Mount Rainier - Liberty Ridge, June 2003
Great weather, stable snowpack and very manageable glacier crossings made for a most enjoyable climb of one of Rainier's most challenging routes! All in all, it was a relatively straightforward climb for us and thanks to the boot path we made it up to Liberty Cap from high camp (just below Thumb Rock ~ 10k ft) in around 7 hours. We encountered sustained 40 - 50 snow/ice and exposure, but nothing really "technical" per se. We soloed most of the route (about half of it in the dark since we left camp at 2am) except to belay a funky move getting over the bergschrund right at Liberty Cap. We didn't encounter anybody on the route and judging by those snoring away at Thumb Rock when we passed by there early that morning, we weren't going to.
There's something to be said about climbing this route in total darkness...one can't SEE the exposure. Also, Tom and I somehow got separated in the dark and each took our own line for a couple hours before regrouping at the top of the Black Pyramid. Imagine - a thin crescent moon, the stars, the orange glow of city lights in the distance, the faint light reflecting off of ice cliffs looming overhead above Willis Wall and Ptarmigan Ridge...and then there's you, swinging tools and front pointing up an endless face of snow and ice. Yep just you, the mountain and that nagging question you keep asking yourself - "what the hell am I doing?" It was surreal, intense and exhilarating all at the same time. We walked across the vast summit area from Liberty Cap to the Emmons Glacier. Not feeling the need to slog over to the "true summit", we simply descended down to Camp Schurman and returned to the car feeling more than elated with what we had accomplished. (more...)
Click here to view photos.