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    Liberty Crack - Natalie Afonina

    Liberty Crack - Natalie Afonina


    Bare Bones

    Route: 5.11a C2 Trad, Aid, Alpine, 1200 ft, 12 pitches, Grade V*

    *According to Mountain Project/Summit Post

    Length: Car2Car < 10 hr; Left car 8:30am and got back ~6:30pm (leisurely pace, saying hi to the goats, summited Liberty Bell)

    Dates: August 26, 2020

    Climbing Gear:

    Here’s my regular PSA that just because someone on the internet used a certain rack (or lack thereof) does not mean it’s the right rack for you.


    Climbing Beta

    We freed the first pitch, aided the Lithuanian Lip and the first part of the 3rd pitch (so ~1.5 pitches of aid total on-route). Freed the rest of the route, linking a couple of the pitches for a total of ~10 pitches. Soloed the last pitch (the slab pitch) of the Beckey Route to get on top of Liberty Bell because Spang had never been up there!

    The aiding: we opted not to bring jumars because a) I didn’t want to haul them on my back the rest of the way and b) we didn’t want to jug on such a nice alpine rope 😂  and didn’t want to bring the fatty. I re-aided the 2 aid pitches easily. I’m 5’1” so if I could reach, you can reach. Leave the jumars at home.

    There was some some janky aid we’ve coined ‘jankaid’ on pitch 3 since we didn’t bring any hooks and are both small, vertically-slightly-challenged humans. We clipped a biner around a bashy that was blown out. That was fun.

    You betcha we put our full weight on that. Doesn’t this make you want to learn how to aid climb?


    The Details

    My former housemate and really good friend Spang texted me on Monday asking if I was in Washington because she decided to last-minute drive up from California. I sent her a couple classic route proposals and the next day we were racking up for Liberty Crack! Gotta love friends that are down for last-minute adventures.


     The objective in all its glory courtesy of Steph Abegg!



    Spang the evening before as we try to remember how to aid climb (last time was 10 months ago on Leaning Tower): “Can’t be that hard, it’ll come back to me tomorrow. I swear. We’re just pulling on gear, right?”



    Homegrown broccoli sprout alpine sandies to keep us fueled up.




    Saw a pine martin on the approach. First time seeing one in these parts! Super curious creatures.


    We went up and around the snow moat to get to the 4th class scramble that we overshot anyways. Don’t recommend, just do the 5.5 or whatever it is that goes straight up. Would be faster. 



    Spang freeing the first pitch. It’s 10d, but if you’re short (like us), we did some weird yoga-like stretching and pulling on small things. Felt harder. Hot pink alpine NWAlpine tights were key for the stretches. We wore matching outfits: Spider Hoodies on top, tights on bottom and it was the perfect send-combo!



    First pitch freed, time to aid the Lithuanian Lip! The leader took one aider, the follower took one aider and it was the perfect lightweight combo.



    Pulling up and over! We both found the roof aiding to be easy and non-reachy.





    Definition: a form of aid climbing where you do whatever it takes, however unorthodox to get through a placement

    Example: Such as in this situation where the bashy (the metal stuff) no longer had a wire to clip and the only thing that would fit around the placement (necessary to move up) was a small, cross-loaded carabiner.

    “Hey Spang! This is some jankaid placement you got here!”



    Clipped the aider, stood up. It held. Time for some free climbing!



    Rest of the pitches we fired pretty quickly.



    We were in the shade starting 10:30am and were happy to have slightly warmer tights and Spider hoodies. We didn’t put on any of our layers and stayed cool the whole day. Perfect conditions.



    Note the shadows of the liberty group! 

    Love the reinforced knees on these tights for THIS PRECISE REASON. Cause apparently I often knee-smear



    We scramble/soloed and down-soloed the last slab pitch of the Beckey Route to the top of Liberty Bell and to the summit! Got to the top with plenty of time for sandwiches and lizarding in the sun.



    Matchy, matchy. Pretty sure we were the brightest things on Liberty this day.



    Tiny goats and sun rays made for a pleasant descent.



    Winding it down in Komrade Karl the minivan. All you need for happiness is a good book, a cup of tea and a good memory foam mattress.