Liberty Traverse, South Early Winters Spire V 5.8-5.11a

   
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Washington Pass, Washington, USA

  • Currently 5.0/5
Avg time to climb route: 4-12 hours
Approach time: 1.5-3 hours
Descent time: 1.5-3 hours
Number of pitches: 24
Height of route: 2,000'
Overview
There are many ways to do the Liberty Bell Traverse. This description is the most popular and has little if any backtracking, so it feels more like a traverse rather than just tagging all the summits. This is one of the most fun and classic outings in the Cascades. It also isnít as committing as many other large traverses in the Cascade Range since if you tire, simply finish the tower you are on, descend, and call it a day.

AKA: The Five Spires and The Bell Traverse
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Strategy
The traditional starts are the Beckey Route, Rapple Grapple, or The Girl Next Door, whichever is less crowded. It is a slightly purer traverse to start on the Northwest Face of Liberty Bell and cut nearly all the back tracking, but because the Northwest Face is one of the coldest routes in the area and is often miserably cold early in the morning, most people start with a south-facing route. Climb one of them to the top and descend the normal way on Liberty Bell, returning to the Liberty Bell-Concord Tower notch. Since youíll be returning to the notch, this is the one time you donít have to carry all your gear with you.

Ascend the North Face of Concord Tower. If itís crowded, consider taking the Cave Route or the Patriot Cracks to the summit. From the summit of Concord Tower, rappel right off the summit to south. Make two 30m raps (one 60m rope required) down the South Face on bolts with chains until you reach the larger ledge from which you can easily walk/scramble down to the Lexington-Concord Col. Walk the short distance across the Concord-Lexington Notch to the start of the North Face Route on Lexington. Ascend the North Face Route to the summit.

From the summit of Lexington, descend 20 feet east until you are can rappel 30m down to the ledge where the East Face and Tooth and Claw top out. Look to the south to a large flat area on the ridge crest: thatís your destination. From the bottom of the rappel, head due west a short distance down a steep scree gully. Until you can cross over a few short 3rd class ribs and traverse down and left aiming for the large flat section in the ridge. Once on the large flat section, head to the far south end and rappel 20m off a tree to a scree-covered slope. Walk along the crest for a short distance until you can drop down a gully that angles toward the northwest edge of North Early Winters Spire and the start of the West Face and the Northwest Corner.

On North Early Winters Spire the traditional ways are to take the Northwest Corner or the West Face because there is no backtracking. The West Face is obviously the most difficult but you donít have to carry extra big cams, but the Northwest Corner is easier. If you just want to bag every tower rather than completing the Bell Traverse, then ascending and descending the Chockstone Route is an option, but less aesthetic because of the ...   [full history for SuperTopo members only!]

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Source: SuperTopo Guidebook Staff
South Early Winters Spire - Liberty Traverse V 5.8-5.11a - Washington Pass, Washington, USA. Click to Enlarge
Less traveled section between Lexington and N.E.W.S. Rappel at far end of ledge in middle of photo.
Photo: Ian Nicholson
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South Early Winter Spire
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South Early Winters Spire - Direct East Buttress IV 5.11a or 5.10a C0 - Washington Pass, Washington, USA. Click for details.
Direct East Buttress, IV 5.11a or 5.10a C0
South Early Winters Spire
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The soaring East Butress of South Early Winters Spire
South Early Winters Spire - The Hitchhiker IV 5.11b or 5.10d C1 - Washington Pass, Washington, USA. Click for details.
The Hitchhiker, IV 5.11b or 5.10d C1
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South Early Winter Spire
South Early Winters Spire - Northwest Face III 5.11a - Washington Pass, Washington, USA. Click for details.
Northwest Face, III 5.11a
South Early Winters Spire
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The Northwest Face of South Early Winters Spire
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