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[TR] RAINIER - Liberty Ridge 7/3/2013 - Liberty Ridge 7/3/2013

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Trip: RAINIER - Liberty Ridge 7/3/2013 - Liberty Ridge

 

Date: 7/3/2013

 

Trip Report:

[font:Arial]Liberty Ridge

Mount Rainier National Park, WA

3-8 July 2013

Climbers: Alissa Doherty, David Maver, and Sterling Wall

 

What follows is a trip report for a six-day climb of Liberty Ridge on Mount Rainier, Washington from July 3rd to 8th, 2013. Two climbers from Boston and one from Philly meticulously planned a 3-4 day ascent of the ridge, and quickly found themselves winging it in late-season conditions.

 

Day 1: 3 July 2013

We were one of the first groups to register as the White River Ranger Station opened, and hit the trail in high spirits at 0830. At Glacier Basin, we met a team that was coming down after a successful climb of Liberty Ridge. They described the route as, “a little slushy.” We reached St. Elmo’s Pass at noon and traversed across the Winthrop glacier, intending to establish a camp near the Carbon at about 7500’. We ran into unanticipated difficulties with fatigue and chose instead to establish a higher camp at around 8000’ on the Winthrop side of Curtis Ridge and make up for the distance with an early start and higher entry onto the Glacier.

 

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Day 2: 4 July 2013

We broke camp at midnight and traversed the remainder of the Curtis Ridge to the Carbon, maintaining an elevation of about 8000’ and descending as needed to reach gaps in the smaller ridgelines. To our surprise the ridge ended abruptly in a chossy cliff. Our headlamps could faintly distinguish a very broken Carbon Glacier a few hundred feet below. Humbled by our mistake, we descended the ridge to about 7100’ and gained the Carbon at 0300. We kept to the east side of the Glacier, which appeared to have a gentler slope and be in better condition. Climbing above 8000’, the glacier became more heavily crevassed and difficult to navigate. As the sun rose we saw a potential entrance onto the eastern side of the ridge, however sections of the route remained out of view and our efforts to bypass the large crevasses became more complex and committing. We eventually decided to end our push on the east side of the glacier before we reached a point of no return.

 

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Fortunately, we spotted an older set of tracks approaching the ridge from the west side of the glacier. We set up our second camp at 8300’ on a broken but flat section of glacier and successfully scouted a route to the tracks. Back in camp we considered our position. We had lost a day on the Carbon, but that wasn’t unusual in the later part of the season and we now had a clear route to follow to the ridge. Likewise, our fatigue from the previous day had not resurfaced, and the forecast was clear for the next several days. We opted to push on, but in doing so we missed a clear warning sign: the condition of the lower ridge. Little snow and ice existed on the eastern side of the ridge and this would cause us a number of headaches later on.

 

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Day 3: 5 July 2013

We again broke camp at midnight and began following our tracks from the previous day. They quickly led us to an easily distinguished set of tracks making straight for the ridge. Aside from a few widened crevasses requiring some additional navigation, our route was straightforward. We gained the toe of the ridge (8872’) at 0200 and began climbing up a frozen rock chute. Although initially easy, the climbing quickly became more tenuous and desperate, as snow gave way to frozen earth and gravel. After a few close calls, including a rock that knocked out our middle climber’s headlamp, we found ourselves straddling a broken, rocky ridge with much climbing still to go. Our options for travelling back to the Carbon Glacier rapidly diminished. We continued climbing for the next four or so hours, with conditions improving as we crossed occasional snow bands that provided us with protection (pickets) and a more direct means up the ridge. At a rock outcrop on the ridge I (Sterling) made the decision to cross left onto easier rock, however this decision ended up committing us to the eastern (sun-exposed) side of the ridge for the remainder of the climb. I can’t say for certain that the western side would have made for easier climbing, but the pictures above and below illustrate most of what we encountered on the eastern side.

