Ruth Mountain Standard Route (September 1, 2003)

Did this beautiful climb as an overnight. Left the car at 4 pm and reached the 5600 ft saddle (near the start of the glacier) in about 4 hours. The Hannegan pass trail is not bad, but pretty exposed to the sun. The climber's trail leaving from the pass is obvious. This area is really suffering from human impact. The worst part of the approach is the steep "trail" leaving from the small saddle that is reached after the pass. It's really more of an eroded network of gullies, with several deep, 300 foot long scars running down from the 5600 foot bench. Very steep root and dirt pulling got us to the bench. After the bench, an easy trail leads around to the left and on to exposed campsites. No water right on the saddle. Probably better to camp closer to the edge of the glacier, or all the way back before Hannegan pass.

Started walking by about 7AM. After giving Sarah brief crampon and glacier travel lessons we hiked up and across the glacier to the 6800 ft. saddle in the ridge that runs west of the summit. From here we checked out Icy and other great views. Much of the rest of the cascades were in a smoky haze. After an early lunch (we hadn't really brought enough food and were still hungry from last night), we traversed back across the glacier and then more or less straight up, avoiding some crevasses on the west. Round trip from camp: 5 hours. (Experienced parties, that head straight up would probably do it in under 3.)

We packed up and headed back to the car, reaching it in about 3 hours. On the way back, we cut straight down (left) from the campsites at the saddle (near the pond described in Beckey). This trail (quite bad) short cuts lots of the switchbacks between the Hannegan camps and the pass. It isn't recommended. I was in terrible shape after a summer sitting at a desk, and was feeling it by the end of the day... If I had to do it again, a 10 hour round trip from the car sounds feasable. Including Icy would be good, but seens like it would make for a long second day. Maybe the best itinerary is to climb Ruth (with bivy gear) on day one, and then (can bivy at the summit, or at the saddle described above) hit Icy on day 2...

Rack and gear:

8.5x50 rope
axe and crampons
The snow conditions were perfect for cramponing. The glacier has some good sized crevasses, but they were pretty obvious and could be avoided (even though we did cross a few fairly thin bridges when traversing the glacier -- not so many on the ascent). We did rope up.