Liberty Bell

Location: North Cascades

Elevation: 7,720 ft

Route: Southwest Face\Beckey Route
Grade: II
Class: 5.6
Topo Map
Date: September 23, 2001
Climbing Party: Chris Woytko, Michelle
Other Notes:

Picture from Blue Lake Trailhead

Liberty Bell, 9/23/2001, Written by Michelle

Arrived at the trailhead parking lot Saturday, 11:30 p.m. Slept under the stars with a brilliant display of shooting stars. Woke up a little damp from the dew and noticed that there were several parties getting ready to hit the trail. Overheard that at least two pairs were planning to climb the Becky route. Hhmm.

Decided to enjoy some coffee and oatmeal and let them have a good head start on the approach so there will be less waiting at the base. Get the rack, ropes, and snacks in order for the day. Take off about an hour behind the others. Hike up the trail looking for the correct turnoff so we don't end up cutting our own way by mistake. Get the right trail and see the other parties are just starting up the gully. Disappointment that our plan to avoid waiting didn't pan out. Waited at the base of the gully in a protected spot as each party moved up to the notch between Liberty Bell and Concord Tower.

Got to the base of the climb and were behind 3 pairs of climbers. Put on all our clothes to stay warm and ate some snacks. It was pretty cold in the shade. Waited a little over an hour and then it was our turn. I get to lead all of the pitches because Chris has already led the climb on two other occasions. Wow!

The first pitch went great. A couple of spots where I couldn't figure out which cam would work in the crack. Need to get more efficient at selecting the right size gear. It all looks bigger than it is… Stuck to passive pro as much as possible. Got to a good rest spot and heard a guy across on Concord yell, "FALLING!" Turned just in time to see this guy peel off the rock and fall about 20 feet. He got his leg behind the rope and was flipped upside down. My heart was racing. I'm thinking, "thank God it wasn't me" and "Oh shit! Can I remember my rescue skills from the class I took in June!" Turns out the guy is okay so I focus in on what is in front of me. Get to the tree and set the anchor.

Whew! It got really warm now that the sun is out. Take off a couple of layers. Belay Chris up the pitch. Eat some more snacks. Move over to the base of the chimney to start the second pitch. Clip the piton. Get wedged into the chimney, just feels better in there, but I realize there's no going up if I don't get out of it. Get foot then hand out, then figure out how to get my head out from under the block. Made it!

Glad to have my new number 4 friend, even if it is hard for me to manipulate it with one hand… Get up to the top of the chimney and over the scramble to the second belay. Set another anchor and belay Chris up.

Discuss the best route up the slabs and set off for the 3rd pitch. Go up to the right. Had to think a bit here, but nothing too sketchy. Hope Chris got a picture of that great move I just did. Look down, don't think he got it. Oh well. See a piton and decide to clip it just in case I have trouble moving across this block. Get over it no problem. Kind of exhilarating to feel the exposure. Go up and start the slab traverse.

Shit. I shouldn't have clipped that piton! Too much rope drag. Get across the slab and around the corner. Set up an anchor because I can't pull the rope any more. Belay Chris up. Eat some more snacks. Wind through the trees and over rocks for 50 feet to the slab boulder problem before the last scramble. Belay Chris up. He was right. We could have un-roped before that. Oh well. He climbs up the boulder and hip belays me up. We un-rope and scramble to the summit.

What a great view! It feels wonderful to have led this aesthetic climb. Eat a great lunch. Relax in the sun. Down climb the 4th class scramble and rap down to our packs. Get the rope stuck on a rock while pulling it down, then remember that Matt suggested 2 raps rather than one 50m. Now I know why… Thankfully the party behind us freed the rope and we're off down the gully and back to the car.

Unknown Climber starting first pitch

Michelle Leading Pitch 2
Summit Photo

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