This route on the highest summit in the Liberty Group is a very good moderate climb that features solid rock and good climbing throughout. This route is a good one for those looking for a longer more challenging line than a route like the Beckey Route on Liberty Bell. It features low exposure, good protection, and nice belay ledges.
Start at the Blue Lake Trailhead then hike 1.25 miles towards the first clearing. From here follow the path that heads up to the west side of SEWS, the tallest and furthest right spire. Look up at the southwest side and notice the obvious wide 5.8 crack. Head towards the tree near the base.
Route DescriptionPitch #1 - 5.8
- Start this pitch just above the larch tree at a series of cracks below the obvious 5.8 wide crack above. Climb the low to mid fifth class rock until a short overhang is encountered. Move up the overhang or traverse to the right on a fingercrack with a slab (both options 5.8). After this section climb mid fifth class rock until you reach a large ledge about 30 feet below the 5.8 wide crack. 190 feet
Pitch #2 - 5.8
- Move up some mid fifth class terrain until at the base of the offwidth. Climb up the crack using 4 to 5" cams to protect. I found this section to be very straightforward, definately not 5.8 as advertised. There are some nubbins on the left side of the arete to make it easy. Belay at the top of this crack. 70 feet
Pitch #3 - 5.4
- Climb the easy double crack system on a slab with a dihedral on the right. At the top belay at the tree. 60 feet
Note: Pitches 2 and 3 can be easily combined with no rope drag issues.
There are two variations on pitch #3. The first traverses all the way accross on the finger traverse to past a dihedral, then climbs the finger crack with jamming and liebacking to the ledge below the black lichened slab. The second variation climbs the 5.10B triangle shaped crack system with the dihedral on the right between the standard route and the 5.9 variation.
Pitch #4 - 5.6+
- Look above you and notice the Boving roof traverse pitch and the Dolphin chimney to its left. Do not go this way. Instead make a hard right and go around the corner on 4th class terrain. Keep traversing until you encounter the black lichened slab. Notice the path up the slab by where the lichened has been sraped. Perform the balancy 5.6+ slab move then keep climbing easier 5th class slabs until the base of the obvious double offwidths. Belay here. 100 feet
Pitch #5 - 5.7+
- The Bearhug Pitch. This pitch starts out by climbing the well known twin 5 to 6" offwidth cracks on a 75 degree slab. I don't know why you would actually bearhug this section. It is much easier to keep your hands on the sharp left edge of the right crack and your feet on nubbins and edges to the left of the left crack. Probably 5.6 climbed this way. At the top of the offwidths, climb some 4th class terrain around the corner to your right. Establish a belay below the slab with the bolt. 80 feet
Pitch #6 - 5.4
- Clip the bolt then climb the easy slab up to the base of the arete slab. Either climb the unprotectable arete slab (5.4) or traverse to the right and up the crack at the tree (lots of exposure). Continue up easy slabs with good pro until you hit the rabbit ears. Belay at the rappell slings. 160 feet
From the slings rappel 25 feet into the gulley then scramble to your left to the top. There are also a couple ways to downclimb into the gulley. Following a ledge on the left side of the Rabbit Ears is one possible way.
Pitch #7 - 5.2
- Establish a belay at the base of the crack systems, then climb one of the cracks to the summit. The two on the left looked awkward. The crack on the right was a commiting lieback and fun. Probably 5.5, not 5.2. Belay from the summit platform. 45 feet
Summit Block: The summit boulder is fun to climb, and probably about 5.4 at the easiest section.
Descent: Downclimb the South Arete route until above the 5.4 chimney section. From here 2 single rope rappels will get you to the ground.
A set of nuts, and a single set of cams to 5" will work fine. The cruxes are wide, so 2 to 3 pieces in the 4 to 5" range will make you feel more secure if 5.8 is really hard for you. Definately bring 3 or 4 48" slings.
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