arrogant and unwise move, in this case it was very necessary. Our property line actually lies well over the edge of the ravine, but this was modified due to some sort of Nepali real estate statute of limitations, and moved to the center of the ravine. This is where we placed our first Gabion Wall – one of those ugly retaining walls you see on the highway that looks like aluminum wrapped around a bunch of big stones.

One of the advantages of my position here is that I get to see every step of every process that we undertake. This is certainly not to say that I could replicate every process, but that I at least get to acquaint myself with the procedure to go from raw wire to the “Great Wall of Surkhet” (see below).

Everything is done on site. I’m not actually sure what metal was used for our mesh work – it looked like galvanized Aluminum – but we must have gotten miles upon miles of it.

The workers set up two posts in the ground and a crank handle between them attached to a wheel. The wire is all cut to length and then the two halves of it are spun and wrapped around the wheel before being bent at their halfway mark to resemble a phallus with oversized testes. I can’t think of a more appropriate comparison.

Wound Gabion wires?

Mildly phallic Gabion wires

Small stakes are then placed in the ground and wire wrapped between each one to form six rectangles (a box has six sides, after all). Once this basic shape is achieved, the workers form the mesh work, taking their metal phalli and twisting everything together.

And voila! We have a folding box.

Twisting and meshing.

Twisting and meshing.

The next step – order rocks. Lots of them. Our wall is so big that I’m worried we’ve depleted the rock supply of Surkhet Valley and raised the prices of stone for the average Joemendra.

Trenches are dug (to get below the erosion line) and the first courses of Gabion meshes are laid and filled with stones. This continues, with future courses staggered back six inches every couple of courses, until you’ve reached full height. We back filled as the courses went up, so that our soil had the chance to pack down. In general, our boxes were 1x1x3 meters. The first two courses were laid with the 3 meter side exposed: the third was with the 1 meter side exposed to keep the mitigate the risk of collapse forward into the water.

Before.

Before.

After.

After.

Trenches and filling.

Trenches and filling.

The Great Wall of Surkhet!

The Great Wall of Surkhet!

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3 comments on “Processes – Gabion Walls

  1. hopiec2013 says:

    This is beautiful! Makes me think of the huge stone wall bridges and holding walls I come across while walking Mt. Tom, only way bigger.

  2. Josh says:

    That looks grrreeeaattt, Luke! That will surely be very effective for many years to come.

    But I doubt your wire is aluminum, because I don’t think you would typically galvanize it; aluminum is resistant to corrosion just on its own. If it’s galvanized, it’s probably steel.

  3. Anthony Thacher says:

    Awesome Luke! TIM

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