Beckey Route II 5.7-

 
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Liberty Bell


Washington Pass, Washington, USA


Trip Report
Beckey Route, Liberty Bell + birds and birding
Friday August 16, 2013 1:43pm
Birds and Beckey Route on Liberty Bell.

Credit: Darwin


Good idea: Liberty Bell by the Beckey route. After all Tony and I are awesome 5.6 climbers BECAUSE of our combined 125 years of age. The plan was that Tony would fly up from Oakland Friday PM and then we drive to WA Pass, climb one of Sat, Sunday or Monday depending on weather and crowds, and we bird the other days. We've had very good and even too hot weather for two months in Western Washington, but I knew I should keep track of the track. The Friday morning before Tony left Oakland, Cliff Mass, LWG*, PhD came on one of our NPR stations and said that for thunder and lightning
in the whole NW corner of Washington, would be f*#ked Friday, more f*#ked Saturday, and kiss you ass goodbye Sunday. I phoned to warn Tony, but he was almost on the plane and besides we would be happy just birding if it came to that, we said. Guess what day we went up on Liberty Bell.


Traffic heading north out of Seattle Friday night after Tony's 2:30PM arrival was ganz schrecklich, but still we were able to have dinner on the road and set up camp near the Pass in a bit of light. As predicted that night produced awesome thunder and lightning over our camp and I awoke early and still happy in a steady but light rain. Unlike what I expected from the report, it was generally overcast. I was nonetheless way stoked to finally be outside camping and maybe climbing, so I arose early, set up the stove under a tree and brewed tea and then coffee. We agreed that, it would be a birding day.

We made a big loop NE to LoupLoup, Conconolly, Sinlahekin Valley, Phi Gleason's home(?) Tonaskett on the Okanogon then back. We did have a good birding day. The highlight for me was seeing a pair of Prairie Falcons, the beautiful little habitat by Blue Lake, lots of good prolonged views of Eastern and Western King birds. We scoped out some beautiful campgrounds, too. Then we were heading home, we passed through a burn area with a active WB Nuthatch, Hairy, Downy, Lewis's Woodpeckers, Calliope HB, both Kingbirds and T. Solitaires. Then a few miles further on we saw Common Nighthawks: always a BIG hit with me

Credit: Darwin
king1.jp

Photo credit: Tony
Photo credit: Tony
Credit: Darwin
PrairieFalcon_s.jpg

This is Tony's photo of a Prairie Falcon and was not actually from this trip, but I couldn't pass up using it. It was taken in Arizona.

Credit: Darwin
fc2
Credit: Darwin
fc1

Credit: Darwin
osp_lscp.jpg

Credit: Darwin
osp_port.jpg

That night was very clear and Tony first spotted some of the Persieds, and I spied a real doozy from my tent that was almost bright enough to hurt my eyes, and it left a trail that lasted 10 seconds or so.

Sunday morning dawned totally clear (see first paragraph) and we decided go for it but just play it safe and bail at the first sign of bad weather. Ahem, we probably should have gotten going at the break of dawn, but we wanted to make sure it wasn't just a sucker hole. Strangely, the road closed gate was swung across 1/2 the road, but given the lack of signage, we ignored it. ;-)

Credit: Darwin
lb1.jpg

It took us a tincy bit longer than planned to get up the notch to the base of the climb (2.5hrs?), and still a tincy bit longer get on the rock. Oh, and we were alone! ;-) Most climbers are idiots to waste this day. ;-)

By then there were some hints of clouds but it was still mostly clear to the west.
I checked to the east when I first got to the notch, there was some grayness out there, but not bad. It was difficult to see in that direction, and yes that's from whence this system's weather comes.

Photo Credit: Tony
Photo Credit: Tony
Credit: Darwin
girl_next_door.jpg

Photo Credit: Tony
Photo Credit: Tony
Credit: Darwin
firstpitch.jpg

First pitch is called 5.0, but it's all of 5.4 and steep. We crushed it dude! We team led the stiff ;-) 5.6 second pitch. [self deprecating irony, for those so impaired]. I got to the top of the chimney and I said, "Tony, I think I felt a drop", but it was in no way obvious that the brown stuff was about to hit the fan. By the time I sprinted up the next 50' of third class and set up an anchor, things felt a lot more serious. In retrospect, I should have stopped in that 3rd class section and easy down climbed to anchor to the the little tree on top of the chimney. But for some bizarre reason (I was still thinking that we might get to the top?), I yelled for Tony to come up. That too was a mistake.