 

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We spent the next 12 hours gingerly traversing the melted out ridge. The condition of the rock was the worst we ever climbed on. Almost nothing could be trusted to bear anything but the slightest pressure, and with the exception of a few very large and stable rocks that we could belay from, our protection was purely nominal. Slinged rocks only provided mental protection. Thankfully, rock gave way to the occasional snow field, which would at least accept a picket. At times we were able to climb above the small ridges above us and gain altitude, but our route appeared to be headed inexorably towards Willis Wall. At this point our carried water had been exhausted, but a steady runoff stream from one of the cliffs provided a much-needed supplement. Exhausted and demoralized, we eventually reached a large snow ramp that was still mostly intact, and discovered an older set of tracks making straight for Thumb Rock (10500’). We set up Camp 3 at the rock at about 2000. Rather than taking off immediately for the cap (night climbing being needed to reduce rockfall hazard) we opted for a rest day.

 

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Day 4: 6 July 2013

We spent most of the day resting in the rejuvenating sun, eating, and melting snow from around camp. Our surroundings quickly revived our spirits, and we opted to tackle the remainder of the ridge just after sunset.

 

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We departed at 2100 and chose to traverse left along the eastern route above Thumb Rock; the western routes having melted out. After a tricky climb over some rotten ice we found ourselves following a faint line of tracks by headlamp through the rocky bands that formed the black pyramid. With only two snow pickets in our group and the first day’s fatigue coming back with a vengeance, our pace slowed significantly.

 

Day 5: 7 July 2013

At dawn we came to another treacherous rock traverse, this time spanning the entire rope length. The frozen earth held the rocks more securely in place, but provided very little purchase for our crampons. Since we had three climbers on the rope, we had to establish an intermediate belay station on the rock slope, a risky but ultimately successful move. Conditions improved markedly after this section, with rock bands giving way to a pure snow slope leading up to the cap. A few inches under the snow we found good enough ice to take screws and establish a proper simulclimb, and our pace increased despite the warming sun. On reaching the gentler upper slopes around noon, what should have been an easy walk to the bergschrund turned into a crawl, with crushing fatigue from altitude affecting one of our party. A slower place and ibuprofen allowed him to partially recover. We soldiered on, eventually climbing the ‘schrund around 14,000. We followed melted out tracks to the steeper walls of the cap and prepared for the final climb out. After our first pitch over some rotten ice we were abruptly confronted with a fracture line in the snow right across our intended path. Disheartened, we backed off our route and rappelled off of a picket down to the gentler slope above the ‘schrund. An attempt at a secondary route onto the cap proved equally fruitless, with the long sun exposure having turned the line into slush and rotten ice. We weighed our options, and decided to rappel off of a screw and downclimb to a spot just below the ‘schrund to set up camp and try again in the morning when the snow and ice had solidified.

 

Our spirits were at their nadir. Although only about 300’ below Liberty Cap, our available routes off of the ridge were blocked. We had used both of our contingency days, and although our food was holding out, we were low on water and fuel. We didn’t have reliable communication with our emergency contacts since Thumb Rock and they were sure to be worried. We had been up for 24 hours and our decision making abilities were diminished. Finally, although current weather conditions were clear, we didn’t know what weather the next day would bring. With those thoughts in our heads, we crammed three weary climbers into a two person tent for a windy night’s rest.

 

Day 6: 08Jul2013

Despite our fears, our plan worked flawlessly. Our streak of good weather held and the overnight winds slackened to a slight breeze by the morning. We climbed to our secondary route on solid ice and snow and quickly attained the cap, reaching Liberty Cap (14112’) just before 1030. Pausing only for a few minutes, we immediately started down, following faint tracks in the direction of Camp Schurman.

