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Liberty Ridge Conditions 5/26-27

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Liberty Ridge Conditions 5/26-27):

Climbed the Lib ridge Sat 5/26. Crossing the Carbon was no big deal. We took a direct line from 7500' on its east edge to the west side of Lib ridge. The lower ridge is mostly bare rock/dirt. The lower ridge was raining rocks and debris the entire time we asceded past it (6-8am). We bi-passed the lower ridge by climbing the lower ice fall east of the ridge. Ice was in excellent shape.

Above Thumb Rock is good snow till 12,500', then 500' of 50 degree good ice. Snow again up to the berg. We angled right to approach the berg. There are two 10' steps to get over the berg with an exposed anchor station above the second step. Each step is mixed ice and sugar snow. The sugar snow on the berg steps makes it challenging. Above the berg are two sections of 50-70 degree ice, each about 200' in elevation. The lower ice section is the steaper one and in excellent shape. The upper ice section is dinner plated, but OK other wise. About 100' of steep snow finishes the climb.

I'd recommend getting on Lib within the next couple of weeks. By mid June she'll be out of shape for the season.

Hope this helps

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Nice beta! So did you first traverse around the lower ridge, saw all the rockfall and then went BACK to the ice on the EAST side? Was there any rockfall from the upper ridge or Willis Wall/Thermo routes getting up to the Thumb? And lastly was the Emmons as bad as reports are saying? Sounds like more screws may be more necessary than usual!Thanks!

Anyone try Lib this weekend or did the Avi spook everyone?

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Our party ascended the Carbon Glacier and the lower part of the ridge to Thumb Rock on Monday, May 28th. The path over the Carbon was well tracked and fairly straight forward. We were forced to start the climb from a very high point on the Carbon on the West side of the ridge due to a lack of snow on the lower sections. This route appeared to be much steeper than the "normal" route.

The weather conditions went from bad to worse in a hurry. We climbed in light snow, low visibility conditions. By the time we made it to Thumb Rock, the winds were beginning to howl and visibility was further decreasing. Monday night was a terrifying experience. I don't think that the use of the words "hurricane strength gusts" would be an exageration. Lots of stunned silence in the tent.

The weather cleared by the middle of the next day but we were unable to make an attempt at the summit due to wet gear and burnt out mental conditions. Tuesday night brought a slightly less severe storm. Wednesday Morning featured misty/rainy/windy conditions which convinced us to downclimb at around 1pm (couldn't handle staying in that tent for another day!).

Conditions on the downclimb (May 30th) ranged between good and horrible. Several sections of wet snow created easy downclimbing conditions but high avalanche potential. Some icy sections required combo front pointing/French technique. Severe rockfall on the lower part of the ridge. By severe I mean fairly constant - a batch every few minutes. (As an aside, how does this mountain stand up? It's a bunch of loose rock cemented together with mud!)

Due to the rockfall on the descent, I would not recommend this route to anyone in warm weather conditions. Actually, I wouldn't recommend it in cold conditions either due to the lack of snow. The route appeared to be in better shape above Thumb Rock but the constant buzz of the rescue helicopters on Tuesday seemed to suggest otherwise.

Thermogenesis - massive avalanche swept the entire route on Tuesday.

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Reply to jrwclimbs:

You read my Liberty Ridge route condition dispatch under the user name: Peace Seeker

Here are answers to your questions.


Sorry about the confusion on the lower Lib ridge approach description. In haste of writing the report I got my east/west lower ridge description crosswired.

Lower Liberty Ridge Correction:

We started across the Carbon at the 7500' elevation heading directly for the WEST side of the lower ridge. At about 9000' WEST of the ridge we witnessed numerous rockfalls raining down the WEST side of the Lib. From there we headed SOUTH, opting for the lower ice fall instead of the traversing ascent of the lower ridge. The last 700' or so before Thumb Rock we exited the ice fall, traversing up the final slope.

We spent Saturday afternoon at Thumb, watching and listening to rock and ice falls, mostly in Willis Wall. However, at 5pm the real show started. In the bright sunshine of the day a loud crack sounded, like near by lightning, startling the entire camp. The crack was slowly following by a thunderous roar to the west. A hugh block of the Liberty Cap Ice Cliff broke off, crashing down the Liberty Wall and onto the Carbon. It was like nothing I've ever seen in the mountains.

The ridge above Thumb Rock was not subject to any slides or rock fall while we were on it (and it seldom is execpt for the unfortuate party we have all heard about since).

The upper Emmons descent requires zig zagging through and around a few large obstacles. You'll need good visabily to make your way down to Schurman. You must traverse far to your right just after descending below the saddle between Russel Cliffs and the summit crater. After that try to pick up a track.


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