By the time Tony climbed up into the chimney, there were buckshot sized hail falling and thunder all around, and there was no way to get Tony to retreat.
He couldn't hear me.

Credit: Darwin
lb4x.jpg

Credit: Darwin
hail.jpg

That was a long 15 minutes for me. The weather just got worse and worse with more and heavier hail, and I started to see flashes. I was sticking out on a buttress. At some point I did see a bolt hit around S. Early Winter Spire, but I never had my hair stand up or anything.
Tony stopped by a small tree at an exposed stance at the top of the chimney, and I slid down to him through the accumulating hail and water over the 3rd class pitch. We girth hitched the tree with a girth hitched rap ring (good trick Tony, and booty alert).

Being a gallant fellow (NOT), I rapped first and that was undoubtedly the longest few minutes of Tony's life while I rapped. After Tony got down to the ledge, there was a ton of drag as we tried to pull the rope, and it wouldn't pull until Tony did another trick of pulling and releasing to unweight the tail end of the rope. That got us 3', then again for another 3' and then the rope was pulling. The second rap was easier with a bail tree already well wrapped with slings, and the fact that we weren't exposed on a buttress allowed us to calm down a bit (i.e. go from abject terror bordering on panic to just being concerned/afraid).

Photo Credit: Tony
Photo Credit: Tony
Credit: Darwin
high_point.jpg

Photo Credit: Tony
Photo Credit: Tony
Credit: Darwin
first_rap.jpg

We got down to the base of the climb, and then the real fun began.
Somewhere during that time a nice weather window briefly opened up, and we did dawdle a bit and savored being un-electrocuted and poured water out of our shoes.

Credit: Darwin
descent_Tony1.jpg

But then it started just dumping rain and hail again as we started down the gully. Thunder crashed constantly. We were being quite careful and deliberate heading down.
At first just trickles of water stated flowing down the gully, but by the time we made it 100 yards water was coursing in an 6" deep cascade in some places.

Photo Credit: Tony
Photo Credit: Tony
Credit: Darwin


Gully Video

We were high in the gully and there weren't any real feeder tributaries, so we weren't too worried about a real flash flood, but I sure thought of it. About this time we heard a bad sound as a basketball sized rock rolled down the cascade bouncing in and out of the water. The sound of it grinding under water still gives me the creeps, although it missed us both by at least a few feet. After that we stopped for a minute or two under one tiny overhang of Concord Tower during a particularly bad spell, but it wasn't much shelter and we wanted to keep moving anyway. All in all, I was incredibly grateful for how generally grippy the rock was even with water flowing over it.

After maybe another 3/4 hour the weather did let up a bit and it became just a long slog over treacherous footing. I was a little freaked out at some spots when the gully got less steep but was composed of sand and dirt with big rocks in it, and I could totally imagine one of the big rocks cutting loose.

Credit: Darwin
lb3.jpg

The hike down to Blue Lake Parking area on the trial itself was shorter than I was fearing,
and just before the parking lot, a Spruce Grouse gave us a beautiful view of herself, presumably to distract us from her three adolescent chicks. As we got back to the EMPTY Blue Lake parking lot a truck pulled in, and two women scheduled to lead a Liberty Bell trip the next day told us that Hwy 20 was closed due to landslides just west or Rainy Pass.

The next day, we drove up to Harts Pass (NE of WA Pass, 6300' v. high for Washington). The road there is exciting and not paved, and we saw a flock/family-group (5?, Tony #?) of Pileated Woodpeckers eating berries on the drive. A few Pileated Woodpeckers go a long way, because they are so big. We also saw a Rough-legged Hawk (starting it's migration south?).
That's a beautiful bird and its image in the remote setting still stays with me.

Slides closed Washington and Cascade Passes, and so we headed back to Seattle by going through Wenachee/Leavenworth. We apparently missed "flocks" of Red-eyed Vireos in Marblemount. Life is tough. GFETE

  Trip Report Views: 1,207
Darwin
About the Author
Darwin is from Seattle, WA.

Comments
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survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Aug 16, 2013 - 02:03pm PT
OLD GUYZ ROOL!!!!

More pix please!
Darwin

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Author's Reply  Aug 16, 2013 - 02:15pm PT
Thanks Survival. Given the conditions and early descent, we weren't taking too many photos. It has to be one of the most traveled routes in the state, and so I hope someone else contributes. There are more bird photos, but I don't think that's what you have in mind.

The first time I was on it, I don't think I brought a camera.

