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Author Topic: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk  (Read 71612 times)
Amar Andalkar
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March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« on: 03/28/12, 02:02 AM »

Ruby Mountain: an isolated multi-peaked massif rising over 6000 ft above the long-flooded valley of the Skagit River in the North Cascades, a near-island of a mountain surrounded on all sides by deep valleys filled with reservoirs and flowing with creeks. Despite its modest summit elevation of 7408 ft, Ruby is the 21st most prominent peak in Washington state, extending about 3900 ft above Fourth of July Pass on its southern flank.


An excellent photo of the north side of Ruby Mountain from Ross Lake, linked from SummitPost.org (photo by Redwic).

Ruby had been on my agenda for well over a decade, mainly for the 360į summit views and originally as a late-summer day hike objective gaining 6200 vert from Colonial Creek Campground via Fourth of July Pass and then an abandoned trail up the south ridge to the summit. But it was also clearly a fine ski objective too, with 5300 vert on the north side starting from the SR 20 winter road closure gate at 2100 ft near Happy Creek. The years passed, other peaks and other trips always won out on any given day, and still I had never yet made an attempt on Ruby.


(click for double-size version)

Four-shot panorama looking north from around 6300 ft, with the Picket Range at left, Ross Lake at center, and Jack and Crater Mountains at right.

I'd been thinking about Ruby again for the past week or two. After a fairly big day breaking trail and skiing north-facing powder on Friday (see March 23, Tatoosh Powder & Solitude), we began to make plans for Saturday during the drive home. The forecast looked to be mostly sunny, so we had to ski something, somewhere. What about Ruby? It seemed fairly ambitious to undertake a second consecutive big vert day, given that we wouldn't get home to Seattle from Rainier until almost 11pm. But a March 22 Ruby Mtn TR on TAY (now vanished) suggested that a skin track was in place up to at least 6000 ft, which might ease the trail-breaking work for us. Jessie was stoked on the idea of Ruby, and so were Elliott and Paresh who would be joining us for Saturday. The plan was set, it would be new ground for all 4 of us.

Didn't want to get up too early, so we planned to meet and leave Seattle at 7am. We hoped to be skinning up from the SR 20 road closure gate around 10am, but it ended up a bit later as usual. Snowdepth at the 2100 ft closure gate was about 2-3 ft.



Less than 20 minutes of skinning along the snow-covered road brought us at 11am to some mangled tracks leading off into the woods, which eventually turned into a rough skintrack and was soon joined by an additional newer skintrack from the left, forming a mostly-smooth highway through the forest, staying on the east side of Happy Creek. Fairly easy travel, although overly steep at times, and we figured there had to be several parties ahead of us on the route on such a nice Saturday, especially given our leisurely start time. However, there would turn out to be only a single party of 4 ahead of us (that we never saw going up or down), and another party of two skiers who started just after us from the trailhead.


First view of the summit of Ruby, from the 3400 ft clearing.

The long skin through the forest was interrupted only by two major open areas, the first a flat meadow near 3400 ft and the second a sloping meadow near 3900 ft which had a steeper slope extending up to about 4200 ft. Although the day was warming quickly, partly cloudy skies kept it reasonable, and the skin up through the woods was largely free from annoying snow drips. A few major tree bombs did land nearby, some too close for comfort, and the snow surface was cratered several feet deep in many spots from very large impacts.


Ross Lake with twin-headed Hozomeen Mountain beyond, with Jack Mountain at right.

It was mid-afternoon by the time we broke out of the forest into the open subalpine near 5600 ft, with expansive views stretching off to the north above Ross Lake. We took a long lunch break after 2pm, only to have the toe lever on one of our group member's Plum bindings snap off as we clicked back into our skis. Was this the end of our day? Luckily, the boot seemed secure enough in the toepiece to keep skinning up, even though it was now in ski mode permanently with no way to lock-out toe release for skinning mode.



As we continued up above treeline, past the ghostly armatures of numerous needle-less larch trees, we discovered that another party had extended the skintrack from 6000 ft all the way to the summit, so we had a fairly easy highway to follow the whole way up today. A sharp contrast to the previous day's untracked trailbreaking in the Tatoosh, for two of us at least. We had brought foot crampons in addition to ski crampons, but neither were needed this day, and the entire route from trailhead to summit is quite skinnable (assuming sensible route-finding) with no need to boot up any part.


Skinning up the north bowls to the summit ridge. (photo by PVK)

Our progress through the alpine was slowed only by the need to take innumerable photos in the glorious scenery. We finally topped out at 4:30pm, with a light SW breeze and moderate temps in filtered sunshine. It looked like a snow squall was moving quickly towards us from the Pyramid-Colonial-Snowfield Peak massif, but we got only a few snowflakes as it passed by to our north and then full sunshine returned.


Paresh far ahead of us along the SE ridge leading to the summit.



The summit of Ruby Mountain has an amazing 360į view of the North Cascades, marred only by an antenna and small metal electronics building perched right at the top. We skied off the summit around 5pm, with windpacked powder and some crust along the initial ridge.



Only about 4 tracks from the previous day were in the summit region, so the vast expanses of the upper bowls were basically all untracked. Being north facing it was all still powder too, really sweet in spots, a bit wind-affected in others.


(photo by PVK)


Untracked powder and larches -- like a little piece of the eastern Cascades, dropped here 20 miles west of the Cascade Crest.


(photo by PVK)

We aimed for a nice-looking protected gully to the east of our ascent route, which kept the good-quality powder going down to about 5200 ft.


(photo by PVK)



As we descended into the mature forest, the snow quality plummeted too -- the powder was gone, replaced by sticky mush and heavy concrete, the surface scarred by countless tree bombs and drips. We eventually dropped down a very steep gully beside icicle-covered cliffs, filled with sticky but stable cement, to reach the upper 3900 ft meadow.



And then the rains began -- not rain from the skies, but a rain of snowmelt from the canopy above us. A very wet and sticky ski down through the forest, with a brief respite from the rain in the 3400 ft meadow, and then back into the forest shower for the rest of the way down. The GPS track that I had taken on the way up was useful for shortcutting several lengthy parts of the skintrack, without risking getting lost in the woods. We were pretty wet by the time we finally emerged out onto SR 20 once again, but the dampness and bad snow in the woods couldn't detract from such a great day. We enjoyed a nice downhill glide along refreezing snowmobile tracks back to the car just before 7pm, still plenty of time before sunset.


(photo by PVK)



Another beautiful and amazing day in the mountains to kick off the spring of 2012. Totally stoked to have finally skied another mountain that had lingered on my agenda for over a decade, and this one not even a volcano! Even better to have done it while enjoying fine powder conditions up high, and in excellent company throughout the day.

« Last Edit: 03/28/12, 11:32 AM by Amar Andalkar » Logged

Paresh Kamdar
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #1 on: 03/28/12, 08:34 AM »

Definitely a day well lived!   Thanks for the idea, the company, and  the trip report Amar.  Great to get out on a tour with Jessie and Elliott too.  The North Cascades are always spectacular - especially in their winter-like coat.
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skinup
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #2 on: 03/28/12, 10:35 AM »

Nice trip report, Amar.

I'm the driver of the vw campervan.

I want to thank you guys, especially Paresh, for looking out for us and waiting to see that we made it down.  Apologies for my partner's postholing the skin track on the way down.  His legs were shot, and once the snow got nasty down low, he was worried about his ACLs.

