A PNW Summer – Part 2

By:  Sam
September 8, 2011

A few days after our nations birthday, Allen and I headed out to climb the Becky Route on the Liberty Bell. The route is a moderate, yet extremely classic climb in a dramatic spot, right on the Cascade Crest.

There was so much snow that we were able to skin right from the car to the base of the technical climbing.

Our objective came into view (the left-most high point)

I led the way up the gully. Later in the season this choss-filled approach gully is probably the most dangerous part of the route.

Mountain goats were everwhere. You had to be careful where you left your pack; goat were aggressively pursuing sweat-salt.

As I built the anchor at the start of the climb, almost exactly where the goat in the previous photo is standing, yet another goat walked past me on the ledge. They really aren’t shy at all.

Fun climbing + sun + great views = smiles.

On route.

The views from the top were spectacular. To the east, the land becomes arid, and very “colorado” looking. To the west; glacier capped peaks with dense old growth forests cloaking their flanks. The contrast is striking… just like this pose:

These mountains are what I like to call “little-kid” mountains: jagged triangular peaks that clearly define a horizon. You know, like a kid might draw.

We headed down as the sun got lower in the sky. The main hairpin on SR20 is visible in the background.

This photo pretty much sums up the day.

Bringing skis turned out to be a very smart move. We managed to save a ton of time getting back down to the car. In the background the glacial-clad peaks I spoke of earlier are visible.

The skiing got a little spicy in places.

Our trip to the Liberty Bell stands out in my mind for a number of reasons. Besides the fact that it was simply a ton of fun, it was also one of the least contrived multi-sport days I’ve ever had. Sure, I’ve skied and climbed in the same day on more than a few occasions, but never as part of getting to the top of one objective. Further, I first got interested in climbing not to do the hardest boulder problem there ever was, but to get to the top of interesting high places in the mountains. With that in mind, rock climbing often felt quite contrived… why climb several pitches of hard rock, when you could easily walk around and get the same view? The Becky route had none of this. Skiing was the easiest and fastest way to and from the base of the climb, and the route we chose to climb was the easiest way up the mountain (ie. if the summit was the goal, we weren’t needlessly adding difficulty). It felt pretty cool.

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Read about the author:   Sam
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  1. Harvey44
    wrote on September 8th, 2011 at 9:48 pm  

    Some great pics Sam and Allen. The tele shot rocks. I dig the philosophy of the last paragraph.

  2. bushman
    wrote on September 9th, 2011 at 6:29 am  

    morning….very nice shots…thanks. liked the shadow silhouette photo. great idea. when i was at Ranier july 19 most of the hiking trails were closed due to excessive snow, glad you took advantage.
    changing gear, drove to Jay at top of VT last weekend. saw lots of wiped-out roads, bridges, even a section of interstate 91 was under water SB in northern MA thanks to Irene’s 6″ of rain in a compressed peroid in the hills which turned streams to monsters. but also saw lots of people helping people they didn’t know, coming from all over, dropping off water or food and slogging mud out of basements, pulling out soaked rugs, thrying to salvage houses. even VT National Guard rebuilding roads to restore access, had to borrow 6 choppers from ILL NG as VT’s are in Afghanistan. Very cool to see this, lots of backwoods climbers, skiers and riders doing the work and jawing about last winter’s snow and where to find hidden stashes while carrying 5 gal pails of mud, helping people cope. very cool. saw some mudslides on stateside of jay P but only one trail. could have been worse, but Irene pounded lower and mid VT the worst.

  3. Ben
    wrote on September 9th, 2011 at 4:12 pm  

    I agree with the climbing philosophy sentiment, even though I have spent (and continue to spend) plenty of time projecting harder sport routes. At the end of the day sport climbing is fun and great exercise, but it is the long days spent alpine climbing that stand out as the most memorable climbing moments in my memory. That’s not to say there’s not room for both – in the same way I can have a great time skiing everything from days long backcountry trips in BC to skinning up or even riding lifts at Whaleback, NH – but alpine climbing really does a great job reminding you exactly what you can do with those rock skills.

    Great shots!

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