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sexual_chocolate

Liberty Ridge info request

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Anyone familiar with this route? Thinking of trying it later in the spring.

Any beta on approach, conditions, gear, etc? Will this be a decent year with our low snowfall?

I'm a bit of a newbie in mountaneering, so any beta would be appreciated.

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How newbie? I don't think of Liberty Ridge as a particularly good beginner route, though it does get lots of "enthusiasm over experience" attention. Terminal Gravity had a great little rant on the difference between conditioning and experience over in the Fitness Forum in the "conditioning hikes" thread, and Liberty Ridge was one of his examples. If conditions and weather are great, then its no big deal, but that can be a big "if."

 

I've been weather skunked on it twice ages ago, so I have no functional beta, but lots of folks around here do.

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An other to thing to consider is you will probably be coming in from WRCG because the isput road will be probably still be closed when you go.

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Liberty Ridge is good fun. If you want to do the easier white river approach, the road ususally opens on memorial day weekend. Don't underestimate the approach, it's a long way, and starts at a relatively low elevation.

 

Some things to think about:

 

Curtis is a broad ridge, with lots of sidehilling - it seems to go on forever.

 

Instead of camping on the curtis consider dropping down to the carbon to camp on the snow, more pleasant because there is no dust from the ridge.

 

When you do drop down to the carbon, you're better off losing a little elevation and gain the glacier where it's easy, if you try to descend to the carbon from up higher on the curtis, it's just loose crap trying to get down.

 

The most direct line on lib ridge will have lots of little rock steps to climb past, these can be bypassed by trending out into the snow on the right or left - but hey you came to climb lib ridge and this is in my opinion one of the things that makes this route so much fun.

 

As far as gear goes, I think the key to this route is to go really light, as light as your experience and comfort level will allow. Most people bring bivy sacks or a bibler. For gear, 3 or 4 screws and a couple of pickets will do, a light rope, ice axe, second tool and a shovel for the party.

 

Another thing to keep in mind, if you're not putting in pro down low on the route, there's really no reason to stay roped. We roped up and pitched out only the shrund at the bottom of the headwall, then did a running belay from there to the cap.

 

Depending on weather, and the time you top out, consider spending a night on top. One of the best experiences I've had was sitting on my backpack with all our gear packed up and ready to go, with a hot cup of coffee, watching the sunrise up above a solid deck of clouds at 10k and blue skies above.

 

Usually considered a III/IV this is a great route but if you truly are a "newbie in mountaineering" take an experienced partner or do the emmons first and learn the descent route.

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I whole heartedly agree about spending the night at the summit. Few things in life rival that cuppa joe at sunrise there.

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I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that this is no longer a low snowfall year. After this week, we're probably back to average. Keep in mind however, that last summer was VERY dry and hot days in the mountains lasted late into September/early October. By the end of summer, Lib. Ridge was very bare. We have a lot of snow to replace over the winter before it and the Carbon are back. I think by May, it should be fine again. If you go, have fun and be safe!

Here's a TR I posted after my most recent climb of it in June:

 

Made a trip up Liberty Ridge with 3 friends. Left WRCG at 9am after meeting a team of 3 kids who had just driven all night from Utah. From the looks of it, they were going to have themselves an epic. It didn't appear that either of them had any 2nd tools. However, they did have a rubber mallet to "slam those pickets in real good." (No joke) My team looked at one another, and cringed. They also said they had no map OR any previous experience on Rainier. My partner, Jon loaned them a spare topo and gave them his address for its return. We wished them the good luck they were going to need and we were on our way.

