Liberty Bell Beckey RouteSo Josh had Friday off from school last week and we decided to head to Washington Pass to climb the Beckey Route. We drove out the night before and after being followed by a cop for 20 miles on Highway 20 at 1am, we parked at the Diablo viewpoint and crashed. The next morning we saw a beautiful sunrise over Colonial Peak and Pinnacle Peak and finished the drive to WA Pass. There was still 2-3 feet of snow around and we pulled off at the Blue Lakes TH. Shortly after we got there and was eating breakfast in the car two large vans pulled up and I thought "oh great" and my assumption was right. There was a large guide party going up to climb the Beckey Route. They turned out to be very nice though and they kicked steps for us the entire approach up to the notch between Liberty Bell and Concord Tower. They left about 20 minutes before we did and Josh and I arrived at the notch a few minutes after them. The snow conditions the entire approach were great and the warm weather allowed for t-shirts. Skies were crystal clear and I was excited to lead another classsic! We soon realized at the notch we may be waiting for the 10 or so guides who were on one of their training outings to climb the route before us however one of them was feeling ill and they all decided to turn back. So we were able to hop right onto the route. We walked across the starting ledge and racked up.
I started up the first pitch which was an easy arete and reached a nice ledge marking the start of the chimney. A few more moves and I got to a large tree with lots of slings but since only half the rope had been used I continued up the chimney up over an overhanging chalkstone and when the rope drag became too much to deal with I set a trad anchor and belayed Josh up. He did very well on the pitch. We switched ends of the rope and prepared for the second pitch.
I finished the chimney and got to a long section of easy class 3 and 4 where the rope drag already became too much. I located the fixed piton and climbed up a wide crack about 10 feet with good fist jams and climbed avobe a large overhanging block. After some routefinding and realizing that the webbing off to the left was not the route I cut back to the right above the large overhang and traversed right following a beautiful undercling crack and popped out on a big ledge where I set another trad anchor and belayed Josh up. This pitch was a lot of fun.
This pitch was essentially a scramble with a short 10 foot 5.6 slab move. I essentially drug the rope up behind me because I didn't place a single piece. The slab was a lot of fun but worn smooth in places. A short ways below the summit I belayed Josh up and we left the rop to finish the class 3 scramble 50 more feet to the summit where we were surprised to have so much room. The views were beautiful and I got a good look at Big Snagtooth which I had just climbed the week prior. All of the big North Cascade peaks were clearly visible!
A couple on the route behind us summitted shortly after us and we all sat atop Liberty Bell about a half hour. They were nice enough to show us where the rappel station was since they had done the route before. So we scrambled down the 5.6 slab (with a handline) and down the last part of the Overexposure route through a short bit of snow to a double bolt rappel anchor. All 4 of us used their rope for the first 20 meter rappel and then used my rope for the second 30 meter rappel. Once we were all down Josh and I packed up and began running down the gully. The snow was perfect for plunging and we made it the entire way down back to the highway in a half hour. We saw a large amount of fresh ski tracks and realized there were many more people on the Beckey Route after us many of which skinned in and climbed then skid out. Upon reaching the highway again we ran into the people we saw on the top of South Early Winters Spire while we were on the summit of Liberty Bell. They had skid down though. It was actually a busy Friday in the Washington Pass area but gorgeous and a great day for some climbing!
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