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North America, United States, Washington-Cascades, Liberty Bell Mountain, North Face Direct

Liberty Bell Mountain, North Face Direct. After an unsuccessful attempt on the Red Gully last year, the stage was set on August 8 for Jim Yoder, Bob Vaughn and me to push up one of the last unclimbed faces on Liberty Bell. Third-classing up left of the Red Gully brought us to the ramp system that leads left to the north-face route. Our climb loomed above a cave-like bullet-hole, 30 feet in diameter. Exposed climbing with limited protection passed through the bullet-hole, then traversed between two huge roofs. Ramping left to an obvious right-facing corner on the left edge of the slabs brought us to a steeper section. Quality face-climbing linked a line of crumbly comers that characterize the weaknesses of the north face. I was thankful for our moderate stash of pins as I finished a 5.10 corner, overpounded a lost arrow and traversed 40 feet of dicey face up to a large crumbly expanding flake. Atop this touchy flake, we used for anchors the first two bolts. From there, Yoder made a remarkable traverse right, using hooks for protection and climbed up to a tension traverse, which turned out to be the only aid on the route. He finished with a scary 5.10 layback to another one bolt-one pin belay. The day was lengthening as we gathered at this remote oasis centered in the middle of the Great Slab with only blank face in sight for another full pitch. A white streak plummeted down the upper portion of the pitch and became the landmark for the finale. Thus began “Bold Bob” pitch. Armed with his 23-ounce framing hammer, Vaughn journeyed up through 5.10 to a toe-aching stance where he jackhammered a bolt in ten minutes, including breaking and replacing a bit. A crux was encountered 20 feet above. Then smiles and backslapping as 5.5 led to the summit ridge. (IV, 5.10.)

Lee Cunningham, Unaffiliated