Remsberg Variation, Liberty Bell II+ 5.10d
Avg time to climb route: 2-4 hours
Approach time: 2-3 hours
Descent time: 2-3 hours
Number of pitches: 7
Height of route: 600'
OverviewThe Remsberg Variation of the Northwest Face of Liberty Bell is a challenging and enjoyable one-pitch variation to the normal Northwest Face. While it avoids the unpleasant loose flakes of the Northwest Face, it is significantly more difficult both physically and mentally. It is a proud line put up on lead on accident by Dale Remsberg looking at a death fall. But Larry Goldie and Scott Johnston later added a few bolts to make it more reasonable. The splitter crack that starts the pitch is easily visible from below and has “drawn” many climbers in to attempt this route.
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Route HistoryFirst climbed by Remsberg in 1993 or 1994. He was climbing with Scott Stimpson when he went off route while attempting the Northwest Face. The initial crack was good but then Dale launched onto the slab and was quickly in over his head. Dale vividly describes the pitch: “I got super scared but also super focused and by the time I hit the ledge, I could taste blood in my mouth and was panting like a dog. I believe the fall would have been a death fall as it would have been a 100+ footer or onto those ledges below.”
It is likely that no one else completed the pitch again until the splitter crack that starts the Remsberg Variation was noticed by local climbers Goldie and Johnston. Goldie said he was drawn to the beautiful splitter cracks just to the left of the exfoliating flakes pitch the first time he climbed the Northwest Face of Liberty Bell. When he led up the cracks, he found that they flared out into about 45 feet of unprotected face climbing up to a belay. He put a piece at the top of the crack and pendulumed over to finish the pitch via the typical flakes without putting in any more gear. When he made the belay, Goldie had his partner climb straight up to check out the climbing above the crack which he described as “nice and fairly consistent with the rest of the route.” Few people attempted this route again until 1997 when Paul Butler hand drilled one bolt to protect the face climbing. Subsequently, when Goldie led this pitch, he felt that the one bolt barely protected the 40+ feet of insecure face climbing. After leading it a second time, he realized that this classic variation would never become popular without a second bolt. In July of 2009, he and Johnston added the second bolt.
StrategyThe Remsberg Variation is fun in its own right, and if you’re up to the challenge, is also a great way to pass other parties on the Northwest Face. The pitch starts off with excellent protection and straight- forward and fun climbing up a 2”crack. Pay attention to where the crack starts to turn into a groove. Make sure you get one final good 2-3” piece in before the crack starts to flair and you have to double gaston up the groove. Tricky foot work leads you past two bolts and a final trick insecure 5.10 slab takes you to the belay. When you are up there, think about Winthrop-native and now AMGA Technical Director Remsberg, climbing the most challenging and insecure sections before bolts and looking at a death fall.
Retreat StormThere are no fixed anchors and you need two ropes to get down in the event of a storm. This route gets little sun and can still be wet or icy days after a storm.
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