Ruth Mtn. — John Baldwin Was Right…

Post by blogger | June 27, 2011      

…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 is nothing for John Baldwin and his buddies. For us, it was a novel experience.

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 from the valley below.

Ruth Mountain tempts backcountry skiers from the valley below.

Ruth Mountain ski alpinism.

Louie took this shot on one of the better sections of pack trail where we shouldn't have gone.

Backcountry skiing on Ruth Mountain, looking northerly.

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.

View of Shuksan northerly reaches from Ruth summit.

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.

Backcountry skiing the legendary Ruth Mountain.

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.

Backcountry skiing Ruth Mountain with Mt. Shucksan in background.

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.

Backcountry skiing Ruth Mountain

A shot Louie took, your friendly blogger skiing with his astonished wife looking on. Click to enlarge.

Backcountry skiing in the Cascade Mountains.

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.

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.


10 Responses to “Ruth Mtn. — John Baldwin Was Right…”

  1. Jason Hummel June 27th, 2011 11:33 am

    Sounds like good times…and, most certainly, awesome views from the summit of Ruth Mountain into the Price Glacier and Nooksack Tower. Hopefully you can get up Cascade River Road and head up to Cascade Pass. A ski of Sahale would be a good choice for a 1st timer in the area. Shuksan via the Sulfide Glacier would be a nice moderate route as well, with a super view from the summit.

    Cool to see you in Washington!

  2. Lou June 27th, 2011 11:45 am

    Jason, thanks for stopping by! I was going to shoot you an email for some ideas. We might head out for a trailhead overnight today and ski something tomorrow, depending on weather. Probably shouldn’t leave without climbing Shuksan, that’s for sure! But first, I have to clean all the sap off my pants from climbing over logs.

  3. Dan June 27th, 2011 2:32 pm

    Hi Lou, it was a pleasure meeting you and yours on Ruth. It amazes me sometimes just how small our little back-country skiing world really is…it seems even smaller in June. I had promised my spousette that I would get some photos of the trip and then left my camera in the car. I was able to use your photos to bail myself out.

  4. snowbot June 27th, 2011 8:50 pm

    “my spousette”? Oh, you are either very secure, headed for hot water, or married a 17 year-old….

  5. Gregg Cronn June 27th, 2011 9:30 pm

    Now that you have had the “wet and sappy” experience you are a true NW backcountry aficionado.

  6. Dan June 28th, 2011 8:31 am

    Snowbot; We have been married for 39 years…I am well aclimated to hot water.

  7. John Baldwin June 28th, 2011 10:01 am

    Lou, we almost went to Baker the same day as you but did Ruth instead. You might have seen our tracks! (I posted a photo at Turns-All-Year). Glad you are enjoying the big snow year!! Too bad we missed you!

  8. Lou June 28th, 2011 10:09 am

    John, yeah, someone told me we were leading nearly parallel lives (grin). Thanks for sharing a bit of your snow. Your tracks on Ruth were visible here and there, snow in the valley used for easier access was nearly done, but foot trail still a crumby slog due to lots of snow coverage and slow movement through tree choked sections. Kind of a no-win deal, but fun skiing up in the alpine once we were there. We ended up being out for a really long time. Way longer then expected. Lou

  9. Mark June 28th, 2011 10:27 pm

    Awesome stuff. Places like this show why the PNW is unique and amazing.

  10. mtb June 30th, 2011 9:17 am

    What do you guys have in mind for the weekend?

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