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  
wingy

‘No chance of survival’ for 6 (2+4) on Lib Ridge

Recommended Posts

I had a bad feeling about this spring... with those weak layers that formed way back in Nov/Dec - we're just now melting down to them. I wondered how bad the avy danger was going to be :/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I had a bad feeling about this spring... with those weak layers that formed way back in Nov/Dec - we're just now melting down to them. I wondered how bad the avy danger was going to be :/

 

I think a question to ponder is whether it was a snow avalanche or due to ice fall off of Liberty Cap. I have also seen it reported that it was a climber fall. Either a sad situation and outcome.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very sad indeed, and condolences to the families. It's been a bad year. :(

 

Alas, we will likely find out it's another example of out of town climbers pushing climbs in marginal weather due to scheduled travel plans and guide commitments. Must we keep learning this same lesson every couple of years?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was wondering the same thing. Seems unlikely multiple rope teams would have all fallen from something like a single misstep or something. Regardless, sad situation and condolences to friends and families.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rip to climbers and condolences to family and friends. Sounds like equipment was spotted at the base of the Thermogenesis Couloir. I seem to recall park rangers having recovered victims of a similar accident from this location in the not to distant past. Based on TRs this spring Liberty Ridge has been unusually icy. A fall that entangled multiple ropes is certainly a possibility. Again there was an accident just like that on the hogs back of Hood 10ish years ago that resulted in a spectacle of crashing helicopters. Ultimately all speculation as to what occurred.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

media reports say "Tents, clothing, and debris were located by helicopter searchers, over Carbon Glacier".

 

i don't think searchers would have identified/observed 'tents' unless those tents were set-up before the fall to the carbon. that is, it's improbable the 6 were in the act of climbing, fallen, and had their tents come out of their packs to the point where they were identifiable from SAR flights.

 

as such, wondering if this means clients were moving slow and they had an unplanned bivy around 12,800 and were avy'd off in the night (or hit buy big serac)...?

 

any inside intel?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JoshK it was a guided group from Alpine Ascents.

 

Yes, I realize that. Out of town climbers also hire guides, and thus why i mentioned 'guide commitments.' Perhaps it will turn out to be an entirely local group, but at first glance the decision to keep pushing up in marginal weather leads me in that direction. Though given the information so far, weather may be a red herring.

 

Regardless, it goes without saying the point is moot and the end result sucks none the less.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wondering if this means clients were moving slow and they had an unplanned bivy around 12,800 and were avy'd off in the night (or hit buy big serac)...?

 

From the Seattle Times article posted above:

 

The lead guide for the missing climbers is Matt Hegeman, Alpine Ascents confirmed this afternoon.

 

He checked in with the company on Tuesday, saying the whole crew made it to Thumb Rock at about 10,700 feet, according to an Alpine Ascents blog post. Then on Wednesday, the group said by phone they reached 12,800 feet and planned to camp for the evening. They have reportedly not made contact since. (An earlier Today File post incorrectly said this group turned around at 13,000 feet due to bad weather.)

 

At this point it is unclear if due a snow avalanche or serac fall or climbing fall. That said, given they have mentioned seeing tents I have assumed they were hit by an avalanche during the night.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How often do big slides like this come down Lib Ridge, I wonder.

 

Any locals have a feel for whether or not this is a portent of things to come? Wondering if the route is becoming less safe as conditions change over the years.

 

I know that there are some routes on other mountains that used to be relatively safe 20 years ago, but have become very dangerous now due to changing glaciation patterns. Is Liberty Ridge changing to become less stable and less safe?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is Liberty Ridge changing to become less stable and less safe?

 

It's melting out earlier down low- the Carbon and the part of the ridge below Thumb Rock. I was surprised to see so much alpine ice so early in the season on the TR from early May. That is also unusual.

 

Regardless of your belief about the cause, the glaciers are rapidly disappearing and our winter precipitation pattern has changed substantially in the last 25 years. Getting 50% of our winter snowpack in a couple weeks, like we did this year, results in an uncharacteristically unstable snowpack that melts out faster.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a solemn reminder that mountains do not care. It doesn’t matter how strong you are, how much you’ve prepared, how much you love the mountain. Just as the proper training will help us succeed, I'm learning we also need a heavy dose of luck. We don’t succeed on our own. We succeed because the mountain decided that today we get to enjoy its summit. My thoughts are with the fallen climbers and their friends and family.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If they were at 12,800 they were above the Black Pyramid. Above the pyramid the slope pitch backs off for a bit on the Liberty Cap Glacier. Just below the summit of Liberty Cap there is a one final headwall. An avalanche or serac fall could have started in a variety of places and hit tents below.

 

Given reports of icy conditions it's the only place where setting up tents seems realistic between Thumb Rock and Liberty Cap summit.

 

After looking at recent aerial photos of the mountain glaciers and snowpack, both have diminished quite a bit since the 80s.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is Liberty Ridge changing to become less stable and less safe?

 

It's melting out earlier down low- the Carbon and the part of the ridge below Thumb Rock. I was surprised to see so much alpine ice so early in the season on the TR from early May. That is also unusual.

 

Regardless of your belief about the cause, the glaciers are rapidly disappearing and our winter precipitation pattern has changed substantially in the last 25 years. Getting 50% of our winter snowpack in a couple weeks, like we did this year, results in an uncharacteristically unstable snowpack that melts out faster.

 

Sorry to hear about the loss of these climbers. So sad to hear.

 

I am not sure the winter precipitation has changed substantially in the last 25 years (in terms of snowfall). I think Cliff Mass from the UW has pretty much debunked this idea.

 

In fact it just came out today that the the snowpack at Mt. Rainier just had its 6th highest June 1st total in the past 31 years. I wonder how much the PDO brings about large storms later in the winter though. Recently there has been some pretty wet late winters/early springs.

 

 

Edited by Seraphim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JoshK it was a guided group from Alpine Ascents.

 

Yes, I realize that. Out of town climbers also hire guides, and thus why i mentioned 'guide commitments.' Perhaps it will turn out to be an entirely local group, but at first glance the decision to keep pushing up in marginal weather leads me in that direction. Though given the information so far, weather may be a red herring.

 

Regardless, it goes without saying the point is moot and the end result sucks none the less.

 

My mistake, I understand what you were getting at now. And yes, a moot point indeed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In fact it just came out today that the the snowpack at Mt. Rainier just had its 6th highest June 1st total in the past 31 years.

 

Got a source for that?

 

Amount of snow isn't the only pertinent metric. I climbed Rainier in mid-January and it looked like October up there. We had to carry our skis down from Cath Gap because the snow wasn't continuous and we were barely able to sneak through at Pan Point on skis.

 

So all that "6th highest June 1st total in the last 31 years" snow came down in late storms that don't compact into lasting snowpack or bond with the icy layer(s) below. So the snowpack is more unstable and melts out faster. The firn line recedes and we get icy slopes or loose rock on the mountain like we have on Lib Ridge right now.

 

Whatever. Six people are dead, including someone I know. Suckfest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

for every one of us living in this world

means waiting for our end

let he who can achieve glory before death

when a warrior is gone

that will be his best and only bulwark

:(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

12,800 seems an unusual bivi. I can't help but wonder if this was a scheduled stop.

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  

×