 

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In an attempt to intercept the tracks at a lower point, we found ourselves committed to a long traverse across a steep but relatively secure snow slope. As we continued the traverse, we noticed a small helicopter approaching. They drew level with us, and we dug our ice tools in as the helicopter slowly closed distance. With the helicopter hovering just 50 feet from us, the NPS rangers inside held up a whiteboard with our team name, asking if they’d found us. After some smiles and enthusiastic waves, we made our identities clear and confirmed that we were in good shape to continue down unassisted. Not long after, we noticed a wand sticking out of the slope ahead. Miraculously, our traverse had taken us directly to the main route back to Camp Schurman. Just after reaching the trail, we were able to make a final phone call from the mountain to our emergency contact confirming that we were in good shape and on the way down. Reinvigorated, we slogged down the remainder of the boot pack towards Schurman. Two climbing rangers that had been in the helicopter caught up with us on the way down and offered assistance and water. After thanking them profusely for their efforts on our behalf, we followed in their tracks and began the slow but relatively easy descent down to Camp Schurman. We traveled over the interglacier and down the trail, reaching White River campground at 1830. After a debrief by another NPS Ranger in the parking lot we departed safe and sound, with a healthy dose of respect for the mountain, and those who choose to climb on its slopes.

 

Analysis:

It’s often hard to say what could have been done differently to produce a better outcome, but here are a few things the quickly come up in our immediate analysis.

 

Gear: We should have brought at least one additional snow picket and an additional fuel canister. We attempted to purchase an additional picket once in the SEATAC area, but attempts to find one went unfulfilled. At times we used our second tool as snow anchors to good effect. Six days put a strain on all of our supplies on hand, but carrying more batteries, socks, and the like would likely not be prudent given the intended duration of the climb.

 

Team: Our skills were up to the climb, but we could have benefited from additional conditioning to move faster and simulclimb more efficiently. In the early part of the climb, blood sugars ran high in our climber that has Type 1 Diabetes, slowing his pace and requiring extra time to manage. Each member of the team communicated well and spoke openly. Each member also brought unique skills for the trip and provided good perspectives at key points in the climb.

 

Route Finding: We think that if a more experienced climber were to look at the eastern side of the ridge in those conditions, they probably would have known what to expect from a ridge traverse. We should probably have scouted further up the western side of the Carbon on Day 2 to determine if the snow slopes further back were intact in daylight. Instead, not knowing if the upper western Carbon was navigable, we gained the ridge at the first opportunity and found ourselves in over our heads on the rock. Some additional scouting would have also told us if there was a viable escape route west of Thumb Rock. We did not check for such a route on our rest day. Instead, our decision to traverse the ridge from the toe appears to have led to many of our problems. That decision cost us time and energy, and exposed us to greater objective hazards. We very much regret moving to the eastern, baked-out side of the ridge. The western side probably would have provided better and safer climbing, but we were unable to get back to it.

 

Conclusion:

Sterling: If I had to answer the question “would you do it again”, my answer would be a bittersweet no; at least not in those conditions. Although we successfully climbed the ridge without major incident or injury, the conditions on our route for July 4th-6th produced far too many close calls to make the risk acceptable. Although we were aware that high temperatures would affect the route, we had no idea how hazardous that weather had made the lower slope. In effect, our climb was more of an escape from Liberty Ridge than an ascent. We were very, very lucky that the clear weather held out. The climb did create what I hope will be a lasting bond in our team. Despite the constant setbacks that the route appeared to throw our way, we remained committed to each other. This is the type of bond that you really only forge in extreme situations, and should be treasured accordingly.

 

David: I would climb LR again, but only if route conditions were much improved. I certainly would've liked to been in better physical shape. I incorrectly correlated the fitness of running trail marathons and ultras with hiking and climbing with a pack. Additionally, without recently hiking with a pack for an extended time, I incorrectly managed Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) in the first days of the climb. As with my fitness, I incorrectly compared management of T1D while running an ultramarathon to hiking and climbing. I sorted this issue out as quickly as possible. I was ecstatic at every moment with my two climbing partners’ understanding, patience, and willingness to accept T1D on our climb. T1D presents many additional risks and logistics and they took it all in stride.

