October 1, 2010

Liberty Bell Mountain (7720′)

——————– Summary ——————–

Starting Point: Liberty Bowl & Liberty/Concord Notch  (hike & climb)

Summit: Liberty Bell Mountain  (climb via Southwest Face [Becky Route])

——————– Full Report ——————–

I teamed up with Eileen and Fay last Friday to tackle Liberty Bell Mountain in the Washington Pass area. Individually, Fay and I had been wanting to climb this famous granitic monolith for…oh, I don’t know…maybe 30 or 35 years. Eileen’s desires were much shorter-lived but no less emphatic. It all came together on this impeccable October day.

We left the Blue Lake Trailhead in cool, clear weather and made our way up to the Liberty-Concord notch (2.1 hours from car). As per plan, nobody else was on the route ahead, what with this being a weekday. Later, a party of three came behind us, but we scarcely saw or heard them.

Liberty Bell and Concord Tower From Meadow

Starting at noon, we geared up and roped up and spent the next 4 hours savoring the ultra-classic Southwest Face (Beckey Route). It was everything we’d hoped for: solid rock, interesting route features, minor navigational challenges, dramatic exposure, moderately difficult moves interspersed with easier segments.

Eileen Belaying Fay On Pitch 1

There were ribs, faces, chimneys, friction slabs, finger traverses, dihedrals, laybacks, bulges, chockstones, and ledges. All in all, we were having so much fun, the summit almost seemed to come too quickly (6.6 hours from car).

Fay and Eileen On Summit

The freshly scrubbed atmosphere and oblique sun rays made for splendid summit views. We spent nearly an hour on the comfy granite sofas and chairs.

Methow Needles From Liberty Bell

Silver Star Mountain From Summit

Only the fear of a headlamp descent got us motivated to leave. We made one single-rope rappel down the highest pitch, followed by one double-rope rappel over the vertical south face (thankfully, there were two new-ish bolt anchors for this second one), then finished with a short scramble back to the Liberty-Concord notch.

Eileen Rapping Off Liberty Bell

A 2000-foot descent on scree, talus, sand, and trail got us to the trailhead shortly after dark (3.1 hours from summit). To cap off a wonderful day, we treated ourselves to a delicious dinner and dessert at the Freestone Inn near Mazama.

——————– Photo Gallery (click to enlarge) ——————–