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awilsondc
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awilsondc
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PostSat Mar 20, 2021 8:54 am 
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Ruby Mountain has been on my to do list for several years now.  After some inspiration from Off Route Randy's trip report earlier this year and fiiiiiiiiiiiinally a stable snow pack and good weather on my day off after two months of poor conditions, I decided to make Ruby Mountain my final winter summit of this winter.  I headed up after work and arrived at the Ross Lake parking area at the highway 20 road closure around 10:40.  To my surprise the place was alive with activity, five other vehicles and about a dozen people milling about getting ready for a trailhead bivy.  I had a moment of agoraphobia and considered trying to find something else, but I couldn't think of anything else nearby and I was tired so I accepted that I'd have company during the trip and went to sleep.  As I set my alarm for 2:30 and clicked save, my phone flashed 'your alarm will go off in 3 hours and 34 minutes'.  Oh, that's nice I though as I snuggled into my sleeping bag in the back of my car.  I wondered if anyone else was going to be getting up that early.

My alarm rang and I was the only one up and getting ready to start my day.  I got dressed and had a bit of breakfast.  It was cold, like really cold.  I started shivering as I packed my bag, eager to get moving and warm up a bit.  There was continuous snow on the road right from the start.  Snow crunched under my boots, an owl was hooting off in the distance, and I slowly gradually began to warm up as I hiked the road for about a mile.  Soon I reached the turn off.  There had been others here the day before, meaning there would be a track to follow which is always nice to have when hiking in the dark.  There were a few melted out patches down low, and it was very icy.  I put crampons on, only to take them off 10 minutes later and switch to snowshoes.  From then on it was a grind for a couple hours hiking up by headlamp.  I had anticipated being 3/4 of the way up around sunrise hoping to find a good spot for some sunrise photography and although I couldn't find an ideal composition for photos I thoroughly enjoyed sunrise and the colors were great!

First light
First light
Ruby in alpenglow
Ruby in alpenglow
Hozomeen beyond Ross Lake
Hozomeen beyond Ross Lake
Colors emerge
Colors emerge
Sky on Fire
Sky on Fire
Sunrise colors
Sunrise colors

As the sun broke the horizon it soon passed behind a thin layer of high clouds, creating a gloomy orange glow on the surrounding peaks.  Jack, Luna, and the McMillan Spires were eye catching, but of course the gem of the whole area is Hozomeen with the S shape of Ross Lake leading up to it.  It was magnetic!  I bet well over half of the photos I took on this trip had Hozomeen in it.  I enjoyed the first light on the mountains as I ascended and the colors gradually faded.

Ross Lake and Hozomeen
Ross Lake and Hozomeen
McMillan Spires
McMillan Spires
Luna
Luna
Jack
Jack
Ruby
Ruby
The Pickets, and more
The Pickets, and more
Hozomeen close up
Hozomeen close up

The terrain got steeper and a cool cleansing wind swept through the north face as I neared the summit block.  A short while later I found myself on the summit.  It took me 5 hours car to summit, with about 30-45 spent photographing the sunrise.

Last color
Last color
Cornices (not on route)
Cornices (not on route)
Sun nearing the horizon
Sun nearing the horizon
Up!
Up!
Jack
Jack
Summit Block
Summit Block
Summit Views
Summit Views

The summit area was great!  360 views of all your North Cascades favorites.  I spent an hour up there taking pictures, eating some food, and watching shadows and light creep across the terrain.  Of particular note were Baker and Shuksan.  When I arrived they were in deep shadows with the peaks in front illuminated.  Gradually Baker and Shuksan began to get lit up while the other peaks were cast into shadows.  It would have been fun to have a time lapse of that, an idea for another trip I suppose.

shifting
shifting
of the
of the
light
light

I used my tripod for an action selfie and took in the sights before deciding to head down.  Still, after an hour on the summit I still hadn't seen a single person and couldn't see anyone heading up either.   up.gif  After my fill of mountain views I packed up and headed down.