Carbon1.JPG

We made it out to the Carbon in pretty good time. The Glacier was in excellent shape and the line was obvious to the base of the ridge. We traveled as 2 rope teams of two on 2 30 meter ropes. The first 500ft. of the lower ridge was melted-out and made for some interesting maneuvers before we made it back onto the snow. Please Note: there are a couple places before you get to Thumb Rock where there is running water! Finish any extra water you may have left, and fill-up here! The water is quite "grit-free." We arrived at a deserted Thumb Rock around 6:30pm. BillatCamp.JPG Several nice platforms had already been made by previous parties and we were in bed quickly thanks to very little need to melt snow. Video clip of the scene at Thumb Rock: Clip Size, 3.55MB

 

We were on route by 6:30am, traveling solo due to excellent footing. Some rock fall on the initial climb out of camp (leftmost variation). We were greeted with a short-lived ice pellet squall to make things interesting. Jon12000.JPG At about 12,400 we roped-up and started running belays up the face to the top of the Black Pyramid. The snow was mostly a couple inches of rotten sugar over very hard, sometimes black, ice. Those boys from Utah weren't going to be needing that rubber mallet. Screws were the only choice and the placements were bomber! We saw 3 busted tent poles strewn about on the face. Why they stopped here and didn't go rocketing down the mountain, I just don't know! My guess is that they were remnants of the fatalities up there a couple weeks ago.

 

After a short food break, we were on our way to the final pitch up the bergschrund. Nice, steep water ice here with a short traverse under a tiny ice cliff. My partner Jeromy, who lead this part, actually broke the pick on his KONG aluminum axe and finished the pitch with his CM Axar. The purple pick, which I'm sure is still stuck in the ice, stands as a reminder: Aluminum headed axes don't do well on bulletproof ice.

 

At Liberty Cap we were greeted by mostly clear skies and 40mph winds. BillontheCap.JPG By the time we were heading across the plateau and slightly up the summit cone, we were engulfed in a lenticular. We bumbled around for close to 2 hours (seemed like forever) in the cloud, looking for a way down. Most directions we headed seemed to put us above big gaping 'schrunds. We were about 5 minutes from giving up and heading to the crater for an epic night in high winds, when the clouds broke and we could see our line, even a wand about 300 feet below. Our senses did us well as were not far off route.

 

We left Camp Schurman at about 9:30pm under clear skies and crescent moon, climbing the gully to the top of the Prow.

39 hours, car to car.

Dinner at Shari's in Renton at 2am.

 

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Those are some sweet photos Savaiusini! Thanks for sharing .. I can't wait to get up there in June.

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Wow!!

 

That was one of the best trip reports I've yet seen.

Were the still pictures taken w/digital camera or film?

 

My little bro is graduating from college this June, and we're planning to celebrate with a trip up Liberty Ridge or Mowich Face. I've had one unsuccessful try at LR but your pictures make the choice a little clearer.

 

Any rockfall at Thumb Rock overnight?

 

Nice TR.

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Ditto on the Kudos for the TR. Thanks for putting in the effort and sharing those killer photos.

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Fairweather said:

Were the still pictures taken w/digital camera or film?

Any rockfall at Thumb Rock overnight?

Nice TR.

 

The photos and video clip were taken with a 4megapixel Sony DSC-S85 .

By the way, sorry for the large photo size screwing up the thread. rolleyes.gif

 

Despite the warm temps, we experienced no rockfall in camp. However, that doesn't mean it can't happen. Keep your helmet on in camp. There was plenty of rock and ice fall on both Liberty Wall and Willis Wall to keep a person entertained.

fruit.gif

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Awesome pics and TR. Can't wait to do it!

 

Hey Fairweather!

 

I bet your little brother is stronger, faster, will climb in any weather, and I am sure he is better looking too. yellaf.gifyellaf.gifyellaf.gifyellaf.gifyellaf.gifyellaf.gifyellaf.gifyellaf.gifyellaf.gifyellaf.gif

 

You better watch out... wazzup.gif ...and Mowich Face is in the picture now? Works for me...

 

 

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I should have said..."If" you graduate! cool.giflaugh.gif

 

Any fitness advantage you gain over me will simply be met with additional weight in your pack. 18 years=18 extra pounds on your back! evils3d.gifevils3d.gif Shit, I might not even have to carry my own sleeping bag.

