Trip Report    

Basic Glacier Climb - Ruth Mountain & Icy Peak Traverse

An amazing journey through the North Cascades with two alpine summits, glacier travel, class 4 climbing, and epic views.

  • Road rough but passable
    • Started from the Hannegan's Pass trailhead. The road was washed out at the trialhead but it was easy to pass.
    • The trail up to the pass was really nice and smooth. There were no obstacles. 
    • We faced a muddy, steep gully past the pass. There were exposed roots that helped getting up a little easier. Take your time to get up at this portion of the trail.
    • The route opens up after the muddy gully. This was all snow free until we reached the base of Ruth Mountain.
    • We roped up for Ruth Mountain and did pass very tiny crevasses up to the summit. 
    • The summit was rocky and clear at the top and we were able to sign the summit registry.
    • We descended down past the summit in a rocky, slightly loose rock field. We had to pass another snow field before setting up camp. We did not rope up for this portion.
    • We had to go down another steep gully to head to Ruth. Take time to move slowly as this portion requires route-finding skills and class 4 rock.
    • We traveled on the ridge of Icy Peak. There was a mix of class 3 rock scrambling and snow field travel. 
    • We roped up at the glacier and traveled up to the saddle. We crossed small crevasses on our way up.
    • The summit block was a class 4 rock climb. One of the leads led a line and protected herself with trad gear.
    • The summit was nice and exposed. We rappelled from the summit using two 60m ropes. 
    • The trip back had a lot of up and downhill travel.

We started our day by getting our permits from the ranger station around 8AM and leaving the trailhead around 9:30AM. Almost everyone in the group wore mountaineering boots to save on weight as we were traveling with heavy packs. The first four miles of the trail were smooth and in the shade which made for an excellent start to our day. We took a break at the pass which had a toilet. We had to go down around 200 feet below the pass to refill our water supply.


Beyond the pass is a muddy gully filled with loose rock and exposed, wet roots. It wasn't too bad to climb up but take your time! It's a steep gully that could be very hard to climb if there was recent rainfall.

The trail opens up to a smooth ridge with clear views of the North Cascades. There was no snow until we reached the base of Ruth Mountain. We decided to rope up with harnesses, crevasse rescue gear, ice axes and helmets, even though crevasses were minimal. Our group was 9 people and we divided ourselves into three rope teams. The snow was nice and stable and we reached the summit of Ruth with ease. We de-roped here and didn't use our ropes until the next day.




We descended past Ruth into a semi-loose rock field and passed a small snow field to our campsite. The views were spectacular from our campsite and we had an excellent view of our next objective; Ice Peak. We melted snow at our campsite to refill our water supply and went to bed early. The night was filled with wind but overall it was a clear night.



We woke up the next day around 3:30AM and started our trip to Icy around 4:30AM. We wore our helmets with headlamps. The first portion involved down-climbing a very steep gully with loose class 4 rock. We took our time here to make sure everyone got down safely. We then scrambled on the ridge of Icy peak past rocks and small snowfields. 




Everyone roped up with harnesses, crevasse rescue gear, and ice axes when we reached the glacier. We ascended up to the saddle of Icy Peak and then reached the base of the summit block. One of the leaders lead the class 4 climb to the summit and placed a line. We traveled two at a time prusiking ourselves to the line when following up the summit. The views were spectacular and we had an amazing time.





The leaders took two 60m ropes and tied them together for a long rappel from the summit. We then went back to camp, packed up, and traveled back to our cars. The day was super long and there was plenty of ascending and descending throughout our journey but overall it was an amazing trip.


The leaders were absolutely amazing and made sure everyone felt safe throughout the trip. The views were spectacular as we saw so many peaks in the Cascades. We got super lucky with weather and had warm temperatures throughout our time out in the backcountry. This is an excellent trip for any new alpine climbers looking to get experience with glacier travel, route finding, and traversing.