telemark skiingbackcountry skiingPacific NorthwestWashington and Oregonweather linksThe Yuki AwardsMt. Rainier and Mt. Adams
Turns All Year
www.turns-all-year.com
  Help | Search | Login | Register
Turns All Year Trip Reports
Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
11/22/17, 01:09 AM

Become a TAY Sponsor!
 
Trip Reports Sponsor
American Alpine Institute
American Alpine Institute
Turns All Year Trip Reports
(1) Viewing these pages constitutes your acceptance of the Terms of Use.
(2) Disclaimer: the accuracy of information here is unknown, use at your own risk.
(3) Trip Report monthly boards: only actual trip report starts a new thread.
(4) Keep it civil and constructive - that is the norm here.
 
FOAC Snow
Info Exchange


NWAC Avalanche
Forecast
+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2014 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  April 2014 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
:
« previous next »
Pages: [1] 2 3 4 5 6  All | Go Down Print
Author Topic: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent  (Read 75854 times)
dave095790
Member
Offline

Posts: 143


11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« on: 04/14/14, 02:43 PM »

Similar Post on CC:  http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1122983#Post1122983

It started with a big ambition plan, the good luck of knowing a friend with a snowmobile, and a good weather window. The goal was a single push, ski descent of the Liberty Ridge, starting Friday night, 11 April; included in this was an easy transition to a backup of climb/ski over the weekend. I only got three pictures with my iPhone before it got too cold … wtf; thus Alex will have to submit the ones he captured.

We got a late start, and started skinning after the snowmobile ride just before midnight on Friday. We made expected fast time to Saint Elmo Pass (just over two hours) and only had to do crevasse avoidance shenanigans once (on the Winthrop Glacier around 7190 feet). Ski crampons were nearly required to make the continuous traverse at around 7200 feet. The drop off to the Carbon Glacier from the Curtis Ridge was spot on at 7200 feet, and no easily identifiable option existed above (as far as I could tell at 530am). We stopped before the toe in order to transition from skinning to technical climbing, we also melted snow and had some lunch around

Our climbing up was a little slower than expected, but not bad. The shrund was easily passed, and we opted to cross over to the east side of the ridge about half-way to Thumb Rock. We arrived at TR around noon.

Based on our climbing pace, the fatigue from not getting quite a good pre-climb nap, and our overall priority of the ski descent, we opted to overnight at TR and get a good rest, acclimate, and start again around midnight, Sunday morning. We each set at creating our own little snow cave, and essentially had the afternoon to relax in one of the most incredible landscapes on earth - cloudless, bright sun, moderate temperatures, complete silence – except for the clockwork regularity of avalanches from the Curtis and Willis Walls, transition to dusk then night, and a blinding (nearly full) moon.

No alarm was set, as it is unnatural to go to sleep at 3pm and stay asleep for more than 7 hours, so at 10pm Alex and I started getting ready to go. We at this point had not met the single-push goal, so we were essentially on a casual pace, with no real hurry, and just a whole lot of mountain and whole lot of time. We opted to go left above TR and essentially continued making left choices until we were forced to go right. We moved slow and steady, taking one large break around 3am to melt some more snow. Shortly after this my Suunto HR Monitor watch’s batteries died, along with my too-cold iPhone, meant I no longer had any notion of time.

This “left choice” eventually placed us at skier’s right, and at the base of, an enormous “snowfield” that was actually 30-45 degree ice. Sunrise (Sunday) occurred shortly before arriving at the ice field. Not expecting to do long or continuous technical climbing we only brought a 30m 8mm and a 35m 6mm tag line. From our original vantage point it was unclear is this would be a short section of ice, or run full length. We did a single 30m pitch hoping to reach a better vantage point. Needless to say, 30 meters sounds like a good distance – it’s not! The second pitch we did some pre-planning and discussed the options for simul-climbing should the need arise, and it did; we simuled about 2 rope length to get into a position to fully appraise the situation. The third and final lead was all simul, nearly 5 or 6 rope lengths of the 30m rope, to reach the end of the ice.

