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[TR] Liberty Cap - Ptarmigan Ridge C2C 07/11/2020

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Trip: Liberty Cap - Ptarmigan Ridge C2C

Trip Date: 07/11/2020

Trip Report:


Kyle Tarry @ktarry and I climbed Ptarmigan Ridge round trip from Whitewater Campground July 11/12. We originally planned to climb it 12/13 with a bivy at the standard location, but increasing winds and cloud forecast for Saturday night convinced us to just do it in a push starting the evening of the 11th. I think we benefitted in our late season climb from the conditions resulting from this more cloudy and cold summer.


We drove up after Kyle got off work and left the car at 8:30pm, did the St. Elmos-Winthrop-Curtis-Carbon approach in the dark and arrived at the start of the route at dawn (water drip on the Curtis and brew stop near the normal bivy spot). The route was in thin conditions compared to other pictures I've seen but the glacier crossings were pretty easy and direct. We climbed a small (20m) ice/mixed step that was pretty gross to cross the schrund, a little L of the typical start, which saved some elevation loss. Firm and sun-cupped/rock-smashed snow made for relatively easy movement above this. There was some low angle ice that took good screws starting the ramp towards the rock step variation, but even this did not require much sustained front-pointing. The rock step seemed longer/steeper due to the low snow there (again compared to other pictures I've seen, and based on the fact that I was past the crux when the fixed pin appeared). We topped Liberty Cap and descended the Emmons (good condition for this time of year, I hear). Visibility dropped significantly as we reached Camp Schurman and it even snowed a bit as we descended the Interglacier. We were back at the car by 7:10pm on Saturday and slept about as well as you would think.

Pros of the single push strategy: cool/dark glacier approaches, day packs don't weigh much, we nailed the weather window

Cons: we were pretty tired (cons win)

Gear Notes:
one picket (not used), 3 screws (used a few places), 4 nuts (not used), 1 knife blade (used on rock step), 30 m half rope

Approach Notes:
standard White River approach to N Side routes

Edited by bedellympian
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Warning: Kyle took a lot of these and I was being a goof

Leaving the car


Switching to boots at the snow line above Glacier Basin


Coming up from Carbon


Bivy sites on P Ridge


Route pictures pre/post sun, note moon which helped with night nav



Schrund pitch L of regular start involved loose conglomerate that was verglassed and frozen just enough


Coming up lower snow section


Icey ramp leading to rock step


rock step


Kyle suffering on the upper slog


I think I was eating a bar but the silhouette is funny




Not many pics of the descent, didn't stop on Lib Cap, just kept going

Edited by bedellympian
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Kyle's picture from MP showing the regular route... our schrund pitch was the short/wider ice flow below where the yellow line makes its first angle change upwards, the upper/leftmost option to gain the snow ramp

Ptarmigan Ridge Route Details

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that's a big push. appreciate the pics, looks like engaging climbing conditions. and the entertaining boneless chicken farm pics on the summit slog ring true--single pushes sure get painful up top.

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1 hour ago, The Real Nick Sweeney said:

That photo of Kyle is CLASSIC.  Strong work team! Kicking myself for missing this one, but glad you guys sent the gnar!

We'll make it happen next time! 

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