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Liberty Crack (Free)

5.13b, Trad, Alpine, 1200 ft (364 m), 12 pitches, Grade V,  Avg: 3.4 from 5 votes
FA: FFA: Brooke Sandahl, 1991. FFA, current variation: Mikey Schaefer, Shanjean Lee, Blake Herrington & Nathan Hadley, 2017.
Washington > Northwest Region > Hwy 20 & N Casc… > N Cascades > Washington Pass > Liberty Bell Group > Liberty Bell
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Liberty Crack was originally freed by Brooke Sandahl in 1991. Mikey Schaefer, Shanjean Lee, Blake Herrington and I somewhat collectively created a new free variation to the bolt ladder. Brooke originally climbed the bolt ladder directly, but this has since seemed to have crumbled under years of aiding. Needless-to-say, the route's new free beta has finally settled, and a handful have sent as follows. Props for to Brooke being well ahead of his time. Some strong climbers in his day supposedly tried this thing and couldn't do it, and it stood unrepeated for over 20 years!

P1: 11-, same as original.

P2: Lithuanian Lip, 13b (my suggestion). Fun 11- climbing in a corner leads to a scrunchy and powerful traverse to finger locks above the lip. Lock it in, high step to the lip, grit your teeth and stab to a good lock. Keep it together on 12- moves to a small stance below the bolt ladder. Use a triple length sling to make a belay out of a high and low bolt.

P3: The new free variation of the slab pitch, which differs from how Brooke Sandahl originally freed it (up the bolt ladder, which now seems blank), moves right before the bolt ladder. Clip the higher belay bolt, move right across sloping ledges, mantel, and execute cruxy foot step ups. Move back left under a hand rail feature to the belay above the bolt ladder. 5.12.

P4: same as original P3. 11+, with a thin crux before reaching the small roof.


Single rack from purple c3 to #3 BD, with a few extra in the tips to fingers size, maybe red c3 to .4 BD, and stoppers. 8 long and 1 triple length sling for slab pitch belay. All belays are fixed.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Shanjean Lee on the bolted variation pitch
[Hide Photo] Shanjean Lee on the bolted variation pitch
Blake descending after his free ascent.
[Hide Photo] Blake descending after his free ascent.
Blake on the slab crux.
[Hide Photo] Blake on the slab crux.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Mikey Schaefer
Reno, NV
[Hide Comment] Thanks for adding the beta Nathan! Hopefully the addition of more beta will help make this become a more popular free climb. The Lip would make a classic pitch if it were at any crag.

A couple notes, the Lip is definitely easier the shorter you are. Both SJ and I thought it was closer to 12+ when we did it again last year. But I wouldn't doubt it is full on 13b if you are taller than 5'3". Pretty rare that is the case! And after doing the slab again I thought it was closer to 12a/b. I could see it feeling harder if you stay high on the traverse back left. It is much easier if you step down after clipping the last bolt and foot traverse across a low dike.

Did Blake redpoint the slab pitch the same day he redpointed the lip? After reading his trip report on his blog I was under the impression that he followed that pitch on top rope and no one redpointed it (adding a bit more mud to the already muddy waters...) Sep 24, 2017
Max Tepfer
Bend, OR
[Hide Comment] I think the history of the various styles of ascents of the lip is kind of academic given the nature of the pitch. Both pieces of gear that go in where the climbing is hard go in from no-hands stances begging the question 'does it really matter how this particular pitch was led?' Before I ever touched the lip, I would've said yes. Now, having tried it a handful of times, I'm not so sure. I honestly don't think putting in the widgets adds that much difficulty to this specific pitch.

Long story short, nice job Brooke for sending in fine style way before anybody else. (and via an unrepeated line to boot!) Oct 19, 2017
[Hide Comment] Helpful 5-pitch linking beta for upper pitches w/a 70m starting atop P4:

(Pitch #s are per the free version of LC or FOD, so subtract 1pitch if using an aid topo which uses 1 fewer pitch through the climbing down low)

P5+P6 - 70m 5.10 Hero cracks to bolted belay where another bolted older belay is a couple meters below/right

P7 - 45m 5.10+ up to bolted seated belay on top of hanging block

P8+P9 - 65m 5.10+ short thrutch off block, then slabby ramp and jugs all the way to slung "chair" tree with ancient bolt, directly below chimney, and where LC veers hard left below looming chimney.

P10+P11+P12 - 70m 5.10 Up then clip modern bolt out right and climb up into right-facing corner and then huge chimney. Chimney out and 10m up to treed ledge.

P13 - 40m 5.8 Right via stepped corner slabs to summit slopes

Per the above discussion of freeclimbing history - when I redpointed the Lithuanian Lip pitch and made (what I'd call) a free ascent, my partner and I swapped pitches the whole route, with me leading and redpointing the hardest pitch then all the even number pitches on the route, and I followed the odd number pitches cleanly, including p3, the bolted 5.12 around the bolt ladder. Flipping leads without falls, while leading 1/2 (or more) of the cruxes and a distinct crux pitch, seems like a style which is a legit free ascent of a multipitch climb, but definitions do change. Sharing leads on a route is maybe becoming less common for an individual long free ascent, since having 1 person climb with a dedicated supporter jugger/follower is increasingly common. If following pitches of a route makes a person's total ascent not a free climb, or if cleanly following a pitch of a long route that your partner didn't redpoint makes your own ascent not free, then many free ascents would be demoted. But anyway, just one person's opinion. Liberty Crack in particular gets so much easier after 4 pitches that if someone got rained out atop ~6 pitches, or partner got sick and they bailed or something, I'd almost just figure it counts as a send. My 2cents. Jul 8, 2020
Amity Warme
[Hide Comment] Props to everyone who has freed and attempted to free this line!

I am 5'7 and would agree with the 13b grade, albeit a short lived 13b. I employed some Rifle-esque sport climbing tactics was able to cop a knee bar/scum coming out of the Lithuanian lip before hiking up some insanely high smear feet and locking off to hit the good finger lock. Felt burly and wild!! The slab variation pitch felt reasonable at 12a/b - thanks to Blake for bolting this variation.

Bring your A-game and try this worthy climb on one of the best walls in the area! Aug 13, 2020
Nat Bailey
Squamish, BC
[Hide Comment] Shade at 1:00PM in mid-July!

An awesome route with two very different cruxes back to back.

A few notes:
Our recommended rack would be:
offset nuts, 2x 0.1 - 0.5 (with offset cams to 0.3/0.4, they fit everywhere. C3s/Totems are also really nice for the pinscars) and 1x 0.75, 1, 3 (no #2 needed).

We hauled the first 3 pitches and then lowered our bag to the ground (shoutout Adria and Shelby for hiking our stuff out! Wow!). Rather than bringing a tag line, the optimal strategy we reflected on would be:

-Carry your kit on P1.
-Lower a loop to haul on P2 and P3 (and maybe even P4).
-Blast to the top carrying your kit. The top pitches link with a number of logical combinations and short bits of simul climbing.

Hopefully this helps! Get psyched, this route is so, so fun. Jul 21, 2023