This put us in position to identify the break in the ice cap where we could climb up through. The gap was simple and straightforward – we soloed it. The climb (death slog) from that point to Liberty Cap was very windy (the windiest of my Rainier summits … this (finally) was the first), and seemed to go forever (hence, death slog). I thought it was right there … then this one … then maybe this one … then I’ll just wait to be surprised. We summated between noon and 1pm (maybe?).

Given that our overly causal day put us pretty late on top, we had a short discussion on the summit about the descent options, should we bail down the Emmons or go for the LR descent? We chose to go for the money …

We booted back down, choosing not to ski because of the horrendous wind, and made an easy rappel back down the ice step. I transitioned at the base of the rappel, and had probably the best turns of the day for the next 200 feet of vertical (little did I know). The snow turned to unskiable ice (as we experienced on the way up, but failed to make a good mental note), and the art of transitioning from skis to crampons was once again practiced. We down-climbed to the top of the “snow” (I mean “ice”) field and made two 30m rappels. This moved us to skier’s left where we could search for a ski line (in an area we had not climbed up) using the various topos from the guide books. We made another three 30m rappels through the steepest/continuous ice, connecting large sections of easily down-climbable terrain. Once again, we stopped for a lengthy snow melting break, around maybe 3pm.

Around 5pm we eventually settled on a line that looked like it would go … and it didn’t … another round of skis to crampons. Some down-climbing and back on skis for a good section of skiing, though with quality getting worse, eventually bad enough to not justify skiing … skis to crampons. There was one more final stretch of good skiing that once again ended with running out of real estate, and skis to crampons. We booted down the remainder of the ridge (sunset Sunday near the bottom), staying skier’s left and making a final 30m rappel through some ice that is climber’s right on the west side of the ridge while gaining TR.

Thanks to the GPS track from the approach we were able to ski full speed across the Carbon Glacier with headlamps, transition to skins, and gain the Curtis Ridge without a hitch. Our skin track was still visible enough to follow it all the way back to Saint Elmo Pass (we avoided the crevasse this time). We again stopped to melt snow, about halfway across the Winthrop Glacier. The climb up to Saint Elmo was crappy, the last thing we wanted to do was boot up a semi-supportable, but 99% breakable crust to just below the knee … really fun. We transitioned at the top, and crushed that slope in the dark – mega-bright headlamp skiing is one of the coolest things around. We were able to ski along the White River and to within one mile of the campground (sunrise Monday near the campground). Some snowmobile shenanigans and we were off. 31.5 hours camp to car.

Thoughts/Notes:

1) The Liberty Ridge has millions of options. I think people might get wrapped up in doing a specific section, or feature, and lose sight that the entire thing is the ridge, climb what you want and what looks fun. I think this mindset contributed to our “left choice” mentality instead of just going for something, and seeing what you get. I also think that the left options is significantly longer (overall distance traveled), which makes it a much more time consuming route.

2) I generally always follow the mindset to climb it before you ski it (if it is that type of terrain, and I would consider LR to be in the category). We did not follow this, and it cost us. The reason was the that length of time to get through the ice by rappelling would have been too long, and the terrain on the far climber’s left seemed that I would be placing you in a location not ideal for skiers … Next time, I would have put more thought into the up-route, and made sure that we were actively seeking our descent line, and making good mental (or working iPhone) notes.

3) Time and speed, we were really slow. This was hard to quantitatively notice because of a dead watch battery (it started at 100%) and a frozen iPhone. We stopped twice on the climb to generate water, which we would require since we are at altitude, and having going for a long time; I don’t think you can cut these out – maybe carry more water, heavier=faster?. Technical climbing, we did one short pitch (30m), a short simul pitch (60m), and long simul pitch (275m) … that’s not a ton of belays and time sinks … but perhaps it is and I just don’t recognize it as such. I believe that the biggest source of lost time were inefficient water breaks (as previously discussed), and other general breaks that should either have been shorter, or should not have occurred.

4) Snow and ski conditions, is the bullet-proof snow and ice throughout the entire ridge a common condition, or did we gamble on conditions and lose?

