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North America, United States, Washington—Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier, Sunset Ampitheatre Headwall

Mount Rainier, Sunset Amphitheatre Headwall. This highly impressive headwall of Rainier’s Sunset Amphitheatre on the mountain’s west side offers a fairly direct route to Liberty Cap. The route we chose begins near the prominent ice cliff, continues diagonally up the face across two large snow patches and up a long snow ramp to the vertical rock buttresses which line the headwall’s crest. The major difficulties appeared to be in crossing the schrund and finding an exit passage at the top of the wall. On July 25, Dave Mahre, Gene Prater, Don McPherson, Fred Stanley and I, after a late start because of threatening weather, followed the anticipated route, reaching Liberty Cap in seven hours from our 9200-foot high camp. A rapid ascent was dictated by rockfall which we encountered in the numerous small gullies on the headwall. Suncupping on the snow patches and long ramp made the snow-climbing enjoyable. At the upper end of the ramp, we were elated to find a narrow, twisting gully between two ice-plastered rock walls, and finally emerged from the headwall about 200 feet below Rainier’s northernmost summit.

James Wickwire, The Sherpas