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Fuggedaboudit

Liberty Ridge Mid-May- Route Questions!

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Looking to return for a second try this year. Since I am flying out from NY have to plan in advance (work, wife, etc). Originally I was looking at mid-May but have since learned that Paradise has only gotten 50% of usual snow through March 1 this year. Any advice on whether mid-May looks good or whether I should try to move it up into April appreciated. Input from people who have been on mountain this year or have done Lib Ridge themselves especially appreciated!

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Never having done the route I am no expert but I would say that this is probably the worst year to try it in more than 30 years. Go rock climbing this year.

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Lib Ridge can be anything between a grade III-V... and given the snow conditions this year it will easily be a V... Mike, you got anything to say?

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There will likely be a LOT of rockfall on LR this year due to the melting out of previously permanently frozen stuff. If it were me, I'd fuggedaboutit and go do something else. Maybe consider Ptarmagin Ridge? I haven't done it yet, but I think it is less notorious for rockfall.

 

If you want to go for LR, try to get some idea from MRNP when the WRC road might be open. Get in there as soon as the road opens. The carbon glacier will likely be pretty circuitous and the toe of the ridge will be pretty bare. When you get on the ridge, travel fast and early in the day or late at night. A full moon would be helpful. You might consider trying to go all the way to Lib Cap in a day to minimize time on the ridge. And wear a helmet. wink.gif

 

Good luck.

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I would suggest that the weather in April or May will be a more important factor than snowfall in March.

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Alpinfox- Good advice on the full moon that I will use to schedule my trip, whether in May or April. Dru- obviously weather will dictate everything but my point is that I have to plan at least 1 month ahead, so I'll be out west whether it is bluebird or not. Nothing I can do about the weather, my question has more to do with whether the ridge conditions will likely be better earlier than later, and it appears that the sooner the better. Dulton- I plan on bringing fuel for 6 days and food for 4 days, so I was already planning on the route taking at least a day or two longer than the normal 3.

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Thumb rock takes an early morning pounding:

 

4479thumbrockshower6_18.JPG

 

 

Body recovery on LR 2004:

 

4479LRhelicopter6_18_2.JPG

 

Searching for bodies on LR 2004:

 

4479LRhelicopter6_18.JPG

 

Climb the mtn on her terms not yours. wave.gif

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I'd be hesitant to suggest Ptarmigan Ridge as a route less prone to rockfall, because my friends who have climbed the Ptarmigan have all come back with stories of serious rock dodging. But I have only done Liberty (in late july on a medium snowfall year) and I've never been up Ptarmigan.

 

I bet there will be enough snow on the Liberty Ridge to make it doable in May if the weather and surface conditions are good.

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The probs with lib ridge have always been

1) the weather while you are on the mountain and..

2) the Carbon

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So rockfall has never been an issue Alex?

 

I seem to recall an injury or two and maybe a death due to rockfall in recent years. And I'm pretty sure I was nearly killed by rockfall on LR, but I could be wrong.

 

Imaginary Rock

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3. Rockfall at basecamp at T rock (heard this several times over the years), wild pic Fox and a good reminder that LR is more commiting than some other routes up there.

ps: Nice pics Nolse.

TTT

Edited by To_The_Top

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So rockfall has never been an issue Alex?

 

I'm not trying to trivialize your incident on the route Pax, but rockfall is hardly unique to Liberty Ridge or almost any other route on Rainier (I guess the Emmons doesnt suffer it), or in fact any steep route on a volcano (N side routes on Hood are prone to severe rockfall, for example). Even the DC can be a real shooting gallery.

 

In my experience the rockfall can be almost entirely avoided on Lib Ridge by gaining the crest early off the Carbon, and there is little rockfall once above the gullys right above Thumb Rock, so I would not characterize this route by being particularly hazardous afa rockfall, that rock in your tent (!! shocked.gif) notwithstanding.

 

I guess when I think of routes where I think rockfall is a real issue, I think of Skyladder on Andromeda, N Face route on Athabasca, stuff like that: the barrage on these routes is pretty epic.

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Maybe consider Ptarmagin Ridge? I haven't done it yet, but I think it is less notorious for rockfall.

 

negative .... rock fall potential equall if not greater, particually during the traverse above the north Mowich .... that being said the Ptarmigan ranks as my all time favorite route on Rainier

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So rockfall has never been an issue Alex?

