Gunn Peak

August 21, 2022


Index / US-2 Corridor, WA

Gunn Peak is the highest summit in Wild Sky Wilderness and hence boasts over 1000 m prominence. This peak locates not far away from Index and the area is very rugged with several known hard summits. The standard route on Gunn Peak is however, not difficult but it still takes most of a day for most parties and the terrain is decently steep and rugged. There’s a climber’s trail to facilitate the access but this isn’t the typical Washington’s hiking trail. Vlad, Silvana and I came from BC and found this trail to be rather pleasant but that’s because we had very low expectation about the trail quality. We also anticipated some tricky and exposed scrambling on the upper mountain but other than a few moves at the beginning of the “hidden ramp” we found the ascent to be rather trivial.

I made a spontaneous decision to scramble Gunn Peak simply because I had no better idea. I just came back from an exhausting Rockies trip but I needed a day-trip on Sunday to take advantage of the local weather. Vlad and Silvana decided to come along even though both of them were on some other hikes on Saturday and this would be my first trip with Silvana so I was looking forward to it. Vlad and I made the decision to leave White Rock at 5:30 am in favour for a more fluent border crossing. Silvana simply decided to just sleep in my place and wake up together with me, mostly to get at least an extra hour of sleep as she lives much farther to the north in Coquitlam. The drive down to US-2 took about 2 hours. I had previously driven the logging roads to Barclay Lake trail-head in 2017 for Baring Mountain but I couldn’t remember much. The recent trip reports indicated a passenger car being fine for the access so we contemplated taking Vlad’s car, but opted not. The road turned out not terrible, but also not as smooth as I was hoping for such that we were glad to have taken my Tacome all the way down instead of Vlad’s electric car. The fuel costs would be enormous but I always plan trips with lots and lots of contingency in case things turn out harder than expected. For Gunn Peak’s scramble we turned onto a deactivated spur road just before Barclay Lake trail-head and parked right at the start of the climber’s trail. Most scramblers would simply park at the main FSR and walk some extra distance.

Gunn Peak standard scramble route. GPX DL

The “beta” of this peak is overwhelmingly detailed on the internet such that I decided to just download a few sets of GPS tracks and use our own navigation sense. In this modern era with GPS technology one really does not need to provide information like “200 yards in then turn left”. It’s much more useful to just provide a track log for the public to download. After crossing two streams on slippery rocks and navigating a few confusing junctions we came to the lower part of the climber’s trail which was more like something in the North Shore Mountains of Vancouver. It was steep but the trail-bed was clear. Higher up we traversed rightwards across a rocky section with minor down-climbing and scrambling. We accidently down-climbed a 3rd class and exposed chute but we quickly regained the trail and made a mental note for the return. The trail beyond that was overgrown but still mostly easy to follow. Many people commented on how bad the bushwhacking was, but I wouldn’t even call this “bushwhacking” as we were entirely on a trail with very clear foot bed. We also did a few optional scrambling steps to the left or right of the path, mostly to add some fun time into the otherwise monotonous slog fest.

Silvana crossing the first stream at the start of the trip
Vlad and Silvana crossing the second stream using logs and rocks. Slippery!
Vlad about to start the steep grunt on Gunn Peak’s climber’s trail
Upwards and onward.
We ascended through the low clouds by now
Silvana looks fresh despite that she just did Coquihalla Mtn. the day before
The terrain in this area is very steep and rugged. This is looking upwards
Vlad led us descending a wrong 3rd class vegetated chimney..
Silvana following Vlad and I down the wrong route.
We corrected ourselves by traversing skier’s right at the bottom
Silvana crossing the dry waterfall section
On the other side of that dry waterfall now
Steep and slippery forest to ascend immediately after the dry fall
Our first glimpse of Baring Mountain to the south through trees
Silvana posing at Baring Mtn viewpoint
We were still traversing climber’s right here. The trail did an amazing job
The trail was definitely overgrown but easy to follow and that’s all we needed
Vlad pushing through the bushy stretch with an annoying downed alder
Mostly out of the trees now, looking back towards Baring Mountain
We did some optional scrambling here and there
Vlad with Baring Mountain behind
Silvana plodding up towards the east shoulder of Tailgunner

We followed the path bypassing Infinity Tarn without even realizing that but we made a note to check that out on the descent, which turned out to be very worthwhile. There’s then a minor gully to descend into. The trail takes a more roundabout route but we said to just down-climb straight into it for more fun (class 4 and slippery). We then worked our way around the east slopes of “Tailgunner” and made another annoying long descent and traverse to the base of Gunn Peak’s upper mountain. We finally decided to take a needed break before committing to the scramble.

