Independence Route and East Face Info

The Independence Route, along with Thin Red Line, and Liberty Crack, comprise the 3 classic bigwall aid routes to breach one of the proudest faces in the Cascades, the eastern aspect of Liberty Bell. Despite other routes and variations with good climbing, the wall remains fairly obscure and quiet, seeing few climbers and few redpoint ascents. In reality, Liberty Bell's big wall is an excellent climbing face with a laughably short approach, many fixed anchors, and remaining potential.

The Independence was first freeclimbed in the 1990s, but has seen only a few ascents, as there is not much good info out there, and the climb was not included in the most recent Washington Pass guidebook. It is an excellent route that deserves traffic and features steep and memorable positions. I am posting a topo which was emailed to me by Eli Helmuth, a guide who lives in Estes Park but formerly resided in Mazama. Eli made what he thought at the time was the FFA of the route, with Steve House and Paul Butler sending several pitches, but not the whole line. It turns out that the FFA had been done a few years prior. I edited Eli's topo - please excuse the clutter.

The next route to the left is Thin Red Line, the free ascent of which required a small rightward variation on P5, recently bolted and sent by Mike Schaefer. This is a classic of the area, with 2 or 3 pitches of 5.12 and several 5.11 pitches. It has been done by several parties in the last few years.

Liberty Crack, the most famous and leftmost line, has kinda-sorta gone free twice. The first time, Brooke Sandahl pink-pointed P2, and then lead P3 free, climbing right where the bolt ladder goes. I believe that the tiny edges and potato chip crimps used at the time have been ground down by the subsequent decades of haul-bag dragging and boot scraping. When I aided this pitch in 2013, it looked thoroughly impossible. I thought that the more reasonable free line was a very blunt, unprotectable (and un-bolted) arete a few meters to the right of the bolt ladder. Mike Schaefer, who also pinkpointed the roof on P2, likely felt the same way. He freed this arete section on TR a couple years ago. There are also 2 older free lines which mostly climb Liberty Crack, but begin to either side. Freedom Rider starts to the left, and joins after ~ 4 pitches - going free all the way at 5.10d. Freedom or Death starts just to the right of Liberty Crack and climbs two 5.11 pitches and a 5.12 bolted slab pitch, joining Liberty Crack just above the bolt ladder.

This wall gets afternoon shade and is never crowded - the perfect summer wall that sits empty on many of the best days of the year.

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