Willis Wall Winter Wonderland Pics


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Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 16, 2010 - 02:20pm PT
There's some I couldn't find but I thought these might provide some relief
from Boehners' Peccadillos and Why God Hates Santa.

These are a compendium of three forays to the hallowed place hence the
seemingly implausible variations in snow cover.

It helps to know how to walk like a drunken sailor...

Dusan Jagerski and Jim Wickwire emerging from the mist...

Some mighty swell camping up there!

Ya gotta be on the lookout for strange beasties!

A cool place for the insomniac photographer...

A 'small' one right down the route.
"I thought we were safe if we stayed on the rib?"

It do give one pause for thought...

Last view of the sun for a while as it dips below
Liberty Ridge (the usual descent)...

Yeah, it is big and ugly...

It's mostly just hiking with the odd moment of sheer terror.
Not many shots of the terror 'cause it is tough to shoot and give a decent boot-axe belay...

I managed to take this one 'cause I had a 'decent' belay: a stubby Leeper...

The Reaper looms ever larger, and waits...

Looking at the top of Liberty Ridge and Liberty Cap from on high...

Topout! (Thankfully not tapout!)

A welcome sight - Liberty Cap. Too bad you can't see the wind - 40+ mph

I hope this wasn't too long of a distraction from the more pressing issues ;-)

An earlier thread in which I describe a 'descent' of Liberty Ridge:


You Want The Truth?

So be it, but this might hurt me more than you.

I’ll admit it now and get it over with - I had aspirations once.
Now I suppose it would be more truthful to say they were delusions.
The machinations were in gear for the ’75 K2 Expedition and the scuttlebutt was rampant.
I wasn’t so delusional as to think that I was on the short
list so I figured I had to make a statement. Dusan told me that he and
Wickwire were going up to do the first ever winter ascent of the Willis Wall.
What better statement could I make than to steal a march on them
and do it solo? I packed my Millet and began the weather window watch.

As I stomped up the lower Carbon Glacier in the fog I reveled at the
thought of their surprise upon finding my car. It turned out they weren’t
surprised and didn’t care. When they caught up to me halfway up the
Carbon, thanks to my trail breaking, it was obvious that one of them did
care. But at least he was cordial. They were both quite cordial after I
did the yeoman’s share of digging a snow cave into the lower lip of the
bergschrund. It couldn’t hurt to show a little deference, could it?

In the morning they headed up onto the East Rib, arguably the safest
route. I headed for the West Rib. It is the easiest of the three but
also the most exposed. From afar it is not apparent but a fair bit of the
climbing on the East and Central Ribs is somewhat sheltered from The
Reaper’s Wrath. On the West you’ve nowhere to run and nowhere to hide but
I figured I only needed about 4 hours to run.

I climbed onto a nice shelf in the bergschrund and girded my loins.
A perfect bridge led around a corner of the upper lip and into the bottom
of the massive chute between the West Rib and Liberty Ridge.
I stepped around the corner and headed up. The neve was perfect; as well
it should be from the constant burnishing it got. About 15’ up I stopped
and made the mistake of looking up, way up, at The Reaper. I couldn’t move.
I could barely breathe. I backed down to my shelf to berate myself.
After a couple of minutes I went back up. I got a little higher before
succumbing again. I went back down feeling really worthless.

Then I heard, or rather felt, something from above and within the mountain.
I stood beneath my shield and waited for what seemed like a minute.
I assumed it must have come off the other side of Liberty Ridge
so I took a couple of steps up to peer around the corner. At that exact
second the air blast hit me and I thought I would be thrown downwards into
the path. I literally jumped back down to my shelf as the first car of
the train came past. I shoved my axe into the upper wall of the shelf and
put my head down to breathe but quickly picked it up as the spindrift
poured into my shelter with an astonishing ferocity. I was being buried
and the weight was forcing me backwards so I shoved my Terrordactyl in also.

Jim and Dusan were at their first belay when The Reaper vented. They had
seen me starting upwards but hadn't noticed the retreat. When the
smoke cleared they were very pleasantly surprised to suddenly see a small
chastened figure emerge from the bergschrund and proceed to run down the
glacier for the half mile or more that it took to clear the impact zone.

I went back to Seattle to consult the Tibetan Book of the Dead for the
difference between deluded and disillusioned.


Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Dec 16, 2010 - 02:24pm PT
Beautiful man, that third shot is THE MONEY!!

Of course, they're all good.

"Can't see the 40+ wind" Hmmmmm, I had the same experience on top of that mountain....

Thanks man! Now back to politics and God.

Dec 16, 2010 - 02:28pm PT
beautiful! that side of Rainier is an amazing place.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Dec 16, 2010 - 02:29pm PT
Very cool (so to speak), Reilly! Great post.

I needed that break from both my paying work and my Taco pontifications.

Thanks much.


Trad climber
The Circuit, Tonasket WA
Dec 16, 2010 - 02:32pm PT
You make me want to be a mountain climber when I grow up!

Mountain climber
Bay Area
Dec 16, 2010 - 02:43pm PT
willis wall, eh. Plucky choice.

Trad climber
San Diego
Dec 16, 2010 - 02:48pm PT
totally badass.

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Dec 16, 2010 - 02:51pm PT
Man, I'd be an insomniac on that wall of choss too!

Willis Wall is one of those places where you'll probably get up the routes, if they stay on the wall and you're not killed by rockfall/icefall/serac collapse, etc. before you top out. Got a good look headed to and from Liberty Ridge. No thanks!

Mountain climber
perris, cali
Dec 16, 2010 - 02:56pm PT
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 16, 2010 - 03:15pm PT
Unlike so many west coast climbs, definitely not one on which to let the moss grow on one's back. So to speak.

Nice TR!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Dec 16, 2010 - 03:31pm PT
Wow - thanks for sharing.
Definitely a place rarely travelled.

Dec 16, 2010 - 03:39pm PT

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Dec 16, 2010 - 03:44pm PT
It's all relative...most people would be plenty happy to have Liberty ridge as an ascent, much less a descent.

Willis wall always looked way to spooky for me.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Dec 16, 2010 - 05:50pm PT

Pretty purty!!!!

Tanks for sharing!

Dec 16, 2010 - 05:52pm PT
Fantastic. Keep 'em coming.

Trad climber
Dec 16, 2010 - 05:57pm PT
Willis Wall in Winter, oh so burly! Nice!!!
Stewart Johnson

yo mama
Dec 16, 2010 - 06:13pm PT
a proper post.
Mark Rodell

Trad climber
Dec 16, 2010 - 07:03pm PT
A great trip report. A big mountain and up the Willis Wall, man. Good pics.

Trad climber
Puyallup, WA
Dec 16, 2010 - 07:18pm PT
Wow.... I was hoping for this post from you one day Reilly.

I have read about this one many times and had to fill in the blanks. Can you give us some blow by blow action?

I have always been inspired by Dusan and Wickwire. I met Jim on Mt. Hood back in '93 or so when he was training for Mt. Sarmiento... great guy. We talked for 15 minutes before I said "you look just like Jim Wickwire but 20 years younger". I couldn't tell if he was flattered or irritated, 'cause he took off two seconds later!

Then there was this Reilly guy that I kept noticing in the Cascade Alpine Guides! Please share some of your history with us.... Fred just gave us the routes and dates.
lars johansen

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Dec 16, 2010 - 08:29pm PT
Bump for a great TR!!
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