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[TR] Liberty Cap - Ptarmigan Ridge 07/01/2022


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Trip: Liberty Cap - Ptarmigan Ridge

Trip Date: 07/01/2022

Trip Report:


It was a Wednesday afternoon. @The Real Nick Sweeney made a post about partners for Ptarmigan Ridge, Thursday through Saturday. I had never climbed with Nick before but we've chatted a bit over the internet and his climbing resume checked out. He just got back from climbing the Cassin a month or so prior so I figured he might be into Alpine climbing. Luckily my boss and his wife's anniversary was that weekend and we had already planned to shut the company down for that Thursday and Friday. Realizing this might be the last full weekend I had left before a last minute trip back to the motherland, I shot Nick a message with a brief climbing resume and cover letter telling him I was down. We hashed out logistics that Wednesday night while packing and planned to meet at the White River TH the following morning. A quick snatch of permits and we were shortly off on the trail. Not much to say between the Trailhead and the 10k camp. Other than sections were slogs and I realized the slogging cortex of my brain has gotten weaker over the years. We found running water just before the ridge to the 10k camp and I dropped the stove down the slope while filling up. It felt like it was going to tumble forever. Luckily it stopped in some sun cupped snow. Maybe the the perfect thing to do with a new partner before hopping on a technical route with them for the first time? He had mentioned his previous outing the weekend prior was a shit show, to ease my grumbles. We got to the 10k camp and set up shop. We both heard serac fall in the middle of the night. We woke up at two and didn't hear anymore come down. We chatted about it and decided to proceed with caution. I think things like that are tough to gauge the severity of in a dark tent. We skirted the avy path wide. It was nice to see all the debris that we walked through was pretty old. Nick led the schrund pitch onto the initial slope. We mostly simul'd the route and belayed at a steep spots and at the usual "rock step". That step was for us was not rock but in fact fat ice. The entire route was either firm neve or AI2 or 3. A real calf blaster. We had spoke the night prior about what we cared to summit and we both decided just Liberty Cap. The final slog from the top of the last pitch to the summit of Liberty Cap really tested my slogging cortex. Soon enough we were up there. Paused to take a couple photos and began our long hike out. We said we'd head out until we wanted to crash but we ended up just making it out to the trailhead at a decent time. I was even able to make the 2 hour drive in the light and spend the night in my bed. Which is always a bit of trip when you're just laying there before your fall asleep thinking about where you where that morning. Thanks Nick for taking a chance on me. This was the technical route on Rainier I wanted to do the most after getting disenchanted with Liberty Ridge over the years. Now I have an interest in Curtis Ridge. 


The usual photo dump. Hopefully Nick will post his blogpost here. I included some of his photos as a teaser.



















Gear Notes:
60m rope, some nuts and pitons. 6 Screws (We agreed 8 would've been nice for us for longer simul blocks). Picket

Approach Notes:
White river through Saint Elmo's and beyond.

Edited by kmfoerster
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I climbed Ptarmigan Ridge about 10 years ago and two things "diminished" the experience for me: I forgot my sleeping bag (and my pad blew off the ridge and floated down to the Carbon from our high camp) and that slog from the top of the route to Liberty Cap was brutal. Maybe I should go back and try again. Cool that the rock step was actually ice. My partner and I bailed off of Curtis ridge (third time now) the week before you were up there. The rock bands on that route were holding neither snow nor ice and the evidence of rockfall on the snowfields between was sobering. I'm sure Curtis would be an amazing climb if you got the conditions right, but I'm not sure if I've got another attempt in me. Liberty remains my go-to ridge on Rainier, but Sunset, hmmm

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