Willis Wall Winter Wonderland Pics


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
This thread has been locked
Messages 1 - 56 of total 56 in this topic

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.

Iíll 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 í75 K2 Expedition and the scuttlebutt was rampant.
I wasnít 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 werenít
surprised and didnít 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 yeomanís share of digging a snow cave into the lower lip of the
bergschrund. It couldnít 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
Reaperís Wrath. On the West youíve 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 15í up I stopped
and made the mistake of looking up, way up, at The Reaper. I couldnít 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!!

Boulder climber
Dec 16, 2010 - 08:37pm PT

Fellow Californians -- alert alert. Nothing in these pictures is as it appears. In the Cascades, what sometimes is considered legitimate mountain climbing rock looks absolutely, horrifyingly, deadly and loose. My limited experiences have taught me they are actually much, much worse.

Big Wall climber
Land of the Lahar
Dec 16, 2010 - 10:11pm PT
Now, if you can pull off a "summer" ascent of WW ... then you would be a hard man in my book. Muy Peligroso!

right here, right now
Dec 16, 2010 - 10:13pm PT
You have been holding out on us Reilly!
It was worth the wait.

Yes please: do tell more.
More pictures of adventures in the Pacific Northwest, another thread perhaps?
Inquiring minds ...

Trad climber
JackAssVille, Wyoming
Dec 16, 2010 - 10:14pm PT
Nice bro!

Trad climber
Westminster, CA
Dec 16, 2010 - 11:42pm PT
Great shots! I remember looking up at that wall with gnarly avalanches coming down back in 1998 (Liberty Ridge).


Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 16, 2010 - 11:56pm PT
This post got to me. I moved to Seattle from Fairbanks, where you stare south to Deborah Hess and Hayes, i.e. big fu'king awesome mountains (not that I climbed them), and I thought that was gone when I moved. Then you stare south from Seattle to the North Face of Rainier, and that's the Willis Wall, the you get close to it and it's scarier than all get up with all the hanging seracs.

Beautiful picutres Reily. When did you do it?


Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Dec 17, 2010 - 12:03am PT
Esparza: Yes!

Your above photo of some of Willis wall to the left of Liberty Ridge, shows a bit of the overhanging and active "city-block-sized" ice cliffs above Willis Wall.

I had climbed in Alaska, before I first ventured in to Liberty Ridge in about 1980. After a late start on my first trip, with a bivy below Liberty Ridge: we retreated. My climbing partner, from Alaska, had stayed awake all night: listening to huge ice-falls off Willis Wall. He refused to go higher into what he perceived as: "a death-trap."

Reilly!---------hats off to making a winter ascent of Willis Wall BITD seem like just another climb.

Here's a slightly out of focus Liberty Ridge & Willis Wall in June 1980.
Slogged up Liberty Ridge, the next summer, with more willing partners.

Willis Wall was active and still "way scary."

Dec 17, 2010 - 12:50am PT
Wow Reilly, nice pics! That almost inspires me to want to get up there, if only your pictures could show all the stuff waiting to come down at you (or whizzing by).

Social climber
Dec 17, 2010 - 01:01am PT
Now this is a trip report!! ...love the multiple (and exhausting) approches not mentioned. True NW hard man style points ;)

Dec 17, 2010 - 01:06am PT
"Reilly!---------hats off to making a winter ascent of Willis Wall BITD seem like just another climb."

Hey! Only one hat to a person. But here is another hat off to clear your usage.

That is almost a closer look at Willis Wall than I want to see. We did see it from the living room in Seattle for 8 years. Weather and daylight permitting of course. My closer looks at Rainier and all the tales about it do provide good context for your matter-of-fact report. Be great to see or hear more.

Trad climber
Dec 17, 2010 - 09:39am PT
Dusan Jagersky is a name I haven't heard in a long time. He and Givler who left his mark in Leavenworth on a number of first ascents, were both lost in Alaska long ago. How time flies...

Tuscon Again! India! India! Hawaii! LA?!?!
Dec 17, 2010 - 12:21pm PT

bump to the front page!

Trad climber
100% Canadian
Dec 17, 2010 - 02:04pm PT
Holy shyte !

