Guye Peak 5168 ft
January 21, 2001
Michael called me Friday night and asked if I was interested in doing a rock/alpine climb near Snoqualmie Pass on Sunday. I only had Sunday open for climbing and Michael and Steve were planning to do some ice climbing with some friends in the Columbia Basin near Electric City Saturday. Steve makes the drive up from Portland several times a year, and he and Michael are famous for maximizing weekend climbing time. So they were looking to supplement their day of ice climbing with a day of rock climbing. I was happy for the opportunity to get out in the mountains and eagerly agreed. Another climber, Chris K, was to join us too, rounding out the foursome. I had heard Michael and Jake's stories of their climbs with Chris and I was looking forward to finally meeting him.
When I drove up to the Park and Ride Sunday morning, Michael and Steve were already there waiting. We greeted each other and since it was raining Steve asked me if I had my GoreTex. Instead of donning my jacket, I reached for my Ray Jardine GoLite umbrella. There is a small story behind this: Michael had brought an umbrella on an earlier trip to Mt Townsend and was the recipient of much grief for bringing this on a CLIMBING trip. Michael defended his actions valiantly, quoting Ray Jardine, Mark Twight, and other "light is right" advocates, explaining how in moderate temperatures, a GoreTex jacket will just increase the dampness of its wearer by keeping in the perspiration that builds up. But by carrying an umbrella instead of wearing a "breathable" jacket, the user remains dry, comfortable, and warm! But his arguments fell on deaf ears. Or did they? A few days after that trip, I got to thinking about what Michael said. So I went to Ray Jardine's web site and read about his lightweight hiking techniques. After reading countless reports by other hikers and climbers, a switch in my brain suddenly turned on, and I understood. So I made some calls and learned that Pro Mountain Sports carried the GoLite Umbrella designed the "RayWay". I made the trip to this great climbing shop and purchased the umbrella.
So when I popped open this umbrella, Michael's eyes lit up and instead of saying something deserving like, "I TOLD you so!", he reached for his pack and brought out his own umbrella! We all had a good laugh. Chris soon arrived and we started talking about our objective for the day. Although it was raining it was quite warm, which made us wonder if it was raining or snowing up at Snoqualmie Pass. So we called the ski area snow line and learned that they received eight inches of new snow and it was still snowing. Having heard this news we realized our rock climb wasn't going to happen, so we left the ropes, racks, and harnesses in our trunks, piled into Steve's Explorer and headed up to Snoqualmie Pass. On the drive up we weighed our options and finally decided that the north route on Guye Peak would be the best choice with all the new snow. Only Chris had climbed it previously but not by this route, so it would be a first for all of us.
We parked at the Snoqualmie Pass ski area and put on boots, gaiters, and reorganized our packs. Another car pulled up beside us with four other climbers who were heading for Red Mountain. So we would be sharing the trail together for a while. We walked across the road to the parking lot that accesses the Pacific Crest Trail. We were the first group out this morning, so we had the pleasure of breaking the trail for the hordes that would be coming later. This area is very popular for snowshoers and skiiers alike, so by noon there are usually a multitude of paths criss-crossing through the forest. Although we all took turns breaking trail, Chris (aka "Bulldozer") plowed the trail for us most of the way. The "Red Mt" group was surprisingly just a little bit slower than us, thus taking full advantage of the trail we were making. Slackers. ;)
We traipsed through the woods eventually ascending then traversing a steep hillside. We could see avalanche debris below so we moved quickly from one big tree to the next. It was at one of these crossings when we heard a loud BOOM! The avalanche patrol at Alpental were blasting on the west side of Guye Peak and the concussions were echoing up the valley. I immediately yelled "look out!" and moved behind a tree. Nothing came down from the cliffs above, but I was concerned about the terrain ahead. Chris said that we were almost to the saddle and then we would be able to ascend the ridge safely to the summit, so we continued on cautiously.
After a few hundred feet of traversing we gained the saddle. We stopped for a break and once again the still air was shattered by an explosion. It was quite loud and we wondered how close it came. Michael pointed to where he saw some smoke hanging in the air! That was much too close for comfort! From the saddle we quickly climbed the ridge with only one short steep rocky section that was tricky. We stopped at the first summit. Guye Peak has three summits but the other two were connected by narrow, exposed ridges so we left those for another day!Looking down the west face we could see I-90 and Snoqualmie Pass far below. It was an impressive view, even with all the clouds coming in and out. We couldn't see Mt Snoqualmie but we could look over to Kendall. We took a few pictures, ate some food and headed back down. We were able to glissade most of the ridge to the saddle, then followed our trail back down the valley. We reached the car almost exactly 5 hours after we left. What a great day in the mountains!
Since it was about lunch time I suggested we drive down to North Bend and fill ourselves with some of the best pizza in these parts at The Pizza Place. They recently installed a glassed-in gas fireplace and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Chris took off his shirt to speed the drying process, and in his bibs he looked like some backwoods hillbilly. We endured some strange looks from the waitress and some other patrons, but it didn't matter. We were warm, full, and had another summit under our belts.