Mount Rainier/Liberty Ridge

A classic Grade V climb on snow and ice up to 50° on the glaciers of Mount Rainier's north side. This climb is best done in May through early July.

Getting There

Drive SR-410 in Mount Rainier National Park to Sunrise Road. It's 5 miles from the northern entrance and 4 miles from Cayuse Pass to the south. Turn onto Sunrise Road and drive 5 miles, turn left onto the White River Campground Road, and continue 1.2 miles to the campground (4,300 ft).

Approach

From White River Campground (4,400 ft), hike 3.5 mi to Glacier Basin (5,935 ft). Ascend to St. Elmo Pass and then descend to and cross the Winthrop Glacier at 7,300 ft. Traverse around lower Curtis Ridge and camp near 7,400 ft.

ASCENT ROUTE

Locate a spot to descend to flat area on the Carbon Glacier at 7,400 ft. Ascend the Carbon Glacier, as directly as crevasses allow, to base of Liberty Ridge. Climb snow ramp to crest of ridge from its east side. Cross ridge crest and ascend its west side up snow slopes and rock outcrops to a col and campsite at Thumb Rock at 10,775 ft. Ascend an ice gully between steep rock walls, or bypass the gully to the right. Bear left and continue to the ridge crest. Climb steep snow slopes along the crest to top of Black Pyramid. Ascend the ridge to where it meets Liberty Cap Glacier. Climb ice cliffs, then bear west to cross crevasses and a bergschrund to easier climbing and the summit at Liberty Cap.

Descent ROUTE

Traverse the upper Winthrop Glacier beneath Columbia Crest, descend Emmons Glacier route to Camp Schurman, and continue down Inter Glacier to Glacier Basin. Follow trail back to White River Campground.

Trip Profile

SEGMENT TIME (HOURS) ELEVATION GAIN (FEET)
Trailhead to Curtis Ridge 8-10 +3,000
Curtis Ridge to Thumb Rock 4-6 +3,400
Thumb Rock to Summit 8-10 +3,600
Summit to Trailhead 7-10 -10,000

EQUIPMENT

Ice ax, crampons, helmets,  pickets, ice screws, and a glacier climbing rope.

NOTES

  • Very fast parties encountering perfect snow conditions can complete the climb in two days, reaching Thumb Rock on Day 1, and climbing and descending on Day 2. Slower parties may need four days, with an extra night spent at Camp Schurman on the descent.
  • The climb can be done from Ipsut Creek Campground at the Carbon River entrance. But with a lower start and longer approach as well as longer descent, this option is attractive only when the White River Road is closed as is sometimes in early season. This route requires either a modified descent (descend the Winthrop Glacier from Camp Schurman to the lower Curtis Ridge, and traverse and descend to Moraine Park) or a car shuttle from White River.

Information for LEADERS

Permits

Climbing and backcountry permits are required. Fees apply.

  • Suitable Activities: Climbing
  • Climbing Category: Intermediate Alpine
  • Seasons: May, June, July
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: Intermediate Ice Climb
  • Elevation Gain: 10,000 ft
  • 14,410 ft
  • Land Manager: Mount Rainier National Park
  • Parking Permit Required: National Park Entrance Fee
  • Recommended Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12
Map
  • Green Trails Mount Rainier Wonderland No. 269SX
  • USGS Mt Rainier East
  • USGS Mt Rainier West
Activities

Upcoming Activities

There are no activities scheduled at this location.

Trip Reports
Resources
Name/Description
Mountaineers Beta & Brews: Mount Rainier's Liberty Ridge

The Mountaineers Beta & Brews presentation of "Mount Rainier's Liberty Ridge" on Nov 16, 2020 by Gavin Woody & Vik Sahney.

Log in and send us updates, images, or resources.