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CaleHoopes

Liberty Ridge Advice?

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In my personal opinion you have no business on the route if you would not be comfortable down-climbing it because you never know when you may get altitude sickness, drop that second tool, or find the weather not to your liking. I think some of the deaths that have occurred there were the result of bad judgment made by climbers who were not prepared to retreat when things started going south.

 

Completely, 100% agree. Many of the 'accidents' on Rainier can be attributed to continuing to climb up when the weather is turning. Nothing on Liberty Ridge cannot be reversed, its been skied several times.

 

We belayed two pitches; one water ice runnel right above Thumb Rock and one exposed traverse under the Black Pyramid, and then used a running belay with screws for a few hundred feet on 50 degree glacier ice just below Liberty Cap.

 

I think the top part of the ridge varies from year to year, sometimes it is steeper, sometimes more mellow. I've read trip reports and seen photos where folks had to aid on ice screws to get over a bergschrund.

 

Since you mentioned you have lots of steep water ice experience, I suspect as long as weather/conditions cooperate, after you climb it you may think 'huh, so what was all the fuss was about again?". We did, but had good weather and conditions.

 

My partner and I even said to each other the only really committing aspect of the route was you don't want to turn around because it was hours of hot, sweaty labor just to get established on the ridge.

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Since you mentioned you have lots of steep water ice experience, I suspect as long as weather/conditions cooperate, after you climb it you may think 'huh, so what was all the fuss was about again?". We did, but had good weather and conditions.

 

My partner and I even said to each other the only really committing aspect of the route was you don't want to turn around because it was hours of hot, sweaty labor just to get established on the ridge.

 

I've wondered about my opinion of it afterward and whether I'd think: "huh, so what was all the fuss was about again?" - I can forsee that. I certainly felt that 2 years ago when I did the Kautz. However, I loved doing the Kautz because it's a beautiful route. Classic climbing, great beauty, interesting (to the top of the chute and then DAMN BORING except the can-be-sporty upper Nisqually icefall), etc. So, it was a wonderful experience - but easy climbing.

 

Yep, I also agree that if you couldn't down-climb it, you shouldn't up-climb it. The ridge seems reversable just based on every pic I've seen. I wonder why everyone makes such a fervor about not bailing. Maybe it's because no one really wants to walk all the way back to St. Elmos. Seems like it'd be the slog from hell. In bad weather though, that would be a weaksauce reason to push on.

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I wonder why everyone makes such a fervor about not bailing... In bad weather though, that would be a weaksauce reason to push on.

 

In January 2000, CascadeClimber, Sarah, my partner Nick and I attempted Gib Ledges. In the Muir Hut were two Euros with full on down suits speaking very loudly about the many 8,000 meter peaks they had climbed.

 

The next day Nick and I climbed up to about 13,000 ft, above Gib Rock. Sastrugi snow and decreasing visibility hid a crevasse and I walked length ways on it. The thin bridge broke and I popped in, the rope breaking the bridge behind me so I kind of zippered into the maw of the huge crevasse.

 

By the time I prusiked out the weather was full on turning and we bailed, passing Sarah and CascadeClimber on the way down. They turned around also. Shortly after we ran into the Euros and advised them to do the same. They kept going and summitted but could not get back down. They radioed the NPS for a heliocopter rescue which of course was not going to happen.

 

They spent I think five days in the summit crater before the storm blew over and were able to descend. Gib Ledges is certainly less committing than Lib Ridge and these cats had all kinds of big mountain experience. Why they insisted on continuing up into a gathering storm I don't' know? Underestimating the weather on Rainier in winter perhaps?

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Sastrugi snow and decreasing visibility hid a crevasse and I walked length ways on it. The thin bridge broke and I popped in, the rope breaking the bridge behind me so I kind of zippered into the maw of the huge crevasse.

 

Man, you did have a knack for finding the cracks...

 

Good to see you back posting up on this site.

 

d

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They spent I think five days in the summit crater before the storm blew over and were able to descend. Why they insisted on continuing up into a gathering storm I don't' know? Underestimating the weather on Rainier in winter perhaps?

 

These three were not that lucky though: http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/616247/page/1#Post616247

 

 

BTW, welcome back, Dan! :)

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BTW, welcome back, Dan! :)

 

Thanks! I can see again, but it will be some time before I am climbing any significant. Nick mentioned something about Curtis Ridge? If you go, bring him home safe. My dog loves him, even sleeps with him in his sweet ass Eurovan.

