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Rainier_Wolfscastle

Liberty Ridge via Isput/Carbon approach

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Looks like the White River road will be closed for our planned Liberty Ridge attempt next weekend. We are going to use Isput creek approach instead. Can anyone give any specific beta on this approach? We are wondering if it is worth it to bring approach skis? It looks like we would have to carry them from the 2k trailhead to the 4k snowline. Is it worth it, or should we just walk the whole way? I have always preferred using skis on glaciers but I understand the carbon is pretty jumbled up and it may not be efficient? How about snow shoes? As a backcounty skier I am imbarrased to use these, but will take if they work better for the this approach. Thanks for any help. Mike.

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Rainier, be prepared to hoof it up the carbon river road for 2+ additional miles. Here is what the mora web site says:

 

OPEN all year, but check road conditions first. Currently open to Chenuis Falls only. Two mile walk from road closure to campground. Carbon River Road is subject to flooding. High clearance vehicle recommended.

 

I would leave the skis. Are you planning on descending the emmons and going back across the winthrop?

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That's encouraging. I don't think I will tell my partners about walking 2 additional miles yet. They are already going to go limp over using Isput instead of White River. We do have a 4wd truck if that makes a difference on the road? I think we are going to descend the Emmons. I had also toyed with downclimbing the LR if the snow conditions allow. That's out if there is alot of ice. I have read of others doing this, and it would save a long traverse back from the Emmons. I'm open to other suggestions?

 

quote:

Originally posted by robertm:

Rainier, be prepared to hoof it up the carbon river road for 2+ additional miles. Here is what the mora web site says:

 

OPEN all year, but check road conditions first. Currently open to Chenuis Falls only. Two mile walk from road closure to campground. Carbon River Road is subject to flooding. High clearance vehicle recommended.

 

I would leave the skis. Are you planning on descending the emmons and going back across the winthrop?

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I did this approach in April 1995 (?).

 

It is a long approach. Alot of the approach is along a narrow trail that first travels some mile along the Carbon River, then climbs a climbers path past the snout of the Carbon on the left and starts winding along the moraines at the edge of the glacier until you break out above treeline. Somewhere between the glacial snout and 8000 ft you could break out onto the glacier and ski, but we did not. I don't remember, but I dont think we had any floatation at all. The ski back wouldnt be particularly good, since the glacier isnt very steep in its lower reaches.

 

The Carbon only becomes jumbled at around 8000, and as early as we went, we DID NOT ROPE UP on the glacier at all, all the way to the base of Lib Ridge. We did come very close to getting snuffed by an avalanche off Liberty Wall. Your mileage my vary. It may be a little less casual now, in May.

 

It took us essentially 2.5 days to get to Thumb Rock, but I dont remember if that was slow or fast: we did eat salmon stakes and fresh veggies at Thumb Rock, but were going pretty light (bivy bags, shovels) so draw your own conclusions.

 

I guess all I can say is approaching via Ipsut Creek is longer than almost any other approach on Rainier. I would bring snowshoes. I would go as light as you possibly dare, 1 tool, bivy, aluminum crampons, etc

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A mountain bike is a nice addition to the tool kit on that approach for covering those foot miles. I have several friends who have climbed the route in March and April who used bikes. May not be an option for you guys if you're coming from SLC though...

 

Travel as light as possible/comfortable. You won't have much company with White River closed until/unless you traverse over to the Winthrop/Emmons zoo. Have fun - it's a good time.

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My vote would be for heading down the Emmonds and cutting back across the Winthrop for two reasons:

1) if you go to the real summit, you'll have to climb all the way back to liberty cap to descend LR. 2) The descent down Emmonds is trivial in May, and the walk across the Winthrop goes really quickly.

 

Then again, if you run up, tag liberty cap, and then come back down the upper part of the route in the warmer part of the day, it could be a good option.

 

Also, no need for two axes on this route if you're comfy on steep snow. maybe bring one in the party for leading the ice step(s) at the top.

 

Good luck! [smile]

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