Liberty Ridge ~ July 11, 2011
Climbing Rangers made a two day ascent of Liberty Ridge over the course of the last shift and reported excellent climbing conditions... once on route. The photos below tell the basic story of the climb and the conditions. Although the route is expected to stay in good climbing shape through the end of July, the approach across the Carbon Glacier will likely prove troublesome by the beginning of August.
View of Liberty Ridge from Lower Curtis Ridge
Upper portion of route from Carbon Glacier
Lower portion of route includes cutting across the bergschrund from the Carbon glacier and then ascending straight up the "bowling alley" to Thumb Rock. Remember that it is called the "bowling alley" for a reason...be heads up! Snow conditions were firm with ice in some spots.
Lenticular clouds forming down-stream of Rainier
From Thumb Rock, the route still climbs left and then straight up to the Black Pyramid before traversing left again.
Climbing below the Black Pyramid with Thumb Rock in the background. Perfect neve snow made for secure tool placements, good cramponing, and quick climbing.
Nearing the top of the Black Pyramid after crossing left over to "the Ramp".
Excellent climbing conditions persist.
Bergschrund is still navigated on the left and requires several short but exposed moves on moderate water ice. Ice screws are recommended for this pitch as well as the exit pitch above.
Finishing off the route, just below Liberty Cap, with one more pitch of moderate ice.
All together, Liberty Ridge was still in great climbing shape and recommended to those seeking a little extra adventure getting across the Carbon glacier. Check with climbing rangers at the White River Ranger Station for the latest known conditions.
See you on the mountain.
Hunter and I went up Lib ridge on June 30-July 2. Crossing the Carbon was straightforward with a few end runs of larger crevasses. We took the direct line right up the steep snow slope to Thumb Rock, on the Liberty Wall side, to avoid the constant rockfall coming off the lower part of Lib ridge, although we still had to dodge a few missiles on that slope.
After Thumb Rock the route is mainly hard and featured snow/snice with some ice beginning to show near the Black Pyramid, although staying out in the middle of that upper slope avoided it. Crossing the berg is an easy pitch of low grade ice as well there is another longer pitch of low grade ice to get onto the last portion of the ridge before walking up to Liberty Cap. Overall the route was in great shape and will probably remain with similiar conditions for at least another week or so. - Henrik
Liberty Ridge is "in" and the climbing is great! The route up from Glacier Basin to St. Elmos Pass then across the Winthrop is still very snowy, making the Winthrop crossing pretty easy but potentially very postholy. Traveling very early in the day or using some sort of snow flotation device will make the approach go much quicker. The best-advised approach to the base of Liberty Ridge is now going up the center of the Carbon, then trending climber's right and gaining the base of the ridge on the west side.
The route proper is still mostly snow covered, although there is the snow-ice mix beginning to show in some areas above the Black Pyramid. Climbers will run into a bit of technical climbing high on the route crossing the schrund around 13,400'. Climbers have been navigating over the schrund on the climbers left side where there is currently a steep ramp leading to the lower angle slopes of Liberty Cap. To descend, parties will have to carry over to the Emmons, meeting up with that route in the 13,600' area, as there is a giant moat stretching across the length of the saddle at the top of the Winthrop.
Since the White River road opened just over a week ago Liberty Ridge has seen its first climbing traffic of the season. We haven't received a very detailed report of the route as of this time, but rangers did get an opportunity to scout the route from the air and it appeared to be in great shape (like pretty much everything else on the mountain). This picture is of the upper part of the route, and shows lots of snow, a little bit of ice, and a few climbers making their way over the bergschrund. Stay tuned for more detailed reports as rangers get out on climbing patrols in the near future.
No winter ascents have been done of Liberty Ridge, yet. The White River Entrance is scheduled (weather dependent) to open May 21st. Mowich Lake road is also currently closed. It is scheduled to open July 1st (this date varies quite a bit, but a better estimate will be available as the time nears). Here is a link to last year's photos and trip reports on Liberty Ridge.