All in all, this was a good climb, but I don’t think it was a great climb, though I did have a great time. I would round up and call it a partial ski descent. I liked the remoteness, route-finding challenges, and size/scale – I underestimated the overall package of the Liberty Ridge. I thought that there would have been more technical challenges with it, perhaps with a different line of ascent there would be more (the lack of technical climbing is what downgraded it from great to good). I personally enjoyed Mt Hood’s North Face more.
« Last Edit: 04/15/14, 03:53 PM by dave095790 » Logged
mikerolfs
Member
Offline

Posts: 796


WWW
Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #1 on: 04/14/14, 02:57 PM »

I'd have wet my pants trying to descend LR in the conditions you describe.  Especially with skis and only 30m rappel ability.  You guys are harder men than I.

I once climbed Liberty Ridge in prime solo conditions, never put on a rope and kicked easy steps all the way up.  Even in that condition I would not have wanted to ski the line; too steep, too long, too scary to imagine a fall.

My hat is off to you two.
Logged
clane
5Member
Offline

Posts: 28


Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #2 on: 04/14/14, 05:51 PM »

Great report. Way to take advantage of the weather window and get after it!
Logged
Alex L
5Member
Offline

Posts: 8


Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #3 on: 04/14/14, 07:40 PM »

My pictures: https://plus.google.com/photos/103764998885643953728/albums/6002308739623361137

Overall a spectacular climb.  Better snow conditions definitely would have made the descent much more enjoyable.  The vthread raps and all the ski-to-boot crampon transistions were good experience though.  I think we did a good job of minimizing risk without slowing us down too much.

My Gear:
Boots: Dynafit TLT5P
Skis: Dynafit Nanga Parbat, 179cm.  Amazingly light for how well they ski.
Bindings: Ski Trab Race
Axes: Quarks
Crampons: Grivel G20.  The vertical mono-point's were great for the rock-hard glacier ice sections.

Logged
tabski
Member
Offline

Posts: 246


Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #4 on: 04/14/14, 08:55 PM »

Can you explain what observations you made that convinced you the slope would be skiable after seeing what you did while climbing?

Strong effort.
Logged
dave095790
Member
Offline

Posts: 143


Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #5 on: 04/14/14, 09:21 PM »

Can you explain what observations you made that convinced you the slope would be skiable after seeing what you did while climbing?

Strong effort.

We skied a completely different route than what we climbed.  Which is semi-against my general technical skiing philosphy (see "Thought/Note 2" above), for the exact reason that you DON'T know what you are really going to be getting into.  We also did a significant portion in the dark, with the headlight not giving the greatest overall conditions and during the daylight hours we were climbing the ice field, the ice step, and Liberty Cap, then began descending. 

In retrospect, and with this experience for reinforcement, I would stick to the idea to ski the line that was climbed.  In this case, it would not have been the most aesthetic, and probably would have been a lot more traverse-style vice fall line-style skiing - but we would had that prior knowledge from the ascent and would have been able to make probably a continuous descent.  Also, keep in mind the conditions at 3am, with a full moon and no clouds could be very different that conditions at 3pm after several hours of bright, cloudless sun (and potentially above freezing temps) ... so, the conditions on the ascent route could have been the same as the descent route (though, probably not worse). 

Make sense?  and I welcome feedback from others ...
Logged
Lowell_Skoog
Member
Offline

Posts: 2056


WWW
Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #6 on: 04/14/14, 09:52 PM »

I've climbed Liberty Ridge a couple times, but never skied it.

Looking at Photo 6 in Alex's google photos, I was struck by this view:



The ice field on the east side of the Black Pyramid is clearly visible.

You can tell it's bare glacier ice by the color, and it appears to span the entire face around 12,600ft elevation. In most years, this section is all snow (though it may be icy snow).

I think I would have abandoned trying to ski it after seeing this view. Was there a route around the ice that was skiable snow?

Logged
dave095790
Member
Offline

Posts: 143


Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #7 on: 04/14/14, 10:33 PM »

Was there a route around the ice that was skiable snow?

