Liberty Ridge Car to Car

Sunrise on Liberty Ridge

Sunrise on Liberty Ridge

My first climb up Liberty Ridge on June 1, 2013 was in tough conditions.  We wallowed in waist-deep snow to above Thumb Rock, had no signs of prior climbers or boot packs, climbed a ton of low-angle ice on the upper slopes, had two pitches of technical ice climbing to gain Liberty Cap, were hit by 100mph winds on the summit and on our way down the Emmons, did an unplanned night at Camp Shurman, and were generally shellacked.

This trip was way different.  The snow was nice and firm and there was a boot pack up most of the route.  We used 1 screw and 1 picket to protect the only technical step and otherwise cruised up the route with little fanfare.

Finishing the technical step

Finishing the technical step

Dale talked me into the idea on Friday evening over dinner.  By 9:30pm, we'd left the house for White River Campground.  We left the car at 12:30am.

  • 3h - On the top of St. Elmo's Pass
  • 4h 45m - Dropped down onto the Carbon Glacier from Curtis Ridge
  • 6h 45m - Started up the ridge
  • 8h 20m - Thumb Rock
  • 14h 20m - On the top of Liberty Cap and beginning a nap
  • 15h 20m - Started down
  • 15h 40m - Met the Emmons Route
  • 15h 45m - Ran into and assisted a party of 3 with a skier who had fallen into a crevasse unroped at 12,900ft
  • 16h 20m - Arrived at Camp Shurman and called SAR for the party
  • 17h - Started down the Interglacier
  • 19h - Made it to the car

The Valkyrie on Aasgard Sentinel

Traversing to the hidden hand crack

Traversing to the hidden hand crack

Climbing Acid Baby last August with Will was awesome—the route and rock were both of very high quality. It only made sense that The Valkyrie would be similarly awesome.

Dale and I got an early start from Seattle on Saturday morning, leaving town at 6am and then leaving the car at the trailhead just shy of 9am. We arrived at the base of the route before noon and found a bunch of parties on Acid Baby while there was only one group of three on The Valkyrie and they were already well into the second pitch. Whew. Our plan to take the second shift worked out. We ate lunch and then headed up.

The first pitch crux was a little tricky but not too bad. Pitch two was much more sustained and quite fun, with a long hand crack section on very grippy rock. The rightward traverse on pitch 4 into the hidden hand crack was especially memorable. From there, more fun moves and lower-angle climbing brought us to the knobby face and then on to the shared ridge finish. We completed that by 5:45pm, having taken our time on the route to enjoy it. A weather system had threatened us around 2pm, but it ended up blowing past us to the West, so we lucked out.

The summit had great views and was an easy walk off. We descended quickly and floated on some whiskey from the lake down, arriving at the car just after 9pm for a 12-hour car-to-car time. Great route—perhaps even better than Acid Baby!