Yes, Ptarmigan Ridge is still remarkably "in"!!! The route
has full coverage from top to bottom and is probably 60% ice and
40% firm snow. We climbed while the freezing level was up to
14,000 ft. making for a comfortable night's stay at the high camp and since the sun doesn't reach the upper portion
of the route until 11:00am, we were able to sleep in a little bit.
Notes, the schrund at the bottom of the ramp
appears like an obstacle at first but is actually easily climbed up some easy rock and pumice without much deviation from the direct line. Making the traverse from the top of the ramp to the first snow/ice chute was probably the crux, requiring a horizontal traverse on steep water ice with great exposure. Once past the
traverse however, the climbing is classic with a mix of ice and snow that is well protected. The rock step at the top of the route, although tedious to access, was easily climbed in crampons on the right hand side where you can find one fixed pin for the 5.7 move. After this, you top out on the Liberty Cap Glacier and have a couple hours left of glacier travel
before reaching Liberty Cap. The route finding here was pretty straight forward but be sure to re-rope for glacier travel as several large crevasses are crossed or schrund bulges climbed.
Gear, 3-4 ice screws for simul-climbing and possibly a couple more if you want to actually pitch out the ice sections. We only used 2 pickets, which seemed adequate enough, and although not required, a small selection of
small to medium nuts could prove useful and on occasion save the use of an ice screw. 2 ice tools also make for a much better time while climbing.
All told, Ptarmigan Ridge is still in great shape and highly recommended...particularly over Liberty Ridge as the approach
for this climb has become troublesome at best. The photos above
and right more or less tell the whole story. Come check it out
while it still lasts.
See you on the mountain!
July 10th, 2011
Ptarmigan Ridge is in fantastic shape right now! The approach from Mowich Lake was mostly on firm, consolidated snow (in the am) and travel along the lower ridge (above spray park) was relatively efficient. The route above 10,3 camp (standard route, not ice cliff) had some awesome climbing on snow/ice. There were multiple sections of solid water ice and steep snow, you will definitely swing your tools. The climbing on the upper Liberty Cap glacier was straight forward, no major difficulties. The route seems like it will be in for a while longer, so get up here and enjoy some of the best steep climbing on the mountain!
June 15th -
Route appears to be in great shape. Prepare for a long approach through deep unconsolidated snow for a while still. The Mowich lake road is scheduled to open July 1st, but that is condition dependent. Check the Mt. Rainier road report for further information.