Lowell, there was not a continuous route around the ice.  There were some sections where you could possibly have linked some jump turns, but it would have been short and you would have needed to pull into a rap station to move through ice, or transition back to crampons and down climb. 

Beyond the visible ice, there were other sections that just had unskiable snow/ice, which was difficult to tell until you right up to it, sometimes it was short and you could get by it, other times it was large and impossible to get past (thus requiring transitions). 

I skied three section, shown in orange circles, the overall descent is in orange, and our climb is in red (best as I can remember from the dark). 


* Liberty_Ridge.jpg (52.67 KB, 640x532 - viewed 4475 times.)
Logged
BillK
Member
Offline

Posts: 244


Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #8 on: 04/15/14, 09:07 AM »

Sounds like a clusterphuck...any experience is good experience, I guess.
Logged
Jonn-E
Member
Offline

Posts: 337


Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #9 on: 04/15/14, 11:03 AM »

That's an impressive piece of ski mountaineering!
We experienced some strong winds on the other side of the mountain Sunday morning, enough to convince us to stay off the upper reaches. How high would you say they were on the summit?
Logged
Pete_H
Member
Offline

Posts: 263


Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #10 on: 04/15/14, 12:37 PM »

Wow snowpack on that side of the mtn looks pinner
Logged
Alex L
5Member
Offline

Posts: 8


Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #11 on: 04/15/14, 01:01 PM »

That's an impressive piece of ski mountaineering!
We experienced some strong winds on the other side of the mountain Sunday morning, enough to convince us to stay off the upper reaches. How high would you say they were on the summit?

Once we popped up onto the snowfield just below Liberty Cap, there was ~30+mph continuous winds from the East (just a guess at 30mph).  It wasn't too bad, just continuous, so we were leaning pretty far sideways the whole walk up to Liberty Cap.
Logged
avajane
Member
Offline

Posts: 748


Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #12 on: 04/15/14, 08:11 PM »

Impressive up and down of a big mountain feature in crap conditions. Sounded like you guys were well within your limits,   and had things under control. Some of those steep ice pictures made my blood turn to piss. Thought about climbing it when I was young, and we went out and got drunk instead. Great effort. You'll get good skiing somewhere else.
Logged

Brian Izdepski, Facebook TAY
jtack
Member
Offline

Posts: 665


Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #13 on: 04/15/14, 08:12 PM »

Thanks for the great report, reading is about it is a close as I am likely to come.  Scares the spit out of me just to read the story.
Logged
rlsg
Member
Offline

Posts: 516


Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #14 on: 04/16/14, 06:43 PM »

Way to get out there--VERY COOL!!!!!!!!!!
Logged
Kyle Miller
Member
Offline

Posts: 631


WWW
Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #15 on: 04/19/14, 10:00 PM »

Nice work cutting the lock at the White River gate at potentially messing it up for everyone. Classy!
Logged

In a perfect world, everybody would act with the correct etiquette and follow the rules. Human nature as it is= NOT GOING TO HAPPEN....no matter how many discussion on ski blogs/websites. Face reality............
truthlives
5Member
Offline

Posts: 19


Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #16 on: 04/19/14, 10:22 PM »

Not trying to hurl accusations, but Kyle's post makes me wonder. I was up around Colchuck Lake on the weekend of this TR...

http://www.turns-all-year.com/skiing_snowboarding/trip_reports/index.php?topic=31381.0

... and parked at the gate closure at Bridge Creek CG on Saturday. On the way out Sunday we passed two vehicles parked pretty far up eight-mile road. I was confused but figured they knew something/someone we didn't because the gate was still closed.
Logged
tabski
Member
Offline

Posts: 246


Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #17 on: 04/20/14, 09:12 AM »

There's no telling what else a man deranged enough to rappel Lib Ridge with a 30m rope is capable of.
Logged
swaterfall
5Member
Offline

Posts: 88


Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #18 on: 04/20/14, 09:19 AM »

Two people were citied by NPS for cutting the lock on the 410 gate driving up the road to the White River CG and parking there while they attempted to climb and ski Liberty Ridge.

