Southwest Rib on South Early Winter Spire (5.8) and River Food

Summit shot and bear hug

After loads of fun climbing Flyboys, the Beckey route in sub-optimal conditions, and a ton of single-pitch during a three day trip on July 4th weekend, we longed for another trip to Washington Pass. We had planned for a packed three day climbing weekend from July 10th through July 12th which ended up mostly involving site-seeing and hiking due to various factors. We left Portland at 4:44 pm on July 9th and drove through rain and storm from Darrington to just 2 miles before Liberty Bell area. We were relieved to know that we may not need to deal with wet rock early Friday morning. We cramped ourselves into our tiny car for a 6 hour sleep. Another party arrived early morning to climb SW Rib on SEWS and they started hiking about 20 minutes before us.

Mountain goat blocking my way as I walked towards the base of the route SW Rib

We thought our teams will be spaced nicely but we saw their leader started pitch one after we had finished racking up. Grunting with a little struggle at the famous bulge of pitch one the leader of the other party made it up the pitch one. At this point my confidence was a bit shaken but Rick quickly switched roles and became a personal growth coach by stating, “Confidence is what you tell yourself”.

With numb fingers and toes Sandy making her way on pitch one

I protected the bulge with some #1 and #2’s while hand-jamming my way up. Pulling the rope with numb fingers was a tough task so I took my time and belayed Rick up. I started on pitch two by bumping up the #3 cam for about 20 feet until the crack widened. We hadn’t brought a #4 or #5 so this section proved hard to protect. I found a decent nut placement and made the move by going out of the crack to gain the small ledge.

Looking up on pitch two

We wanted to check out Boving Roof so I continued up and left instead of traversing right to Nervous Nelly and Bear Hug pitch.

Boving roof looks sweet.

We decided to come back next year when we were both stronger for to try the Boving Roof variation and dropped down back onto the route. Meanwhile a chill party behind us passed us while we were admiring the aesthetic and daunting roof. We all cozied up on a small ledge while this party started on the nervous nelly and bear hug pitch. Another party had just arrived at the top of pitch two, making the ramp an impromptu party. I was drawn to leading the bear hug pitch but because of the crowd accumulation I decided to unleash Rick and pick up the pace. He hopped up the slab, then placed a #3 at the base of the bear hug and toe-heeled his right foot up the right crack, belaying on a spacious ledge up top . The party behind us climbed the nervous nelly pitch and waited at the crack below the bear hug pitch. I had a blast on the bear hug pitch, then led us up the low fifth to the summit.

Afterwards we came back to the car and enjoyed a cooked meal with majestic views next to a perfectly clear stream.

Nutritious meal in breath taking ambiance

Saturday, July 11th

Our plan for today was to climb Northwest Face of Liberty Bell. To avoid numb fingers and toes we planned to begin the hike at 10 am in order to enjoy afternoon sun on the route. We climbed Guide’s Day Off and some chill single pitches at Fun rock as a warm up. While we were packing at the Liberty Bell trail head we were mercilessly bitten by swarms of mosquitoes. Its as if they were impatiently waiting for warm weather and melting of snow to attack humanity.

We got to the base of the scramble which was difficult to get to because of a snow patch.

Scramble for NW Face of Liberty Bell

I wanted to scramble up in rock shoes so as we found a marginally safe ledge among loose rocks to change shoes, but Rick started feeling throbbing pain behind his eye socket and lost clear vision. He quickly wore sunglasses thinking that the reflected light from light colored rock and snow must have caused this but the pain didn’t diminish and his vision remained blurry and shaky. We decided to hydrate, fuel and rest for a bit but the situation wasn’t getting better. After about 20 minutes we called it off and descended. As Rick lost elevation he was starting to feel better. Since we had never seen the blue lake despite several trips to WA Pass, we thought to hike to the blue lake.

The lake had floating frozen ice. Rattle snake is sneaking in from Goat Wall.
Rick enjoying the scenic surrounding of alpine lake

I suggested a unique way to fix Rick’s throbbing pain.

Following my suggestion inspired by dunking in the Ganges River. Eternal gratitude and ice cream headaches followed.

We hiked down to the car and enjoyed another cooked meal by the river at the Cutthroat Campground.

Sunday, July 12th

Today we were energetic and stoked to climb Sisyphus on the Goat Wall. It had rained quite a bit on Saturday night at Cutthroat Campground but the weather report showed no rain in Mazama. We hiked up only to find a water fall from the hanging forest on the scramble part of our route.

Image from mountain project. Blue dotted line is the scramble to the base of pitch one

As far as we could tell this matches our picture as below.

Picture we took of the route

So we estimated that the most precarious section will the wet slab. The waterfall was loud so there was definitely a good amount of flow.

Wet slab to cross to continue scrambling to the base of pitch one.

We also found a peacefully relaxing rattle snake at the base of the rocks. The barista at Mazama store said, “they are fairly common around here because they love hot rocks, don’t we all!!”

It’s not yet morning for this creature.

We went back to Mazama store sipped lattes and came back to the swimming hole parking lot to enjoy a delicious breakfast by the river. After we finished breakfast it had started raining again and we chatted with a party who had bailed on pitch two of Flyboys due to rain. They were living half time in seattle and half time in Mazama. They insinuated the idea of buying a cabin in Mazama and persuaded me to a good extent.

This wasnt a typical climbing weekend for us but we enjoyed doing other things that we had never done before in Mazama i.e drive to Wild West town Wintrop, check out Blue Lake and eat delicious meals by rivers.

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