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For some reason I would rather do mowich face then liberty ridge... less people hard route and more pristine. Still haven't done it yet maybe when I am fifty I will go climb it

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Before kids fruit.giffruit.giffruit.gif

I did Liberty Ridge with a friend in two days from The Carbon River trailhead. We left early AM Friday (Late June 91 or 92) and took two cars up to Paradise. Ditched one and went back to the Carbon where we jumped out of the car ready to go. It took us till 10:30 to get to where we jumped onto the Carbon glacier. We followed tracks out onto the glacier being a bit wary of the softened snow. I went first and punched through one bridge with a foot and a fist. When I pulled my fist out and looked in, I was over a bottomless chasm and about ten feet from either side. I crawled across and set up a belay for my partner. He took a path a little to the left and had no problem. After criss-crossing around to avoid huge gapers we came to a huge one with a week looking bridge. It was his turn to go first so I set up a belay and watched him step out into certain fall territory. The bridge held and he set up a belay for me. I was about twenty pounds heavier than him so I was a little nervous. I tried to step very evenly and made it across. We went about a hundred more yards and came to another bridge that looked a little worse. We both made it across but were sure it would give out on each of us. From there, it was a short distance to the toe of the ridge. We got to it no problem and started the dusty, grapel war to the crest. It was loose scree on top of frozen loose scree which probably was a lot easier in crampons. From there, we headed up the ridge just right of the crest. We were following tracks but by now it was early afternoon and we were postholing about every third step. We tried going to the crest but it was too broken and jagged so we resigned ourselves to slogging up the slush. It didn't take all that long to get up to the thumb and the two parties ahead of us. We camped close to the edge of the drop to the Carbon and settled in for a long evening in a very fantastic setting. I slept soundly all night but everyone else was woke up by an avalanche on the Curtiss wall. It cleared the entire face and dropped debri on our tracks where we crossed the Carbon. Everyone thought we were all going to die. I wish I would have been awake. The next morning we took our time getting started as the other two teams were hot on the route very early. About 8AM we got moving. The step right at the start of the chute was mostly bare with a little water ice here and there. It was about ten feet of 5.8. From there we unroped. We passed both parties in the chute. As we crossed under the big rock above the chute it cut loose a load of rock that ripped down to the climber's right of everyone else. The second party had been doing long switchbacks and the rockslide crossed their tracks several times. We were now on firm untracked snow and really cruising. When we got to where the route veared right, we looked up and saw a nice snow block laying across the begschrung at the base of the Liberty cap serac. We roped up and were able to cross it with minimal settling and get out on the liberty cap summit snow field. It was squeeky styro-foam. When we looked down between our feet, we would see the snowfield as far as the edge and then the Carbon Glacier a good 6K below. From the summit of Liberty Cap it was a long slog to the summit and down the DC route to Paradise. We were home for a late dinner. bigdrink.gifrockband.gifbigdrink.gifbigdrink.gifHCL.gifbigdrink.gifbigdrink.gif

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It seems to me that May or June is the most common time for parties to get into trouble on the route. During the "late spring" things seem to be falling down a lot, and the weather is generally more unstable at this time of year than later in the season. Also, if you are worried about falling into a crevasse, "late Spring" snowcover can conceal some pretty poor snowbridges.

 

I've only done the climb once, but on that occasion (in mid July), the glacier crossing was perfectly easy and although there was a little extra rubble climbing below Thumb Rock, perhaps, the snow was firm, there was good ice around the Black Pyramid, and the climb was probably overall easier than when Bug climbed it earlier in the season.

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Hey thanks all for the awesome info.

 

It sounds as if really the difficulties are more conditioning related, as opposed to technical. Bug, it sounds as thought the way you guys did it made it quite pleasant, in terms of time spent on the climb.

Any approximations on the total mileage?