Remarkable that you guys also had a toe lever breakage issue.  We found that the voile strap underneath the lever on the broken Comfort binding held for the rest of the ascent.

One slight correction is that the party of 4 that left the tracks skier's right of the big cornice actually descended as I was skinning up, right before you guys came up over the rise from your lunch spot.  They made some pretty turns.

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elliotts
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #3 on: 03/28/12, 11:16 AM »

Ditto, Paresh. Can't wait to get out with you all again soon. The North Cascades are always a favorite, especially in winter.† Grin

« Last Edit: 03/28/12, 11:20 AM by elliotts » Logged
Amar Andalkar
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #4 on: 03/28/12, 11:34 AM »

One slight correction is that the party of 4 that left the tracks skier's right of the big cornice actually descended as I was skinning up, right before you guys came up over the rise from your lunch spot.† They made some pretty turns.

Thanks, made a minor edit to correct that above. Surprising that our group (or at least me) never saw them going up or down.

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jcocci
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #5 on: 03/28/12, 01:30 PM »

Very nice. Got up there earlier this season and had an amazing day.
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Amar Andalkar
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #6 on: 03/29/12, 05:23 PM »

As previously announced by WSDOT, plowing the winter-closed portion of the North Cascades Highway began on Monday, March 26. Here are some photos from the WSDOT Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/sets/72157629681048559/with/6875190756/

Ski access from the west side to the Happy Creek route on Ruby Mountain has already gotten more difficult now that the only skiable snow is along the sides of the road.


The road was partially plowed past the west-side closure gate on March 26.


Huge pile of avalanche debris at No Name Creek (MP 137), about 3 miles east of the closure gate.

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tabski
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #7 on: 03/29/12, 06:32 PM »

I wish I could get those pictures of the Ross Lake panorama in life size.
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Amar Andalkar
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #8 on: 03/29/12, 07:31 PM »

Well, it's not quite life-size, but here is the full-size version:
RubyRossLakeJackCraterPanorama8000-24Mar2012.jpg (8000x2600 pixels, 4.0 MB)

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Amar Andalkar
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #9 on: 03/30/12, 12:01 PM »



Thoughts on Trip Reports, Secret Stashes, and Ruby Mountain

In the past 2 days since this trip report was posted, I've been contacted via personal-message by two TAY members, one self-identifying as a Skagit Valley local and the other a well-known member of the Northwest backcountry community from the Seattle area, both requesting or suggesting that I should consider removing this TR from TAY. Since this is the first time I've ever had such a request in nearly 11 years of posting on TAY, I would like to address their concerns in an open manner here (in addition to the lengthy replies I have written to them directly), so that others who feel the same way as they do can understand my thoughts on the matter. If there is a strong consensus in the TAY community that this TR should be removed, then I would consider asking Marcus to do so, even though several hundred people have already viewed it. This cat is already out of the bag, although I believe it was already out a few years ago, as explained below.

Some background: Apparently a certain group of "Skagit Valley folks" and others, who have been skiing Ruby Mountain for some number of years, have an agreement among themselves that no TRs about Ruby are to be posted, and that direct word-of-mouth is the only acceptable communication regarding it. I was not aware of any such issue with any group of people, either prior to doing this trip or before writing and posting this TR. A message from one of these people apparently resulted in the recent brief March 22 Ruby Mountain TR being removed by its author within 2 days later.

However, this was not the first TR about Ruby Mountain to be posted on TAY. There are already several Ruby TRs on TAY during the past few years, although the TAY search feature is unreliable and it may not be easy for others to find them quickly, but they are online and have been for some time. I have no idea if there were other Ruby TRs here which have been removed by their authors due to pressure in the past.

If Ruby had been someplace that the locals or others had personally introduced me to, I would have honored their wishes and never have written a TR. But Ruby is someplace I heard about on my own, online and elsewhere, over a period of many years, first as a hiking destination and later a skiing destination, and one that I had been intending to ski for many years. We were not brought to Ruby by another group, nor did we follow their skintrack in order to discover it. Although the existing skintrack did reduce our physical effort that day (and it was appreciated for that), our party would have made it into and up Ruby just fine without any tracks to follow.

Living locally in the area ("Skagit valley folks") confers no special ownership to, nor rights upon, any nearby public lands. Perhaps because I am such an outsider here in the Northwest (having been born in India and coming to the US during infancy, then growing up in numerous cities on the East Coast and then choosing to move out to Seattle at age 22 in the mid 1990s), I feel even more strongly about that latter point. The locals may not like it, but I and everyone else have just as much right to visit (and write about, if we choose) Ruby Mountain or any other place as they do.

Moreover, personally I've always despised this "secret stash" stuff, and the ill-will, selfishness, and ungenerosity that it tends to breed. It just displays so many negative aspects of human nature. Why behave like that? No good can come of it, just hurt feelings and animosity. That's probably not the spirt that we all collectively want to foster in the backcountry skiing community.

I get the sense (from online posts) that the popularity of Ruby has been increasing greatly over the last several years, especially with snowshoers. A quick search on NWHikers reveals several Ruby TRs with glowing praise for the views and scenery. And as more people are now trying to complete the list of most-prominent peaks in WA, they would also be headed for Ruby. It is clear that Ruby's online exposure has been increasing for several years now at least, and thus there will be more visitors, some of them likely on skis from the N side rather than snowshoes on the NW ridge. It is inevitable that it would be so, given that Ruby is an obvious destination located directly on a state highway, and with its compelling scenic attributes.

I think the reason for Ruby's relative lack of popularity so far with skiers has more to do with its 5300 vert of gain (much of it through the forest) than with any ongoing campaign of secrecy by the locals and others. It's not like most skiers can easily yo-yo multiple powder laps there in a day trip -- you have to put in over 3500 vert just to get to the bottom of the open slopes near 5600 ft. If it had only, say 2000-3000 vert from highway to summit, it would have become a far more popular winter destination long ago. Also, in many winters (not including the last several years of unusual deep snowpack at low elevations), the snowpack near the closure gate is likely minimal, and travel through the lowest parts of the forest would be a real pain (the forest floor in there appears to be made up entirely of fallen trees).

All those factors will contribute to keeping Ruby relatively uncrowded. However, it has a vast amount of terrain up there, and even a several-fold increase in usage (above the level observed on Saturday, March 24) could not possibly bring it close to tracked out. Ruby can easily accomodate an increase in usage if more backcountry users choose to go there. Obviously, it won't remain completely pristine and untracked in that case, but it has not been that way for several years already during which traffic (locals, or otherwise) has been increasing. And yet it will always be pristine and untracked once again just after every major snowfall.

I think my TR is but one of many small steps along an inevitable road of greater awareness and popularity for Ruby. It seems destined to be a moderately popular ski destination in winter and early spring, but the large vertical to reach open slopes and the difficult travel in the forest during normal snowpack years will conspire to keep it out of the very popular list forever. That is, unless some change in infrastructure or access occurs in the future, e.g. in the 1960s-70s, there was an aerial tramway planned from near the current winter closure gate to the summit of Ruby Mountain (see Windshield Wilderness, p.143ff), and future political climates could revive such an idea. That would change Ruby far more than any number of TRs possibly could. However, if more backcountry skiers visit and ski Ruby and appreciate what is special there, then there would be greater grassroots support to resist any possible future development pressure. Ironically, these various TRs and an ongoing increase in winter visitation could have the result of saving Ruby in the long term -- something which the "secret stash" folks have probably never even considered.

