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 Peak(s):  Guyot, Mt  -  13,370 feet
 Post Date:  03/13/2011
 Date Climbed:   02/20/2011
 Posted By:  mattdecoste

 Mt. Guyot - West Ridge in February   

We were trying to decide on a good winter climb that was not too far away from Colorado Springs, not more than 10 miles roundtrip and posed a high likelihood of success. We chose Mt. Guyot after much deliberation. We were actually planning on hiking from the Southeast Ridge but after reading several reports of nasty cornices on the summit ridge, we decided to forgo the shorter route from that side and go with the longer but more safe option from the other side.

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We took a Toyota Tundra thinking the road in might be covered in deep snow. It was actually more the icy roads driving in from Colorado Springs that were the problem. The road out of Breckenridge to the TH had no more than 3-4 inches on it and several passenger cars were already at the TH when we arrived around 8:30 a.m.

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After readying ourselves and familiarizing ourselves with the route and map we started out. We soon made it to the gate and shortly after donned our snowshoes even though the snow on the ground was still only 4-5 inches deep. We passed several cabins and a few cross-country skiers on the road. The views of Mt. Guyot from this road are pretty amazing.

After walking for what seemed like a few miles past the gate we decided we needed to start gaining the ridge to our left that would eventually lead to the summit. We kept looking for any type of trail heading off to the left where the route said it should be but it didn't surprise us when we couldn't find it in the snow. As it turns out, we were the only ones that hiked Guyot that day (surprise, surprise).

I actually think we started for the ridge a little too late and very soon ended up bushwacking and breaking trail through knee deep snow up a steep slope. We did this for probably 1 to 1.5 hrs and finally broke through on the top of a little ridge still in the trees where the wind had carved wickedly cool looking corniced snowdrifts. we hiked right on top and after probably another .5 hr we got above treeline.



This was when the real ordeal began. The moment we stepped out of the trees a 40 MPH gale force wind plowed into us from the right (NW) that almost knocked us over. The temperature plummeted with windchills DEFINITELY below zero, -20 was my guess. We immediately stopped and put on layers, ski masks and balaclavas. We struggled on with the wind and snow now whipping us relentlessly—the howling was deafening and any exposed skin quickly froze. Two members of our group got frostbite that started bluish and later scabbed up and peeled off.



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Several times as we were hiking the ridge above tree line with the relentless wind and snow we thought of turning around. But blue sky would break through every now and then and we were doing fine on time so we just persevered. Up and up we went. I've hiked 27 fourteeners and this one felt as tough as any of them considering the conditions. We stayed just to the left of the summit ridge to minimize the wind whipping over from the other side. It helped a bit but not much. The terrain varied from windswept, icy snow and rock to snow drifts up to knee or more deep. I ended up putting on my crampons about halfway up the ridge from tree line to the summit. The other guys kept their snowshoes on all the way to the summit.

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The last hour or so before the summit was basically picking a best line through scree and big ice covered rocks. At times the wind was blowing snow across the ground so hard you would lose sight of your feet for a few seconds. This went on, and on but eventually we popped up onto the final narrow summit that flattened out just before the summit (probably a hundred yards or so).

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As other trip reports had stated, the terrain to the south dropped precipitously away at a near vertical angle with steep 8-10 ft cornices making travel delicate. The rock to the left was exposed so we decided to stay right on the point where the rock met snow on the ridge to stay away from the cornices. After about 10 minutes we were on the summit with stunning view of Bald Mountain to the west. This was truly and alpine climb!

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We sat down for no more than 2-3 minutes trying to find some wind shelter and enjoy the view but there is no arc of rocks to be had on this summit like you find on most 14er summits. So we quickly snapped a few pics and immediately turned to head back down the ridge, excited that wad managed to get the summit.

After some slow travel going back down through the scree we sped up a bit when we broke into the snow. Although we attempted to glissade, the snow and angle did not allow for such so we ended up taking sliding jump steps in the powder to quicken the descent. We couldn't wait to get back to the trees to get out of the wind.

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The hike back went fairly quick after we made it back down to the road. We beat the ski crowd by arriving at the Breckenridge Brewery by 4:30 p.m. and enjoyed an awesome dinner before heading back to Colorado Springs. Total hike time was 7.5 hrs.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions (4)
sgladbach


Good job!     2011-03-14 17:33:31
Looks like you worked hard and toughed out a rough day! I hope you feel rewarded; you deserve it.


Michael York


Wow     2011-03-14 10:51:28
Sweet report, that ridge 5 pics down from your video looks intense...


iluv80sgirl


One of my favorite Front Range peaks     2011-03-14 12:09:05
This mountain is so spectacular in winter. It warms my heart to see it everytime I drive into Jefferson. Thanks for the report


sunny1


Looks like you earned this one!     2011-03-13 20:11:35
Hope the frostbite has healed up.
Mt Guyot is a nice climb, did it in Jan one year from the French Gulch access, but somebody left the fan on ”high” the day you were there!
Strong work, congrats on the adventure & thanks for posting!



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