Guye Peak Northeast Couloir and Kendall Slide- Beautiful Day in the Commonwealth
Saturday the 25th had all the hallmarks of a perfect day to go touring- mild, sunny forecast, big snowfall during the week followed by cold, dry conditions, and decreasing avalanche danger. Intent on finding a powder stash and skiing a big line, I made quick work ascending through the Commonwealth basin, where the snow was very light, very dry, and sitting on top of a very hard icy crust from the rain on the 20th, which made for a few slippery moments ascending the steeper bits to the saddle between Guye and Cave Ridge.
The couloir descends from essentially the summit block of Guye Peak, and I encountered a group ahead of me who were roped up and probing the snowpack at the entrance. A formidable cornice had built up at the top, leaving a entrance ramp too tight to ski in firm conditions. However, the snowpack was generally stable, with a wind-drive crust covering softer powder underneath once in the couloir. I opted to downclimb the first section of the couloir and strap in where it becomes wide enough to make stable turns.
Protected powder this was not- jump turns mandatory, and warmer-than-anticipated sun baked a few sections of loose powder into a spring-like wetness, so descending was a cautious affair of carefully watching for a few different flavors of slough after every few ski cuts. The exit fan was the best skiing of the line, and a few shady spots revealed the soft snow I was after, in between wetter and firmer patches.
At the top of Guye I had excellent views across the Commonwealth of skiers carving big turns through the open snowfields, and felt fresh enough at the bottom to hunt for more powder on the other side of the valley. At this point in the day skintracks were well-established, and I pushed on to the Kendall Peak ridgeline. Weather remained absolutely fantastic, no wind, warm sun, and the snowpack was stable despite sun exposure. For my downroute I decided to explore the tree bands skiers right of the Kendall Slide path. The open snowfields offered easy turns on heavier powder, and the trees held glorious stashes of the cold dry snow that I'd been hunting for. Downroute below the slide path was resort-level tracked out (unsurprisingly), and the ski back to the PCT trailhead was a fast cruise.
All in all, about as good as it gets.
Kendall Slide Path
Looking down the Couloir
Alpental valley from Guye
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