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fogguy

Go to Liberty Ridge

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I am planning trip to Rainer next summer. The timing will late season. July/August time frame. Need to connect with anyone who has experience on the glaciers at that time. Is it foolish to travel with only a 2 person party? The guide books give various advise.

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I've thought about this route for quite a while. I've been on the other side of the mountain that time of year, but I'm curious to see what some ridge veterans have to say!

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Only climbed it twice, both times in late May/early June. Piece of cake, although that depends if you like "swimming" through powder snow up to your armpits and short-roping two other disabled parties to the summit with you (that was just the first trip).

 

That said, it was first ascended over Labor Day in 1935. Totally different conditions, I would imagine.

 

Most people do LR, as well as other glacier crossing work, in 2-person parties. Not a big deal if you know how to work a 2-member party crevasse extraction. YMMV. Plan ahead, be prepared, know when/if to bail.

 

Lotsa folks on this board have climbed LR, some several times. Shit, I think mattp soloed it, too. You should be hearing from these folks soon.

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Sounds fun, get the weather window, or get on home

Edited by wayne1112

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If you are asking questions about glacier travel this might not be the right route to start on in the cascades. I am not saying you don't have the abilities but this route has killed more than a few people. Just be careful up there and don't overestimate your abilities.

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I did lib ridge July 5-7 2006, as a team of two. Be prepared to pick your way around a lot of crevasses. We actually had great ice up above the black pyramid. The snow bridge at the top had melted out at that point, so topping out involved some fun moves on ice. We simul-climbed the entire route, with the exception of an ice screw to protect one move on as we were moving onto the ice cap. Be ready for considerable rock and ice fall. The Willis Wall is alive at that time of the year. Saw a big ice fall/avalance off of ptarmigan ridge. Heard some rock fall while while I was laying in my bivy sack at thumb rock trying to catch some zzz's before the summit bid, had a pea sized rock hit me smack in the forehead. Was pretty glad that is all that came our way.

 

The route is great, and can be in at that time of the year. In my opinion, it was almost too late in the season to get on Lib Ridge when we did it. I didn't hear of anyone else going up after us that year. But.... it was in. Just took a long time to approach with all of the crevasse crossing. Also, the descent (down Emmons) sucked because it had sun exposure all day by the time we headed down. We hiked all the way out to White River CG that day.... it was a long day. Good luck.

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I did Liberty Ridge July 15-16 1996. Conditions were excellent for climbing, but rock fall on the ridge below Thumb Rock was copious and constant. We also had some shenanigans crossing the Carbon as it was melted out quite a bit. I did it as a two person team which is fine if you know how to extract your partner from a crevasse all by your lonesome.

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My advice would be to move fast on the upper Carbon Glacier getting on the route; the very base of the ridge can be tricky too. After that things aren't too bad; conditions can vary between step kicking in snow to low angle ice climbing. I've found a tricky bit with a schrund up high on the route.

 

Look for a good weather window and have some backup plans on peaks other than Rainier if you get some crappy weather.

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Good point. A person never knows until they get there. Have bailed many times . Lived to climb another day.

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the very base of the ridge can be tricky too.
Yeah, I recall having to do some sketchy bouldering moves on crappy rock to gain the toe of the ridge.

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I climbed LR the second week of August in 1999 with a climbing buddy from Anchorage. Crevasses were wide open and getting on to the ridge was a challenge. It was an ice climb all the way from Thumb Rock to the Cap. The first day my partner was hit by a large rock right below Thumb Rock which shattered his boot, foot fang and broke his foot. We ended up finishing the climb (my climbing partner is an RN and had lots of pain pills) and spending a night on Liberty Cap. We hiked out all the way on the third day. The good news was we were the only ones on the route and the ice climbing was great.

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... and broke his foot. We ended up finishing the climb ...

 

Ouch! I hiked 4 miles downhill with a broken foot and was damn near crying by the time I hit the TH. Can't imagine finishing LB with one.

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Late June was perfect in 94(?). We (two of us) crossed the Carbon on two bridges we were sure would collapse and I punched through another with a hand and foot. Looking down through the hole, I could see the walls of the crevasse about five feet on either side of me and I was over a huge blue abyss.

Getting on the toe was pretty easy as there was still a good snow pack. We started at the TH that morning so by the time we were on the ridge, it was getting soft. We postholed all the way to Thumb rock. A huge avalanche scraped the Willis wall bare that night and everyone except me thought we were going to die. I slept through it. The next morning was clear and cold. The start to get into the chute was a couple 5.8 rock moves. Once we got above that, we unroped. Rock fall was not bad and concentrated on the far right side so we kept left.

We passed two other parties in the chute and had the rest of the route to ourselves. We scurried under the pyramid as that was the source of rockfall in the chute. From there it was a rock free ascent. The standard route cuts right around the serac but we found a snow block leaning against it and climbed that. We roped up on this section. It settled a foot while I was on it.

Once on the Liberty Cap summit snowfield it was perfect conditions. The snow was like styrofoam and the sky was blue.

Looking down through my feet I saw the edge of the serac and then the Carbon glacier 6000 feet below. Very airy. Since the climbing was so easy we were not roped up here which added a little spice with the exposure. We summitted and descended the DC to our other car at Paradise without incident.

We were back in Magnolia eating steak and watching the sun set and glow off of Rainier that evening. It was like a Corona commercial.

What a life!

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My advise is to not underestimate Liberty Ridge. It has claimed many novice climbers and a few experienced climbers doing stupid things. I have done Liberty ridge twice. First time was an easy walk up---did the entire climb faster than planned---1 1/2 days. Second time nearly turned epic with 3500 feet of ice and really bad weather. Retreat off of the ridge in bad conditions can be tough and at times you are better off summiting and going down another route---As long as you plan ahead and know your limits you should be fine---helps to bring the right gear.

 

Have fun---its one of the best in WA---I have always been partial to the Canadian rockies for this type of climbing.

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Thanks. My partner is a rock jock. He will lead anything on rock. It helps an old duffer like me go places.

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Good info. Dicey retreat. We may go early. Not sure yet. My partner is a wiz on rock. We should be OK. Thanks

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From the other posts upthread, I gather he's referring to the tricky bit about getting onto the toe of the ridge from the Carbon, as evidenced here:

the very base of the ridge can be tricky too.
Yeah, I recall having to do some sketchy bouldering moves on crappy rock to gain the toe of the ridge.

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Cross-posted from fogguy's second thread on this same topic:

 

I posted a request for info several weeks ago and had decent feed back. I am planning to climb LR in the late July early August time frame w/ 1 other. Feed back was that the Carbon Glacier was dicey but doable at that time of year...we will play dodge rock. A few questions pop into my brain. How much time to cross the Carbon and which approach is best? Seems there may be a well worn path to the summit by then. I would appreciate any feed back...even repeats. Thanks

 

Hey Matt K., are you connected to this web site yet?

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You will likely be dodging rocks in the dark below Black Pyramid when temps are above freezing, which is common in July/August. In my opinion that's probably the worst time of year to climb Liberty Ridge having done the route in spring, summer and winter from St Elmo's Pass and Carbon River. Be prepared for ice climbing on 50° slopes with a full pack between 12,000' and 14,000' at that time of year as well. 1-2 hours to cross Carbon Glacier from lower Curtis Ridge if conditions are good, longer if route finding is necessary or you're approaching from Carbon River Road.

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