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catbirdseat

Liberty Ridge 1955

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A party of Cascadians- Dave Maher, Marcel Schuster and Mike McGuire of Yakima- and Gene Prater of Ellensburg climbed Liberty Ridge on the north face of Mount Rainier on August 21, 1955 (second ascent).

 

According to Gene Prater, the party "followed Liberty Ridge, but stayed on the ice to the west of the rock until about 12,000-12,500 feet, where we cut back across the rock just below the last rock. So we climbed on no rock, except for what stuck through the ice. We were on verglas nearly up to where we left the rock behind us. We picked the ice route on the shady side of the ridge to avoid rockfall...Up to where we got above the last rocks we were exposed to rockfall. The worst was from where we first got on the ice above the Carbon Glacier up to the 'thumb' on the ridge about 11,000 feet. A chimney (that) the first ascent party used above the thumb coughed out a generous load of rocks as we were getting up to that elevation, so we stayed on the ice.

 

"We used 12-point crampons with the hinge welded and our technique was to use 'all four's': ice axe pick for one hand, ice piton (which didn't work very well) for the other hand, and front four prongs of each crampon, which works well. Two teams of two made it much easier to dodge rocks. We 'climbed over' ourselves, one man going up to his belayer and a rope-length beyond to set the next belay, which, after two or three thousand feet is real work. Near the last rock we left the verglas behind, too, and had hard-crusted snow where we could get the axe shaft in for the belay, although it took a good solid blow with the foot to kick a step.

 

"We camped near 7,500 feet, close to the last place to get on the Carbon Glacier, which was pretty broken up this year, but we should have camped on the glacier. We started at 1:30 a.m. and crosssed the schrund about 4:30 a.m., so the sun had a chance to shine through a notch in the ridge below the thumb and let loose the rocks that were the worst hazard. A three-hour head start would have been much wiser, I feel, and would have lessened the risk proportionately."

 

These climbers had a support party, as required by the Mount Rainier park rangers.

 

Reported by Victor Josendal

Climbing Notes, pp 56-57

The Mountaineer: Volume 48, Number 13, December 28, 1955

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A party of Cascadians- Dave Maher,55

 

I think you meant this Dave Mahre,

 

Dave Mahre was born in Yakima on August 8, 1927. He graduated from high school in 1945 and served in the Merchant Marines in 1945-46. He began climbing in 1948 without any special equipment, clothing or instruction. In 1950, while climbing Mt Adams, he met Lex Maxwell, "who bawled him out because he didn't have good equipment." Sometime after his encounter with Lex Maxwell, Dave became a Cascadian. He became one of the Northwest's best climbers, with first ascents on Mt Rainier, Little Tahoma, Mt Adams and Mt Stuart. Dave worked for his father in farming until 1962. That year, he started working full time as mountain manager of the White Pass Ski Area. He moved his family to White Pass in December 1966.

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That's a cool story. After climbing the route last year, it's neat to read about the conditions 50 years ago.

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The route they took in 1955 is now called the Ptarmigan Ice Cliff route. It is not often climbed because of the extreme ice fall hazard. I believe most folks still follow the 1935 route which drops down to the right along the top of the North Mowich Glacier from high camp before turning up again.

 

One thing I noticed was the lack of an altimeter back in 1955 prevented Maher and party from referencing elevation which makes it much easier to place their descriptions on a map.

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Not having a map in front of me, I recall that we left out of camp heading climber's right for a few minutes and then turned up. After that, we headed left below the black pyramid (or whatever it's called) onto the NE face up to the 'schrund.

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catbirdseat, i think you're confusing libery ridge with ptarmigan ridge.

 

why does a lack of elevation references make it easier to place their descriptions?

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I didn't realize that "classic" was a word that could be modified, like the word "unique". A first ascent of a particular route can't be repeated. In the above account it was a second ascent, albeit a major route variation.

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Well, if Daiber's ascent was unique, then Mahre's was more unique. Or maybe less unique.

Just remember: you are completely unique. Just like everyone else.

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party from referencing elevation which makes it much easier to place their descriptions on a map.

 

 

It makes it harder to figure out what features they are referring to if you don't know the elevation. That's all.

 

just pointing out your contradictory brain farting...

 

 

According to Gene Prater, the party "followed Liberty Ridge, but stayed on the ice to the west of the rock until about 12,000-12,500 feet,

 

The route they took in 1955 is now called the Ptarmigan Ice Cliff route.

 

the route they climbed is not the ptarmigan ice cliff route - it is the one in CAG under liberty ridge called "variation: west flank", which is just a slight deviation from the original route, with a different approach onto the base of the ridge.

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Yes, I did commit a brain fart. I had just read another account of an ascent of Ptarmigan Ridge by Fred Beckey and company and I confused the two accounts in my mind. Maybe I'll post that one too, although it's quite a bit longer.

 

One observation was that in those days the Park Service required a support party on some of these climbs. You read about a support party of two hiking to high camp with the climbers and carting out their sleeping bags and other overnight gear, then meeting them at Paradise with cold beers. Where are you going to find people willing to do that these days?

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One observation was that in those days the Park Service required a support party on some of these climbs. You read about a support party of two hiking to high camp with the climbers and carting out their sleeping bags and other overnight gear, then meeting them at Paradise with cold beers. Where are you going to find people willing to do that these days?

wave.gif but it will cost ya. i will even shuttle your fuked up car.

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