Peak(s):  Guyot, Mt  -  13,370 feet
Date Posted:  11/27/2019
Date Climbed:   10/05/2019
Author:  supranihilest
 Tour de Guyot: South Ridge to East Ridge  

Continuing the spate of 13ers I got into in August through October, I had approximately half a day to climb something before I had to return home to take care of a friend's dog I was dogsitting. I didn't have a lot left locally and Mount Guyot was relatively close and it was by itself so I figured I wouldn't be out all day on a big traverse. I also knew it was easy, at least via its east and northwest ridges, so I did some research on other routes, not finding much on the south ridge. In fact I found so little, just a single photo on Summit Post, that I couldn't not try it and see how it went. The south ridge starts on the same road that goes up to Georgia Pass from Jefferson and it's entirely 2WD from Jefferson to the pass, so my little car could make it; attempting to approach it from Breckenridge would require 4WD.

Driving up early the morning of October 5th I was looking for an old road, FS 805, that was marked on Forest Service maps. I located what should have been the start of the road and pulled off the Georgia Pass Road into a small spot barely large enough for one vehicle. FS 805 was faintly visible and had clearly been closed for quite some time. A large berm had been built across its entrance and the road was significantly revegetated and covered in deadfall. I only walked on the road for perhaps a quarter of a mile in a southwesterly direction before abandoning that plan and just bushwhacking northwest up the broad, forested slopes of Guyot's south ridge.

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The former road.
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Undetermined point in the trees where I decided to just go up.

Due to how wide the base of the ridge is the ascent route can really be described as "hike uphill". That's all there is to it. There's no trail whatsoever and the forest is beautiful and lonesome; unless you have a partner along you're almost guaranteed to have the entire southern half of the peak all to yourself, a wonderful proposition if you need solitude or an escape to heaven. I hiked quickly through the trees, gaining elevation as I went, searching for treeline. From there I hoped to see what the route actually looked like. As the trees thinned I got my first views of the upper slopes of the ridge, as well as Guyot's southeast ridge which bisects the south ridge.

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The route becomes more obvious as one climbs, eventually reaching the prominent bump before running the entire ridge.
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Closer to the ridge proper, near treeline.
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The southeast ridge draped in red with golden frills, while the summit looms behind.

It wasn't until I had fully cleared treeline and gained the ridge proper that the remaining hike came into view, and what a view she was; numerous bumps of gold narrowing into more rugged, maroon terrain to the southeast ridge junction. From there most of the route was obscured by said ridge, with the summit standing proud above it all.

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The first half of the ridge. This is the easy part and goes at untrailed Class 2.

There was, quite clearly, only one way to go: traverse that ridge! I began doing just that, staying below the ridge crest along its talus-laden flanks. The angle was low enough to keep things easy, for the most part, and I avoided the up-and-down nature of the many bumps along the way. The quality of the rock was pretty awful but it was surprisingly stable. A small amount of stubborn snow from the previous season still clung to parts of the ridge but never interfered with my exploration.

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Junky rock but nothing too terrible. Still, best to watch your step.
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Looking back down the ridge. The farthest and lowest bump on the left is the initial high point in the near-treeline photos.

I figured an easy peak like this would leave me bored like so many before it but something about Guyot was different, probably the feeling of blazing my own trail. Others had obviously done the south ridge but this felt new and untouched. I approached the southeast ridge with some interest, wondering what lay on the other side. With the southeast ridge consisting of an entirely different type of rock that seemed unique on the mountain I wasn't sure what the other side would hold. The red rock of the southeast ridge looked like fine scree which meant it'd be loose, so I hoped it remained isolated to the ridge.

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Almost the entire southeast ridge. The ridge was steep and covered in chossy, near vertical rock.
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The cliffs in profile. Maybe with adequate snow cover there'd be a climb up through there but it would likely be on very steep snow with large amounts of rockfall.
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Closeup shot of the rock on the south ridge as I neared the southeast ridge. The quality of the rock got worse and worse as the two converged.

The reason for the mix of rock in this area is clear: most of Guyot's south ridge is on the Continental Divide, as is the summit. There's plenty of mishmashing of various ancient times and places found here in modern times for all to see. The rock on the northern part of the south ridge would also prove to be different, granitic in nature. I know little about geology but it was neat seeing a bunch of different types of rock in such short order.

As I neared the southeast ridge and the slopes I was on began to steepen I crossed over the ridge crest to the other side, in French Gulch. A good trail suddenly appeared, snaking along below the ridge crest.

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A well beaten path forward.

I continued on to the point where the two ridges met and hiked to the top on loose red rock so I could get a view of Guyot's impressive south face and gaze down into the unnamed alpine lakes near Michigan Creek.

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South Face of Mount Guyot.
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:Lakes which have no name bounded by Guyot's east ridge (straw colored; the roads on Georgia Pass are faintly visible in the clearing) and southeast ridge. The rock glacier below the southeast ridge tells a story of choss.

From this point I had to drop down to a saddle between the southeast ridge and the summit, and the rock here changed from rotten, shattered bits to dinner plated and larger granite, more typically indicative of the Front Range. The rolling bumps of the ridge prior gave way to serrated sawteeth as the ridge cut its way into the sky.