It’s shaping up to be another gorgeous day in the Washington mountains
This is the gully that we had to descend into
I led us descending an unnecessarily difficult line for fun
Plodding across the bottom of that gully with “Tailgunner” behind
Finally had our sights on Gunn Peak proper
Me charging towards the base of Gunn Peak

There’s an unavoidable boulder field to ascend which took a while. We then located the correct “hidden ramp”. I’m not sure what’s the standard way to get into the ramp but we opted for a route climber’s right of the fall line. The terrain appeared drier on that side but the scrambling was class 3 with moderate exposure and some loose rocks. The rest of the scrambling to exit this ramp was straightforward and we could even follow a path here through the vegetation. We then easily traversed/ascended to the high notch on the east ridge. The ledge traverse on the north side of the east ridge was rather trivial (in fact, just a walk) and we were soon standing on the summit soaking in excellent views.

Vlad scrambling up the hardest moves on the route.
Silvana at the bottom of the hidden ramp section
The upper ramp was a bit bushy but with a good path
Silvana exiting the ramp onto choss, with “Tailgunner” behind
Traversing choss due NE
Ascending heather slopes towards the high notch now
Nearing the notch and the east ridge
Me heading for the high notch
Silvana pulling up the step into the notch
Traversing the infamous ledge on the north face side
Silvana approaching the summit of Gunn Peak
Silvana on the summit of Gunn Peak
Summit Panorama from Gunn Peak. Click to view large size.
“Gunnshy Peak” to the NW is only marginally lower than Gunn Peak
Mt. Index is another prominent peak nearby. Climbed in March 2020
Glacier Peak to the north now looks much drier
Townsend Mountain in the foreground
Gunn Lake to the west. Not sure how to get down there…
Silvana with Merchant Peak behind
Our group shot on the summit of Gunn Peak
Vlad and Silvana signing the register. I was surprised the pages weren’t even full yet
Our group selfie shot on the summit of Gunn Peak

We stayed on the summit for about an hour. The descent off the upper mountain was not a problem by following our own line but we did have to check the GPS several times to make sure we took the correct ledge or gully. That down-climb at the bottom of the hidden ramp required a few moves facing into the slopes. After traversing around “Tailgunner” we followed the GPS to the Infinity Tarn and spent another half an hour there taking pictures. Vlad even went in for a dip but it was too shallow for a swim. The rest of the descent was very tedious but relatively uneventful and our round trip time was just over 8 hours including everything. We eventually got back to White Rock at 10 pm.

Traversing back across that north face ledge
Descending loose terrain under that high notch
Traversing a pile of choss.
Down-climbing the 3rd class but somewhat exposed terrain, bottom of hidden ramp
Silvana descending the boulder field now with the summit behind
A while later this is Silvana at the bottom of the boulder field
Merchant Peak behind with “Wing Peak” in foreground
Annoying re-ascent to get back onto Tailgunner’s east shoulder
I took my time photographing the flowers
Me taking photos of the lupines
Silvana with Baring Mountain behind
Vlad dipping into the hot tub…
Silvana at Infinity Tarn.
Me posing on that same spot next to the tarn.
Me doing some bonus climbing…
Our group shot at Infinity Tarn with Baring Mountain behind.
Descending under Infinity Tarn
Didn’t bother with “Wing Peak” as I needed to conserve energy for the next trip.
Silvana still looks happy despite the heat
Vlad descending in front of Baring Mountain
Into the overgrown stretch
Silvana was still stoked. That’s the right spirit!
Down-scrambling to get into that dry water fall
Vlad leading the way here
Steep traversing around this zone. It’s easier than it looks
The trail was easy, but smoking hot and dusty
Finally down to the creek crossings
The rocks were as slippery as one can imagine…
We found some friends here. Devil’s Clubs if you don’t the name
It’s Taco time. We headed for a Mexican restaurant for more tacos and burritos…
Thera gun is the game changer at the end of the trip…