 

I felt great with all of the climbing and enjoyed miraculous views and settings we found ourselves in even though so much danger existed. I greatly look forward to climbing with Alissa and Sterling again through the rest of the rock season and into ice season in the northeast. I anxiously await our next big climb!

 

Alissa: If asked whether I'd do it again, I'd echo the sentiments of my team members and say that I would not in the conditions we experienced. For my own part, I would do a few things differently.

 

I carefully tracked weather patterns leading into and during our climb but completely overlooked the effect that warm temperatures would have on our route other than what was reported in the week directly preceding our climb. I should have known that even a day can change a route drastically. The type of risk and climbing in late season is, from my own assessment, extremely different than in early season conditions and anyone attempting the route after a thaw should be prepared for the challenges noted above.

 

On the whole, this was an excellent learning experience for three previously untested climbers. Sterling and Dave were exemplary teammates and were in tune with my needs as I tried to be with theirs. I owe them much for their encouragement and ability to tough it out when things looked bleak. I hope to provide them the same support on future climbs!

 

We are sure there are plenty of other decisions that could have been made, and we welcome advice and constructive criticism.

 

Addendum:

We’ve attached some Google Earth data that we think pretty closely approximates our climbing route. The waypoints listed in the images were taken from Sterling’s GPS, while the route itself is an estimate based on his recollection and interpretation of our photographs. The satellite imagery from Google actually appears pretty close to the snow conditions we encountered, at least for the lower ridge.

 

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While it was good that you were able to slug it out without any assistance - you really fell victim to what I call visiting climber syndrome - traveling great distances to climb a route that was really out of shape. Changing objectives is often necessary and one needs to have flexibility. Especially, when one is unfamiliar with the hill.

 

Some other points for yourself analysis.

 

Many do not make all the way from White River to the Carbon on their first day. It is a slog. However, if you broke camp at midnight that means up were probably up at least an hour earlier which means perhaps 4 hours of sleep after your first long day with early acclimatization. The too early of a start had you dropping down on to the Carbon in the dark without any chance of scouting a route in the light. And you wasted time energy because of that. Time and energy that could have been used sleeping/recovering.

 

I would disagree with your assessment that losing a day on the Carbon was not unusual. It is unusual. While many under estimate the difficulties they are typically are able to traverse it and still make it to Thumb Rock in a day. They may come in late and may take a rest day there. Or they make the decision to turn around before getting on the ridge.

 

Your bivy on the Carbon was not wise. Serac fall from the Willis Wall happens regularly and fills the basin. You could have literally been blown into crevasse, buried, never to be found. It is here, before you gained the ridge that you really should have made the decision to retreat.

 

If I read correctly it took you 20 hours from the Carbon camp to Thumb Rock. All I can say is yikes!! All in all you got away with it, but the physical conditioning issues and especially the medical issue makes it sound like it was your first ascent at altitude. As Doug Scott once said "Pucky lads a wee bit over their heads"

 

 

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I agree with the assessment that you should have been able to cross the Carbon and up to Thumb Rock in a day. It is unusual to bivy on the Carbon and ScaredSilly is right - it's not a good place to stay long. If it was, I'm sure that there'd be more reports of a camp there. Just being under either wall for any extended time is putting you at risk.

 

I'm glad you guys duked it out with LR. However, I also agree that this was just not the time of year to make it happen. The route has such a really short window of safety and you folks were just about 2 weeks too late.

 

Good luck with your future climbing - I'm sure you've learned a lot.

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Thanks for the feedback guys! We had a gut feeling when the Carbon was so broken up that it might be time to call it a wrap but without experience to guide us, we pushed it.

