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Author Topic: Ruth Mountain, 10-4-2013  (Read 4362 times)
mtbakerguides
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Ruth Mountain, 10-4-2013
« on: 10/07/13, 09:43 AM »

NOAA snow totals for last weekends storm seemed a little ridiculous, so we thought we would try to get up high and see how much "new" had actually accumulated. We were quite surprised.

Ruth Mountain has become a early season skiing tradition for us the last couple years. The combination of a due north face, permanent snowfield/glacier, consistent run, and decent elevation make for a great October venue. This year was by far the earliest we have been in there with skis though.

Got a little bit of a later start - departed Bellingham around 5:30 AM, and were hiking around 7:00. Trail was mostly snow free up to about 4000 ft. At the intersection with Hannegan Camp, we were able to transition directly from hiking boots to skinning, which was quite pleasant. Typically there's a nasty boot pack to gain the bench below Ruth, but this year it was so filled in we just skinned right up it.

Followed the ridgeline up above 6000, where I dug a test pit. 130 cm of new snow on top of the summer snowpack. Pretty consolidated as well. Almost like an early November snowpack (or mid-winter Colorado snowpack...) Didn't really find anything spooky in the pit so we continued up onto the North Face and headed for the summit. Conditions immediately changed from crust to boot top pow as well. Yee Haw!

Average snow depth taken across the North face of Ruth is about 150 cm. Kind of unreal for this time of year. I had broken out my brand new ski setup with much apprehension, but I quickly realized that with this much snow, we were't going to hit anything. There are a few more crevasses this year than the last couple falls, so we worked a line high and left.

Around 7000 feet we hit a large bergschrund that's definitely new this season. You can actually see it from far down the valley, but we were kind of hoping that it was easily passable on the left. You could actually end run it on the left if you wanted, but it would involve some trickery, so we just decided to ski. The best turns were below us anyways.

Did two more laps. Climbed the east face the second time to gain the actual summit, and dropped the west side of the North face to skirt the bergschrund. Skinned back up for one final run down to the bench and out. Had first tracks and the whole place to ourselves the entire day.

Pictures at http://mtbakerguides.com/early-season-skiing/
« Last Edit: 10/07/13, 10:34 AM by mtbakerguides » Logged
David_Britton
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Re: Ruth Mountain, 10-4-2013
« Reply #1 on: 10/07/13, 03:19 PM »

Great timing. Thanks for the report and the photos.

Lucky for you guys you were able to skin up that pitch above the camp. That was a bit of work late last June.

From the last photo on your site, the top 1.5K feet shows a lot of cracks. Yikes. There wasn't a one in late June; so there must have been a whole lot of opening going on this summer. Our line, off the summit along the W. ridge briefly, then straight down to the valley floor, looks like it would have missed most cracks, except those longs ones that seem to parallel the ridge in last photo.


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mtbakerguides
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Re: Ruth Mountain, 10-4-2013
« Reply #2 on: 10/07/13, 03:25 PM »

The low elevation snowpack is quite consolidated already. Getting up the steep pitch above camp went really well.

Yeah, it's a bit cracked out from the summer heat. There's now a giant schrund that guards the upper plateau. You can get around it on both the right and left, but it goofs up the ski line from the summit. We actually summited by climbing the East Face and than dropped your guy's line on the west side of the North face as well. It goes good and it avoids the schrund. There are a couple transverse cracks to keep your eye out for though.
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ND
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Re: Ruth Mountain, 10-4-2013
« Reply #3 on: 10/09/13, 12:45 PM »

Wow how things change in a month!  There are a lot of bridges out there already, some areas had melted out to full on glacial ice when I went up early last month.  There are actually two large crevasses up there, the upper one was narrower so it may have been covered for you already.


* ruth_from_a_distance.JPG (151.36 KB, 640x480 - viewed 1374 times.)

* between_crevasses.JPG (121.22 KB, 960x720 - viewed 1390 times.)

* artsy_farstsy_ruth.JPG (168.89 KB, 480x640 - viewed 1388 times.)
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mtbakerguides
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Re: Ruth Mountain, 10-4-2013
« Reply #4 on: 10/10/13, 07:14 AM »

Amazing what 80-100 inches will do. We are pretty fortunate around here. I spent a number of years all across Colorado, and 150 cm base is considered a deep, late season snowpack there. We already have that up here.

It looks like the cracks are mostly still showing in the October photo. There may be a few bridges out there, but the general crevasse zones are still broken up. The big crack up top is still definitely a problem. Fall is one of the scariest times to be in the mountains though. You typically get a skim of new snow that hides dangerous cracks.

Great Pix! Thanks for sharing. Always nice to see before and after shots.
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Oyvind_Henningsen
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Re: Ruth Mountain, 10-4-2013
« Reply #5 on: 10/10/13, 08:20 AM »

nice trip - great pictures - thanks for sharing
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Lytt til erfarne fjellfolk!
all mtn
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Re: Ruth Mountain, 10-4-2013
« Reply #6 on: 10/11/13, 08:51 PM »

Don't get much betta
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ebeam
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Re: Ruth Mountain, 10-4-2013
« Reply #7 on: 10/15/13, 07:53 PM »

Mtbakerguides’ and Freebird’s reports (both excellent) probably had something to do with the at least 6 different groups skiing Ruth last Sunday (many making the long drive from Seattle). I don’t know if that qualifies as the “TAY horde phenomenon” I’ve read about in other trip reports but since so many folks seem to be heading up there this fall I thought I should post two aerial photos passed on to me of the large new crevasse near the summit.

On Sunday, most groups were stopping at this crevasse but we easily went around it climber’s right. You can also simply go up climber’s left of the large rock formation to avoid it. The snow on the NE side of the mountain is often better anyway; plus you can gawk at the Pickets throughout your climb.

Great day and place.


* Ruth101313-1_sm.jpg (120.61 KB, 640x448 - viewed 610 times.)

* Ruth101313-2_sm.JPG (103.41 KB, 318x448 - viewed 602 times.)
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David_Britton
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Re: Ruth Mountain, 10-4-2013
« Reply #8 on: 10/16/13, 07:55 AM »

Did anyone ski the center chute shown in the below photo? We contemplated that last week but thought it was a bit early.

Also, ebeam, very cool aerial photos. Thanks! I can't quite place the 1st one vis-a-vis our trip on 10/9. do you know when and where that was taken?



* ruth_line.jpg (173.71 KB, 380x403 - viewed 579 times.)
« Last Edit: 10/16/13, 12:48 PM by David_Britton » Logged
iluka
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Re: Ruth Mountain, 10-4-2013
« Reply #9 on: 10/16/13, 05:42 PM »

The photo was taken Sunday around noon. The skiers are on the summit ridge, to the right of the big rock buttress, right where the ridge starts to flatten out as it approaches the true summit.
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Yet another trip I've skied up something I can't ski down!
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