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catbirdseat

Ptarmigan Ridge

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Can anyone give me some beta on Ptarmigan Ridge? I'm thinking of giving it a try as soon as the road to Mowich Lake opens. There are several route options.

 

--Brian

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You can get in much earlier if you approach from White River. Parking at White River also sets you up for a relatively easy deproach.

With regard to route beta, I didn't know there were that many options. You climb the snow and ice field and trend left into a broad gully that ends at the base of a rock wall. Skirt the wall on its right side for a few rope lengths to were the exposure is over the Mowich face and where there are some escape gullies through it. We had expected 4th class terrain while skirting the rock wall, but instead discovered brittle clear ice. For the escape gullies, I took the second one encountered, and there was a fixed pin to help protect moving over rock. Then, it's kinda over. You've got a long slog up the low angle ridge towards Liberty Cap. Navigating towards the ridgecrest helped us cross a large bergshrund.

No doubt the route changes much each year and each month during the season. Beta might not help much.

BTW, IMO, Liberty Ridge is more aesthetic. Though never as hard as Ptarmigan Ridge, it's consistent over a much longer section. Both good routes.

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That's quite a long slog coming in from White River, but it it does avoid the damn car shuttle. Would you suppose the route goes easier in May than in June? WR opens typically mid-May and Mowich in early June. Another advantage of WR is that the extra day you spend on the approach serves to acclimatize the climber and may reduce problems on the route.

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Jim Nelson covers this route in his guide, vol 2.

 

As for Mowich Lake road, if you are going to wait for the road to open, you will never climb; the route typically is way out of condition by mid-June. Best time to climb it is May in typical year, when or even before White River opens.

 

You can approach it from Ipsut Creek, thats a std approach for Lib Ridge in early season and since Ptarmigan is a bit of an "earlier" route than lib ridge, it makes sense.

 

But the hike from White River really isnt that bad at all, considering its mostly sidehilling, then down onto the Carbon, and more traversing...so not strenuous, anyway. I would take a day to approach from White River to the base of the route at 10,000, but more than a day coming from Ipsut probably. I remember going to Thumb took 2 days from Ipsut in April of 95.

 

Anyway - with decent snow conditions it would be fun!

 

Alex

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May, or June? Depends on the year and your own schedule. Personally, I'd wait until the trailhead at White River opens and a cattle trail gets beaten into Liberty Ridge. It's just a grim slog up to the 10,000' bivy from the Carbon Glacier. Sweet exposure for the last 1/4 mile, too. Further advice? Start the approach --which you can do in a day-- very, very early to avoid wading through mash potatoes.

good luck

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Freeclimb: I think you're talking about Liberty Ridge, now. Personally, I would probably take two days to get to thumb rock because when I climbed it (in early July), the rocks started rolling off the rockbands on the lower part of the ridge by noon -- so I'd rather climb up to thumb rock in the morning. And I'd descend the route, too, rather than the carry over. But that's just me.

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I did Ptarmigan in two days. I climbed Liberty Ridge a few years ago in two and a half (1st week in June, as I recall), but only because we were so itching to start that we began hiking the evening we arrived. If you go earlier (late May, early June), snow coverage simplifies the approach and route conditions can be more forgiving (it's easier on MY legs to climb neve rather that ice, anyways). Downclimbing Ptarmigan ridge would suck. The chute under the rock wall is a shooting gallery. No place to linger fucking with rap anchors, IMO. If you go light --and why wouldn't you-- a carry over isn't too bad and get you on a lot more of the mountain. The technical difficulties of Ptarmigan ridge are over at the top of the rock wall where you're still a couple thousand feet from Liberty Cap's summit. BTW, there's an awsome bivy platform just before the gully through the rock wall. If you linger on the route, it would be spectacular to stay a night there.

(For Liberty Ridge, if you got an alpine start on the approach, you could be at the Thumb before lunchtime walking at a leisurely pace).

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