It was a very special March weekend. It was going to be a bluebird day, and we decided to go to do Ruth Mountain near
Baker/Shukshan area. We knew it was going to be a long approach, so we set 4am as our meeting time.
Started off, I got pulled over at 3:50am by Kirkland Police right before I turned into the Hwy, which caused me 40 min of delay.
Then we searched for Starbucks near Hwy 520 but settled for "Big Foot Java". By the time we got near the trailhead, we found
our road blocked by a fallen tree and some big boulders. For some bizzare reasons, we decided to move them and succeeded.
At the trailhead, we got stuck again on snow and had to dig a little bit to get out. What a start !!!
Well, the approach trail was not all covered by snow. We got ice, rocks, boulderfield, avalanche runoffs, tree holes of all
sizes. At times, we had to walk our skis and bushwack for a while. After about 3 miles of weaving through the forest, we popped
out into open face of the valley. Thank you. Climbing gently on skis (without taking them off) for about 1.5 hours, we settled in
at a nice viewspot for lunch. Views were awesome, including Shukshan and Baker in the far background, Ruth Mountain with fresh
ski tracks coming down, and the entire Ruth Creek in front of us, blue sky, fresh mountain air, snow covered mountain ....
Our victory picture of moving the fallen tree out of our way.
... and some digging ...
You don't want to be here when these avalanches happened.
Have you seen people skiing on dirt ?
Not a toboggan run at the ski resort, it was the avalanche runoff
Me walking my skis across these icy avalanche debris
One last batch of trees to get through ..
Couldn't have enough blue sky and the sun right in your face.
My skis were still in good shape, considering how much I just bent them through the forest.
Ruth Mountain right under the sun !
Love skinning up open faces ... no more trees!
Our lunch spot with a perfect postcard view.
Mt Shukshan in the far background
Time to get up this mountain
Ski tracks became steeper as we approached the Hannegan Pass. We turned south at the pass, and continued to go up around a 5400' peak.
Cornices around this peak was enormous, and we had to traverse under them in the leeward slope. It was scary as the sun was beating
hard on the snow. If wind changed and triggered a falloff, we would have been dead meat. Well, we hammered through quickly, and
reluctantly stopped and snapped a few pics right under these cornices.
Two colours that I was not tired of that day, Blue and White !
Into the death zone right below these enormous cornices ...what were we doing here ?
No ... this is not the icing on your birthday cake.
They are big !
Spreading out ... and move quickly ....
Me don't like the cornice, but it makes an amazing picture.
Chris going through ....
Ain't coming down this way ... bye!
Once above these cornices, we had our target, Ruth Mountain, in sight, another 2000 feet to go. Slowly climbing and enjoying the unlimited
view of everything we liked, we summited at about 3pm. It was an amazing effort to get up here. Still blue sky, with only a small group of
4 skiiers sharing with us, we enjoyed our 20 min rest at the summit. Buckled up and we started skiing down.
Target acquired ... (1.7 MB file).
I was popping out from the giantic cornices safely.
Ruth Mountain Summit is right there ...
What more can I say ? What ?
Moving on ... 2000 feet to go.
Already picking our lines down
Hi, Mr. Baker !
Hi, Mr. Shukshan and Mr. Baker !
Sorry for these endless pictures of taking pictures ..
This west facing slope was soft ...
My signature shot.
Last 500 feet.
Can't stare enough of these tracks !
It's a miracle
Me and Chris were coming up.
Last hill ...
Approaching the last 10 ft ....
Here I am ....
We made it ... (Shukshan on the background)
If we build a cabin here, this is what you are seeing every clear day.
Summited at about 3pm, 7300' (hmmmm off just a little)
We were warming up to go down.
Coming down ...
Turns ... and turns.
My ski decent and a little somersault (1.8 MB file).
We skiied down right into the Ruth Creek valley, bypassing the cornices. We followed some old tracks as we approached the valley.
Once we were in the shade, looked back one more time how we had come down, we were in the chase of the daylight to get out of the valley.
We knew it was going to be diffcult to traverse through the forest. We in turns led our way out, hoping to intercept our trail. Darker
every minute, at a small split, I took the lower route, where lots of fresh boot tracks. And Roman and Chris decided to go the higher
route. For only about 5 minutes of seperation and still in sight, I was about 60 ft vertically below them. I was very frustrated
that the decision was to go the higher route, where I would climb up this 60 ft. The only problem was .... it was a 50° slope with
very loose snow and thick vine bushes. It took me 25 min to climb up 60 ft to meet up with them. By then, we were on our headlamp,
trying to follow old tracks to ski out. After all, we did it and arrived at the parking lot around 8:20pm. Our speed of decent for the
forest part was about 1 mile per hour. Lame !!!
Looking back how we got down.
Now what, ... we have to deal with these crappy stuff.
I ain't jumping over the creek ...
We were still in good spirit at this point, but we at least 3.5 miles to go.
And .... we were still traversing out ... in the dark (7:30pm)
The unforgettable climb of 60 ft. (2.2 MB file).
Yes, it is peach black coming out ... (1.1 MB file).
Well, I rarely got blisters but I did ... 2 of them, big ones, right on the inside arch of my feet. The cause was ... the super feet that
I put in my ski boots.