 

Overall, the worst day was indeed the 20 hours of climbing to reach Thumb Rock. This had nothing to do with medical issues/conditioning though--we were just way in over our heads with no snow and no pro. Scared stiff by the choss, we pitched out traverses the entire length of the ridge but belaying was probably pretty useless in those conditions and we should have gone without for efficiency (or just turned around early...hindsight is 20/20!).

 

We were indeed pucky, and we were lucky!

 

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+1 to Scared silly's response. Knowing when to bail and accepting defeat are two very important parts of alpine climbing. Gut feelings are very important and should be heeded.

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you folks were just about 2 weeks too late.

 

I'd say a mere four days too late. Anastasia and Oleg climbed the ridge four days prior in generally good conditions. I would not have believed the route would have changed so fast had I not seen their photos and then the ridge with my own eyes the day the choppers were looking for you guys.

Edited by DPS

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That's a damn good point DPS. I forgot about that trip report and forgot that the route was pretty good right after the storm that thwarted my team.

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I'm really glad you guys came away from the experience unscathed and appreciate your detailed and honest account. It's pretty valuable for future LR climbers as you were very lucky but did show a lot of perseverance.

 

I'm sensing a lack of Cascade volcano experience, maybe overall mountaineering experience? I'm wondering if you can tell us how heavy your packs were as well? A max of 40lbs is preferred on this type of route.

 

Some observations/suggestions: Most route descriptions I've read clearly state to access the Carbon Gl at 7,200' and trend to the West side of Liberty Ridge up to Thumb Rock. A lot of this type of information is valuable to have accessible (I keep mine in my thigh pocket) as the memory can become fuzzy when under stress. I'll usually copy a route map or topo onto the back of a hand typed route description including the pertinent info like key elevations, approach data, landmarks, etc.

 

The term "rock" is used loosely in regards to Mt. Rainier. It's not really rock, more dried/frozen mud holding cobble's at best or just loose nasty scree more commonly. Climbers attempting this route should be comfortable on loose 3/4th class terrain with a full overnight pack at altitude. We spent maybe 2-3 hours climbing the ridge from the Carbon to Thumb rock. You really want to move fast here and reduce the amount of time exposed to the steady stream of rockfall. I can't imagine the stress you were under spending 20 hours in that zone.

 

It's uncommon for fatigue to improve as you ascend, good job managing what could've developed into severe ALS symptoms. I continued up Rainier once with a partner displaying those symptoms and by the time we reached the summit, he was hallucinating. It was scary and we were lucky his symptoms improved significantly by descending.

 

An extra fuel canister is always good insurance. Glad you guys survived.

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I agree with other posts about your climb. I'm a little surprised the rangers didn't give you more information and warnings about conditions on the route, which were obviously bad. While you were lucky to have completed the route without serious consequences, I hope you've learned some very big lessons and will be much more prudent on your next adventure. The 20 hours to ascend roughly 4 thousand feet, carbon to thumb, should have convinced you to back off because that is way too long and either you weren't ready for this climb or the route was way out of condition, or both. Four of us climbed LR some years back, and between us all we had about 80 years of climbing experience, most of it in the PNW, and also between us we had backed off from this route about 4 times over a several year period, mostly due to weather conditions on the mountain. If you had talked or corresponded with other climbers, like those on this list..., you could have learned much more than the guide books tell you, and, perhaps, have benefited from that knowledge. I can only hope, and say again, you realize how lucky you were and that you all learn from it.

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I think we all have climbs where we should have turned around, given our ability and the conditions, but didn't. Glad to hear that it sounds like you recognize this and will adjust future plans accordingly. Luck eventually runs out, unfortunately.

 

That said, I'm glad you held it together and came out of this friends. LR is a pretty serious undertaking in the conditions you experienced, as you now well know!

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We all had Cascade volcano experience, are proficient rock/ice climbers and two of us endurance train in low elevation mountains on rough terrain so we felt our skills were appropriate for Liberty Ridge. In reality, we should have tried a less committing route as a test piece. We did bring documentation on the route, GPS waypoints, and kept our packs under 35 lbs max weight. Our at-home preparation was extensive but it does not replace experience in the field.

