Type: Trad, Alpine, 1200 ft, 14 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Steve Risse and Bryan Burdo
Page Views: 1,640 total · 30/month
Shared By: Jacob Smith on Sep 21, 2014
Admins: Scott Coldiron, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick

You & This Route

10 Opinions

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Although it is technically the easiest all free route up the east face of Liberty Bell, Nicholson claims it takes one and a half times as much effort as Liberty Crack and for once he's not exaggerating. This route is an adventure – the rock is often poor and the gear follows suit, and aside from the intersection with Liberty Crack, there are no bolted belay stances.

Pitch breakdown
1 - 5.8 R, climb the loose corner system about 100 ft. left of Liberty Crack, there is probably only one truly dependable piece on this entire pitch and the belay stance is awkward.
2 - 5.10, brief wider crack, thinner above; several belay options exist, either stop at the sizable broken ledge or continue up to the base of the offwidth.
3a - 5.10d, thin "cracks" to the left of the offwidth; balencey, technical climbing with mediocre gear, traverse right past the offwidth to a finger crack just out of sight over the arete.
3b - 5.11b, climb the off-width until you can reach the finger crack.
4 - 5.8+, easy handcrack leads to an airy move left, amazingly solid for how exposed it feels, finish up some thin cracks.
5 - 5.10b, large crystals, steep hand-cracks. This pitch might make wearing tape gloves worthwhile for the whole thing. Finish at a big ledge w/ tree anchor.
6 - 5.6, descend slightly and then traverse to just below "The Rotten Block."
7-9 - follow Liberty Crack until roughly the beginning of the final 5.9 pitch.
10 - 5.10a, traverse right (two options, one high and easy, one low and hard, both have a bolt) into a thin crack.
11 - 5.10b, climb up toward the chimney, most of this is a fun handcrack, belay at the base of the chimney with scattered fixed pins. Pitches 10 and 11 can be easily linked.
12 - 5.8+, "Medusa's Roof," exposed but kind of absurdly secure climbing up around a chockstone.
13 - 5.8, up and right from the belay, a right facing corner that starts simple but gets a bit thin and smeary.
14 - "Class 4," scramble to the summit, belay if needed (would be several rope lengths if fully pitched out, but it's mostly class 2-3 past the first 50 ft.

Because of how it intersects Liberty Crack, splitting the route in half is perfectly feasible; if doing this I would recommend starting on Liberty Crack and finishing on Freedom Rider, as it is essentially a direct finish for that route anyways. In my opinion, if they were a little cleaner, the two 5.10 pitches beneath Medusa's Roof would be the best free climbing on either route.


Regular approach and descent for Liberty Bell east face routes.


Standard rack to 3"
Extra small nuts helpful if climbing 5.10d crux
Cams to 6" for 5.11b crux


The supertopo suggestion that this route takes 150% as much time as Liberty Crack is pretty arbitrary (only based on the author's single experience?) and assumes a team fast at aid climbing and slow at free climbing. My experience and that of several others I have asked is all roughly the inverse of this suggested relative timeframe. I suspect that for most climbing teams these days, the single bit of .10+ wouldn't be as taxing as having multiple aid pitches. One can join into Lib Crack after 3 pitches, or again after 6 pitches.

If joining Lib. Crack at the first chance, you would simply be opting for a 5.8, 5.9, and .10d pitch, in place of Lib. Crack's .10d, C2/5.13, C2/5.11+, and 5.10 pitches. Nearly any team would be faster on the first option (Freedom Rider).

I found the gear on the crux pitch to be more than adequate, without any trickery. Certainly far better than I had feared. There was even a fixed cam (in '14) which could easily be backed up with another good cam, both of which are nearby to protect the short slab traverse crux (which can also be done as a short pendulum.

Sure the 5.8 choss on the first couple pitches is lame, and this probably the worst rock on the face, but it's one of the region's best faces so even the worst route is still a good one. Overall I think that this route is better, quicker, and less scary than the above description makes it sound. Oct 16, 2014
Jacob Smith
Seattle, WA
Jacob Smith   Seattle, WA
And therein lies the difference between the opinions of a 5.9 climber and those of a 5.12 climber.

In my defense, Nicholson said effort, not time, and I certainly felt more beat after this climb than after liberty crack. Additionally, the comment about the gear on the crux pitch was based largely on michal's complaining while he led it, make of that what you will. Oct 16, 2014
Maynard, MA
Eric8   Maynard, MA
Its been awhile but I remember the rock being pretty good after by WA Pass standards... Feb 27, 2015
Stephen Sh
  5.10d PG13
Stephen Sh   Portland
  5.10d PG13
In late August I climbed F.R. along with my friend Benjamin. Blake Herrington’s route description in “Cascade Rock” for F.R. sounded interesting, although the description here of the first 2 pitches with loose rock and bad gear placements sounded discouraging. After reading Herrington’s comments on this page we decided to give it a try.

I led the first pitch for 45 meters to a medium sized tree with rappel slings at a small stance, which I backed up with a good cam and a nut. The rock quality on the path I took was solid, but there appeared to be some loose rock to either side. I placed 12 pieces of gear – one was poor, two I thought were good but my partner disagreed, and we both agreed that the other 9 were solid and dependable. My partner thought that there were other dependable placements that I skipped.

On pitch 2, Benjamin initially led straight up but found loose rock and bad gear, so he traversed right to the solid looking overhanging corner crack and found good placements and hand jams (5.9). The rock quality deteriorated around 50 meters out at the “broken ledge” that’s mentioned in the pitch 2 description above. Climb carefully past the loose microwave sized block on the right side of the ledge. The gear on the next 15 meters to the tree at the base of the OW is good, but does require a 2m traverse to the tree on a 10- slab.

So, we broke the first 2 pitches into 3 pitches which I would describe as:

1. 5.8 PG-13, 45m - Climb the low-angle slab and corner system located approx. 30 meters from the left-side start to Liberty Crack. Best rock quality is along climber’s right. End at small tree with rap slings. Belay can be backed up with cams or nuts.
2. 5.9, 50m - Traverse right 4m on good edges to corner crack, jam fingers to hands in steep crack to gain broken ledge. Watch for loose blocks on right side of ledge.
3. 10-, 15m, climb easy cracks toward large tree at base of OW. When cracks end, traverse right 2m to tree, 10-.

For what the description above calls pitch 3 (it was my pitch 4), I took the “3a” option – the corner and thin cracks rather than the 11b OW. I found the gear to be adequate, but a little tricky to place – the cracks flare in places and there was a bit of loose gravel to clear out of some of the cracks. The traverse to the OW from the fixed #1 friend at the top of the cracks is 8-9 feet long and traverses above the last cam placement. I slipped 2 moves into it and slammed into the corner surprisingly hard. Shaken, and wanting to reduce my risk, I resorted to a tension traverse into the OW – an easy A0. Constrictions in the OW protected adequately with a #4 BD Camalot - first generation size, which is larger than current gen. Because of the risk of a pendulum fall on the slab or out of the upper OW if lacking a large cam, I would give this pitch a cautionary 10d PG/R rating.

We joined Liberty Crack at that route's pitch 5. Sep 12, 2016
wayne wallace
wayne wallace   Seattle
I did a trip report for this interesting route on my amatuer journal:
https://waynewallace.wordpress.com/2017/06/29/freedom-rider-liberty-bell/ Jun 30, 2017