Liberty Ridge Attempt
June 23 - 25, 1999
Rainier's North side
Rainier's North side, 6/25/99: the Liberty Ridge is in the center, Carbon Glacier in the foreground. John Smith and I had gone to Rainier with the lofty aspiration of ascending this ridge. Weather, the unrelenting enemy of the mountaineer, was against us the entire time. Curtis Ridge (from where this deceptively beautiful photo was taken) is as close as we got.

hike in It was raining heavily when our plane touched down in Seattle but by the time we reached the trailhead the skies had cleared somewhat so we hiked on in to Glacier Basin that afternoon. 6/23/99

crossing crevasses
Just about midnight the rain began again. Disheartened, we got a slow start the next morning deciding to head on to Curtis Ridge and re-assess the situation there. The rain varied in intensity all day and visibility was never more than a few hundred meters; usually much less. Navigating mainly by compass and altimeter (and the vague boot track of another unknown party) we began to cross the Winthrop Glacier. We had been unroped thus far and continued that way until I realized the significance of the creases I had stepped over! Not long after roping up some nifty crevasses revealed themselves but presented no real problem. 6/24/99

Sometime about mid-day we met two Canadians who had retreated from Thumb Rock. They had gone up two days previous but had been thwarted by high winds and the low visibility and decided it was prudent to bag this climb. two Canadians

camp Still unable to see the mountain we made camp on Curtis Ridge.

The next morning after a bit of wind and a "hefty" dumping of snow we dug out and walked the short distance to the edge of the ridge. Looking down at a boot track on the Carbon Glacier we knew this would be one of the easiest years to cross this thing given this year's heavy snow fall. While standing there we became witnesses to one of the most awesome sights a mountain has to offer. Accompanied by a sound similar to low thunder an avalanche began to roll off the Liberty Cap Glacier.

This more than anything else made our decision for us -- we returned to our tent and as the clouds closed in on us again we packed to go down.
Carbon Glacier

glissading Glissading down from St. Elmo's Pass was such fun for me I decided to do it twice. When we reached the bottom a marmot presented a great "photo op" but when I reached for my Nikon I realized I'd left it at the top of the pass!

John and the marmot John and marmot

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Proud to be an American!
Mack Muir