…and we headed left. The guru of Coast Mountain skiing says to head right to the valley at first opportunity and use it as a direct route to Ruth Mountain. A pack trail heads left and does the endless traverse to Hannegan Pass, where you then circle around via more traversing and eventually get to the Ruth Mountain summit.
This sort of travel is nothing for John Baldwin and his buddies. In fact, it's probably a form of yoga for them and keeps their bodies tuned to almost unheard of levels of flexibility and fitness. For us, it was a novel experience we are calling 'scrap yoga'. Click to enlarge and verify smiling face so the locals know we can bushwack with a good attitude.
The valley route looked too melted out and gnarly, so we took the pack trail. Mistake. There were four miles of boot packing on summer snow, replete with scary snow bridges over melt moats and tree wells that would require crevasse extrication skills had you fallen in. We returned via the valley. That was also a mistake (a good on-snow route is rapidly disappearing) But the “tremendous 800 meter run” off the summit, as Baldwin describes it, was worth it. Check it out in pictures.
Ruth Mountain tempts backcountry skiers from the valley below.
Louie took this shot on one of the better sections of pack trail where we shouldn't have gone.
Near the summit of Ruth Mountain, looking northerly. One reason we chose this trip was it's said to have amazing views of the Cascades. That was correct. I was stunned by the vistas.
Louie a the summit. View of Shuksan northerly reaches. We met two friendly local guys up here and compared notes on the approach route. They'd been much smarter than us and just headed up the valley instead of using the upper pack trail.
Heading off Ruth, this is said to be one of the classic photos of skiing this region. I tried to do it justice with my meager photog equipment. Ideal as in Baldwin's book would be to compress a skier in front of Mount Shuksan using a telephoto lens, but I did my best. Shuksan to left, Baker to right, we're looking somewhat southwest here if memory serves.
Another photographic interpretation. I could have tried to get the skier in front of the mountain, but it seemed wise to up my odds and snap an easier composition, since my camera doesn't have a good machine-gun mode and I've only got one chance. Turns out I kind of like this shot, as it has an interesting feel due to there being two main subjects in the composition.
A shot Louie took, your friendly blogger skiing with his astonished wife looking on. Click to enlarge.
Louie testing the newest item in the K2 Backside Collection, the 'SplashPlank' combination wading staff and backcountry ski, Mike Hattrup signature model. Click to enlarge.
Somehow we ended up here after the big day. Their 'Bavarian Weizen' is real. As is their pizza-based PNW bushwack recovery diet.
Well, that turned out to be a big day on a smaller mountain. Funny how those things happen. Style of our trip so far is to watch for weather windows, then go. Rainy again today so we’ll see what the future brings. We might even get up and down something in July, and in that case truly bow to the PNW locals and go for turns-all-year! Oh, and if John Baldwin says to drop to the creek, next time we’ll do just that.