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the wording of that article makes it sound like they were either massive gumbies (the "noticed" that they only had two screws) or competent climbers who got hit by an avy, either way incredible work on the self rescue. Sounds like they knew what they were doing.

 

I watched the heli pull a body bag off the east butt yesterday evening of a guy I had hoped was only injured, been pretty bummed out today. Stay safe out there everyone.

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has anyone bailed off liberty ridge?

 

how easy would it be to turn around if weather comes in?

 

simple downclimbing? rappells off of v threads or bollards?

 

Plenty have bailed off. As said being able to down climb competently once above thumb rock is a must.

 

However, real judgement comes when one realizes that a forward retreat can be safer. Further, there is also much to be said about safety in numbers as well staying together. The summit can often be in a cloud cap so before going up the finial headwall grouping up can be helpful in negotiating the summit plateau.

 

 

the wording of that article makes it sound like they were either massive gumbies (the "noticed" that they only had two screws) or competent climbers who got hit by an avy, either way incredible work on the self rescue. Sounds like they knew what they were doing.

 

I would say they got lucky. For glacier travel, IMHO each person should be carrying an ice screw. If ya go into a crack setting a screw can often help greatly while one sorts things out. As such, a three person party should have had at least three screws. They only had two - so error number 1.

 

Further, it does not sound like they had any pickets. Pickets are some of the most useful pieces of gear on Rainier. One can beat the hell out of one and get it to protect things. So error number 2.

 

What was on their side was a party of three and some good weather. So they got lucky.

 

FWIW when we did the headwall some 25 years ago we used three pickets and then once above needed one more so I just used my ice axe finishing the last bit with one tool. As such, here again I will make the comment that there is a lot to be said for learning how to competently climb steep snow with one tool. Never, know when you might need to use yer tool for pro or fumble yer way up after dropping one.

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Climbed LR yesterday, route is blowing up right now, lots of folks making use of the good weather. Will be a full-on boot track by the weekend. Deep slush or crust depending on time of day above treeline, deep snow from 8500-12500, although that will change with the warm weather and climber traffic, bare ice from 12500-14000, deep snow again the last couple hundred feet to liberty cap. Pretty big crevasses up top, including the "Schrund", on climber's right finish, 50m of AI3/AI3- with minimal crevasses over the ice cliff via climber's left finish. Several people skiing the Emmons-Winthrop over the last couple days, seems to be in good nic.

 

No pics, im guessing one of the several parties to do the route this week will come up with a tr here or over on TAY.

 

As an aside, if you ignore the huge, loud, many-times-daily avalanches, the Liberty and Willis Walls looked like they had more climbable, steep snow and ice on them than I've ever seen before.

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Well, I wished we'd had the weather but didn't. We went over from White River to Curtis Ridge camp. Nice trail getting over there. There's a plug on the west side of the Winthrop which is not going to last - maybe even after this hotness it'll probably crash. Navigation over to Curtis Ridge was easy. We had tons of rain (this was Tuesday, June 28) coming in squalls every hour or so. So, the rain gear was important. Up early in the morning, we tried to wait things out. After some rain coming through, some breakfast and teardown of camp we decided to try to make Thumb. So, down to the Carbon and up toward the ridge. We found and went up the west ramp toward the west side of the ridge. After some hairy route finding through crevasses near the 8300 ft level, visibility had dropped to 50 ft and precip was picking up. Considering that the precip was about to become snow and many of us had wet gear (which might freeze) and with no visibility to see icefall or rockfall, we called it done. This was Wednesday. Oh well, I'll have to go back. We rolled back to Curtis Ridge camp, took the crampons off and skated back to White River which took around 4 hours. It was a fun trip regardless - but the weather just didn't cooperate. Until next time Liberty Ridge.

 

P.S... With 4 days of food and carrying group gear, I got my pack down to 34.8 lbs with everything on it (including overnight gear, fuel, climbing gear, etc). Which means I would have been under 30 once we got on the ridge. Good stuff. This is way different from the 60ish lbs I had in 2000 on my climb for clean air. I don't know why I wouldn't always climb like this!

 

Thanks for the suggestions, trip reports and everything. I look forward to doing the Emmons in two weeks which will be an easy walk at this point.

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