 

I'm not trying to trivialize your incident on the route Pax, but rockfall is hardly unique to Liberty Ridge or almost any other route on Rainier (I guess the Emmons doesnt suffer it), or in fact any steep route on a volcano (N side routes on Hood are prone to severe rockfall, for example). Even the DC can be a real shooting gallery.

 

In my experience the rockfall can be almost entirely avoided on Lib Ridge by gaining the crest early off the Carbon, and there is little rockfall once above the gullys right above Thumb Rock, so I would not characterize this route by being particularly hazardous afa rockfall, that rock in your tent (!! shocked.gif) notwithstanding.

 

I guess when I think of routes where I think rockfall is a real issue, I think of Skyladder on Andromeda, N Face route on Athabasca, stuff like that: the barrage on these routes is pretty epic.

 

OK. I guess I have a conception of LR being particularly dangerous because of my personal experience. BTW, we also experienced rockfall, albeit minor, from that rock band just below the black pyramid.

 

I'm not trying to tell people not to climb LR. It is certainly not a "death route" and it has great position, exposure, views, length, and deserves its classic status, etc. I just want them to know that it's got some genuine objective hazard that is not present on a lot of the routes that people typically do prior to LR.

 

WDietsch and MattP, thanks for correcting me on the rockfall potential on Ptarm Ridge. I'd like to do that route sometime, but I think I'll save it for a snowier year.

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Alex- thanks for Athabasca reference. Have been under NF before so appreciate the point of reference. Hope to use alpine start and full moon to cross Carbon and get onto ridge before dawn on day 2. Partner very skilled at glacier travel, so with full moon should be doable. Have been told same thing about rockfall dropping off once above T. Rock by another who has done route. Going end of April, sooner rather than later. Thanks, hopefully something worth posting in six weeks or so.

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Reading this thread, I get the impression that everyone assume that greater snow cover will always mean less rock fall. I don't think this is quite right; in my experience the rocks start to roll when things are warming or when the sun hits a slope or when a slope goes into shade or when it rains or whenever a climber kicks them. Comparing my mid-summer experience to all of the reports from those who climb the route in May or June, I think there was actually LESS rockfall when I did the climb than most early season parties report. The difference may be that, when I climbed it, the weather had been stable for several weeks and this tends not to be the case in May.

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Reading this thread, I get the impression that everyone assume that greater snow cover will always mean less rock fall.

I don't see anything to suggest that everyone is assuming that greater snow cover will ALWAYS mean less rock fall. Obviously there are other contributing factors, and every climb (like your own that you cited) is unique. But I think most folks, including me, assume that greater snow cover does USUALLY mean less rock fall.

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The more crappy rock that is covered with solid snow, the less crappy rock is available to generate rockfall. If I can get funding, I will establish several hundred ramdomized quadrat sampling sites along Liberty Ridge and use photogrammetric measuring techniques to quantify the number of rocks impacting per square meter under high and low snow levels. A simple heteroscedastic two-tailed T-test should serve to verify or reject the hypothesis concerning rockfall and snow levels.

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From all the rescues I've seen, Liberty Ridge hazards might be best summed up as:

 

1. Moving too slow which leads to:

2. Higher likelihood of being hit by rock

3. More time "in the fall zone."

4. More exposure to weather which leads back to #1.

 

The lower ridge up to Thumb Rock can be a rock fall nightmare. But if you're moving fast, your chances of getting hit are less.

 

BTW (I'll post more about routes, road openings, registration and reservations soon) the mountain looks like late June/early July conditions.

 

Go early this year, Go early, Go early...

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Should be in the park 4/23 Sat eve to camp, start early for nice easy day Sun on the approach in from Ipsut, taking my time since I'm comming from sea level. Looks like you guys have had stable weather for a few days, hope it holds out through Tuesday! I'll post something once I get back. All you locals get up there Friday-Sunday and kick in some steps!!

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I like this thread. You have a raft of local climbers advising against climbing the route due to safety concerns and you have some non-locals who are completely disregarding the advice.

 

We really are just trying to hoard the sweetness of the route for ourselves.

 

On a serious note: Fuggedaboudit and jcclimber - Be careful up there. Move fast and be safe.

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