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fear

Lib Ridge gear/planning questions....

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Hey there,

 

Planning to climb LR on Rainier the last week in May with one other partner. Planned descent is the Emmons. Standard deal.

 

Planning to travel as light as possible so I had a few trip/gear questions for those who have done the route.

 

The earliest I've done Rainier has been July and a couple years in late August. I assume it's quite colder in May.... Always made do with a 20 degree bag. I'm planning on the same 20 degree synth bag for LR(we will hopefully be in a Bibler Eldo wearing all our clothes too). Good idea? What are the normal temps/weather in late May like at ~10,000 and at the summit?

 

We're both pretty decent ice climbers and would be comfortable soloing most easy WI3's at sea level. Now with a 20-30# pack at 14k in 40 mph winds is of course a different story. From everything I've read it sounds pretty easy, technically anyway, in late May(but please correct me). So we were planning a super light rack.

 

1 ~70cm mtneering axe each(BD raven) + 1 short technical (CM quark) tool

4 screws total (two good BD steel and 2 cheap titanium)

Couple 'o screamers

2 2' Yates pickets

1 shovel

1 60m 8.1 double rope(just the one strand)

all the necessary crevasse/glacier stuff (i.e. pulleys, biners, prussiks, etc). Too much? Not enough?

 

What approaches are usually open that time of year? Snowshoes needed? I hope not.

 

This will be a new side of Rainier for me. Usually from the DC or success cleaver side I'd look that night for clear skies and no lentics over Adams/Helens/etc..... Any good weather indicators specific to LR at Thumb Rock before a summit bid? Cell phones work?

 

Anyone have GPS coordinates handy for Lib Cap/summit/Camp Schurman for those fun filled summit whiteouts? I'm sure I could find my way down the DC if necessary but that would suck....

 

Thanks for any help!

 

-Fear

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Your overall game plan sounds OK. Your rack sounds adequate -- especially if you can comfortably solo WI 3 as well as if you have significant experience on big mountain routes -- but how are you at downclimbing in the event that weather or other factors dictate a retreat from high on the route? The White River may or may not be open by then, it can easily get a lot colder than 20 degrees up on the mountain in May, and the snow can be very deep (soft) at that time of year, so you'll want to get actual up-to-date info about snow conditions and weather forecasts before you go but thumbs_up.gif

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Your overall game plan sounds OK. Your rack sounds adequate -- especially if you can comfortably solo WI 3 as well as if you have significant experience on big mountain routes -- but how are you at downclimbing in the event that weather or other factors dictate a retreat from high on the route? The White River may or may not be open by then, it can easily get a lot colder than 20 degrees up on the mountain in May, and the snow can be very deep (soft) at that time of year, so you'll want to get actual up-to-date info about snow conditions and weather forecasts before you go but thumbs_up.gif

 

Downclimbing of course depends on what we'd be downclimbing. In late May how much hard water ice and what honest WI difficulty do you think we'd encounter? Downclimbing hard styrofoam with the very occasional 50-70 degree bulge is one thing, frontpointing back down 3000' of bulletproof alpine black sh!t with packs is another.

 

Of course any of that beats a fresh 2' dump of powder on a 40-50 degree slope.....

 

Avy beacons and probes? Looks to me like if you get caught up in a slide off that thing a beacon won't matter....

 

Thanks again.....

 

-Fear

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...

 

Downclimbing of course depends on what we'd be downclimbing. In late May how much hard water ice and what honest WI difficulty do you think we'd encounter? Downclimbing hard styrofoam with the very occasional 50-70 degree bulge is one thing, frontpointing back down 3000' of bulletproof alpine black sh!t with packs is another.

 

...

 

-Fear

 

Could go either way, depending on the winter/spring weather. When I did it there was a lot of hard ice (low snow year), the traverse out from TR first thing in the morning being very "memorable" and there was much more front pointing after that. On the other hand I've heard people say they pretty much felt didn't need a second tool and kicked steps in neve the whole way.

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Apart from weather, the only part of the route I worry about is the Carbon glacier. It can be pretty cut up with gapers. One picket per person would be my suggestion. When I did the route, we crossed two bridges that we did not expect to hold.

As for the 20 degree bag, that is light for that time of year but it would depend on what you had for clothes. Down coat? What's on the legs? It also depends on how warm you are in general but at 12K plus on Rainier in May you could get any kind of weather. If it looks like a solid high pressure ridge, you'll probably be OK. Otherwise, what would you do for winter camping minimum?