Ragged Ridge
Ragged Ridge
Bebe, Golden Horn, Hardy
Bebe, Golden Horn, Hardy
Selfie approaching the summit
Selfie approaching the summit
Ruby Mountain summit view south
Ruby Mountain summit view south
Ruby Mountain summit view north
Ruby Mountain summit view north

The steep part of the descent was a little tricky in snowshoes and I had to face in for a couple parts to take advantage of the snowshoe crampons.  After the steep part it was nice plunge stepping in soft snow.  The whole way down you have Ross Lake and Hozomen in your face, and it is absolutely incredible!  I loved it!  About 45-60 minutes down I finally came across the first people of the day, a couple skiers.  And then a few more, and a few more.  I probably passed 25-30 people on the way down, all of them skiers aside from one group of four snowshoers.  I bet this is the most traffic this mountain will see on a single day all year!  Fortunately I had most of the morning to myself.  The way back was pretty smooth and uneventful.  2:40 summit to car.  It was a great day in the mountains.

The whole way down was like this
The whole way down was like this
Into the trees
Into the trees
S
S
patch
patch
Full parking lot
Full parking lot

9-10 miles, 5200 ft gain, 8:40 c2c
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GaliWalker
Have camera will use



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PostSat Mar 20, 2021 2:11 pm 
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Spectacular!

awilsondc wrote:
Sky on Fire
Sky on Fire
Ross Lake and Hozomeen
Ross Lake and Hozomeen

These two are my favorites. up.gif

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'Gali'Walker => 'Mountain-pass' walker
bobbi: "...don't you ever forget your camera!"
Photography: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shahiddurrani/albums
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RichP
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PostSat Mar 20, 2021 5:47 pm 
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Really nice series of photos. up.gif  Hoping to squeeze this one in this summer.
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babylero
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PostSat Mar 20, 2021 6:00 pm 
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Awesome, this one has been on my list for a while. Any other technical/spicy areas outside of the part you needed to face in? I'm assuming an Ice Axe is mandatory.
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Bosterson
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PostSat Mar 20, 2021 6:58 pm 
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Fantastic pics. That dawn light over a sea of mountains is amazing!

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Follow the river until it turns to ice. Follow the ice until it turns to rock. Follow the rock until it turns to sky. Then we will be there.
--Woodrow Wilson Sayre
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iron
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PostSat Mar 20, 2021 8:33 pm 
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quintessential n. cascades winter trip, right up there with stetattle.

i think your 'southern pickets' is mostly northern pickets (fury and luna with a little of the macs)
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KascadeFlat
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PostSun Mar 21, 2021 8:23 am 
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Love love LOVE those photos of Hozomeen. My dad took my sister and I up to Hozomeen lake for lunch when we were kids. The lake runs straight into the bottom of the rock walls that H is known for and it echoes like no one's business! It's a really special place, thank you for sharing.

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For a good time call: 1-800-SLD-ALDR.
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awilsondc
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PostSun Mar 21, 2021 10:09 am 
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Thank you GaliWalker, Bosterson, KascadeFlat!  I hope you can get up there this year RichP, I'm sure you'll love it!

babylero wrote:
Awesome, this one has been on my list for a while. Any other technical/spicy areas outside of the part you needed to face in? I'm assuming an Ice Axe is mandatory.

The entire route is pretty mellow and non technical.  Even the part I did facing in on the way down was not strictly face in mandatory.  The steepest part was the final couple hundred feet to the saddle just east of the summit.  It was fine on the way up.  On the way down with the extra impact of the downhill step my snowshoes would scrape through a few inches of snow to a crust beneath.  If stepping too aggressively, I'd plow through that upper layer then slide on the crust beneath.  Facing in, I'd get some purchase from the snowshoe crampons on the crust and wouldn't slide so I did that for maybe 100 feet.  As far as the ice axe it's always good to take one along on these types of trips, and I brought mine, but it stayed on my pack the entire time and I never got it out.  The snow was soft enough to easily arrest with elbows, knees, feet, or trekking poles and the run out is pretty safe everywhere.

iron wrote:
i think your 'southern pickets' is mostly northern pickets (fury and luna with a little of the macs)

I think you are right.  It's more of a full pickets spread with Fury -> Luna taking up the most space.  I adjusted the caption.
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Cyclopath
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PostSun Mar 21, 2021 11:52 am 
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Ruby has been on my list for years.  I spend a lot of time on Ross so it has a lot of appeal.  You definitely turned that up a notch. Fantastic pics as always!
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jcocci
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PostTue Mar 23, 2021 7:00 am 
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Wow! I have snowboarded that twice and both times we were the only people on the mountain with no signs of anyone else having been up there recently. This was quite a few years ago. Place is getting popular.
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