Hopefully, this provides some insight into my thoughts on the matter to those who are concerned about this TR. Please feel free to PM if you wish, but I can't guarantee a response in all cases.

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Kevin Steffa
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #10 on: 03/30/12, 12:41 PM »

Thanks, Amar, for exposing a constructive dialog -- I agree, there is no such thing as a 'secret stash', especially not on such a large, prominent, and obviously accessible peak as Ruby! It would be a shame to this community to pull your very informative TR.

I have logged many trips to Ruby over the past 10 years as well (you may have even found an earlier TR of mine in your search with cascadesfreak). I have also made first TRs here in other remote areas such as Bedal around the Mtn Loop. In a nutshell, there are some amazing places in our little corner of the world, beyond the volcanoes and the passes.

Some of these places however, without folks to enjoy them, may just fade for loss of access. Trails need maintainence, Log roads that access trails need constant repair, and even the highways like 20 need plowing for us to enjoy them. First get out and sample some of our more remote gems. When you find a place you love, spread the word, become an advocate and caretaker, graduate beyond the user.
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JoshK
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #11 on: 03/30/12, 02:00 PM »

Amar, you did no wrong. They are fooling themselves if they think Ruby Mt. is anything remotely like a "secret stash." Anybody with a TOPO can easily discover it and put two and two together that the road access makes it a desirable winter objective. I've been up there before and it didn't require an internet TR, or a book writeup, for me to discover it. I saw it on a map and realized it had great relief and access and would thus offer awesome views. I'm hardly the only one to conclude that. If they believe that living in the Skagit area instead of, for example, the Seattle area, makes it somehow more "theirs" then that is their own problem. I'm sure plenty of Native Americans might find that claim particularly laughable. Wink Heck, the road is drivable that far because the Skagit River has been impounded for power generation since before WW2.

On a more general note, I think it goes without saying that increase dissemination of information over the innarwebs has increased backcountry traffic in general. I've noticed more people in recent years in areas that I have, in the past, had entirely to myself. Does this occasionally bother me? Sure, I think it's only natural. If I had my way, I'd prefer no internet TRs at all and a return to the old days with less information and more unknowns. But the world isn't about just me, or just about the people that hassled you. To many people, the increased information is a necessity, and it isn't up to anybody else to say it's wrong. It's the way of the world and you can either adapt or be bitter and tell people to take TRs down.
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Robie
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #12 on: 03/30/12, 03:41 PM »

Yeah, and was I ever pissed when you did that recent report from the Tatoosh. Everybody knows that 's my "Secret Stash ".
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joseph.szasz
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #13 on: 03/30/12, 04:37 PM »

This website exposes the secret stash knows as the Pacific Northwest. This local stuff is a bunch of elitest BS. Amar your a badass and I am and will continue to be proud to follow your skintrack.
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lrudholm
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #14 on: 03/30/12, 04:57 PM »

I really, really wish this was TGR forums right now.
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Leyland
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #15 on: 03/30/12, 07:37 PM »

Constant documentation of the mundane is something relatively new to the backcountry ski community.  Modern technology makes this possible...

... in an earlier era it was considered bad form.  That is why you get push back.
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #16 on: 03/30/12, 09:29 PM »

I enjoyed the trip report and the pictures.  Although I enjoyed the relative quiet of the backcountry in the '80's and '90, more skiers has forced me to explore other areas and enjoy the amazing advances in technology that a large buying pool encourages.   It is not that crowded out there.  Folks need to get a perspective here and look at the big picture.  I have to agree with Amar on this issue.  The North Cascades belong to all of us.
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #17 on: 03/30/12, 11:45 PM »

I want to wholeheartedly lend my support to Amar on this one, this is one of the few subjects in skiing that will really make my blood boil, and it's heartening to see the reaction of most of the rest of TAY.

edited: because I thought better of posting at midnight.
« Last Edit: 03/31/12, 12:11 AM by samthaman » Logged
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #18 on: 03/31/12, 12:00 AM »

I'm one of the people who contacted Amar about this trip report.

I did not ask Amar to remove his TR. But I explained why I was disappointed to see it and why I have chosen not to post reports about this destination. I explained my philosophy 18 years ago in a letter to the editor of Couloir. At the time, Craig Dostie was catching flak about publishing "secret spots" in his magazine.

I wrote:

Quote
Couloir, Feb/Mar 1994, p. 2: "Don't forget joy of discovery"

As someone who writes and speaks about backcountry skiing, I too have wrestled with the question of publicizing secret spots. My solution is to recognize three kinds of backcountry places: 1) those that are already well known and accessible, where additional publicity has little effect; 2) those that are very remote, where difficult access prevents them from becoming popular; and 3) places that are accessible yet for some reason little known.

I don't mind publicizing spots in the first two categories. This is how we introduce newcomers to the sport and inspire experienced skiers to expand their horizons. The last group however, are backcountry gems. I don't write about these spots or mention them in my slide shows. Although the wilderness is a big place, the number of good, accessible, little known spots is tiny and always shrinking.

Some people get indignant when I decline to name my secret spots. These are perhaps the same people who demand to know everything about the private lives of public figures.

My response is to assure these folks that if we meet at one of my secret spots (or one of theirs!) I'll greet them cheerfully and join them for a great day of skiing. I trust that everyone's experience will be richer for having spent the time to find these spots on their own. The process of discovery is one of the great joys of wilderness skiing.

Lowell Skoog
Seattle


For me, the issue is not about powder stashes. It is about what Reinhold Messner called "White Wilderness." It's the notion that we lose something when every place is mapped and photographed and documented to the point where you can't go anywhere and experience the joy of discovery anymore.† You never experience the delight of finding a place that you never knew existed, or that you haven't already seen thoroughly photographed. It's what distinguishes the Cascades from a place like the Alps. It's what Messner longed for when he proposed the notion of White Wilderness two decades ago.

In my time skiing in the Cascades, I've found a few places like that, and as I wrote in my letter to Couloir, the ones I regard as real gems are the ones that are relatively accessible, places you can stumble upon in a day or a weekend. The number of such places diminishes every year, and with Amar's TR, we've driven a stake through the heart of another one. That saddens me. Not just for me but for anyone who might want to experience that feeling of delight at finding such a place.

As I wrote to Amar, his TR reminded me of that old rock-and-roll song, "Angel in a centerfold." Only in this case, it's Ruby in the centerfold - four shots and 8000 pixels wide!

Amar has written that he feels that Ruby Mountain is destined to become a moderately popular backcountry skiing destination. Well of course it is! And my 15-year-old son is destined to become an adult who'll no longer spend much time with me. But that doesn't mean I want to speed up that process. Why not savor the little time we have?

Our children and grand-children will envy us for the opportunity we have had to experience the North Cascades before every square foot is thoroughly documented. All the trends indicate that this is going to happen. Just because it's inevitable doesn't mean I want to accelerate it. You may feel differently. That's fine. I've said my piece.

