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Trip Report    

Basic Alpine Climb - Ruth Mountain & Icy Peak Traverse

Great glacier trip with a lot of alpine elements - hike, scramble, glacier, rappel.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Road: good

    Trail: good

    Glacier: very straightforward, looks like it will remain like this for a while

    Scramble: watch rock fall

    Gear: 40m ropes, 


A couple of general points before a more detailed description of the route:

  • If you camp at or beyond Ruth's summit, you are in the North Cascades NP. A camp permit is required and can be obtained at the Glacier Ranger station. There was about 45min wait at the RS getting the permit. 
  • There are a few places with rock fall danger. A smaller group is of advantage.

Day 1:

Hiked on rocky trail to Hannagan pass. The scramble in the dirty gully past campsites at the pass was slightly better than expected. This would be slippery when wet. Wonderful scenic traverse to Ruth. Ruth glacier was very straightforward with few crevasses that could easily be avoided. We stayed climber's right of a little bulge and for the summit. Easy transition to rock there. After a break at the summit, we descended almost due West following a path, the South on the snowfield. Wonderful camp at 6600ft towards S end of the snowfield next to the gully. Good established campsites on dirt, a dining area on flat rock and running water at several places below the  snowfield. Great view from camp, both on Shuksan and Icy with most of the route for the next day.. 6-7h at easy pace car to camp.


Day 2:

We took off at 5:20am, carefully descended with headlamps on next to the gully of death. After a few bushes (50m) a good path stays close to the slope to Ruth, then heads to an obvious flat spot. From there on further descent on a path through trees.  On the traverse to the base of the Icy glacier we stayed mostly E of the humps, except for the final one. We got on the glacier at round 6100ft with an easy transition. From camp the glacier had looked very steep with the steepest part right above the largest crevasse. We were fooled by  the perspective. Followed standard route descriptions we stayed close to rock, then turned S at 6500ft, just above the large crevasse. There is a flat bench above the crevasse. Very easy glacier travel, 45min till the notch on the SW ridge of Icy. We followed a boot path to the base of the first gully. While 4 climbers stayed in -apparent- safety out of the fall line in the gully, I set up a hand line aiming for the rap station. Not easy to find gear placements on route, found one #1 cam spot. Straightforward scrambling though. At the top a hand-sized rock came loose, passed the belayer, bounced off the side of the gully and shot across the gully towards the waiting climbers. Fortunately, only a minor hit on the thigh of a climber who could continue the climb just fine. Strong recommendation: Leave everyone entirely out of the gully. There is a great shielded area climber's right before the gully. With a 40m rope you can almost span the entire length from there to the summit.  Great summit. We then rappelled down and waited in safety outside the gully. Very warm trip back to camp on the same route under relentless sun. Glacier still staightforward. After a water and cooling down break at camp, we headed back home. We opted to cross Ruth's summit again, which gains more elevation, makes for less sidehilling on the Ruth glacier. Stay to skiers left of the bulge, at the end of the bulge is a crevasse, shallower descent on the left than on the right. Hike back out, reached cars with last light of day around 8pm. 3.5h camp-summit, 3h summit-camp, 5h camp-car. 

Water can be found at places along the trail to Hannagan pass, at the base of Ruth glacier, close to camp, at several places along the traverse to Icy glacier.

Overall great and very scenic trip with a strong and fun group.