Nothing too new report, other than some up close and personal images of the upper route. It almost looks like the ice is entirely covered. This aerial image take of the Liberty Ridge climbing route was taken on May 30th.
As for route reports, here goes...Jeff Ward of RMI reports the following conditions (w/ edits) on May 24th. He attempted to guide the route then.
"We made it to Thumb Rock, but descended due to the amount of new snow (appox. 30cm overnight on May 22). The snow fell at decreasing temps and light winds. We were able to kick off many loose snow avalanches on our descent but had no slab development...The Carbon is broken but manageable. It should last for several weeks.
Access to the ridge was surprisingly easy this year. We used the left route up the glacier (not using the traversing bench at 8,200'). We gained the ridge much higher than I have in the past, starting the climb to the ridge at aprox. 8,900'. The climbing consisted of one short belayed pitch (50+ degrees for 10 meters, 25 meter pitch total) followed by easy short roping (40 degree soft snow), with good snow cover all the way to the crest. Accessing the ridge this way avoided the entire lower angle ridge climbing near the toe."
Here is the May 21 report....
Most climbers were approaching this route from Ipsut Creek Campground. The road to White River Campground is still closed (but opens on Friday). There is solid snowcover above Dick Creek Camp.
Access the Carbon at 7,200 feet, easy. Most climbers are skipping the lower ridge; instead, they reach Thumb Rock camp from the west by directly climbing the 35-45 degree snow snow slope. BTW, climbers have been reporting rock fall in this section and at Thumb Rock. Some have been sleeping w/ their helmets on, and another reported a tent ripped by rockfall!!
From Thumb Rock up, most teams have been taking the left access and avoiding the icy chute to the right. The chute, however, looked good by all reports; it was filled with Styrofoam snow. Our team found firm snow in the left variation, which made for solid boot kicking up and until the Black Pyramid (about 3-5 inches of boot purchase.) Once on the Black Pyramid, the snow became quite stiff (i.e. excellent cramponing, either French Tech or front-pointing with minimal purchase.)
The final icy pitches near the summit were interesting. There are numerous variations in which to finish the route. Our team reported 55 degree ice over snow. The bergschrund was a serious crevasse to negotiate too, so bring the rope.
It seems that many teams have been taking crevasse falls between Liberty Cap and Columbia Crest; heads up in that area. Liberty Ridge photos by Mike Gauthier and David Gottlieb