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 17, 2010 - 02:44pm PT
All right, I didn't provide a soundtrack originally because, frankly, I guess
I've got SFS - - - (Sally Fields Syndrome).
But you've asked for it so I'll add an addendum to the original post.

Dec 17, 2010 - 03:44pm PT
Went back and read the addendum. Excellent.

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Dec 17, 2010 - 04:44pm PT
Holy crap Reilly!!

Both of those tr's are great.

"Walking cast..." Great stuff.

Proud to have you as a neighbor. If I weren't stuck here waiting for the UPS guy I'd be on my way down with some ales right now...

"The first car of the train..." Yikes!

Social climber
Berkeley, CA
Dec 17, 2010 - 05:05pm PT
bada*s thread of the year!

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 23, 2010 - 01:32pm PT
My palms get cold and sweaty at the mere thought of self-bumping but some
have said they wanted to see more (just being nice?).
I have obliged with some more pics and a lame soliloquy.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 23, 2010 - 01:44pm PT
More that nice...intetrested, like me!

Thanks for posting this TR from the minefield!

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Dec 23, 2010 - 01:50pm PT
pretty cool adventure! Nice pics too.

Trad climber
Puyallup, WA
Dec 23, 2010 - 03:32pm PT
Thanks for the addendum, beautiful, gripping piece of writing. They should have invited you to K2 for your sixth sense alone!
Auto-X Fil

Mountain climber
Nov 26, 2011 - 03:00pm PT
Bumping political garbage off the main page.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Nov 26, 2011 - 10:36pm PT
Don't think I had seen this the first time around. Great write up.

Trad climber
Ridgway, CO
Nov 26, 2011 - 10:43pm PT

Trad climber
Nov 26, 2011 - 11:38pm PT
Burly indeed! Nice images Reilly. Here's another bump for alpine.

An old climbing partner, Dave Kilokofsky (sp) May he R.I.P. perished on that face with a his future brother-in-law to be and another fellow who's name eludes me now, back in the late 80's. They got hit by a storm and presumably decided to keep moving to a better bivy, they were found at the base still roped in a way to suggest the above assumptions.

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
Jan 23, 2013 - 03:39pm PT
Major bump! And shudder.

Social climber
State of decay
Jan 23, 2013 - 03:55pm PT
Impressive! I remember being near the top of Liberty Ridge, when something cut loose on the Wilis Wall.The ground shook, the noise was deafening, and I thought I was going to sh*t my pants. You guys had big balls. Lucky you had big empty heads to carry them in! :)

Sport climber
Jan 23, 2013 - 03:59pm PT
Awesome photography. Thanks for bumping!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Jan 23, 2013 - 04:51pm PT
Reilly that's a great thread pics and write up. Did you bring a Cheburashka up there with you? Did you end up on K2?
this just in

north fork
Jan 23, 2013 - 05:18pm PT
I always enjoy your photos Reilly. Thanks for the thread and the bump.

Trad climber
Norwalk, CT
Jun 25, 2015 - 11:44am PT
Amazing post.

Grey Matter
Jun 25, 2015 - 01:23pm PT
from Thumb rock June 9 2004

May 23, 2018 - 02:50am PT
iíd never read the addendum before tonight...

and so a buh.ump to say thanks...

Just livin' the dream on the California coast
May 24, 2018 - 02:01pm PT
I went back to Seattle to consult the Tibetan Book of the Dead for the
difference between deluded and disillusioned.

Reilly, that's exactly what you should've done, considering you'd just outsmarted the Reaper!

Great tale well told--and photos to boot. You rock!

right here, right now
May 24, 2018 - 04:49pm PT
I hadn't read that until just now either.
Holy moly! Batman!

And out past the deposition zone like a mouse from a cannon shot Reilly, with tucked tail, K2 aspirations, and his very good sense intact: two out of three.

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
May 25, 2018 - 10:01am PT
Well I guess you pre-paid for a lot of sh#t-talking credit here with that report. Pretty gnarly dude. Glad you are still with us, and over the years I appreciate your combination of bluntness and snark anchored in sound reason and dry humor.
Messages 1 - 56 of total 56 in this topic
Return to Forum List
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta