Beckey Route, Liberty Bell II 5.7-

   
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Washington Pass, Washington, USA

  • Currently 5.0/5
Avg time to climb route: 1-4 hours
Approach time: 1.5-3 hours
Descent time: 1.5-3 hours
Number of pitches: 4
Height of route: 400'
Overview
The Beckey Route is one of the finest moderate routes in the state, and popular as an introduction to alpine or multi-pitch rock climbing. While technically named the South West Race, itís universally referred to as The Beckey Route. It clean, solid and the easiest way up Liberty Bell, one of the Cascades most iconic mountains. Even if youíre the most hardened alpinist, you have to climb The Beckey Route at least once. Or twice?
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Route History
Considered one of the great prizes of the range, the route was first climbed by Fred Beckey, Jerry OíNeal and Charles Walsh on September 27 1946, 26 years before the North Cascades Highway opened. The trio had to hike in 16 miles along Early Winters Creek where the highway would one day sit. Looking up at the massive east faces of the Liberty Bell group was both inspiring and intimidating. After their hike, Beckey, OíNeal and Walsh bivied near Washington Pass. Their original plan was to attempt something on the north side of Liberty Bell but the face proved to be inaccessible with the equipment they had at that time. The next day the group headed around to the west face, hoping to find an easy, or at least short, path to the summit. What they found was a possible passage up the imposing mountain. Beckey led the first two pitches without any problems, then a series of chimneys with good cracks led to a more difficult section. Here Welsh gave Beckey a tight belay as he climbed a narrow overhanging crack with a piton for protection. Fred describes ďA 10-foot finger traverse on a sharp sillĒ that led to continually more slabby and exposed climbing. Fred describes ďAll the holds were sloping the wrong way.Ē Beckey was forced to lay back the section, forcing his boots onto the rock. He claims that looking at a long fall, he climbed crab like, jamming his hands and feet in the crack. Finally reaching a comfortable belay ledge, he was able to breathe easier. On the trioís forth and final pitch, there was a short wall defending the final stretch to the summit. Beckey stood on his partnerís shoulders to maneuver past the step. This became another famous Beckey move. They finished with a scramble to the summit.


Strategy
This route is sustained at 5.6 but well- protected, making it a good choice for those wishing to break into the grade. The exception is the final 5.7 but itís more a like a 10-foot boulder problem and soft for the grade. Big crowds are nearly guaranteed on weekends when itís not uncommon to see four to ten parties converge on a single day. Even mid-week itís not out of the question for two to six parties here. This route is an especially popular choice for larger climbing clubs, which only adds to the crowding. Take this likely wait into consideration when choosing to climb this route, and be patient with the other groups. Pass the time while you wait by climbing one of the three moderate rout...   [full history for SuperTopo members only!]

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Source: SuperTopo Guidebook Staff
Liberty Bell - Beckey Route II 5.7- - Washington Pass, Washington, USA. Click to Enlarge
Liberty Bell Beckey Route
Photo: Kurt Hicks
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