Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
CaleHoopes

Liberty Ridge Advice?

Recommended Posts

Ok, so I've already asked a bunch of folks, but I thought I'd open it up for fun to see what the intarwebs have to say...

 

I'm going on a guided climb of Liberty Ridge and I just wondered if anyone had any input on prep, gear, etc. I feel like my conditioning/prep is not an issue, my skills are sufficient, etc.

 

I'm just looking at hints, tips, experiences, thoughts, feelings, anything.

 

I'm doing it as a guided climb simply for the beta and experience of a guide on the route.

 

So, thoughts? I'd love to hear about other guided Liberty Ridge experiences too if they are out there.

 

Thanks in advance! :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Totally unhelpful advice (sorry): save this classic route until you can do it without a guide.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks AOC. But I really want the experience with some experienced folks. I could go try it on my own now. But I treat it as an "at the limit of my experience" and I'd like a competent group to go with that I trust. Yes, I could have all of that without a guide - and at this point I treat myself as more of a partner to a guide than a dude that needs to be short roped to the top. However, I still learn a ton on these and that's why I'll do some routes this way and some routes I'll feel comfortable leading.

 

That being said, when I totally on-sight some route out in the field, it will be an awesome experience. Just don't feel ready for that and don't want to put myself at unneeded risk.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tvash... of course, I love your comments. LOL. Ok, so as far as ultralight and fast, body armor don't come to mind. Underarmor, what about that? LOL.

 

Oh well, maybe someone will have something constructive. Or maybe I just need to leave my desk at work and go climbing and forget about the intarwebs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No advice that isn't generic - have your food/water/electrolytes at hand while you climb, expect big temp differences bottom to top, and prepare to be on your front points for a while depending on snow conditions. Personally, I appreciated having a nice pair of curved shaft tools (Azterex and a Quark in my case) to keep my knuckles out of the ice/snow as much as possible. If you plan on pitching out much of it, have that puffy at hand.

 

While the final half pitch of ice up top wasn't technically too difficult, it was hard and fairly smooth that late in the season - that's when I really started to feel the altitude a bit. We took 2 pickets and 5 screws, as I recall. That seemed like plenty. After that...watch for those crevasses - we had a little punch through up top.

 

Oh, and check your headlamp.

 

Finally, check the descent route conditions - the route changed significantly last year a couple of times from the norm due to crevasses/seracs as the season progressed.

 

A lot of this depends on when you climb, of course. We had almost continual ice much of the way so late in the year - so a bit more of a calf burner. Also, a neck burner from all the craning trying to spot the incoming. A bit of a live fire exercise I'd rather not repeat, particularly below Thumb Rock.

 

Speaking of Thumb Rock, say hello to the resident rosy finch for us!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great comments! Yeah, I'm all ready for the ice, honestly. 4 years at Ouray, with long pitches and I feel pretty confident on ice. I've got a pair of cobras I plan on climbing with so that fits in. I have a mont-bell puffy that I can hang off my harness for quick access so I'm good with that - great advice. HEADLAMP, very good call.

 

I've heard about the shooting gallery which of course makes me nervous as hell, but whatever... mts are for objective hazard, right?

 

Climbing between June 24-29th. Going with IMG by the way, no idea who the senior & junior are on the climb yet. Thanks for the great comments Tvash!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In aug we had 14000 freezing levels. At least we didn't have to get up very early that day (we wouldn't have been able to see the missiles). Your date sounds more sane. Post your pics!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Great comments! Yeah, I'm all ready for the ice, honestly. 4 years at Ouray, with long pitches and I feel pretty confident on ice.

 

long stretches of alpine ice is different than waterice. Strange enough that I think 40 degree ice for long periods of time is harder than a 2 pitch 80 degree ice.

Due to body positioning and distance of ice from body, standard piolet traction (usual WI tool swings) is awkward. Better to rely on the low daggers use of tools but you don't get that 'self belay" feeling.

For me, the calves get worked also, even with pure flat work use or 3 oclock foot work. Maybe something to do with the fact that the legs may be vertical but the torso is usually bent over to get the tools in the ice, and this causes the calve muscle to be under a stretch while being flexed as well.

Point is , expect it to be work even though is it lower angle if it goes on for a long time. Keep the technique efficeint and maybe practice the piolet ramasse to keep the calves from getting stretched. Stretch your ankles in training for the route.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gene, excellent points. I've been working the calves just for this exact thing. Practicing the low dagger position is something I should do, even if it's on snow at this point - I definitely am a fan of the 3 oclock foot work. Thanks for great input. My comment about the time with water ice is just about the final pitches up the cap. I won't be lying to say that I'm a little daunted by the endless ice that the route could have - but I think I'm as ready as I'll ever be. Guess I just need to experience it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did it in July 2010 with two great friends. My only advice would be go as light as possible. Spend the money to get the lightest possible gear and go without anything you don't absolutely need. You should be able to get under 30 lbs - it is a carry over after all. My setup was one venom, one aztarex, and spinner leashes - and I wouldn't have done it any other way. Good for you on hiring a guide. I always learn something new when I go with a guide.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey! Thanks Waterboy.

 

I'm rocking around 30lbs at the moment with all my climbing gear in/on my pack so I'm feeling pretty good. I'm glad I'm going with a guide just for the route experience and I agree - I always learn something new. I think it'll be fun!

