Liberty Crack on Liberty Bell, North Cascades, WA [5.10 A2]
Many years ago, my first alpine climb and any climb whatsoever over grade 1 was done on the stellar Becky Route on the Bell. (who is Becky anyways?) Those days found me unable to decipher neither directions (you have to calibrate a suunto?!) nor cam color sizes. Without the steady lineup of August traffic trundling up the gully, I surely would’ve put up an embarrassing FA somewhere nearby (having already decided that the first bell like structure in sight would be summited by yours truly, not having seen the bell from its east face yet). The next day I went over to Cutthroat peak and repeated the same series of events, finally an old mountaineer graciously conveying that my balls were bigger than my brains. I got the point – that my brains were real big.
Between my first Becky love affair, and my revisit last summer, a few things happened. A: I was gifted an old copy of the 50 classics, and B: Fell in love with the mountains, subsequently they became my teacher and nemesis C: got rid of my Suunto
Again, the line had always appealed to me, the most distinct of lines on an unmistakable structured mound of granite glory. (oh AND a 1 hour approach!!)
Last year June 18th, I tried, but got rained off the 3rd pitch and had to go home.
This year I tried 1 week earlier in the season, hoping the weather would be better and the 2-day weather window lasted for its forecast length.
-Fixed first 3 pitches first day, climbed the second day.
-Blew a bashie last year, and brought bashies back for this year, but didn’t need to employ them. Some aid specialist bashed for me since then because all bashies and fixed gear is currently present.
-Started freeing at 8 and hit the summit by 4 pm
-Route is completely dry. (The traverse over to rap bolts is 60% snow laden as of yet)
-The record snowfall was evident as it took us 40 min to boot-ski our way to the car on descent off the notch. I’ll descend like that any day.
-Gear giveaway on the route – My lovely partner forgot the anchors at the first belay and gave up working on a new #1 camalot about mid-route. Hows that for motivation?
All in all, the route was as fine as it looked. Don’t get used to Squamish splitters so much though, it is more reminiscent of Eldo flares. I loved most the dominantly white landscape and protruding rock high above highway 20 as it reminded me of Patagonian cover shots and Bugaboo splitter days, all nestled within a resplendent, (and mostly hidden) Cascadian backyard .
Pictures are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/calebng/sets/72157626956851366/