The Liberty Ridge on Mt. Rainier (14,410’) has long been on my to-do list. Rainier isn’t much higher than the average Colorado “fourteener”, but it’s a big, heavily-glaciated mountain with nearly 10,000’ of elevation gain. Due to its length, steepness and remote location, a climb of the Liberty Ridge has the feel of an Alaskan expedition, even though it’s only two hours’ drive from the suburbs of Seattle. I first attempted it some years ago with Mike Haponiuk and Gordon Laurens, but we retreated in blizzard conditions before we even set foot on the ridge itself. This year I returned with Kurt Mensch and Chris Endres, and we were fortunate to have warm, sunny weather for just about the entire trip. The warm weather was almost too much of good thing, as much of the snow cover had melted from the lower ridge, with some exciting consequences... read on for more details.
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