Rainier: Liberty Ridge

On the approach traverse we kept trending higher and wound up at a flat spot at about 7,500 feet on Curtis Ridge with a cliff between us and Liberty Ridge. By tossing rocks off the cliff and timing them, we determined it was about 500 feet down to the Carbon Glacier we should have been on. This spot was fairly level and dry; we also found a source of water trickling off nearby snow. It was an ideal campsite. While we prepared and ate dinner, we studied Liberty Ridge and the crevasses we would have to navigate through before starting to climb. We started our descent at 7:30am the next morning, heading down Curtis Ridge and onto the Carbon Glacier.

At 5.7 miles in length and 700 feet in thickness, the Carbon Glacier is the largest glacier in the 48 contiguous states. It extends from about 9,600 feet at the base of Willis Wall to a moraine at 3,500 feet. Its size can be attributed in large part to the accumulation of avalanches from Curtis Ridge, Willis Wall, Liberty Ridge and Ptarmigan Ridge, in addition to its location on the north side of the mountain.