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Just a few additional comments:

 

Mid May is a good (and easy) time for the route, but is typically still "early season" ...i.e. White River road/campground is not yet open.

 

Good idea?

 

A 20 deg bag should be fine. Bring a puffy jacket though, too.

 

it sounds pretty easy, technically anyway, in late May(but please correct me)

 

It is technically easy, yes. The crux of the route has always been the weather and logistics.

 

What approaches are usually open that time of year? Snowshoes needed? I hope not.

 

That will depend entirely on snowpack. In a normal snow year, its probable that White River will not be open before Memorial Day weekend. Your approach options are significantly diminished if White River is not yet open when you come - Ipsut Creek is a longer approach and will require and extra day or two, in good weather, for the route. Some people take Mountain bikes and bike the White River road to get in to the campground even if the road is gated before Memorial Day weekend. If there is a > normal snowpack, I would suggest you bring snowshoes at least for the below-treeline work, and stash them in a convenient location, like Glacier Basin or something.

 

Any good weather indicators specific to LR at Thumb Rock before a summit bid? Cell phones work?

 

For Lib Ridge, the tough part about it is that the weather is coming from the W or SW and you will not see it coming. Your most reliable indicators will be the lenticular and/or barometric pressure etc. If a lenticular builds, you may have only hours before your visibility is gone, depending on your current altitude. If you are at or below Thumb, its not too late to bail easily if the weather rolls in, however. I fled the mountain from Thumb once in early April and it was pretty easy to get down before the slopes became too loaded, but you have to commit to bailing (or not) right away if it snows significatly.

 

Cell phones will depend on your provider, by my experience has not been good with cell reception on Rainier.

 

Alex

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If the White River road is still snow-covered, the Ipsut Creek approach is not a bad way to go. I believe the reason that the White River approach is considered "standard" is not because it is shorther that way in terms of distance and effort spent on the approach, but because most parties do not want to descend the Liberty Ridge but instead want to go down the Emmons. (In terms of distance, the Ipsut Creek approach is only very slightly longer and, later in the Summer, you hike on a trail pretty much all the way to the Carbon Glacier crossing, but Ipsut Creek is lower than White River so there is more elevation gain that way.) The Ipsut Creek road, too, may not be open however - so you'll have to evaluate available info just before you go.

 

I do not think you will ever find thousands of feet of black ice on Liberty Ridge - especially in May. One Spring two or three years ago it was all icy from rain, though.

 

Alex is right - technical difficulty is not the crux of the Liberty Ridge route. Most problems result from the overall size and seriousness of the climb, with potential for a 5,000 foot slip, avalanches and rockfall, whiteout and storm, and alititude illness. It can be a long and dangerous retreat back to timberline if something goes wrong.

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Leave the screamers at home and save a few onces in the pack. There isn't any ice steep enough to warrent using them.

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I have not done LR but have been at Ingraham Flats in June w/ a 20 degree bag and froze my ass off. I would suggest a 0 degree bag. Especially with the potential for weather/temperature changes during May.

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Hi MattP,

 

Your rack sounds adequate -- especially if you can comfortably solo WI 3 as well as if you have significant experience on big mountain routes

 

I've never climbed Liberty Ridge, but this struck me as curious. Can you please explain, how is the ability to "comfortably solo WI3" a necessary skill for this route? As I understand it, WI3 means water ice that is sustained 70-80 degrees for the entire pitch (anything less and it is WI2). I imagine many people climb Liberty Ridge who would not ever consider free-soloing a WI3 waterfall. Perhaps soloing WI1 (ice at an angle below 60 degrees) or WI2 would be a useful skill, but soloing WI3? I'm confused.

 

http://www.terragalleria.com/mountain/info/ice/ice-rating.html

 

But then again, I've never climbed the route, so maybe it is more technical than I've heard. I had always planned to climb Lib Ridge long before I plan to solo 80-degree ice (which is probably never)... is that crazy?

