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NW Face

5.9, Trad, Alpine, 500 ft, 5 pitches, Grade III,  Avg: 2.8 from 52 votes
FA: Hans Kraus and John Rupley, August 1956. FFA Sandy Bill, Ron Burgner, Ian Martin, Frank Tarver, August 1966
Washington > Northwest Region > N Cascades > Washington Pass > Liberty Bell


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, past a couple of trees, to a good belay ledge. (5.5)

Pitch 2 heads up a crack system to the left of a 2-3 ft. chimney (5.7) with a few pitons near the top. Continue up, over, and off a horn (4-5 feet) as the Beckey guide suggests or just climb around it to the left. Scramble up a 4th class gully to the right towards the start of the 3rd pitch. Consider finding a solid place to belay your partner just past the horn and carrying the rope the final 100 ft. up to the 3rd pitch.

Pitch 3 is a left facing corner system made up of large thin flakes that are a little loose in places down low. The crux moves come about 25 feet off the belay and are reasonably protected if you look around. PG13 perhaps given the flakes but not too dangerous. After the flakes, continue up to a small ledge and belay. Approximately 100' long. (5.8/5.9).

Pitch 4 is the money pitch. Climb a dihedral with interesting features that get you moving around. There's plenty of pro to be had in nearby cracks. Be aware that the dihedral crack gets very small near the top and is runout about 20-30 ft. It is also a bit dirty but thankfully the angle of the climb lessens substantially. 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.


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 300 feet below it), look for a low point in the rock wall on your left (4th class scramble) that leads up and over through some trees, onto a rocky slab beneath the West face of Liberty Bell. If it's Summer, consider putting on your rock shoes and leaving any extra gear back in the gully at this point since you'll descend the Beckey route and back down from the notch. Once you scramble up onto the rock slab, carefully head climbers left around the mountain and downhill a bit for a few hundred feet, navigating any remaining snow and water, until you drop onto a flat bench with trees. Continue along this bench, until you reach a distinct drop off and can go no further. The NW corner is now right above you and the first 5.5 pitch is back climbers right about 60 ft. Look for an easy left trending crack/gully system that leads to a ledge with trees and passes over the NW corner. This is the start. If you go back climbers right another 100 ft. you'll find an obvious chimney in a right facing corner. This is a 5.8 variation to the start, but I have no beta on this start.


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 [Hide ALL Photos]

Route Overlay for NW Face.
[Hide Photo] Route Overlay for NW Face.
Climbing the Remsberg Variation for the NW Face. "The Flakes" (5.8+) of the regular route for the NW Face are to the right in the photo.
[Hide Photo] Climbing the Remsberg Variation for the NW Face. "The Flakes" (5.8+) of the regular route for the NW Face are to the right in the photo.
Looking down the killer corner of pitch 4
[Hide Photo] Looking down the killer corner of pitch 4
Pitch 4. The money pitch.
[Hide Photo] Pitch 4. The money pitch.
Pitch 2.
[Hide Photo] Pitch 2.
Pitch 1.
[Hide Photo] Pitch 1.
The dropoff just left of where the route starts.
[Hide Photo] The dropoff just left of where the route starts.
Looking up the route from the base.
[Hide Photo] Looking up the route from the base.
The 4th/low5th step to get onto the ledge below the W and NW Faces of Liberty Bell.
[Hide Photo] The 4th/low5th step to get onto the ledge below the W and NW Faces of Liberty Bell.
Pitch 2
[Hide Photo] Pitch 2
The flakes at the start of P3
[Hide Photo] The flakes at the start of P3
A view from the Summit of the NW Face of the Liberty Bell, facing south towards Concord tower
[Hide Photo] A view from the Summit of the NW Face of the Liberty Bell, facing south towards Concord tower

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] A great route. The climbing was pretty straight forward. A little beta on the approach and descent. On the approach you are looking for the last gully you'd come to on your right, to head up towards the NW Face. We accidentally went up a different gully too soon and added an hour to our approach. Otherwise, the LOCATION description on this page is pretty accurate. If you rappel off the backside using the rap stations, you will hike down the Becky Route gully. This puts you out in a more southern gully (closer to the trail) on the west side, than the gully you hiked up to go to the NW Face. So, consider stashing any gear at the main gully (not the smaller one you went up to find the NW Face), so you don't have to hike out of your way to get any gear on the descent. Better yet, your best bet is to considering taking only what you need from the parking lot so that you don't even have to stash gear and go back to find it. [also - very little snow to navigate on July 7th]
Have fun! The views are breathtaking. Jul 13, 2017

[Hide Comment] if you are using the supertopo book for the approach, the key info is that when you get to the base of the route there is a big drop off on the left. the book makes it sound like it is closer to the beckey gully than it really is, it's a bit of a ways to the left.

really fun route. on the flakes pitch it is really easy to miss the belay ledge at the end of the pitch, as isn't much of a ledge. the only thing that i thought was kind of a detractor was the pile of debris at the end of P3 - you have to be a bit careful here to stay out of it. Aug 6, 2017
bellingham, wa
[Hide Comment] This route is not nearly as good as other 5.9's at WA Pass like E. face lex or NW corner NEWS.
Rock quality is poor in many places.
Pitch 4 is the best pitch, but has a long run out at the top 20-30 feet of schmearing up a corner with no hands. Not recommended for those who are not solid at the grade.
follow steph abegg's approach beta. the book is not helpful in figuring out the approach. you go left well before the beckey route access and walk quite a ways around to the far edge of the west face. Aug 17, 2017

[Hide Comment] i don't remember a long section without gear in that corner - was that above the section that takes fairly thin gear, but before you roll up onto the ledge of a thousand dirt clods? if so, i think it is pretty easy at that point, but good to note. Aug 17, 2017
[Hide Comment] For the 20-30ft upper part of the pitch 4 dihedral I was able to get a .3 BD X4 into a pod fairly well. If one were concerned, that or some small piece could alleviate some stress. Jun 26, 2018