Monday, May 22, 2017

Soldier Boy 7034', North Cascades

Scrolling through Caltopo searching for melted-out on-trail approaches to interesting areas, Soldier Boy 7034' (benchmark) piqued my interest as being obscure but very centrally located in the south unit of North Cascades National Park.

Ben and I turned off the Fisher Creek trail at 3500' and headed straight up the ridge on a nice game trail. Bad blowdowns on the ridge from 4100-4400', steep forest and rocks from 5300-5650' and smooth sailing after that. Snow started at 4650', much higher than we expected.

We stopped just below the summit as there was a large wind-blown feature (30'ish deep) with sketchy runout on both sides. Snow was mostly 4-8" of mush: too soft for both snowshoes and spikes. Views weren't half bad, anyway.

Showing the off-trail section from the turn off of Fisher Creek at ~3500'

Climbing up to 4000' on a good game trail

End of blowdown section, beginning of snow ~4600'

Reaching the gentler ridge around 5700'

Bear tracks around 6000'; Soldier Boy back right

Mt. Logan and Soldier Boy

Soldier Boy, showing the wind-blown feature; we stopped at the larches just below it; Ben's photo

Looking north to Luna, Redoubt, Mox and Spickard (and a whole bunch of other stuff below skyline)

Pausing on the way up; not bad

Logan, Thunder, Vulcan (7880), with the Banded and Fremont glaciers

Slab avalanche and cornices on the ridge south of Soldier Boy


Forbidden to Boston

Boston to Buckner

On the way down: Primus and Tricouni to Ragged Ridge

Descending the steep forest-rocky section (5300-5600'); Ben's photo

Yeah, it was hot

Snapped spinal cord and head ripped off; maybe an owl? 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Ruby Mountain attempt, North Cascades

Potentially still a little early for the summer (south ridge) route up Ruby given the amount of snow we had this winter. The bonus was full, firm snow coverage starting all the way from Fourth of July camp; snowshoes got a lengthy free ride!

We turned around at 6400' where the ridge has a brief steep step. The summer route, traversing left around it and then switch backing up, looked rather steep and had semi-recent slide activity on it. The ridge was almost completely corniced with intermittent vertical melt steps. As the day was warming up we agreed coming down it would be problematic. We settled for the 270-degree views from 6400' and agreed to come back when it's just a summer hike. 

Heading up through easy forest on firm snow, above Fourth of July Pass

Brief view up the ridge, around 4750'

On the broad ridge, around 5600'

Patrick on the upper ridge 6300'; North Cascades National Park South Unit beyond

Where we turned around at 6400'

Stillwell Creek drainage; Beebe on the left, Elija on the right. Tower and Golden Horn on the cascade crest in the background.

Mesahchie, Katsuk and Kimtah along Ragged Ridge

Mighty Boston Glacier; Buckner (l) and Boston and Forbidden

Tricouni, Primus; east side of backbone ridge (Isolation Traverse) beyond, I think

Snowfield, Horseman, Needle, Colonial, Paul Bunyan's Stump, Pyramid