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Now all talus to the top.
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The summit is farther than it looks but it goes at Class 2 to Class 2+ at worst, despite steepening terrain.
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Jaggies.

While the rock on this part of the climb was more stable it was also somewhat awkward, steep, and scrambly. There wasn't anything difficult but it was slower than most of the rest of the ridge. Unlike the early parts of the ridge, which were very linear, the upper parts of the ridge weaved around avoiding steep drops to the east and steep rock to the west.

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One of the drops that the ridge went around. It was nearly vertical to the valley floor.
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Typical terrain on the ridge, with lots of blocky Class 2.
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Another steep (and this time exceptionally loose) area I avoided.

Given the ease of the first two thirds of the ridge this part felt slow and time-consuming. None of it really required great care or finesse, it was just kind of an unexpected grunt to the finish line. After clamoring up a number of Class 2+ sections I reached the summit ridge and the difficulty dropped back to a basic hike. A few short minutes later I was on the summit, which was more of a long rectangle than a singular peak.

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Almost atop, almost arisen, almost aflight.
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Looking back with the majority of the route in view. The southeast ridge is in the foreground and the south ridge curves gracefully off behind it.
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Bald Mountain A.

I only spent a couple of minutes maximum on the summit, for little Rocky (the dog I was dogsitting) was waiting patiently at home for me! Away I went down the east ridge, a nearly direct shot towards Georgia Pass.

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Beginning of the east ridge. Georgia Pass is visible in the clearing.
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A good chunk of the east ridge, with Georgia Pass in the upper right corner. There's nearly 2,000 vertical feet down of this kind of irritating terrain.

Most of the ridge was actually rather unpleasant - steep and unrelenting, loose, untrailed, large, blocky talus everywhere, and not very attractive views. It was a very quick descent and would make a very quick ascent as well (something like 1.4 miles and 1,700 vertical, one way) but would probably not be very enjoyable. I can't speak for the quality of the northwest ridge but the south ridge was super fun and gives you the opportunity to sample multiple routes on a stunning mountain, so that's my recommendation; may it receive the traffic it deserves.

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The northwest ridge from the descent. See Bill's route description here.

All told it took me just a couple of minutes over an hour to reach Georgia Pass. There are actually a number of roads and trails that ascend Michigan Creek drainage to the pass so the initial area from the pass down is a bit confusing. A map or GPS might be useful if you aren't parked at the pass, because the main trail and main road diverge and don't re-join without navigating a maze of side roads in the forest. As for me I didn't go to the pass proper, which had a large parking lot, but took a descending, traversing trail to one of the road switchbacks. Once on the road I began to run, since it was a well graded 2WD road clear of ankle breakers. I made sure not to take the trail down, staying on the main road, reaching my car just a hair over thirty minutes after leaving the pass. Though the south ridge actually turned out to be pretty easy it was a lot of fun and I felt a little like an explorer given the obscurity of the route. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to avoid the crowds at Georgia Pass, the tedium of the east ridge, and get a bigger, more challenging day (including hitting the magic 3,000 foot rule) than other routes on the mountain.

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The south ridge is the forested hump on the far right, with the southeast ridge in the center and the summit and east ridge on the right.


Statistics

Climbers: Ben Feinstein (myself)
Trailhead: Georgia Pass Road/Park County Road 54 (39.429217, -105.907717)
Total distance: 8.54 miles
Total elevation gain: 3,186 feet
Total time: 4:34:22
Peaks: One ranked thirteener

  • Mount Guyot, 13,370'

Splits:

Starting Location Ending Location Via Time (h:mm:ss) Cumulative Time (h:mm:ss) Rest Time (m:ss)
Parking Mount Guyot 3:00:46 3:00:46 0:00
Mount Guyot Georgia Pass 1:02:57 4:03:43 0:00
Georgia Pass Parking 0:30:40 4:34:22 Trip End

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 12 13 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29


 Comments or Questions
Jay521

Love it!
11/28/2019 11:35
Guyot is one my fav mountains. I will have to give your route a shot. Thanks for putting this up, Ben.


supranihilest

18 times!
11/28/2019 18:57
@Jay: You've climbed Guyot 18 times! That's impressive, besides Kelso Ridge (15 times) I haven't climbed anything even close to that many times. For your 19th climb make it a climb of the south ridge, it'll give you a whole new appreciation for the mountain! Happy Thanksgiving!


VeraUndertow

Thanks for all your hard work
07/29/2020 00:23
I really appreciate all your trip reports, you do a wonderful job detailing all the important bits. My dog and I climbed this same route today and managed to do it in 4.5 hours running down the road from Georgia pass so I could beat out the storm and make it to work on time. The south ridge was such a nice way up this mountain and I appreciate the inspiration on this beautiful route.


supranihilest

South ridge
07/29/2020 10:40
Thanks, Vera, it always makes me happy when I know my reports have been useful in making others happy as well. Glad you enjoyed the south ridge, it's still a fond route despite not (yet) repeating it.



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