Liberty Bell - Thin Red Line - Free Ascent - V 12cDate:
On July 14th Max Hasson and myself made the likely 3rd free ascent of the Thin Red Line on the intimidating and sheer east face of Liberty Bell.
This neo-classic hard free climb was established in Fall of 2008 by Mikey Schaefer and Kate Rutherford and repeated
by Jens Holsten and Drew Schick in Fall of 2009. Mikey did a great job maintaining the character of the route as an aid climb while establishing the free version. A variation to pitch 4 was established (P5 on the free version), one bolt was replaced past the pendulum on pitch 5, and a new pin was placed (which later pulled so is no longer there) on the A2+ double roof 5th pitch.
The route is very technical with mostly short crux's on small holds. There is plenty of manky fixed gear and very few straight forward cracks.
We spent one day the previous week checking out the first 6 pitches in pretty warm conditions. Funny enough our good friends Jens and Jessica
were at times a high five away climbing the Freedom or Death variation to Liberty Crack. We chatted and monkey-called back and forth as if it were another day in the icicle.
The plan was to return on Tues of this week for the climb but our morning arrival was met by intermmitent sprinkling, a strong wind and frigid temperatures, too cold to free climb, so we spent a day idling around mazama, forcing ourselves not to climb, and resting up for the next day. Conditions the next day were much improved with warmer though ideal temps and a light sending breeze, the psych was high. Max was on a straight crushing spree and had a very impressive no-falls ascent, I on the other hand had to dig very deep to send this one, having to pull the rope once leading the crux fifth pitch, it took me four tries to send the sixth pitch clean, and three to send the final difficult 8th pitch. I couldn't stop thinking about what Mikey Schaefer said in his recent Town Crier Free TR: "In reckless desperation I let out a scream and dug deeper into the core of why I climb and found the remaining strength I needed to keep climbing," if he tapped in to that shit, I had to straight Keg Stand it.
Free Version Beta is as follows:
P1: 5.10- As recommended we began on P1 of Freedom or Death, a mixed bolted and gear protected face. Clip the anchor to FOD and then traverse right to the P1 anchor of TRL.
P2: 5.11+ Move right off the anchor and surmount the first of two bulges with funky moves and mostly fixed protection, some of it manky. It is a short pitch which ends with a gear belay on a ledge to the left of a smooth arching corner.
P3: 5.11+ Move up into the slick corner via stemming and palming with intermittent gear. The crux comes as you transition into the left arching section with a key moss jug and notoriously wet holds. Ends at a bolted anchor with a very poor stance.
P4: 5.11- Move up into the roof via a straight-forward corner, move left out the roof with funky fixed pro. From the left exit of the roof follow small holds onto FOD, clip two bolts with long slings before moving right back onto TRL and a bolted anchor.
P5: 5.12 The crux. Move right off the belay leaving the original aid line. Airy 5.10 slab climbing past 3 bolts leads into a corner with a fixed pin and some gear. Difficulties heighten as you continue to an awkward stemming and arete pinching crux past 3 more bolts with a final reachy crux thrown in before you arrive at two bolts (very poor stance) or continue past 3 fixed heads to a decent stance and a gear belay.
P6: 5.12- Continue into the corner past a first easier roof into a second roof with a powerful crux sequence. Originally Mikey placed a fixed pin that later pulled on a free attempt. Currently the crux is "protected" by a questionable fixed bird beak. As recommended we first aided the roof placed a high yellow alien with a long sling. Pulled the rope and sent using the pre-placed piece. Bolder climbers will simply clip the beak and crush... The pitch ends at a fixed pin belay with a poor stance, but a gear belay with a slightly better stance can be set a bit lower.
P7: 5.10 Climb past fixed geat straight above the belay before moving right on a slick ramp and into a loose though moderate corner with leads to a big ledge, traverse right to a bolted belay.
P8: 5.12-/11+ This pitch begins with funky technical moves past manky fixed heads before finally reaching a bomber pin and a hard final series of moves to a small ledge, move left onto an easy ramp into the moderate and long final corner. Max linked both P8 and P9 into a mega 60m finale. His onsight was very impressive with mucho rope drag and a sting in the tail 59m from the belay, best to seperate these with a hanging belay from a manky old bolt and some gear.
P9: 5.10+ Continue up the corner with moderate crack climbing before a final sting in the tail reaching a good ledge with a fixed pin.
The standard though in-obvious final pitches lead to the summit.
More pics to come when I get ahold of Max's photos. For now here are a few.Max following P1 of Freedom or DeathJens following the crux 5.12 slab on P3 of Freedom or DeathNearing the slick crux on P3Starting the airy 5.10 slab on P5Moving into the businessGear Notes:
Doubles from blue alien to BD .75, single #1-#3, draws and slings. Couple of small nuts. We brought a tag line and hand hauled a bag for the first 9 pitches.