RUTH Mountain Route: Standard North Side (by moonlight)

Category: Washington       Trip Report #36
Partners: Jason Cullum, Heather More
Rock Type: Volcanic Breccia
Summit Elev: 7,115 ft

We climbed by moonlight (7:45pm to 4am car to car).  

Our route from the trailhead to the summit (drawn on the map on left)
and Ruth in the moonlight from the approach (photo on right).

What better way to climb Ruth than under a full moon on a warm late-summer night? This was the plan when Jason, Heather, and I arrived at the Hannegan Pass Trailhead at 7:30pm on Thursday, September 7. The plan was to summit by midnight, and arrive back home just in time for work the next day.

We left the trailhead (elevation 3,100 ft) at 7:45pm, making great time (nice pace, Heather!) and arriving at Hannegan Pass (5,066 ft) after 1.5 hours. From here we headed off on the climber’s trail to the right, following it all the way to the glacier on the north side of Ruth (Beckey’s guide gives a good description of the climbing route, but basically just follow the trail if it is not snowcovered). At the glacier, we quickly put on crampons, turned off our headlights, and jumped on to the moonlit sea of ice. The snow conditions were great, and we were at the summit 50 minutes later (at 11:25pm). Overall, it took us 3 hours and 40 minutes to get from the car to the summit, much less than we had anticipated. The last 100 ft to the summit was kind of tricky, since we found ourselves hanging on to sliding chunks of loose, steep talus as we clambered in our crampons up the slope to the top. But overall, the climb was very straightforward, and crevasses were not a problem, even this late in the summer (although we detoured to look into a few of the gaping cracks). We were not roped up.

We spent a half hour on the summit taking in the view of the moonlit peaks, with stunning views of the moonlit Mt. Shuksan to the west and Icy to the south. Then we headed down, getting back to the car 4 hours later, at 4:00am (we passed two parties heading up the trail with skis, presumably to get to the top by sunrise and ski back down Ruth's glacier). We all felt like sleeping, but somehow we made it home, although we had a hard time convincing the border guard that yes, we knew it was 6am, and yes, we had been out of the country less than 12 hours, and yes, we had climbed a mountain during our stay in the States….. Anyway, we arrived home just in time for Jason to head off for a full day of construction work, Heather to her morning physiology class, and me to my trip report and packing the next day's climb of Yak Peak (okay, so I will get a job soon, really…).

Thanks to Jason and Heather for a fun and unique climb! We’ll have to do something like this again! Next full moon....

Below are some photos from the climb.

Our route to the summit from near the saddle before the glacier.

Jason and Heather on the summit, Big Dipper in background.

Mt. Shuksan (to the west) from the summit of Ruth.

Coming down the end of the glacier, full moon and headlight streak.