The Shape of Everything
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July 1, 2003
(This post is from my old, old, super old site. My views have changed over the years, hopefully my writing has improved, and there is now more than a handful of folks reading my site. Enjoy.)

A good friend of mine, Ryan Bradly just sent myself and some other friends (all mostly climbers) the following email. It's filled with lots of climer's jibber jabberish, but if you read it I think you'll understand that he did something pretty cool.

Subject: Liberty Ridge Solo

Well I am gonna send a mass email and spray a little because I finished my best climb ever the other day, and I have climbed/trained with everyone on this list so everyone played a part. anyway decided to try and accomplish my mountaineering goal for the year a solo of Liberty ridge on Mt. Rainier with a ski descent of the Emmons glacier. So I left White River trailhead at 4500ft on Wed at 4pm. Hiked for 3 miles till I hit snow at Glacier basin. Cruised up and over St. Elmo's pass at around 7000ft at 7pm. Kicked on my ski and skiied across the Winthrop glacier with only a few scary snowbridges to cross. I started to late in the day because I was on the east side of the mountain and I new the snow bridges would start freezing as the sun went down. Crossed over curtis ridge at 7500ft and dropped down onto the 900ft deep carbon glacier at 8:30pm. My goal was to make it across and to the base of the ridege by 10:30pm. I accomplished this with some hairy snowbridge crossings. I skinned up about 1/2 of it and when the snow bridges got to dicey I put the ski's on the back. Hit the ridge in the dark and soloed 2000ft of 50 degree ice up to thumb rock arriving at 12:30am. I melted some water and rehydrated and ate some granola bars and butterfingers. at 3:30am I awoke and left camp at 4am as the sun was rising. (Washington is very far north) Got to dodge some rockfall and make a few mixed moves but for the most part it was between 45 and 55 degrees until I reached the Bergshrund 800ft from the top. the bergshrund was a little scary looking. I looked at where others had walked across a narrow snowbridge over a 70 ft drop and had climbed 25 feet of slighly overhanging ice to the top. I was crushed! No screws, no partners, no harness, no rope. One black prophet and my grivel mountaineering axe. If I had a 40 ft cordellete I could have hauled my pack and then it would have been feasible but I didn't. I thought for a while. I couldn't descend the route it would be to mentally taxing plus the exposure to rockfall this late in the day would be certain death. I kicked on my ski and skiied down 300 ft and checked out my options. I ended up weaving a path through seracs and only had to climb about 500ft of 50 degree water ice. Boy my calves were cooked. I continued on and summited at 11:30am. I napped for one hour and let the snow soften. Then I kicked my skis on and ripped sweet corn all the way down to camp Schurman from 14,411ft to 9500ft. Crossed up and onto the interglacier and ripped down that think to glacier Basin. Then 3 miles of trail and I was back at the RV and making a milkshake in the blender at 3 pm. 23 hours car to car. Next year I will do it in 18 hours!!!!!!!

On the climb I was taxed to my limits mentally and physically, but now I realize I could have gone lighter, and if I had known the route quicker.

I just wrapped up 7 days during which I guided hood 4 times, and climbed rainer once, my legs are completely fried. Luckily I have 3 days of rockguiding to recover on.

Thanks especially to Bryan Hopkins, Elijah Flenner, Jim karpowitz, and will McCarthy I learned so much from all of you.ryan