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Thursday, August 01, 2013

Ruth-Icy Traverse, June 2013

Punctuating the eastern terminus of Jagged Ridge, Cloudcap Peak (Seahpo) is an often overlooked satellite of majestic Mount Shuksan. But for those whom Cloudcap has captured the imagination, an adventure where the appeal may be more about the journey rather than the destination awaits. The approach entails going up and over scenic Ruth Mountain and traversing Icy Peak’s northwest slopes en route to a breathtaking high camp at the saddle overlooking the headwaters of Nooksack River. With the awesome chaos of the Nooksack Glacier cirque to drown the senses, Beckey aptly describes this area as “…one of the alpine climaxes of The Cascades”. Adding it all up then, we have a climb to a seldom visited summit with uniquely dramatic scenery and the option of bagging the classic Ruth-Icy Traverse on the way. Sign me up!

Alas, the Cloudcap climb evolved into a beast of a traverse via the ~2-mile long Jagged Ridge, linking-up the aforementioned objectives with the Mt. Baker ski resort. A thrilling enterprise for sure, the route is also significantly more involved and ultimately required a day more than what was planned for. Of my numerous concerns that afternoon on Cloudcap, I just couldn’t shake the wrath that would befall me for being a day overdue. And thus Mike C. and I bailed, freeing Tom S., Don B. and Franklin B. to savor the alpine nectar and bask in the glory of success. Hearing a faint “wahoo” over the roar of Nooksack Cirque from our Ruth-Icy saddle camp later that evening, I was relieved knowing the guys finally summited Cloudcap. Sipping the last of the whiskey, Mike and I raised a toast to our fellow alpinists wishing them comfortable bivys and a safe return home.

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