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I've only done the climb once, but on that occasion (in mid July), the glacier crossing was perfectly easy and although there was a little extra rubble climbing below Thumb Rock, perhaps, the snow was firm, there was good ice around the Black Pyramid, and the climb was probably overall easier than when Bug climbed it earlier in the season.

 

Mattp-- I think I remember you telling me you soloed Liberty Ridge. Are you telling me the only time you climbed Liberty Ridge was the time you soloed it? You down climbed it too, right? bigdrink.gif So effortlessly cool...

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Indeed, I soloed it and I did downclimb the route. Everytime I recommend this, I draw copious amounts of argument about how carrying over is the only way to do the route, but I would seriously consider downclimbing it.

 

I believe that, while a traverse of the mountain has its attractions, the reason most parties carry over is because they expect to find it too difficult to descend Liberty Ridge, and I think this probably means they do not belong on the route in the first place. So, Sexy -- think about this when you plan your climb: if you would not be comfortable downclimbing the route, what are you going to do if you drop an ice tool, if the weather turns bad, or if you or your partner suffer altitude sickness?

 

Anyway, it was great to do the climb with a daypack and I made it up and back to Thumb Rock before any other party even made it up the route that day. I was able to approach the route from Ipsut Creek which is certainly easier than hiking all the way around from White River, and the descent was very straight-forward (I even made it home in time to catch a nap before going out to a barbecue that evening). It wasn't effortless, but it WAS cool.

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mattp said:

Indeed, I soloed it and I did downclimb the route. Everytime I recommend this, I draw copious amounts of argument about how carrying over is the only way to do the route, but I would seriously consider downclimbing it.

 

I believe that, while a traverse of the mountain has its attractions, the reason most parties carry over is because they expect to find it too difficult to descend Liberty Ridge, and I think this probably means they do not belong on the route in the first place. So, Sexy -- think about this when you plan your climb: if you would not be comfortable downclimbing the route, what are you going to do if you drop an ice tool, if the weather turns bad, or if you or your partner suffer altitude sickness?

 

Anyway, it was great to do the climb with a daypack and I made it up and back to Thumb Rock before any other party even made it up the route that day. I was able to approach the route from Ipsut Creek which is certainly easier than hiking all the way around from White River, and the descent was very straight-forward (I even made it home in time to catch a nap before going out to a barbecue that evening). It wasn't effortless, but it WAS cool.

Tell us about the crevasses you encountered and how you crossed them. That is the only part of your solo trip that makes me hesitate. Good work by the way. That would be a great solo.

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It was mid-july, after a drier than normal June, so that there had been almost no new snow on the Carbon Glacier for six or seven weeks. There were lots of crevasses, of course, but everything was pretty easy to read. I climbed on a weekend, so there were fresh tracks from other parties, and I used a ski pole (sans basket) to probe around the edge of anything that looked questionable. I'm not saying that crossing the Carbon unroped was "safe," but I will say that I had nothing like the scary experiences that you described in your report above.

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sexual_chocolate said:

Hey thanks all for the awesome info.

 

It sounds as if really the difficulties are more conditioning related, as opposed to technical. Bug, it sounds as thought the way you guys did it made it quite pleasant, in terms of time spent on the climb.

Any approximations on the total mileage?

I don't know the total mileage but the DC route is a lot less altitude and easier to descend. We didn't want to cross those week looking bridges again either. A long swing into a wall of ice can cost you a lot of time and energy. But if conditions are better than when I did it, the glacier could be easier and descending the ridge itself would not be a problem. An early morning crossing would help a lot too. Now that I am old and fat, I prefer to take a little more time to enjoy the surroundings anyway. Liberty Ridge is one of my all time favorite places to enjoy surroundings. Fast and light is cool and safer if you are facing weather changes but a place like LR is worth spending some time just to be there.

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'Sorry Cracked. I have a picture taken from below the route, but nothing of much interest. I don't know who my witnesses were, either.

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