Ruby Mountain by Colonial Peak via North Cascades Highway / 紅寶石山

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Ruby Mountain by Colonial Peak perches above North Cascades Highway along Ross Lake’s south shore. It boasts nearly 4000′ of prominence. Meanwhile, the famous Diablo Lake Vista Point at the west foothills directly views Davis Peak.

Ruby Mountain from Point 6315
Ruby Mountain from Point 6315

See more trip photos here.

Ruby Mountain at a Glance

Access: Highway 20 past Diablo Lake Overlook
Round Trip: 7 miles
Elevation Range: 2160′-7408′
Gear: helmet, ice ax
GPS Track: not available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

The Preface

I craved more spectacular views of the North Cascades after last weekend. So today, I decided between Davis Peak and Ruby Mountain. But I picked the latter because it seemed doable, judging by the descriptions.

Besides, Davis Peak looked technical from a report, where the climbers roped up near the top. I know nothing about ropes or climbing gear. But even if I did, it wouldn’t be feasible for the pups. So Ruby Mountain, it was!

Starting somewhere left of the boulders
Starting somewhere left of the boulders

See more trip photos here.

North Cascades Highway (Highway 20)

We started just off Highway 20, east of the boulder field. The faint trail was steep from the get-go and continued to climb steadily. I knew the incline would be constant from the descriptions. But it was insane!

Snow appeared at 3000′ as the path faded into it. But in hindsight, I should’ve put on snowshoes much sooner rather than holding off for another 400′. I was hoping I wouldn’t need them later, but who was I to kid?

5500' gain over 3.5 miles
5500′ gain over 3.5 miles

See more trip photos here.

Ruby Mountain Northwest Ridge

Just getting to 4000′ was brutal. What looked moderate on the map turned out quite steep. I brought poles but only used the ice ax. Meanwhile, I relied on the GPS to break trails in the trees so we could stay on track.

Things began to look promising when we reached 5400′ and could finally see the route. By then, the top of Ruby Mountain was in full display. So it had me feeling even more determined to reach the summit.

Ruby Mountain from the ridge
Ruby Mountain from the ridge

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Point 6315

We soon moved southeast in continuous snow. The clouds that kept us cool all morning have since dissipated, dang! It had warmed up quite a bit since we left, so we’d likely be in the slush going back.

After we reached Point 6315, I could see most peaks in the northern skyline. It felt so peaceful; the only sounds came from the snow bombs and planes overhead. Meanwhile, the dogs had a blast chasing each other around.

Cornices lining the northwest ridge
Cornices lining the northwest ridge

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Final Stretch on Ruby Mountain

The rest 800′ to the radio tower was steep, with cornices lining the crest and hanging over the north face. So I stayed very cautious through here. Meanwhile, we hugged the trees to avoid any mishaps!

I didn’t want to be on the crest in the last 200′. Instead, we went to the backside and steered clear of the steep terrain and cornices. When I spotted the radio tower, I knew we had finally made it. Way to go, teamwork!

Final Stretch
Final Stretch

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Ruby Mountain Summit Views Plus Outro

The trip was beyond my expectation, and we stayed a while to eat and take pictures. Views looked even more spectacular than from Sourdough Mountain. The impressive sight of Jack Mountain made me wonder how difficult it would be.

As I surveyed the landscape, I suddenly spotted two pointy peaks looming north of Ross Lake. Whatever it was, it looked stunning, unlike anything I’d seen before. But I wonder who would climb something that far away.

It took us four hours to descend the mountain and return to the car right before dark. We’ll see you around, Ruby!

Ross Lake from Ruby Mountain
Ross Lake from Ruby Mountain

See more trip photos here.

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