 

Anyhow, thanks a ton!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Much of my advice would be centered around strategy/itinerary, however the guides will be deciding that. I found on Lib Ridge like many of the classic steep volcano routes, that a piolet and second tool was a great combo.

 

Most of the ridge is not that steep and all of the descent is not either so having a longer tool was nice. The modern technical piolets would be great for this (e.g. Petzl Sum'Tec, Grivel Air Tech Evo, etc). Certainly better than the SMC/REI Shuksan axe- SMC Himmalayan hammer combo I rocked, which still felt plenty secure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dan!! Good to hear from you again!

 

I agree, a longer axe is very nice for the majority of the route and true to the Daiber style of the FA. Of course that ascent was in September, and I doubt they even had 12 point crampons. True hardmen!

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Much of my advice would be centered around strategy/itinerary, however the guides will be deciding that. I found on Lib Ridge like many of the classic steep volcano routes, that a piolet and second tool was a great combo.

 

Most of the ridge is not that steep and all of the descent is not either so having a longer tool was nice. The modern technical piolets would be great for this (e.g. Petzl Sum'Tec, Grivel Air Tech Evo, etc). Certainly better than the SMC/REI Shuksan axe- SMC Himmalayan hammer combo I rocked, which still felt plenty secure.

 

I'm with Dan on the tools. A regular ice axe will serve you well on most of the climb and all of the descent. If you are competent on snow and ice you'll probably need the second tool for no more than about 500 feet vertical.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At this point I'm ready to go with a Sum'tek and a newer Cobra hammer. I've done a lot of ice climbing so I'm good for that. Thanks for everyone's advice so far!

 

I'd love to hear how you'd attack this on your own DPS. Despite the fact I'm going with a guide, I could have planned out and done this trip without one... I feel confident enough in my skills to navigate to the ridge and move up it based on other TR's. I really just wanted to go "follow" with some folks who know the terrain for my first time. So, I would be interested to hear what your strategy would be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I'd love to hear how you'd attack this on your own DPS. So, I would be interested to hear what your strategy would be.

 

I would plan for three days (we did it in two days - 30 hrs car to car but if I were to do it again I would take three days. The hike into Thumb Rock was a 12 hour suffer fest during the hottest week of the year).

 

Day 1: Be at the White River Ranger station when they open, be packed, dressed, and ready to rock and roll. Get permits, drive to the TH and start hiking. Hike to Glacier Basin, up and over St Elmo' Pass, under Curtis Ridge to the edge of the Carbon Glacier and bivi before you have to drop down onto the Carbon. The terrain here is pretty flat.

 

Day 2: Get a dawn start, drop down onto the Carbon via a steep climber's path through the scree. Cross the Carbon, gain the toe of the ridge and hike the ridge (we did climber's right side) to Thumb Rock. Set up camp, rest, hydrate, eat.

 

Day 3: Alpine start, climb to Liberty Cap, traverse to the tourist's summit, descend Emmons Glacier and hike out.

 

Take a two extra days of fuel and an extra day of food. Don't climb up into a storm, seems obvious but a lot of folks still do it.

 

Obviously go light, go fit, go hydrated. Take care of yourself, use sunblock often, drink often, keep your feet dry, don't overheat. The usual stuff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DPS, thanks for the "strategy" post. I think if I was doing that on my own that it would be the same itinerary. Honestly, our only change on the guided climb from your 3 day approach is that we might opt for descending down the DC instead of the Emmons because we can have a happy guide pick us up in Paradise instead of getting back to our car at White River. The other problem? We'll probably take an extra night on the descent. If we could convince the guides that we could just head back to the cars on the descent, I'd be all for it. I hate the "extra night" on the descent - especially if I'm at Camp Muir (really? We're gonna sleep here when I'm 2 hours from the car and civilization?)

 

I'm not surprised that the 2-day was agressive. I see how in great glacier conditions that you could get over to the base, up the schrund and to thumb rock in one push.

 

Anyone done Lib Ridge from the NW side of the mountain? Carbon entrance?

 

Also, I think that most won't descend if they can get above the ice cap. I do have a friend (guide) who bivied near the summit in a moat with a team of beat up clients. Other than that, I've not heard of a descent down the ridge. I'm certain people have probably turned at or below Thumb Rock.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not surprised that the 2-day was agressive. I see how in great glacier conditions that you could get over to the base, up the schrund and to thumb rock in one push.

 

We climbed it July 15-16, 1996. Crossing the Carbon and climbing the lower ridge was certainly the crux of the whole thing. That time of year the Carbon was way melted out. We were dropping into crevasses and climbing out the other side. Gaining the toe of the ridge required climbing unprotectable 5th class moves on rock the consistency of a pile of unmortared bricks. Conditions above Thumb Rock were pretty ideal however, and we climbed from TR to Liberty Cap in under 2 hours.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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?

 

I climbed it in mid-july, solo, and had no problem down-climbing the route (that had been my plan as I approached from Carbon River). There was about 40 feet right out of Thumb Rock, about 400 feet of ice around the Black Pyramid, and the short exit pitch where I down-climbed facing in. For all of the rest of the route I walked down facing out. Most of it is rarely if ever more than 35 degrees but the consequences of a fall may include a 4,000' bobsled ride.

 

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×