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Ruth Mountain, 2024

WA Cascades West Slopes North (Mt Baker)
Posted by WillGuy on 4/15/24 11:16am

Note: lost BCA Tracker Beacon on this trip. If found please contact me at 4083167242. Will reward found beacon. Thank you!

Three of us (Will, Sam, Brad) set out from Seattle at 5am on Saturday, April 13th, on what was reported to be a warm day with moderate wet loose avi risk. Arrived ~0.5mi from Hannegan Pass Trailhead at around 840am. Road was clear to this point. We had figured the winter route (as described in Volken guidebook) was out for the season, so we aimed to take the summer trail to Hannegan pass, ski around point 5930 clockwise from the east and south, and ski back the way we ascended. 

Began walking on approach shoes with boots+skis on back to trail, with patchy snow transistioning to deeper snow and eventually post holeing after ~2mi or so. Avi debris covered sections of the trail, snow was soft by 10am and difficult to move through. Spirits were low, but after 3mi transitioned to skis, stashed the approach shoes, and began skinning. Travel became much more pleasant and spirits rose. Skin up to Hannegan pass was relatively simple, with a skin track made for us by earlier parties.

Once at Hannegan Pass (~1130am-noon), we opted to follow the skin track to the east side of Point 5930. The slopes to the west had wet loose avi debris and looked nontrivial to pick a path to the Ruth arm. Skin up the east side was simple but steep, and once on the south side of 5930 the whole Ruth arm was visible. With no tree cover, the sun was intense, so we took care to sunscreen up at this point. Skinning from there was a blast, with open terrain and soft snow making the travel very pleasant. We saw two other skiers and a snowshoeing team on the arm, and had made a path for us. The glacier was filled in with no crevasses visible. The path up the mountain was trivial and we made it to the summit at 2pm, with a cheery team of three there to greet us! Views were spectacular, with Nooksack glacier on shuksan dominating the west. Pillowy snow covered the slopes to the south to Icy peak. Truly amazing.

We skiied back the way we came (215pm). The descent off of Ruth proper was the best part, with the snow still fluffy for some awesome turns. Transitioning to go back around 5930 to the south the snow was extremely wet, and the descent back to Hannegan Pass was slow and tiring (3pm). From there, we were able to ski about one third of the way back from the pass to the trailhead, but at the 3mi mark from the start we began the transitioning purgatory, with us putting the skis on our back after 0.5mi of the back and forth. Walking was slow and we post holed quite a bit in the now soaked snow. We managed to slog through the final distance back to the car by 530-6pm. 

Overall, the approach makes for a tough start and finish at this point, with the spring conditions testing your resolve. It is worth it for once you get to the pass you are rewarded with lovely snow cover and stunning views. The heat made for sloppy, soft conditions below 6000ft, but still made for some fun turns. We should have started ~2h earlier but as it turned out a fun outing. Bring sunscreen. 


Skinning at Hannegan Pass


Skinning up from Hannegan Pass.

Shuksan and Nooksack Glacier


Summit View of Shuksan.

Icy Peak


Summit View of Icy Peak

Descent Line


Shot of ski lines down Ruth Arm. About 1500ft to summit from this shot. Snow was lovely.



Summit platform easy to skin to around south side

23.8 km, n/a

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2024-04-15 18:16:38