Liberty Ridge

Liberty Ridge Route Conditions - August 1st

No one has made an attempt on the route for the past few weeks. At this time, the Carbon Glacier is heavily crevassed, and the entire lower ridge to Thumb Rock has melted. By most standards, this route is considered "out," and not recommended.

July 8th report

A few teams are still attempting Liberty Ridge despite the difficulty of negotiating the Carbon Glacier and the rockfall on the ascent to Thumb Rock. This route is still "in" but has a high objective danger. The crux of the route continues to be the the ice pitches above the bergschrund just below Liberty Cap.

Here are a few excerpts of recent firsthand reports. We received a report from Greg Parker who climbed the route with partner Mark Stute June 23-25. Greg reports (with edits):
"The route, overall, was in exceptional shape once on it. The difficulties we found were one sketchy snow bridge on the upper Carbon Glacier . . . and the final 2 pitches exiting the Liberty headwall.

The lower ridge was in typical shape, crummy rock and sloppy snow, but getting onto the ridge proper was pretty straight forward. We accessed it from the West side of the ridge, fairly low, following a very prominent boot track.

From thumb rock, the main boot path went left (east) of the rock, but the center route looked doable with the first 15 feet on thin, but solid ice. We opted for following the somewhat decent steps around the East of the rock to get above Thumb Rock.

The condition of the snow up to the Black Pyramid was beautiful neve and very straight forward . . . The final 2 pitches of the ramp were bare, hard glacial ice.

The route up to the headwall was very easy on 3-4" of nicely consolidated wind blown powder and the route through the upper crevasses was easily negotiated.

We could see two routes exiting to Liberty Cap and chose the center (the other boot track was up the ice ramp above the rocks on the left).

I felt this was the crux of the climb, with a 50-60 foot, 65-70 degree face of somewhat consolidated glacial snow which was unprotectable until reaching the top. The bergshrund was easily crossed followed by a short pitch (60-70 feet) of WI2+/WI3 hard, glacial ice, which led to the upper snowfields below Liberty Cap.

We felt the climb was straight forward but challenging and fun."

We received a report from Jerry Dodrill who completed the route on June 21st. Here are highlights of Jerry's report:

"Access to Liberty Ridge is best from the right side of the toe. Watch out for rock fall coming up onto the ridge . . . Tracks go left above Thumb Rock. The ice straight up is a thin smear, not in shape. There was several hundred feet total of ice on the route, with the most steep/significant being at the exit onto the summit ridge. 65-70 degrees maybe? Made for a nice surprise finish.

We took four screws and two stakes. Should have had five screws and three stakes. Simul-climbed the whole route roped, using Ti-blocs. Pretty good conditions, route is in great shape. Nothing else super exciting, but it sure was fun."
June 8th . . .

I received this report from Sean Walker and Gill Bearnson.

Here is the June 5th route conditions report.

A team from Nevada ascended Liberty Ridge last week, but not without excitment… One member "ended up with 10 fingers and 5 toes getting burned." It seems as though four of the fingers may have serious frostbite too, which is the result of a few unplanned bivouacs high on the mountain.

Overall the team felt that the climbing route was in great shape… if you like lots of DEEP snow. Chris Nunzir (with edits) found, “Waist deep wallowing from Thumb up to the top.” He goes on to say that,
“We knew we had weather coming in and bivied at 13K on Wednesday, but Thursday added 12-20 inches of new snow.” They noted a large avalanche had swept the upper route during the storm. It,

“cleaned out the chute above and right of the Black Pyramid, so we traversed one at a time across the main slope to gain the chute climbers’ right of Liberty Cap.”
There they found some dicey crevasse problems but travel was straight forward.

As the team reached the summit, the weather again closed in. Friday was miserable so the team made little progress. On Saturday, the weather finally broke enough for the team to descend the Emmons. They checked in at Camp Schurman and reported the frost bite.

A few important points here, Liberty Ridge is susceptible to avalanches. In 2004, 2 climbers were swept off the route at 13,000 feet and there have been reported problems in years past. With all the recent snowfall, climbers should consider the potential for avalanche activity. We have posted the Northwest Avalanche Center’s spring avalanche statement here.