I want to comment on a particular point that Amar made--that increased backcountry skier traffic on Ruby Mountain could protect it from the revival of decades-old tram-building schemes. I think that's a red herring. An influential friend of mine (with ties to the Wilderness Society, REI, the Seattle business community, several philanthropic organizations--a real mover and shaker) has been lobbying for several years to build a hiking trail up Ruby from the Ross Dam parking lot. Just a trail! No parking lot would need to be built, since there's already one there. He's run into a complete brick wall. For a hiking trail! So no, I don't think we need to worry about tramways. Amar's argument on that score isn't compelling at all.
« Last Edit: 03/31/12, 12:29 AM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
skykilo
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #19 on: 03/31/12, 12:07 AM »

For me, the issue is not about powder stashes. It is about what Reinhold Messner called "White Wilderness." It's the notion that we lose something when every place is mapped and photographed and documented to the point where you can't go anywhere and experience the joy of discovery anymore.† You never experience the delight of finding a place that you never knew existed, or that you haven't already seen thoroughly photographed. It's what distinguishes the Cascades from a place like the Alps. It's what Messner longed for when he proposed the notion of White Wilderness two decades ago.

I'm constantly ``discovering'' for myself things that are actually well documented in one place or another.† So this argument strikes me as a red herring in the same way Amar's argument about a possible tram strikes you.

We should all applaud Amar for skiing from somewhere other than Paradise!
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samthaman
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #20 on: 03/31/12, 12:29 AM »


Lowell (ok, mr. skoog to you), I love alpenglow.org, both because of the historical context it provides, and for the motivation to get out the door and push myself. Many of the routes described on your site aren't particularly hard for a fit skier to do in a day, yet they're named, described, and in some cases "red-lined' onto photos. Is that really any different than what Amar has done? Does it make them any less of an adventure? I'd pose that in the very same way you've contextualized and facilitated some of my most memorable ski days, Amar has done the same here with a slightly less alpine peak.
« Last Edit: 03/31/12, 12:41 AM by samthaman » Logged
shaman
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #21 on: 03/31/12, 07:18 AM »

Thanks for sharing with the community, Amar.  I always enjoy reading your TRs.

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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #22 on: 03/31/12, 07:53 AM »

I'm constantly ``discovering'' for myself things that are actually well documented in one place or another.† So this argument strikes me as a red herring in the same way Amar's argument about a possible tram strikes you.

We should all applaud Amar for skiing from somewhere other than Paradise!

First off it is nice to see Amar actually skiing somewhere other than Paradise!

Sky is right about discovery.  I have guidebooks, and I use them and maps to research climbs.  No matter how much information I have, once I get on route it's a new experience for me.  A guidbook or trip report will never tell you exactly what you will find when you go out.  Weather and snow conditions are two of many factors that don't duplicate.  You still need to figure things out.
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Kyle Miller
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #23 on: 03/31/12, 08:28 AM »

We should all applaud Amar for skiing from somewhere other than Paradise!

 Grin

I know of this sweet Slot by Snoqualmie but don't tell anyone because it is a secret!

Sorry would write more but I am training for Alaska.
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #24 on: 03/31/12, 09:46 AM »

Lowell (ok, mr. skoog to you), I love alpenglow.org, both because of the historical context it provides, and for the motivation to get out the door and push myself. Many of the routes described on your site aren't particularly hard for a fit skier to do in a day, yet they're named, described, and in some cases "red-lined' onto photos. Is that really any different than what Amar has done? Does it make them any less of an adventure? I'd pose that in the very same way you've contextualized and facilitated some of my most memorable ski days, Amar has done the same here with a slightly less alpine peak.

You raise a valid point about my historical work. What is the difference between documenting steep skiing routes, as I have done for Mount Shuksan and Mount Rainier, and posting a photo exposť about a place like Ruby Mountain?

First of all, the routes that I've recorded in my ski history project are historical milestones which (in nearly every case) have already been published by the people who first skied them. There's no evidence that the folks who've done those routes want to keep quiet about them. Otherwise, I never would have known about them!

Ruby Mountain, on the other hand, is not a history-making trip. Maybe it was when Duke Watson and Tony Hovey made their ski ascent in 1967, but not anymore. So the motivation (which I feel strongly) to record and honor the human story of the Cascades is not a factor with Ruby.

For me, the basic question is this: Is the mountain an arena? Or is the mountain more like a lover? The answer is different in every case, and if you are not conscious of and sensitive to these differences in the region, you shouldn't be writing either a history or a guidebook.

Some mountains are clearly an arena. The major features of Mount Shuksan and Mount Rainier are clearly that. As the number of routes on those two mountains exceeded my ability to distinguish them in words, I created topo diagrams to make sure I was recording them accurately. I've gotten no complaints about that.

Other mountains, I would argue, are more like lovers.† But the mountain is not a lover to one person alone.† Each mountain has a relationship with many people.† So when I choose to write about a place, I try to keep in mind the sort of relationship that it may have with others. That's how I came up with the criteria I described in Couloir magazine.† Is the place well known and accessible, remote and inaccessible, or accessible yet for some reason little known?

All of this was discussed in a very interesting TAY thread eight years ago:

http://www.turns-all-year.com/skiing_snowboarding/trip_reports/index.php?topic=1210.0;all

As you read that thread, you'll find a lot of different viewpoints about the mountains and backcountry skiing. But the one that resonates with me is the notion that there is something very special about noticing a spot on a topo map and wondering what it would be like to ski there.† And daydreaming about it for months or even years and finally heading out with no certainty of how you will get there or what you will find.† And the delight that results when the reality far surpasses your daydreams.† That's what I want to preserve.† Amar must have felt that after his many years of daydreaming about Ruby Mountain.† His trip report reveals the pride and delight that he felt in completing his long ambition.† So my response to him was to suggest, might it not be a good thing to preserve that experience for other skiers as well?† Not everywhere, but surely Ruby Mountain is a good candidate.† Obviously, Amar does not agree.† So it goes.† I am not angry with Amar.† The emotion that I feel is more like sadness.† The inevitable future that I hoped to delay a bit longer has arrived.†

« Last Edit: 04/01/12, 08:24 AM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
Jim Oker
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #25 on: 03/31/12, 09:55 AM »

I've seen one thing for sure over the years, very much so on nwhikers and to some extent here - if you want to draw attention to a place that has just been reported on, suggest that the report should not have been posted. It seems like a very good way to massively increase the page views and the length of time for which the report stays near the top. Unless of course the poster relents and agrees to remove the report, but clearly that's not always what happens.

I'm fine with people choosing not to report on certain tours as they see fit (it strikes me that expecting them to do otherwise is its own form of selfishness), and I get and share some sense of what Lowell is going after here, but I have also made my peace with the fact that others are going to choose to report on what they choose to report on. Such is the nature of a forum like this.
« Last Edit: 03/31/12, 09:59 AM by Jim Oker » Logged
Lowell_Skoog
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #26 on: 03/31/12, 10:30 AM »

I've seen one thing for sure over the years, very much so on nwhikers and to some extent here - if you want to draw attention to a place that has just been reported on, suggest that the report should not have been posted. It seems like a very good way to massively increase the page views and the length of time for which the report stays near the top.

Yeah. I expressed my concerns to Amar in private. He went public with them (without naming the source). The cat is way out of the bag.

Wish I was skiing today. Yesterday was nice.† Smiley
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samthaman
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #27 on: 03/31/12, 10:36 AM »

Lowell, i meant to thank you in my earlier post for coming forward and stating your case. Arguing on the internet (even politely) is tedious and exhausting so I though it was exemplary of you to come forward and make your case under your own name. Thank you for that.

