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Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Guye Peak/East Route

Guy peak east route , awesome scramble route !

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • details in trip report.

Our scramble of the Guye Peak – East Route started at the Commonwealth Basin/PCT Trailhead at 9:00 am.  From the lower parking lot near the Trailhead sign and Forest Service bathroom area, you quickly turn right on the PCT and then, within 100 feet or so you turn left/north onto the old Commonwealth Creek trail.  This trail was a running stream of shallow water for the first quarter mile or so and at intervals afterward.

Approximately a mile from the TH, we reached the wire-wrapped logs of the stream crossing (with occasional views of the east face of Guye and portions of our scramble route).  We went slightly left to cross another small stream and then turned right/north on the old and unmaintained trail which runs up a side-drainage to the Guye-Snoqualmie saddle/trail intersection.  However, just past the first couple of distinctive rockfalls (at an elevation of about 3600 feet), we turned up and left off the trail into steep forest that rises to meet the base of the cliffs.  Though the route is basically straight uphill through brush, downed trees, and standing timber, this part of the route goes better if the party keeps close enough together so that brush only needs to be parted once and the more or less secure choices of footing of preceding party members can be observed by those following.  After about 600 feet of hard-won gain (at an elevation of roughly 4200 feet), we turned left/south  across the hill, in search of the always-elusive Ledge.

Because of wet rock and patches of snow, secure footing and the use of green belay was especially needed as we worked our way across The Ledge (which we may not have followed exactly, again due to concerns over the presence of snow and wet rock).  As we reached The Gully, we saw two rappel anchors constructed from old runners and a screw gate carabiner.  The passage of The Gully required skillful selection of hand and foot-holds, care to stay on solid rock and to avoid dislodging loose rock, and prior experience on T3, -4, or ideally -5 scramble rock routes.  We exited the gully to the right, a little above a prominent dead (but large and firmly-attached) dead tree bearing one or more additional runners.

We then worked our way up the prolonged (800 vertical feet or so) T5 scrambling of the East Face itself.  There are usually good holds available throughout this section, but the scrambling was complicated on this occasion by several inches of new snow on the ledges and some pockets of ice in the Open Book.  The going became less steep from the upper reaches of the cliff up to the multiple sub-peaks of the summit ridge but the snow got deeper with increased elevation.  While the passage of the peaks is ordinarily enjoyable rock scrambling with good holds or short sections of moderately-inclined slabs (broken up by small ledge and crack systems), on our trip the presence of 6-8 inches of snow added some sport to the slab sections, particularly the backside of the next-to-last summit before the final summit and the One Freaky Move.  One of our students expressed concern about this section and requested the hand-line, but with encouragement and some minor physical assistance from the leaders, the student was able to successfully transition down to the notch separating the last two summits.

Another student encountered some difficulty in the vertical crack which is the exit up out of the One Freaky Move (primarily from apprehensively trying to wedge too deep into the crack itself), but the third leader on the trip (who had led this section) was able to successfully assist the student from above.


We tagged the main or north summit (the sole summit reached on the usual summer hike or winter/spring snow scramble route), and then descended to the north following the obvious ridge (and what could be seen of the snow-buried summer trail) until reaching the Guye-Snoqualmie saddle at approximately 4600 ft.  From there we followed increasingly-apparent trail down the sub-drainage and side-stream back to the old Commonwealth trail.   

We were back at the trail head by 4:10 pm, with the extra time accounted for by our care in transiting the snow-covered slopes.  We enjoyed perfect sunny weather with a temperature of 35 F and no wind.  Despite the added challenges of dealing with varying depths of snow on the route, the students all performed well and gained self-confidence and pride on this already-sporty T5 scramble, with the added bonus of beautiful late-season views.  Certainly, however, future trips scheduled for this late in the season should only be undertaken with well-chosen parties and advance awareness of the additional challenges posed by the potential of snow on the route.