 

We definitely hoped this report would be valuable to other climbers especially because we didn't encounter many trip reports in late season conditions in our research. For prospective climbers in warm temps or late season, I recommend being certain that snow gullies persist on the ridge or go home!

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A true tale of redemption and deliverance after some truly shite route finding! Or, once treed on the rock, exceptional route finding, depending on how you look at it. Probably the only thing worse than rock climbing the lower ridge would be to back off of it. No complicated post mortem required - the decision to abandon the regular route to gain the ridge in favor of charging your light brigade straight up was your Borodino - but when the war was finally over, you wound up being Wellington after all! And who knows how the regular route would have worked out? That live fire exercise is no picnic this time of year, either.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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thanks for sharing the TR. I enjoyed the play-by-play and imagine the shared experience will be a cherished memory any time you talk to one another in the years ahead.

 

It is an interesting contrast to the solo climber of mt jefferson trip report yesterday who had so much hubris in abilities that they didn't bring a map and hadn't even researched an iota of their climb to know if the north or south summit horn was higher, leading to them making a choice that led to a near death fall and injury, but tells people he doesn't need any lectures, doesn't want anyone to expose him, and doesn't give any post-op reflection "I'll carry a map from now on/research my route/etc", so he gets a bunch of 'cool story bro' responses.

 

you guys on the other hand lay it all out on the line with no bravado or extra ego stroking and offer reflection of your own choices yet get a stout amount of analysis from many posters (almost entirely constructive and well intentioned though). interesting..

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you folks were just about 2 weeks too late.

 

I'd say a mere four days too late. Anastasia and Oleg climbed the ridge four days prior in generally good conditions. I would not have believed the route would have changed so fast had I not seen their photos and then the ridge with my own eyes the day the choppers were looking for you guys.

 

I would agree with the two weeks - simply because Anastasia and Oleg have a wee bit more experience on the hill and as such know when to suck it up.

 

 

It is an interesting contrast to the solo climber of mt jefferson trip report yesterday who had so much hubris in abilities that they didn't bring a map and hadn't even researched an iota of their climb to know if the north or south summit horn was higher, leading to them making a choice that led to a near death fall and injury, but tells people he doesn't need any lectures, doesn't want anyone to expose him, and doesn't give any post-op reflection "I'll carry a map from now on/research my route/etc", so he gets a bunch of 'cool story bro' responses.

 

you guys on the other hand lay it all out on the line with no bravado or extra ego stroking and offer reflection of your own choices yet get a stout amount of analysis from many posters (almost entirely constructive and well intentioned though). interesting..

 

 

Water, very good observation. I read and commented on the other post as well. It got a bit winded so I do not recall the "no lecture" part. But if they do not want it so why post it. These folks seem like they would take the constructive analysis thus posted.

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I would agree with the two weeks - simply because Anastasia and Oleg have a wee bit more experience on the hill and as such know when to suck it up.

My house mate, Nick, was on Anastasia and Oleg's trip. I saw photos of the ridge from when they did it. The difference in conditions between when Anastasia and Oleg climbed it and the the conditions the OP's photos depicted are astonishing to me.

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I would agree with the two weeks - simply because Anastasia and Oleg have a wee bit more experience on the hill and as such know when to suck it up.

My house mate, Nick, was on Anastasia and Oleg's trip. I saw photos of the ridge from when they did it. The difference in conditions between when Anastasia and Oleg climbed it and the the conditions the OP's photos depicted are astonishing to me.

 

Dan, since your house mate was snoring profusely that day on Curtis and I literally got no sleep :grin: , we got sucked by mistake into the easterly Carbon approach of the ridge (as the OP team did) while gaining and subsequently loosing extra 500' on the convoluted terrain. After Nick developed altitude problems, we went back from the toe of the ridge to the Curtis camp down via westerly approach and downclimbed some AI2 along the way before reaching the point where the two approach variations split up.

