Monday, August 24, 2009

Climbing Liberty Bell Spire North Cascades

mandy is a climber. i am not. well not yet. i've got some experience with a rope and harness having adventure raced for years. that consists of ascending and rappelling up and down a rope with the occasional tyrolean traverse. i guess ski mountaineering and climbing a few mountains has given me some base knowledge as well. however i was pretty much a complete rookie when it comes to the tactile art of rock climbing. weeks ago mandy pulled out one of her books and decided on the fred beckey route up the southwest face of liberty bell spire. taking the blue lake trail to the climbers trail, the route then goes at 5.6 in 4 pitches with 3 raps to the notch.

at the gym the day before i received the following text "we're doing this route fast & light ultra style, not freedom of the hills fashion.". nuff said. we both wore our harness for the run in. i wrapped the rope around me like a backpack and mandy stuffed the rest of the required gear in a small bd climbers pack which doubles as her purse as it turns out - fast and light. we ran the 1.5 miles in and started our scramble up to the notch. i really had no idea what i was in for as far as technical climbing.

after getting to the notch mandy quickly figured out the route. then started up this slot chimney thing. i was kind of amazed by what i was witnessing and tried not to think about how i would accomplish the same feat. after coming out too far on the rock and having to fight back a panic attack i figured out my way up the route. it just got easier and considerably more enjoyable from there. mandy is an amazing instructor and a fantastic climber. it was fun to watch (see photo below).

as the wind picked up, so did our urgency to get to the top. the temperature was low and the wind was howling. these two things conspired to make my hands a lot less agreeable, just when i needed them most. i found that i love the feel of climbing rock and the grit of climbing it. we got to the top and quickly hid from the wind to celebrate. the views were amazing.

other than some confusion on their exact location we had a very fun 3 rappels down the mountain and an easy downclimb and run back to the car. i'm totally hooked. climbing rock reminds me of climbing trees as a kid. i love it.


Missy B. said...

5.6 x 4 pitches = perfect light mountaineering day. what fun. with a run-style approach = even better. sounds like a blast. there's something to be said for fun light mountaineering and not pumping the 5.13 sport routes. fred beckey is a cool dude. met him briefly this spring. what a crusty old dirt-bag climber :) the best kind.

Alison Hanks, LMP said...

You jerk! I only live about 15 miles from there and you didn't tell me you were coming! I could have made you guys some food and given you a bed. Well now you know. I have tons of space in my new digs in Mazama if you do any other stuff.

Hart said...

alison!! shoot i'm so sorry i just totally spaced on the fact that you live there. we would have LOVED some home cooking and some local knowledge. it would have been great to know rattlesnake trail is overgrown and not so fun for instance. =)

next time... i'll be back this year before the snow flies for sure!!