When living in Vermont, I frequently came across what I would describe as the mountains-as-church crowd vs. what you described as the mountains-as-arena crowd. Given the relatively tiny amount of BC terrain in VT vs. this area, there tended to be a lot more friction over this issue than I've yet encountered in Wa. Ultimately, the way I personally reconciled the two states of mind (I would often find myself in both camps) was by realizing that both states of mind are true and valid, but that both are simply states of mind. People go to Central Park in NYC to connect with nature and feel that they're in the wilderness, and people travel to the furthest, wildest corners of the earth to test themselves. No-place is only church or only arena.

I run frequently on a small, formerly clear-cut, mountain near my apartment; the Chuckanuts. Some days I run to beat a clock or see how far I can go, but other days, to clear my head, think, about the future and enjoy being in the woods, however un-wild they may be. Perhaps you, and those that support your position, could enjoy Ruby mountain in a similar way without feeling that the mountains were somehow cheapened as a result?
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Jim Oker
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #28 on: 03/31/12, 11:01 AM »

Yes, not the first time I've seen someone be compelled to make a public point based on those sorts of PMs.

Tomorrow should be nice for skiing too, eh? That's what I'm hoping anyway. And if I'm lucky, I'll find myself a spot to tour where we are setting our own track, figuring our own way, and getting that "sense of discovery" that Lowell, Ski Photomatt, and others have mentioned when this topic arises. I feel lucky to live in a place where that still happens a fair amount of the time. Sam - yes, those northeast kingdom boys were a bit touchy even back in the early '90s.
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Amar Andalkar
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #29 on: 03/31/12, 12:32 PM »

It's far better to have an open public discussion than deal with PMs. After receiving a second PM on this issue (Lowell's), I decided to take it public to head off any others who might want to PM me asking to take the TR down. And I don't think that PMs on an online forum like TAY are somehow sacred or privileged private communications whose existence can not be revealed to the public.


I'm one of the people who contacted Amar about this trip report.

I did not ask Amar to remove his TR. But I explained why I was disappointed to see it and why I have chosen not to post reports about this destination.

While you did not ask me directly to remove this TR (the other person who PMed me did ask directly), your PM appeared to be intended to pressure me (or shame me, or guilt-trip me) in that direction. Especially since you quoted your PM to the author of the March 22 Ruby Mountain TR, where you did pressure him towards TR removal (stating "my choice when it comes to Ruby Mountain is to limit its publicity to word-of-mouth. If you enjoy the quiet sense of discovery up there, you might consider the same thing. But it's entirely up to you."). A PM from someone else with the same words might not have had any effect, but a message from Lowell Skoog carries great weight (a respect which you've earned over many years), and your simple suggestion actually feels more like heavy pressure from the NW backcountry community. Your PM apparently did contribute to his requesting Marcus to delete his TR.

I want to comment on a particular point that Amar made--that increased backcountry skier traffic on Ruby Mountain could protect it from the revival of decades-old tram-building schemes. I think that's a red herring. An influential friend of mine (with ties to the Wilderness Society, REI, the Seattle business community, several philanthropic organizations--a real mover and shaker) has been lobbying for several years to build a hiking trail up Ruby from the Ross Dam parking lot. Just a trail! No parking lot would need to be built, since there's already one there. He's run into a complete brick wall. For a hiking trail! So no, I don't think we need to worry about tramways. Amar's argument on that score isn't compelling at all.

It's just a thought that crossed my mind at the end of writing that long post, I'm not attached to it greatly. But: Political climates can change completely. A future with 3-4 straight terms of pro-development Republican administrations, coupled with simultaneous Republican control of Congress (not to mention the Republican appointees who have lifetime seats on the Supreme Court), could easily result in not only a tram up Ruby, but also a dilution or dismantling of the nation's environmental laws and protections, and subsequent massive development throughout federal lands including National Parks. Just because your friend can't get a new hiking trail built up Ruby in today's political climate has no bearing whatsoever on future development within the North Cascades National Park Complex, especially its National Recreation Areas which were formed with the intent to have much more developed recreation facilities built -- but I think you realize all of that. (And I'm curious to know, why doesn't he just lobby to brush out and maintain the existing trail up Ruby from Fourth of July Pass instead? Yes, it's a longer route with 900 vert more gain, but if he is as connected as you say, that should be a much easier battle to win.)

As you read that thread, you'll find a lot of different viewpoints about the mountains and backcountry skiing. But the one that resonates with me is the notion that there is something very special about noticing a spot on a topo map and wondering what it would be like to ski there. And daydreaming about it for months or even years and finally heading out with no certainty of how you will get there or what you will find. And the delight that results when the reality far surpasses your daydreams. That's what I want to preserve. Amar must have felt that after his many years of daydreaming about Ruby Mountain. His trip report reveals the pride and delight that he felt in completing his long ambition. So my response to him was to suggest, might it not be a good thing to preserve that experience for other skiers as well? Not everywhere, but surely Ruby Mountain is a good candidate. Obviously, Amar does not agree. So it goes. I am not angry with Amar. The emotion that I feel is more like sadness. The inevitable future that I hoped to delay a bit longer has arrived.

I'm very confused by that paragraph, Lowell: how exactly does my TR spoil this experience for anyone? Why can't someone read my TR, feel stoked about visiting Ruby, and then experience the same joy that I felt, whenever they finally go and ski Ruby for the first time, whether it be days from now or years? If they go early in the morning right after a snowfall, they might even get the joy of routefinding and breaking trail the whole way up, just like you did your first time. In my case, I had read all the previous Ruby TRs that I could find, and yet I was able to enjoy a sense of personal discovery on March 24 just fine, as did my 3 partners. Therefore that experience is still preserved and available for other skiers who wish to have it, whether I had posted this TR or not. As I stated in my reply to your PM, I'm sorry that my TR has contributed to your ongoing feelings of sadness and loss regarding Ruby Mountain. But I think the degree of blame you're placing on me and this TR is unwarranted, given the ongoing increase in exposure for Ruby over the last few years.

As someone who writes and speaks about backcountry skiing, I too have wrestled with the question of publicizing secret spots. My solution is to recognize three kinds of backcountry places: 1) those that are already well known and accessible, where additional publicity has little effect; 2) those that are very remote, where difficult access prevents them from becoming popular; and 3) places that are accessible yet for some reason little known.

I don't mind publicizing spots in the first two categories. This is how we introduce newcomers to the sport and inspire experienced skiers to expand their horizons. The last group however, are backcountry gems. I don't write about these spots or mention them in my slide shows. Although the wilderness is a big place, the number of good, accessible, little known spots is tiny and always shrinking.

We've seen this list posted by you and quoted by others many times over the years. But I think that it has an important omission, so I'd like to suggest a 4th category: 4) places that are already well known and very accessible, but for some reason (perhaps fear of crowds and tracked up lines) are relatively uncrowded nowadays.

These places are also backcountry gems of a different sort, perhaps they are old and faded but now repolished gems. There are several spots near the WA passes that fall into this category, with immediate near-roadside access and relatively avy-safe terrain, yet minimal crowds in recent years even on big powder days. These are the places that I often intentionally don't write TRs about after a great powder day -- but I would never suggest to anyone else that they not write a TR (or ask them to remove a TR) about any of these places. Some people write conditions TRs about such places with vague names like "Snoqualmie BC" or "Stevens BC" to avoid giving the actual location.