The supreme lameness of that move could only be made more lame by double posting a long-winded TR about a poorly strategized and executed mission, without claiming the cut lock.
Logged
powdherb
5Member
Offline

Posts: 38


Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #19 on: 04/21/14, 06:37 AM »

I was a bit blasé in regards to the trip report but this cutting the gate move... shit. You're lucky they only cited you. In my experience you would have gone straight to Guantanamo. In any case, I'm sure the next time you set foot back in the park you'll be pummeled with human feces by the numerous TAY'ers that routinely patrol the lower reaches of the mountain. Chapeau.
Logged
runningclouds
Member
Offline

Posts: 418


WWW
Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #20 on: 04/21/14, 09:50 PM »

My Gear:
Bolt Cutter: Workforce 24 in. from Home Depot. Awesome, pops lock in no time.
Boots: Dynafit TLT5P
Skis: Dynafit Nanga Parbat, 179cm.  Amazingly light for how well they ski.
Bindings: Ski Trab Race
Axes: Quarks
Crampons: Grivel G20.  The vertical mono-point's were great for the rock-hard glacier ice sections.


* homedepot.jpg (181.95 KB, 1000x740 - viewed 3214 times.)
Logged
Alex L
5Member
Offline

Posts: 8


Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #21 on: 04/21/14, 10:08 PM »

For future reference, if you call the NPS, they can give you road conditions for closed roads, and tell you if a snowmobile can make it down the closed road, or if you need to bring bikes.  Bad planning on our part for not doing this before we drove out there.  Lesson learned, won't happen again.
« Last Edit: 04/21/14, 10:31 PM by Alex L » Logged
Lowell_Skoog
Member
Offline

Posts: 2056


WWW
Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #22 on: 04/21/14, 10:40 PM »

For future reference, if you call the NPS, they can give you road conditions for closed roads, and tell you if a snowmobile can make it down the closed road, or if you need to bring bikes.  Bad planning on our part for not doing this before we drove out there.  Lesson learned, won't happen again.

Which is to say... you're not denying that you cut the lock.  Just that bad planning forced you to do it.

Or something.
Logged
dave095790
Member
Offline

Posts: 143


Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #23 on: 04/21/14, 11:31 PM »

OK, the cat's out of the bag. 

I cut the lock at the gate.  We had a discussion about the options that we had, and we chose this one.  Looking back, it was obviously the wrong choice; but at the time, it's the one we went with.

The first two of us met the NPS on Sunday.  When we came out on Monday, we met the NPS at the gate.  I told the ranger I cut the lock without attempting to conceal anything.  We were issued fines and citations for the violation

I had originally included this information in the trip report, but did not want to turn the trip report into a report about cutting locks .... 

Was it a bad idea, a stupid and avoidable problem? Yes, without a doubt, a very stupid move, and one that could have easily ended up a lot worse. I am sincerely sorry for the bad example that was set, and will make better decisions in the future.
Logged
BillK
Member
Offline

Posts: 244


Re: 11-14 April Liberty Ridge with Partial Ski Descent
« Reply #24 on: 04/22/14, 07:57 AM »

OK, now this is getting just plain strange!
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 3 4 5 6  All | Go Up Print 
« previous next »
Jump to:  



Login with username, password and session length

Thank you to our sponsors!
click to visit our sponsor: Feathered Friends
Feathered Friends
click to visit our sponsor: Marmot Mountain Works
Marmot Mountain Works
click to visit our sponsor: Second Ascent
Second Ascent
click to visit our sponsor: American Alpine Institute
American Alpine Institute
click to visit our sponsor: Pro Guiding Service
Pro Guiding Service
Contact turns-all-year.com

Turns All Year Trip Reports ©2001-2010 Turns All Year LLC. All Rights Reserved

The opinions expressed in posts are those of the poster and do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of Trip Reports administrators or Turns All Year LLC


Turns All Year Trip Reports | Powered by SMF 1.0.6.
© 2001-2005, Lewis Media. All Rights Reserved.