Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ruth Mountain, WA 6/7/2014 - 6/8/2014

The forecast seems promising, and I’m craving some North Cascades views. Ideas are flowing. In the end we decide for Ruth Mountain. Neither of us climbed it before, it will be good to explore new territory.

 We make a plan to camp at the summit to enjoy sunset and sunrise. We leave Seattle optimistic despite the fact the forecast downgraded from mostly sunny to partly sunny but the closer we are to the mountains, the more obvious it becomes that the partial sunshine will be hard to find. Clouds roll across the sky, cutting off the mountain tops. Summit of Ruth might not be the best place to camp after all. We stop at Glacier Ranger station and pick up the permit anyway, just in case it clears later during the day.

The approach is on an easy trail through valley where spring desperately tries to start. First flowers are appearing along the trail, snowmelt creates beautiful waterfalls. Yet the remainders of winter are still present. Large fields of avalanche debris we have to cross, weakening snow bridges that slow our progress. Overall the trail is in better shape that it was last year when we dealt with at least 15 bad snow bridges on our way to Hannegan Peak. This time the number is down to 4.

 Solid snow coverage starts just below the switchbacks to Hannegan Pass. The conditions are
good, both crampons and snowshoes remain strapped to my backpack. Heading up the steep snow covered scramble slope I opt to reach for my ice axe.

With several groups ahead of us a path is set on the traverse to Ruth arm. Once we get there we face a decision. Should we proceed to the top as planned? Or should we perhaps camp here. We’re not the only ones who try to make our mind. A group of three skiers are contemplating as well. In the end they decide to push on. With dark clouds rolling towards us, the summit does not look inviting for an overnight stay.  Thinking we might even head back to the car if weather worsens, we drop our overnight gear and head to bag the summit.

 The views are excellent. We don’t see much of Shuksan or Baker but there are many other peaks that are below the clouds, including neighboring Icy.

In the end we decide to camp on the arm. The clouds are coming and going but otherwise it’s a pleasant evening, warm and calm. We don’t regret the decision. The sky clears just before sunset. Moon rises above Ruth. We have a chance to enjoy some incredible colors.

 The morning brings more clouds. Where there was Ruth yesterday, we stare into a white void. We pack and head down. The clouds are much lower today, the rain is imminent but we make it out dry. Couple hours later we raise our glasses. Cheers to another great trip!

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