By the time Oleg and the RockyJoe team arrived at the Carbon crossing in their one day push from the car to the Thumb Rock, I already knew so well where to go and where not to, so the second run through Carbon for me that day went "enjoyably" - just get into the 1 hr old tracks and follow them :).

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Congrats!

When we saw your tent at the Thumb rock from our Ptarmigan high camp, I thought THAT takes some motivation to climb one of the 50 NA classics in the skinniest conditions imaginable.

 

FYI: Ptarmigan Ridge which is just around the corner of the Liberty Wall is a superb, later season alternative when things gets too slow and hairy on the approach to the Thumb rock. Same approach via Curtis and low Carbon crossing conveniently put you on the Russel gl. and the PR high camp.

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I recall from two summers ago that the Carbon lured our party up and just East of the ridge toe before we U turned to the NW, dropped a couple of hundred feet or so, rounded the toe and wound our way back up to the schrund at the base of the neve face that leads directly to Thumb Rock on the ridge's Western side. Not a great place to stop for lunch.

 

Missing this U seems to be what screws some parties up late season.

 

The Carbon looks particularly broken up this year, however. Way more broken than in August 2 years ago.

 

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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I also thought the Carbon was impressively broke up when we got there (late June a few days before Oleg & Anastasia did it...) It was interesting because a few weeks before an IMG trip had taken a pic from Curtis camp and the Carbon looked nicely filled in. By the time we got there it was very much still crossable but already looked like an unmitigated mess.

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I enjoyed this after action report/TR and comments. Thanks to the OP's for offering it in the spirit they did. I've yet to climb this route, and found the current conditions info very interesting.

 

I also enjoyed the Mt Jefferson story referred to above. It was offered for "the gratuitous enjoyment of any who wish to read it". It wasn't difficult to discern the lessons contained therein, nor was it difficult to assume the OP of that well written, very funny story, was painfully appreciative of those lessons.

 

IMHO no post fact criticism and/or hand wringing was necessary there... Some folks dig that shit, some don't.

 

Apologies to OP for thread drift.

 

 

d

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Thanks Yocum, believe me we were practically drooling over the conditions on Ptarmigan Ridge after our trek up the rock. Definitely something to consider for groups facing similar conditions to ours. Regarding some of the later comments I've seen, even in hindsight its very difficult to say whether the Carbon would have been accessible via the more typical route. The boot pack we followed in the flatter, western sections around 8000' ran across several 2-3' crevasses that must have significantly widened in the few days since the last team went up. That said, it would have definitely been worth checking, rather than climbing the toe immediately. At the time we felt that our Carbon Camp (on one of the flatter fins behind Alissa in our second photo) was reasonably sheltered from rockfall on either side of the ridge, but as ScaredSilly pointed out we could have been in serious trouble in a larger event like a serac fall.

 

We were aware of the rockfall risk and erred on the side of caution by climbing at night, but in doing so reduced our visibility and, with our lack of familiarity with the ridge, chose correspondingly poor routes. As many posts have pointed out, this could have been mitigated by 1. seeking advice from forums like this, and/or 2. turning around.

 

Thanks everyone for your insightful comments. This is really great feedback and much appreciated.

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also sorry for thread drift just thought it was a really interesting juxtaposition and contrast between the two trip reports, couldn't be more different.

 

Again like your TR and thanks for the slick GE overlay, thats a nice bit of icing to have every step recorded.

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One of the best threads started from a TR that I've read on a real volcano route that was epic'd in style. I appreciate the perspectives of everyone including the OP and his partners. I think you got away with one - and I think you know that already - but this is indeed how you learn lessons by confronting the problems straight on and figuring out the solution. Good luck in your future endeavors and I think a bunch of us hopes we hear a TR from you folks again.

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