Edited by Stephen_Ramsey

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Ramsey-

Go back and reread above and you will see that I did NOT suggest that it would be necessary for one to be able to solo WI 3 in order to be either comfortable or safe on Liberty Ridge -- he had cited that ability as an indication of his skill level and, in the post that you refer to, I said "if you can solo WI 3 AS WELL AS if you have significant experience on big mountain routes" and then I noted the importance of being able to downclimb steep terrain. In my subsequent post, I specifically stated that technical difficulties are not the crux of the route. In my opinion, your competence on big mountain routes and your ability to descend steep terrain would be much more important than any ability to climb water ice.

 

You are correct in thinking you will not find sustained 70-80 degree water ice on Liberty Ridge and even an ability to solo WI 2 is not necessary. In this and in just about every other thread on the topic I have tried to indicate that technical ability is NOT what counts on Liberty Ridge. Indeed, I believe that over the last 25 years since "that book" came out, many many climbers have gone up there thinking that it won't be challenging because they have greater technical mastery than the given technical rating, and they go up there to find out they are totally unprepared for the big mountain experience of Liberty Ridge.

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Alex said:

 

It is technically easy, yes. The crux of the route has always been the weather and logistics.

 

 

Not always:

1826libridgeandybergschrund-med.jpg

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Alex said:

 

It is technically easy, yes. The crux of the route has always been the weather and logistics.

 

 

Not always:

 

Holy Shiite. I remember that picture.... That's why I'm going in May. Nice work at 14k BTW..... How tall was that rotten looking thing?

 

I figure with the rack we'll have we should be able to aid some easier stuff if need be.... Like a 10' overhanging slurpee.. I doubt I'd have the cajones at 14k with my sea-level brain to tackle anything bigger....

 

Is there anywhere on drive in from SEATAC that you can recommend I might be able to pick up some MSR or Primus isobutane cartridges? Like a climbing/outdoorsy store? Or anyplace I might be able to ship my own fuel ahead of time? I'd hate to have to go to REI in Seattle at the beginning of the trip and waste time there...

 

I'm still ripping our gear down for weight. I'm debating an all GU menu......

 

Well.... it'll be 0 degrees in CT tonight. Time to go work modifying my SuperFly Ascent stove to work at these temps... If it's below 0 on LR in May, we'll just go home.

 

-Fear

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Is there anywhere on drive in from SEATAC that you can recommend I might be able to pick up some MSR or Primus isobutane cartridges? Like a climbing/outdoorsy store? Or anyplace I might be able to ship my own fuel ahead of time? I'd hate to have to go to REI in Seattle at the beginning of the trip and waste time there...

 

I'll give you two other rei optons wink.gif

Just south of sea-tac off of I5 in federal way is an rei, easy on / off highway. Further south in tacoma is another rei just off the highway. They are both on the way to the mountain.

 

Also if you are headed to the paradise / nisqually entrance there is a climbing shop that is part of the rmi guiding outfit in ashford. click here

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I received a flyer in the mail stating the Federal Way REI was closing and there was a big blowout sale on January 6th. Anybody know if this is true or not?

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I received a flyer in the mail stating the Federal Way REI was closing and there was a big blowout sale on January 6th. Anybody know if this is true or not?

 

yup, its true.... most of the goodies are gone I believe frown.gif

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How tall was that rotten looking thing?

It was about 15-twenty (my #two key isn't working for some reason! WTF!?!?!?) of solid blue ice with about 6ft of crumbly semi-neve on top. However, about 500ft below the bergschrund there were boot-tracks going left and right, presumably finding alternate routes around the BS. We decided (perhaps stupidly in retrospect) to keep going straight. In any case, you won't see anything like that in May most likely.

 

 

Anyway, you can check out my TR here:

LR TR

 

Best wishes!

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there were boot-tracks going left and right, presumably finding alternate routes around the BS. We decided (perhaps stupidly in retrospect) to keep going straight.

perhaps. damn the torpedoes. eh?

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That's right, damn em! Damn em to hell!

 

We had fun anyway...

 

 

Hey Dulton, do you mean "Thumb" rock? Never can tell about the crowds. If its good weather and its a weekend and LR is still listed in the "50 most crowded", etc, then there will be company.

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Hey Dulton, do you mean "Thumb" rock? Never can tell about the crowds. If its good weather and its a weekend and LR is still listed in the "50 most crowded", etc, then there will be company.

 

Yeah, I meant Thumb Rock (my bad). Would you then suggest staying at the base of Curtis Ridge and going for the summit the next day even though it would be a really long summit day? Thanks for the info. cool.gif

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