I think that these places exist through what I have come to call the "over-traversing effect", whereby skiers get stuck into incorrectly thinking that the nearby, best-known, most obvious places must be all tracked out, so they have to go farther afield in order to have fresh tracks. I have witnessed this effect over many years at ski areas here (namely Crystal and Alpental), where the majority of powder-seeking skiers spend all too much time and effort traversing to the most distant reachable portions of the ski area in search of powder, thus tracking out those areas more quickly while much closer areas that require far less traversing (or none at all) remain less tracked out for far longer. Similarly, I'm guessing that many people assume that well-known roadside backcountry destinations must be busy and tracked out (or maybe they're just bored of going there), so they go elsewhere and thus these areas are now often relatively uncrowded and untracked all day. I was worried that my March 23 Tatoosh TR might fall into this category, but I think that our complete untracked solitude that day was due to random chance and good luck, rather than any actual lessening of crowds in the Tatoosh due to this effect or any other effect.


We should all applaud Amar for skiing from somewhere other than Paradise!
First off it is nice to see Amar actually skiing somewhere other than Paradise!

The irony in these attempts at humor is striking, given that I've posted TRs from a larger geographic range than all but a few TAY members. Haven't I posted more TRs from California on TAY than anyone else? Probably am near the top posters of Oregon TRs too. And just a couple of summers ago, people were saying that I only skied on Mount Baker! ((shaking my head))

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Jim Oker
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #30 on: 03/31/12, 12:46 PM »

And I don't think that PMs on an online forum like TAY are somehow sacred or privileged private communications whose existence can not be revealed to the public.
In case this is a response to my comments, I want to be clear that my only point there was "even PMs on this topic have a tendency to lead to the public discussion that increases the exposure." If one wishes to reduce TR exposure of a given spot, it seems it's best not to reply in any way when a TR on that spot pops up. The power dynamic is unquestionably not in favor of someone who is hoping to lessen exposure of a place. Sure, the PMs work sometimes, and sometimes they very much backfire.
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wood_Ster
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #31 on: 03/31/12, 02:22 PM »

1st world problems
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AlpineRose
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #32 on: 03/31/12, 02:55 PM »

Gee, maybe Marcus should just remove the TAY "Trip Reports" option.

Amar, I really enjoyed this trip report, just as I do all your well-written, informative other reports.  It's fun reading about places I may not have thought of skiing, even though I may have visited them in the summer.  Peoples' love for these places shines through; maybe that's what I like thr most.

Much more preferable to the "skied-somewhere-on-planet-Earth" style favored by some.   
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Animal
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #33 on: 03/31/12, 02:57 PM »

Honestly, I have been eying this same ski location for years by asking the question, what would it be like to ski here on the North side of Ruby? †Posting the trip is great im my mind. †I would have posted my trip and not removed it if I ever got people from Bremerton interested in the North Cascades. †I almost just posted a ski trip I did up Sourdough Mountain that I did in February from the same parking lot if it were not silly little computer problems with learning out how to post photos on this web site that eventually did me in and I gave up. †The nice thing about Washington versus Colorado where I grew up is - quantity of snow makes up for quality (actually we have great snow). †It would have snowed, and the next person would have skied fresh lines and had a great time too. †Lets be honest there are 7 million people in this state, do you ever say to yourself that you are glad you are not one of those suckers watching television. †Great post, nice pictures!
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #34 on: 03/31/12, 03:24 PM »

...((shaking my head))


Hee, hee. † Yeah, a bit ironic, but still funny - attempting to defuse odd situations comes in many colors..

If offering my own paint, it might be I'd say that this is the weirdest thread (not saddest thread, because that belongs, in part, to me and some others from last week †Wink ) that I've seen around here in some time - well, at least since Billy the Mountain retired..

Did I just post in the middle of a Saturday afternoon? † Embarrassed
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niko
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #35 on: 03/31/12, 06:11 PM »

I for one have enjoyed every single one of Amar's reports--often enviously,  I might add, but not because he stole my stash of powder. His reports are useful and beautiful, a rare combination. As for Ruby: censorship never works. There have been dozens of Ruby reports at TAY and nwhikers, including winter reports. Everybody who cares about bc skiing knows there is a lot of prime bc terrain there; it's relatively unfrequented only because many people, myself included, are too busy or lazy to do the 6-hr round-trip drive on top of a 5k climb. And, yes, I hope the mythic tram gets built in my lifetime so I don't have to drive to Whistler for vertical. Invest in Marblemount, people. N
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #36 on: 04/01/12, 02:09 AM »

As the Cascade gems are slowly documented, it makes me sad, though it is inevitable. It's inevitable that some places I like to ski will someday see exposure to the internet. When it happens, I'll mourn the loss of places that I've found or that were shown me by friends; places I could nearby find solitude and peace in mountain snow. Then I'll find more, but they'll be harder to reach.

For those losing favorite haunts to trip-report-following masses, it's a tragedy, and they respond that way. For those who have just found a special place, and wish to relate it to their many friends, requests for censorship are understandably met with intolerance. It's the way of things; we probably can't change it. Colorado's fourteeners were palpably better before overuse spurred furrows of professional trail through tundra, but they'd be worse without those trails now.

It's why I usually post only weather and snow conditions with regional specificity in winter, unless a spot is either popular or essentially unreported. Every line, stash, favorite spot, and gem is prominently featured on a topo map, and has been since the sixties,† yet some are still mysteries. The more skiers I meet, the more I find that we all have different stashes. If we all spread out, we'll preserve the loneliness of wilderness a little longer.

The ultimate savior of solitude is our weather. Complicated topography doesn't hurt.

Please don't tram Ruby, or any other peak.
« Last Edit: 04/01/12, 02:23 AM by Charlie Hagedorn » Logged

lrudholm
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #37 on: 04/01/12, 01:13 PM »


While you did not ask me directly to remove this TR (the other person who PMed me did ask directly), your PM appeared to be intended to pressure me (or shame me, or guilt-trip me) in that direction. Especially since you quoted your PM to the author of the March 22 Ruby Mountain TR, where you did pressure him towards TR removal (stating "my choice when it comes to Ruby Mountain is to limit its publicity to word-of-mouth. If you enjoy the quiet sense of discovery up there, you might consider the same thing. But it's entirely up to you."). A PM from someone else with the same words might not have had any effect, but a message from Lowell Skoog carries great weight (a respect which you've earned over many years), and your simple suggestion actually feels more like heavy pressure from the NW backcountry community. Your PM apparently did contribute to his requesting Marcus to delete his TR.


I posted my march 22nd TR to get people stoked and to use the skintrack that my friend and I put a lot of work into.  I removed it out of respect of Lowell Skoog. He has given so much beta and documentation to the community I figured I could at least give him one favor. I also didn't feel pressured and may have not removed my TR if I had spent more time writing a more detailed trip report. (Thats hindsight though.)

Since the cats out of the bag I figured I could share some Ruby stoke!!!!
 


* Matt-in-Trees-Ruby_3.jpg (57.69 KB, 600x400 - viewed 1041 times.)

* Ruby-Peak-Matt-Snow-Explosion_3.jpg (162.52 KB, 600x400 - viewed 1019 times.)
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Leyland
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #38 on: 04/01/12, 06:51 PM »

Ruby isn't exactly a secret stash.  It's probably the most skied peak in winter along SR20 west of the crest. 

