Ascent of Gunn Peak on 2018-06-16

Climber: Evan Battaglia

Date:Saturday, June 16, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Gunn Peak
    Elevation:6240 ft / 1901 m

Ascent Trip Report

It's Gunn season!

I must admit I had some trepidation about this one. The Summitpost page warns against ascents too early in the season, saying at least one part is flat-out impassible with snow, and other parts are very treacherous when snowy or wet. Fortunately these parts turned out to me not an issue, and all in all, conditions were about as good as they're going to get.

Stayed up a bit too late planning things out Friday night, so only left the TH at 11:40.

11:40 TH
I lost the (sometimes-flagged) path after the creek crossing, but continued north hoping to find the old road. The old road is apparently completely gone east of where the the path is supposed to intersect it, because I didn't see it on the way up. I used GPS to get back on track.

On the way back I managed to follow the route the whole way, and found that the old road is pretty much completely gone except for the part that is supposed to be on the route. That is, there are no intersections any more, just one path. It is a bit hard to follow sometimes but if care is taken and you back up as soon as you think you have gone off-route, it can be done. Despite what the Summitpost page says, this is not the brushiest part of the route.

The steep path through the forest was better than I expected. Thanks to switchbacks it is less steep than the route up Round Mountain I took a month earlier. I brought steel crampons expecting I might need to use them on wet pine needles like I did for Round, but that was unnecessary.

Right before the path runs into the cliff and begins to (more or less) contour east is where things get really annoying. The path gets more brushy, rough, scrambly, and sometimes hard to follow. A small class 3+ step is passed on the way to the waterfall, followed by the short steep descent to it. The path then ascends steeply for a while. Once more "in the open", it gets brushier. I was almost fooled by some misleading flaggin off on a path further east, before noticing I was off the GPS tracks and going back and finding the correct (at least, more popular) path. A little later it truly opens up and way was over snow or short plant ground cover, with waterfalls on the side.

From there on out it was mostly snow until the "hidden ramp", which is pretty nifty once you see it. Here there was some class 3/4, a little less secure than my last adventure on Silver Star (not saying much), but not a problem with a little care. The upper talus field was all soft-ish snow, which I traversed and ascended still in my trail runners, with ice axe in hand. As I crossed over the little notch came the moment of truth... thankfully, the ledge that can be impassible in certain snow conditions was completely snow free! I easily walked the class 1/2 ledge and up on to the summit!

16:40-17:00 Summit
I was not the first person on the summit this year; someone had come up two weeks before on June 2. I had gotten some bits of light rain followed by sun on the way up, and had even heard thunder a couple times. Now, it started to rain again, slightly heavier but still fairly light, and the thunder got more frequent. I hurriedly started to descend. The "hidden ramp" gully required some care, but even through the light rain was still passable; rapelling was unnecessary. Admittedly, the adrenaline caused by the sounds of thunder probably helped. At the bottom, I glissaded down the basin until about 5350' where I needed to start ascending towards the gully again.

Just as bad on the descent was the area below the ridge down to the waterfall. The upper part had a couple wet scrambly parts that were nearly as bad, but more sustained and very tedious, punctuated by annoying brush. Just above the waterfall I got off route and descended stuff maybe even worse, actually going to far and passing the route across the creek, before I consulted the Peakbagger app and realized my mistake. Eventually I made it back to the steep forest path, which I greeted with joy, as it was brush-free and considerably more straight-forward.

21:25 TH
In total, 5:00 up and 4:25 down. Lots of the brushy and scrambly bits are slow to descend, and I took it easy with my bad knees. I had brought crampons, two 30m rappel lines, harness, and stiffer approach shoes, but did not use them, using only an ice axe and trail runners (and poles for the descent).

All told, this was a moderately challenging, interesting route with a couple cool parts, some moderately exciting parts, and lots of annoying parts. The upper area from about 5300' on is a really cool area -- stunning views, with a remote and rugged feel.

Been there, Gunn that!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4000 ft / 1219 m
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Ski Poles
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4000 ft / 1219 m
    Start Trailhead:2240 ft / 682 m
Descent Statistics

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