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Another Liberty Ridge Accident.


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This is in no way meant to trivialize the accident but how does the belayer (below the leader) come to break his wrist while belaying? That's what the ranger lady said happened on TV. Did the leader fall and the belayer's hand get caught at a weird angle? Strange. Maybe, upon the leader's fall, the belayer pitched forward and then broke his wrist when he tried to catch himself.


Probably figured out by now...but a second can smash his hand pretty well if both parties are unable to self-arrest and fall several hundred feet before the rope gets caught on a rock...


A very sad day. Tip the hat to the mountain tonight...and pray for better days in the future...

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Yeah, I'm getting the same thing and I'm not supposed to go until late this month. Its been a rough year on LR. frown.gif


My condolences to the families.


We climbed to TR the week after Peter Cooley died with the same thoughts.... But after seeing the route in person I think it's a really brilliant line that's pretty safe from the horrendous danger on Willis or Liberty walls. Certainly not a "death route" in a technical or objective danger sense. It's just really, really long moderate alpine climb coming up from Ipsut especially. Definitely a route only for the very experienced unless you get lucky. For weekend warriors like myself weather, snow and ice conditions were key. We were very tired after postholing up to TR and knew that 10-12 hours to Lib Cap was realistic for us going very slowly and carefully. We also knew that we'd be beat to crap after reaching Lib Cap and in no shape to get stuck up there. So a 24-36 hour perfect weather window was what we wanted and didn't get since we knew we'd be racing an incoming multi-day storm. Not a route to race on..... At least for us.


So if you get the weather window, go for it. Just be prepared to run away if you don't like what you see.


And even though I've never carried a cell phone before, I always would on this route...... at the very least just for weather before leaving TR.



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Certainly not a "death route" in a technical or objective danger sense. It's just really, really long moderate alpine climb ...


While I wouldn't call it a "death route", Liberty Ridge has a LOT of objective danger. I came closer to death (about 12" away) than on any other route I've ever been on.


An excerpt from my TR (late June, 03):

"The left (east) side of the toe of the ridge, which is the side you are supposed to gain the ridge from the Carbon Glacier, is mostly snow-free. We gainied the ridge on the right (west) side without too much technical difficulty and connected snow patches while traversing right until we could head up to thumb rock. LOTS OF ROCK FALL HERE!


In the middle of the night at thumb rock, a 12X3X8 inch rock ripped through our vestibule and the corner of our tent about 12 inches from my head. Simultaneously, a round, baseball-sized rock glanced off the tent pole directly above my partners head and ripped the fly in several spots. Had either of these rocks hit us in the head, we most certainly would have been killed. And this was AT THUMB ROCK! a supposedly safe place. We slept the rest of the night with our helmets on and put our packs and such on the uphill side of the tent and said a few prayers.


The next day, we encountered COPIOUS ROCK FALL in several spots, and were never really out of it until we traversed left from under the black pyramid."




I know it's tired and cliche, and probably doesn't mean much coming from an anonymous person on an internet chat board, but I feel for the surviving climber and for the family of the lost climber. I'm really sorry.



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Late June would be considered very late season on that route though...correct?


One of those news articles (CNN I think) was saying that the Lib Ridge was one of the most difficult routes on Rainier. I had to question that statement, like aren't there alot of really sick routes on the Willis wall and such that would be considered the most difficult, putting Lib Ridge as a "walkup" relative to those? Not that it isn't a hard route, I don't doubt that, but one of the hardest on the mountain? Sounds more like a trade route to me...

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Yes, late June is (in my opinion) a little late for L.R. If I ever do the route again, it will be in early June, Late May, or hell... maybe even winter.


I think LR is the hardest COMMONLY DONE route on Rainier. I'd say all of the other north side routes are harder than LR, though.


I think L.R. is not technically difficult when most people do it. I've heard that it can be pretty solid ice all the way up which would obviously make it more difficult, but it's usually a steepish snow slog with a boot track. Modest technical difficulty, but AT LEAST moderate, if not moderately high, objective danger in my opinion.

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Greg W:

I have been wondering the same thing. All these people falling. It sounds like a bolted m9 route, not a route where the majority of the route is 45 degrees at most.



Maybe "the hardest route most commonly attempted on Rainier" would have been a better way to phrase it.

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Just because a route is "Commonly Attempted", it doesnt mean it isnt serious. I am amazed at how trivial feeling a route can seem if people are lapping it.


Never let your guard down.