Amar, (and everyone) thanks for posting about your fun and beautiful skiing adventures.  The last decade's boom in backcountry skiing will certainly bring more of these kind of discussions; and TAY is in direct confrontation to the "locals-only" mentality.

It's a tough balance between public exposure of beautiful places and overuse.  Maybe if TAY required a login to view it would add more to the community, and feel less like broadcasting to media-consuming masses...
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GregSimon
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #39 on: 04/01/12, 07:56 PM »

What about this one that Amar posted back in January:
http://www.turns-all-year.com/skiing_snowboarding/trip_reports/index.php?topic=23286.0
- Very close to Seattle
- Known only to locals
- Sees very few (ski) tracks
And now that secret stash is on the internet, too.   Wink

I'll confess I'm one of those too lazy for the 6hr roundtrip drive and 5200 foot vertical in a day.  So I'll only know Ruby mountain from Amar's report.  And I did enjoy it.
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jwplotz
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #40 on: 04/01/12, 08:20 PM »

I think tr's on TAY give the false impression that there is a limited number of areas in which to tour in solitude. The Cascades are vast on both sides of the crest, that with just a little imagination and higher tolerance for suffering, one can always find undisturbed turns, and then not talk about it afterwards.
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scottb
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #41 on: 04/01/12, 08:56 PM »

OK here is the real reason we Skagit Valley elitist and others in the "know" do not want all you Seattle poachers up on "our" mountain(besides all those ridiculous green Gore-tex pants and never ending stream of Subaru wagons taking up space in the parking lots). Its a known local fact that the metal box on top of Ruby is not a radio repeater, but a secret stash of CANDY!!!, that right, NewHalem elves come up twice a year and stock it with not only butterscotch lozenges and lemon suckee drops, but also marsh mellow peeps and imported Canadian Coffee Crisp- and its all for us so stay away.


* IMG_0414.jpg (45.32 KB, 640x480 - viewed 938 times.)
« Last Edit: 04/01/12, 09:40 PM by scottb » Logged
HillsHaveEyes
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #42 on: 04/01/12, 11:09 PM »

Coffee Crisp! I suspected as much.
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Roger Strong
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #43 on: 04/02/12, 12:40 AM »

Thank gawd it's "ONLY" playing in the mountains...

Amar and Lowell, along with every one else who's chosen to enter the world of internet chatter;...please keep doing exactly what you love to do, continue to inspire and don't ever stop sharing...as mountain people, we are only a postage stamp compared to the rest of the hectic planet that just don't get it...
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John Morrow
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #44 on: 04/02/12, 06:30 AM »



 It's what distinguishes the Cascades from a place like the Alps.

I am not sure how I stand on this issue overall.† I go back and forth as evidenced in my TR posting past.

But I do think one fallacy here in the argument, Lowell, is that access is what distinguishes the Alps form the Cascades, really.† Few plowed roads, no huts, no trams, dense forest bands to climb through.

In the end, for me it is purely selfishness, I admit it.† There are many here stronger than me yet I want it all to myself in solitude with fresh untracked snow.† In the winter I want to sleep in a bed at night.  More and more I realize I am not going to get my way.†
The white wilderness is abundant in the Cascades, it just takes commitment of time and determination of will and strength to reach.† Or just find the densely forested south facing trees with the unbroken band of cliffs above, directly over the highway.† I have these places all to myself and am constantly amazed! (a little levity)
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Bronco
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #45 on: 04/02/12, 10:45 AM »

OK here is the real reason we Skagit Valley elitist and others in the "know" do not want all you Seattle poachers up on "our" mountain(besides all those ridiculous green Gore-tex pants and never ending stream of Subaru wagons taking up space in the parking lots). Its a known local fact that the metal box on top of Ruby is not a radio repeater, but a secret stash of CANDY!!!, that right, NewHalem elves come up twice a year and stock it with not only butterscotch lozenges and lemon suckee drops, but also marsh mellow peeps and imported Canadian Coffee Crisp- and its all for us so stay away.

They're always after me lucky charms!!!
« Last Edit: 04/26/12, 11:00 AM by Bronco » Logged
Randy
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #46 on: 04/02/12, 11:39 AM »

In nearby British Columbia, a number places like Ruby Mtn have a hut near timberline.  Many of the public huts have a couple dozen folks staying at the hut and skiing the area every weekend, the stealth huts less so.    I don't think there will ever be a public hut on Ruby Mtn -- perhaps there is a stealth hut up there already that the locals want to protect from discovery.

On a recent BC hut trip, my group of six skiied for three solid days out of the hut and had fresh tracks on every run -- even with 18 people staying in the hut and even though no new snow fell during those days.  Everyone did a great job of "spooning" tracks to avoid "wasting" snow.    Sharing and showing consideration for others does take a little more effort.  Of course the feeling was not that of adventure, discovery and wilderness -- simply fun in the snow.

Personally I don't mind sharing ski routes with other muscle powered folks -- The fact that some of my old favorite routes are now overrun by snow-machines saddens me, whereas I actually enjoy seeing other skiers, snowboarders and even snowshoers learn to enjoy the mountains that have given so much to me.

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melchap
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #47 on: 04/02/12, 03:04 PM »

I fail to see how Ruby Mountain is a secret.  It exists on topographic maps and satellite images.  It is visible from nearby locations and is accessible  as a day trip from a major road.

Amar, I enjoyed reading this trip report and always read your many detailed and thoughtful trip reports.  I hope you leave this report intact with all the details.

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Feck
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #48 on: 04/02/12, 04:06 PM »

I'm not sure I understand the difference between climbing and skiing.† I've climbed a number of things that are visible from the road and have route descriptions in old and new guidebooks.† Despite all the information available we still had adventures on route.

Wishbone Arete
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #49 on: 04/02/12, 04:41 PM »

I blame Go-Pro. 
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Oyvind_Henningsen
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #50 on: 04/06/12, 04:31 PM »

I enjoy the outdoors of the Pacific Northwest.  Ruby Mountain is a beautiful destination.  Thanks for sharing Amar !
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #51 on: 04/07/12, 07:49 AM »

Great TR Amar, thanks for sharing. You are one of the few old school TAY posters who used to make this site great.

A good comparison is old climbing guidebooks vs modern topos, Roper's Yosemite guide had a few paragraphs to describe the 30 pitch Salethe Wall when I did it - now detailed topos describe every inch of El Cap and even give advice on gear for each pitch. We used to debate whether to even read the guide or to have a 1st ascent adventure (which I often chose on easier climbs), now if I were climbing there I'd take the beta and push harder climbs.

I too have gone full circle with posting on TAY, backing off a bit when it seemed I was over advertising my favorite haunts (which led to increased traffic for a while), to paying back the enjoyment and info I've gotten from this site.

Lowell, I also appreciate your POV, and agree with the contrast with Europe (I lived there and climbed in the Alps for many years, but happily returned to WA).

Good discussion, but no absolute resolution. "To each their own way, I'll go mine, hope you're happy what ever you may find."
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z-bo
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #52 on: 04/08/12, 07:20 PM »

i know i'm a little late to this one,† but this is great.† i think some if not most of you are missing lowells point.† his letter many years ago to the editor:

"As someone who writes and speaks about backcountry skiing, I too have wrestled with the question of publicizing secret spots. My solution is to recognize three kinds of backcountry places: 1) those that are already well known and accessible, where additional publicity has little effect; 2) those that are very remote, where difficult access prevents them from becoming popular; and 3) places that are accessible yet for some reason little known.