Darwin
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Aug 16, 2013 - 02:39pm PT
I like it in writing, thank you for posting!
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
  Aug 16, 2013 - 02:44pm PT
THUMBS UP! Gorgeous area up in der!
Wayno

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
  Aug 16, 2013 - 02:50pm PT
Wow. I heard about that storm here in Seattle and wondered how burly it was. Now I have a first hand report. I'm glad you guys made it out ok and had such a well ending exciting epic.
Seamstress

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
  Aug 16, 2013 - 03:08pm PT
Perfect adventure. Thanks for a view. Gives me hope that I'm not too old and late to the party to venture over there.
Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
  Aug 16, 2013 - 06:12pm PT
LOVE! I'll take more bird photos.

That night was very clear and Tony first spotted some of the Persieds, and I spied a real doozy from my tent that was almost bright enough to hurt my eyes, and it left a trail that lasted 10 seconds or so.

I read this and envisioned a richly colored bird so bright that it left a trail of color. I went to google to figure out what type or family of bird was known as persieds. Pretty funny when I figured out what you were really saying. I have birds on the brain.

Thanks for sharing this.
Darwin

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Author's Reply  Aug 16, 2013 - 03:19pm PT

Wayno and all,
Thanks.
If we had gotten hurt, we would have been dumb f**ks (might be anyway). We had serious warning from the weather reports, but my excuse is this photo from Sunday mid-morning.

Photo Credit: Tony
Photo Credit: Tony
Credit: Darwin


The storm felt [much] worse than the photos convey.
I think there were other groups on the highway (east) faces. I don't know which routes. I don't think there were any rescues.

Anyone know the name of the peak S.W. of S. Early Winter Spire? Is it Blue Lake Peak?


love your Perseid story Crimpie. I wish I had taken more bird photos especially of the Rough-legged. It posed, but I was too awe struck.
benzo

Big Wall climber
tacoma wa.
  Aug 16, 2013 - 05:18pm PT
my team mates and i were pinned down up on the Suphide Glacier of Shuksan during that storm.

Trip report here.

http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=1110410

i too had doubts that the storm would be that bad. leave it to the mountains to prove logic wrong.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Aug 16, 2013 - 05:26pm PT
Wow! My main climbing partner and I also total 125 years of age at the moment, so I particularly enjoyed this TR. I've been very fortunate to get daily doses of Bob D'Antonio's birding pictures, but yours are quite fine in their own right.

Thanks for such a beautiful and fun TR.

Besides, completing routes is way overrated.

John
BrassNuts

Trad climber
Save your a_s, reach for the brass...
  Aug 16, 2013 - 05:51pm PT
Too bad you guys got drenched, but at least you got to see some Pileated's! Very cool. Thanks for sharing, glad there was no "zappage"...
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 16, 2013 - 07:10pm PT
Great photos and TR, glad you didn't get zapped!!!!
I just read the birding book "The Big Year" on Donini's reccomendation,, you should check it out if you haven't read it. ;)
Thank you!!
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Aug 16, 2013 - 07:16pm PT
Nice TR, Darwin! The only recollection I have of that route is the meltdown I had from dragging a n00b up it. I do have searing memories of being caught on the opposite side by a fierce electrical storm. Sadly, I have rather welshed on the promises I made to God while awaiting the next bolt.
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Aug 16, 2013 - 09:49pm PT
That was a really neat read. The mountain pics are lovely ... And the bird pics....awesome. So nice!

Susan
MH2

climber
  Aug 16, 2013 - 10:08pm PT
"It's God's country and he does what he wants with it."

~ Bryan Burdo, guidebook author


Your birding does Bryan proud, I am sure.
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
  Sep 9, 2013 - 01:13pm PT
Glad you guys got down OK.

Hail, rockfall, rain and lightning, fun stuff!


Not.
Slater

Trad climber
Central Coast
  Sep 9, 2013 - 10:17pm PT
Great balance of birds and climbing and just plain good times.
I enjoyed that route, very pretty area!
Timid TopRope

Social climber
the land of Pale Ale
  Sep 10, 2013 - 12:35am PT
I missed this the first go-round. Nice TR and photos. Didn't know Eastern Kingbirds and Red Eyed Vireos were in Washington.
Nice attempt given the weather.
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
  Sep 10, 2013 - 01:10am PT
125 years between the two of you. That explains it. Once you get a little older and more experienced you'll be better able to gauge conditions for particular climbs.

I've been lucky up there. Every trip into the peaks at Washington Pass has been perfect weather. And Blue Lake had naked people, not birds, but that's another story.
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