So very sorry to those affected...Words wont do much here


Peace All

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Came off the Kautz route the day before (06/02) due to Ridiculous conditions after potholing to my upper thighs I decided to turn around at 10700, damn that’s wasn’t a climb it resembles more of an uphill swimming …I’m so happy to be at home in one piece I had the feeling that it was no good time to climb the mountain when it is all hot and bothered



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Wayne: I was not making light of the route in general. I was just stating that the route has a moderate angle yet people are "taking falls" on it. I can only contemplate the cause of a fall in the two recent cases.

I have backed off this route twice so I have taken it seriously.

And that is flying out west from the east coast.


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I'm supposed to be climbing this route in another week and now my wife is trying to disuade me. She thinks it is a death route.


Perhaps to allay her fears, you should consider her request. Especially if you have children. Given that two very experienced climbers have met tragedy on this route recently, I certainly don't consider myself beyond the reach of a similar fate.


Give me a call and we'll climb something safer and just as rewarding.


....Just my worthless thoughts.

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Maybe a stupid question, but I noticed in the video from the last rescue, as well as this one, that there is a lot of snow blowing around. I imagine it is from the copter. Wouldnt this bother the climbers and affect their visibility?



I can't say if our presence blows snow around, but I can say that our helicopter is a good distance away from any climbing rescue scene. We have an amazing zoom lens and can be up to 5 miles away from an incident and still get pretty good pics of the scene.


So if I hd to guerss, I'd say that it is NOT our helicopter blowing snow, but rather conditions themselves...but I could be wrong...


We try to stay out of the way and we certainly try not to make conditions worse than they already are!


That is not so accurate my dear. I have been involved in a couple of rescues, because I walked in on accidents not with the guys, and I've had a friend involved in his own accident that has had media coverage. IN EVERY case we both experienced down wash from the MEDIA helicopter B/4 the rescue chopper could get there. Not so much in my case but in my friend's case the downwash made the blood that was spilled look even more dramatic than it had to be as it swirled about in frozen in the snow. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt for your own company but I know this is not true for every media outlet. Hell, some of them even get a few holes in their chopper during police situations in CA.

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Seems like my buddies got buzzed by a news helicopter when they had a bad outing on Baker several years ago. I'm fuzzy on the details now, can't remember which station, but there was a chopper up there in the immediate vicinity.

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From Friday's Seattle PI:


One Mt. Rainier climber dies, one rescued




Jon Cahill, who died in a climbing accident on Mt. Rainier in Washington state Thursday, June 3, 2004, is shown in this undated photo provided by the Auburn, Wash., Fire Dept., where he was a fire captain and an acting battalion chief. Cahill, a father of four, had died by the time a rescue party reached him and his climbing partner, who were stranded at 11,300 feet. Cahill's death came a little more than two weeks after a climber was fatally injured in a fall from the same ridge about 1,000feet higher. (AP Photo/Courtesy Auburn Fire Dept.)

MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK, Wash. -- A firefighter who fell 200 feet during a recreational climb on Mount Rainier died before frantic rescuers could reach him.


Jon Cahill, 40, a fire captain and father of four, fell to his death Thursday, about two weeks after another person perished on the same route, one of the mountain's most dangerous.


Cahill's climbing partner, Mark H. Anderson, 33, was rescued by helicopter and flown to a hospital for treatment of a hand injury. He was in satisfactory condition late Thursday.


Cahill fell on Liberty Ridge, about 11,300 feet up the 14,410-foot peak.


Rescue climbers and an Oregon National Guard helicopter rushed to reach him, but by the time the helicopter arrived, he was dead, said Mount Rainier National Park spokesman Barry Fraissinet.


Cahill and Anderson, also both trained as emergency medical technicians, had planned to reach the summit by midmorning Thursday. It was not immediately known what caused Cahill's fall.


Kimberly McDonald, a spokeswoman for the Auburn Fire Department, said Cahill had climbed Rainier 25 times. He was married with four children and had been with the department since 1989.


"He was like a family member to all of us," she said.


Mount Rainier head ranger Jill Hawk said Cahill had climbed the Liberty Ridge route on Rainier's north side more than a half dozen times.


"Our hearts go out to their families," she said. "It's truly a tragic situation."


On May 15 on the same ridge, Peter Cooley tumbled down a steep, icy slope and hit his head on a rock spur. His climbing partner, Scott Richards, maneuvered the two of them to a tiny flat spot, but the Maine men were stranded for two days as temperatures dipped below freezing in whiteout conditions.


Cooley, 39, was picked up by a National Guard helicopter May 17 from the 12,300-foot level but died on the way to a hospital. Accompanied by two rangers, Richards hiked down to a glacier the following day and was picked up by a helicopter.


Cahill's death during a summit ascent of Mount Rainier was the 91st since 1887, when records were first kept.

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