I don't mind publicizing spots in the first two categories. This is how we introduce newcomers to the sport and inspire experienced skiers to expand their horizons. The last group however, are backcountry gems. I don't write about these spots or mention them in my slide shows. Although the wilderness is a big place, the number of good, accessible, little known spots is tiny and always shrinking."



i totally agree with this.† i learned routes to ski from local knowledge and self induced failure turned success.† I like meeting new people and showing them around my secluded spots.† I just donít want them telling everyone and their mom the best way to be there.† not that this forum is a bad thing for high traffic areas and badass lines that only a few will attempt.† there just needs to be a little style and thought put forth when writing about a locals only type stash.† Itís just like surfing in Hawaii.† Nobody cares if you quietly come to their stash and shred like a local, but if you flail around and tell everyone in the world how rad the waves are there somebodyís gonna get pissed. Have some tact.† †there's enough space for everyone, but not enough room for all of us on the same† peak.

Btw.  I donít think amar is wrong for posting this trip report.  I think maybe he could have made the route description a little more vague.  Itís amazing what a little haziness will do to keep the gapers away from your special zones while you train for Alaska.
« Last Edit: 04/08/12, 07:24 PM by z-bo » Logged
Steph B
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #53 on: 04/12/12, 09:30 AM »

They're always after me lucky charms!!!

I'm pretty sure that's the Ruby Repeater that the park service uses that you're standing on.  Just putting it out there.


Also, after living just a few miles down the road from Ruby for a bit, I would agree with Lowell.  The North Cascades is a beautiful place and it breaks my heart when I see it abused by visitors.  I in no way am stating that this community is disrespectful, but seeing trash next to cars parked by Blue Lakes the weekend of hwy 20 opening day... or people camping in the woods and disrespecting designated area's and adding to an area that is already impacted. 

I am sorry I am not articulating my thoughts as well as Lowell did.  But, posting in TAY is fine... there's a lot of space out here for us all to explore.  I just ask that we all explore it in a respectful manner so it can be preserved for future generations to enjoy.

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HillsHaveEyes
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #54 on: 04/12/12, 08:52 PM »

Itís just like surfing in Hawaii.† Nobody cares if you quietly come to their stash and shred like a local, but if you flail around and tell everyone in the world how rad the waves are there somebodyís gonna get pissed.

No, it's not like surfing in Hawaii. At all. Waves at a crowded break with aggro locals are a limited resource. Pow in the Cascades is an unlimited resource. There is more than enough room for gaper bloggers and cagey locals to get some. Can you imagine someone getting punched in the face for dropping in? Uh... not gonna happen.

Have you ever come back still buzzing from a good line, looked around dreamily at all the other good lines, lines in every direction, lines maybe no one has ever done, and it dawns on you,"There isn't enough time."

The realization sinks in. There isn't enough time. It's too big. I will never get to all the lines I dream about because there are just too many.

I have had the TAY spotlight shine on a couple of my happy places. The crowds came. The crowds went. Quiet returned. It always does.
« Last Edit: 04/12/12, 09:42 PM by HillsHaveEyes » Logged
z-bo
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #55 on: 04/13/12, 01:29 PM »

No, it's not like surfing in Hawaii. At all. Waves at a crowded break with aggro locals are a limited resource. Pow in the Cascades is an unlimited resource. There is more than enough room for gaper bloggers and cagey locals to get some. Can you imagine someone getting punched in the face for dropping in? Uh... not gonna happen.





i disagree.  as with surfing and skiing, there are certain spots that are easily accessible and have sweet terrain/waves.  there's always more waves (the ocean is really, really big) just as there are always more mountains.  the ones that are easy to get to and provide a great ride are the gems.  you're missing the point.  it's not about every mountain in the cascades, it's about the ones that are hidden in plain sight.  lines that in years past required local knowledge or a willingness to get out and explore.  sure, it'll never be as aggro as surfing is, and i hope it never comes to that.  it was an analogy, and a pretty good one in my opinion.
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #56 on: 04/25/12, 10:59 PM »

Just back from a ski trip where I read the Ruby posts and it's ridiculous (IMHO) how everyone has kissed Amar's ass and not thought about Lowell's point of view.† What happened to skiing some wicked stuff and not posting it? I guess some folks need some validation and chest puffing! Sorry moderator (Marcus) if I've caused some trouble.† Some respect to Lowell, who's a super cool and knowledgable guy, should be given...IMHO.

Peace Out
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jesski
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #57 on: 04/29/12, 05:07 PM »

I enjoyed skiing somewhere non-Volcanic with you Amar. Thank you for documenting, as you often do, with exacting style and excruciating detail, another of your/our trips.

I really hope that some in the community's reaction to this report is not contributing to the fact that you've sort of ceased to post trip reports for the last month. Especially since some of the stuff you've skied is of note on some level, IMHO. And you publish excellent TR's.

re: comments by Zee: Perhaps the community's general inclination to forgive Amar the offense of revealing a "secret" stash of sorts comes in part by what he does to give back to the community, over and over again-- accurate conditions updates, snowpack reports, etc. that help all of us out in ways that are perhaps more important than selfishness over public lands.

Moreover, none of us (including Amar) who were interested in skiing Ruby that day had any notion that the area was so coveted by the Skagit Valley folk (and others) as a "secret" area (despite being an obvious destination due to its proximity to the highway and the winter closure point.)

Lowell, I appreciate the points you're making but I also think your reaction is disproportionate to the offense.

"Angel in the centerfold"?!†

Really, Lowell?

We all have favorite places to ski, places that we have especial emotional attachment to, etc., but there's nothing dirty about Amar's post. It's an appropriate tribute to, and documentation of a beautiful location... nothing has been objectified, or otherwise muddied...

There's an area at crystal that about 5 years ago I skied routinely without any tracks in it. Now, it's well known... that sucks on some level. But, I've never come across another party in that location and felt anything but appreciation for the location.

Somehow seeing that someone else skied your line tends to have one of two effects for me: either (1) as evidenced by lots of tracks in what you wish were a clean slate, as observed after the fact, which can suck, or (2) watching someone else ski said line, whether you know them or brought them there or not, even before you drop in... which for me is pretty much always still a big stoke factor for me.... as in, "yeah, that was sick, huh?"

I feel like this TR (and other well-written TR's with good pictures of destinations I've enjoyed) fall decidedly into the 2nd category on an emotional level.

So I guess my issue with Lowell's stance on this is that:
(1) There isn't a valid objective argument in his favor, and
(2) I can't relate to the emotional piece. 

Additional traffic to an area is a reality of growth of the sport, of increasing backcountry travel, etc. I wouldn't fault someone who chose it for their own reasons after looking at a map for "exposing" my "secret stash."

It's not as if any of us were compelled to ski Ruby due to proprietary information disseminated  by Lowell or another who calls Ruby "theirs" here in this forum.   
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HillsHaveEyes
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Re: March 24, 2012, Ruby Mtn, North Side via Happy Crk
« Reply #58 on: 05/01/12, 09:37 AM »

^Well said.

To suggest that a "stake has been driven through the heart of" another gem spot is a bit over the top and gives the destructive power of TAY  too much credit.

In any case, if the NCNP expansion proposal ever gains traction, conversations about how the area is used could put Ruby in the spotlight, as the park boundary would gobble it up.
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