Remsberg Variation, Liberty Bell II+ 5.10d


Washington Pass, Washington, USA

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Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Oct 31, 2012 - 01:55am
cool story, thx for sharing that!
Mr. Stimpy

Ice climber
Portland, OR
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   Oct 31, 2012 - 12:06am
To add a little input (if not terror) to the description of Dale's first ascent of this variation, I thought I'd enter a belayer's eye view of this major achievement by one of the truly great climbers of our era.

My name is Scott Stimpson (that's Mr. Stimpy to you) and I had the great fortune of climbing with Dale in his early years as a mentor with the Seattle Mountaineers climbing program. We were not your typical Mountaineers climbers (at least not Dale).

This climb was done by the two of us in the summer either before or just after his graduation from the Mountaineers' Basic Climbing Course. That alone is just beyond my comprehension.

We set out to do a 5.8-9ish climb early in the day, knowing little more than the Beckey description of the route. By the time we reached this pitch, we looked around for the obvious line and other signs of the route and surmised that the flakes they referred to were high up on this pitch which resembled a series of two opposing, somewhat "beefy" lieback flakes. Silly us, they weren't that "beefy" when Dale reached them.

In addition, as I recall, there was some webbing hanging down (red I believe) high up in the crack that starts the route. Not sure what it was attached to, but the dihedral in the pitch above this one had a rusty old piton driven in which protected my runout (more later).

We looked to the right and didn't really see the route there (which is where it was) and figured we were on route to go up from there. 5.8 was the rating of the route in the book (uh oh, Beckey trad ratings - WARNING, WARNING!!!). But Dale was leading 5.10b in Squamish so what's not to like.

He got some pro in the top of the crack and headed for the "beefy" flakes. A little run out, but he was well within his limits. Or so he thought.

When he got to the "beefy" flakes, thinking the hard climbing was over, he was in fact at the runout crux (5.10d XXX). These flakes were nothing more than an illusion but gave something to lay your fingers onto while doing a very delicate smeary weight shift from one foot to the next.

On this shift, 50 feet above his last pro, his right foot slipped and caught on a crystal just below that placement. I was getting ready to reel in the slack as his body was sure to fall past me, if it didn't in fact hit me on the way down. That was not to happen. The foot caught its purchase and he was one more move to the ledge above where he pulled up onto the final move.

I shudder to this day thinking of those moves and that slip.

I later spoke with Jeff Lowe about Dale and he told me, "If he doesn't kill himself in the first couple of years, he'll probably become a great climber." Jeff was right.

Oh yeah, as a post script, take a couple of the smallest cams you can find for the skinny crack high up on the 5.9 dihedral or you'll be running that out too and clipping to what must be a really old decrepit piton (if it's still there 20 years later).

pps. - We initially called it the Rem and Stimpy Variation for fun, but looking back, Dale deserves full credit for this bold and amazing achievement.

Oh yeah, ppps. - we also simule-rapped the Beckey Route on double ropes. What a thrill!

Dale, you da best!!!!!
Liberty Bell - Remsberg Variation II+ 5.10d - Washington Pass, Washington, USA. Click to Enlarge
Dale Remsberg nearly 20 years after making the first ascent. Now Technical Director of the AMGA.
Photo: Ian Nicholson
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