Mt. Rainier: Liberty Ridge

7:32 p.m. on May 19, 2009 (EDT)
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Has anyone done this route before or have any advice on it? Have a team of 5 people 3 of which are have experiance in both mountaineering and technical ice climbing, one of which climbs technical ice but has never done a big mountain, and another who has done a few mountains including Rainier before but has no technical experiance. I'm pretty confident the three of us are solid, but we would be more or less guiding the other two up, the route is rated at a 3-4, how hard is it really? Everyone in the group has been training, and we are looking to do it in 3 days camping at the Carbon Glacier and Thumb Rock.

11:24 p.m. on May 20, 2009 (EDT)
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I am sorry to be negative------but I want to make you aware that people die on Liberty Ridge. It is a serious route, with possible avalache, and likely rockfall danger. It is steep and long and reminds me of big mountains in Alaska.

I think you need everyone in your party to be comfortable with steep alpine routes on big mountains with: crevasses, rockfall, postholing, steep snow and ice ------up to short vertical sections-------and the possibility of death. Please add in possible altitude sickness, due to Rainier's elevation.

I have backed off it once, with a climbing partner that simply refused to go up the route------and climbed it with two less experienced companions. It is not a route to do with novice or uncommitted climbers.

12:47 a.m. on June 3, 2009 (EDT)
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I would agree with River. Best description is that it is a very commiting route. Just returned from a successful ascent, but learned of this first hand. As a comparison for potential members of your team, I am fairly new to alpine climbing. I had longer standing experience in rock climbing and got into alpine climbing two years ago. In this time I have had informal training with other climbers in the Cascades, as well as formal ice climbing training. Last year we went up the Kautz route, with a small isolated section of technical climbing.

Liberty ridge was certainly different. The hazards of the Carbon and ice/rock fall around the ridge are prominent. Most importantly, when you get on the ridge it becomes very difficult to retreat. Once on the ridge, we spent two nights above the classic thumb rock site for a variety of reasons and it is difficult to find solid/safe sites. The effects of altitude and hypothermia were certainly more prominent here. All climbers must be comfortable with this if you can't complete the ascent from thumb rock in one day as it is a possibility. As River says, the steep snow/ice is notable and getting over the schrund can be scary. While a perfect two-night ascent may happen, if it doesn't, all need to be comfortable with the commiting nature of the route and I would not recommend this for novice climbers.

Hope this helps.

10:15 a.m. on July 16, 2009 (EDT)
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40 forum posts

From your description of your party, I would not recommend your tackling the Liberty Ridge route. I have climbed Mt. Rainier probably 25 times via many routes including Liberty Ridge and based on that experience, I would not recommend Liberty Ridge to a relatively inexperienced party. If you are looking for a less traveled route with reasonable challenge, give some thought to some of the routes on the west side. These include the Tahoma Glacier either up or bypassing the "sickle" or up the Puyallup Cleaver. You start hiking at about 3000' on the west side; that really thins out the tourists.

April 4, 2020
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