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Liberty Bell
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NW Face 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI British: HVS 5a

   
Type: Trad, Alpine, 5 pitches, 500', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Hans Kraus and John Rupley, August 1956. FFA Sandy Bill, Ron Burgner, Ian Martin, Frank Tarver, August 1966
Season: Summer, Fall
Page Views: 1,184
Submitted By: Mike McL on Aug 7, 2011
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BETA PHOTO: The Washington Pass spires from the West. Liberty...

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Description 

This is a fun route to an outstanding summit that is a bit off the beaten path when you consider the other classics on Liberty Bell (Liberty Crack, the Beckey Route). There's some flaky/crispy rock in places, but it's not dangerous. The fourth pitch corner is particularly good and is the highlight of the route.

Pitch 1 heads up a left trending gully/crack system to a ledge with some small trees. 4th-Easy 5th class.

Pitch 2 heads up and right along an arete. It is quite a long pitch. The hardest moves are in the beginning. You're aiming for the large L facing corner system that makes up the upper two pitches. Belay beneath a L facing corner system that is made up of flakes. Mid 5th class. The rock is a little loose and crispy in places on this pitch.

Pitch 3 climbs the L facing corner and flakes. Some of the flakes are a bit hollow down low. The crux layback moves come about 25 feet off the belay and are reasonably protected. As of this writing, there is a fixed cam near the crux as well as an old, rusty piton above the cam. PG13 perhaps given the flakes but not too dangerous. After the flakes, continue up the easier L facing corner to a small ledge and belay. The crux corner lies above. Approximately 100' long. 5.8.

PItch 4 is the money pitch. Climb the thin L facing corner to a large ledge. This is a long pitch, maybe 150 feet. The corner is thin down low but there are just features enough to keep it reasonable. Despite the thin appearance, there's good pro to be had. I found DMM Peanuts and Offsets to be useful but I'm sure any small nut will work fine. A fun pitch. 5.9.

Pitch 5 heads up and left on easy terrain to the west summit of Liberty Bell. Easy - mid 5th.

From the west summit, scramble down and across the notch then up to the main summit.

The descent follows the standard Liberty Bell descent. Supposedly there's a scramble down to the shoulder beneath the friction pitch on the Beckey route. From here there are some fixed rap anchors down and right. 2 single rope rappels get you to the Liberty-Concord notch.

We didn't find the scramble and ended up doing 2 raps from trees to get to the standard fixed rap anchors. Hopefully you have better luck.


Location 

The route is located on the NW side of LIberty Bell. The approach follows the approach to the Beckey route for most of the way.

From the Blue Lakes trailhead, take the trail through the forest. It opens up briefly in an avalanche path then goes back into the forest. After exiting the forest in a meadow, spot a cairn on the left that marks a climbers trail. This cairn comes just after crossing a stream. Take this climbers trail to the left. Follow it up towards the notch between Liberty Bell and Concord Tower. Just before reaching the true notch (perhaps 100 yards below it) the gully kind of splits with a branch to the left. Near this split, spot a 4th class scramble on your left that leads to an gully with trees and ultimately a very large, flat area beneath the West face of Liberty Bell. Scramble up here. Traverse across this flat area towards the NW shoulder of Liberty Bell. You'll see an obvious chimney in a right facing corner. This is a variation to the start, but I have no beta on this start. The start described above is about 75-100 feet to the left of this. Look for an easy left trending crack/gully system that leads to a ledge with trees. This is the start.

Note that the descent comes down the gully and does not go back to the start of the NW face. Gear up in the gully and leave your packs here before making the scramble over to the start of the route.


Protection 

Standard rack with doubles in the finger sizes for the 4th pitch. Narrow cams (TCUs, C3s, Aliens) are useful. I used a green C3 camalot on the final pitch. Small nuts and/or offsets are useful but probably not mandatory. We didn't use anything larger than a number 3 camalot. 1 60 meter rope works fine.



Photos of NW Face Slideshow Add Photo
The flakes at the start of P3
BETA PHOTO: The flakes at the start of P3
The 5.9 corner.  photo by Brad J.
BETA PHOTO: The 5.9 corner. photo by Brad J.
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