This past weekend we finally got around to skiing Mt. Guyot outside of Breckenridge. Up the northwest side and down the northeast line (aka the “Swan Dive”) we went, which made for a nice tour of the peak and another fun ski descent.
Mt. Guyot sits on the Continental Divide 7 miles south of the Keystone Ski Area and 4 miles west of Jefferson Lake. The peak was named after Arnold Henry Guyot, a Swiss geologist who emigrated to the United States in 1848 and was eventually hired on as a professor of geography at Princeton University. Like many Front Range peaks, Mt. Guyot has multiple personalities. Steep faces studded with cliffs comprise its southern aspect, but from the north, Guyot is relatively easy to access and friendly in character.
Its large, rounded northwest face makes for a nice ski, and its northeast face holds a slightly steeper route that offers up a decent amount of vertical. Dropping 1,500 ft off the summit down into Swan Creek, this route is known as the “Swan Dive”.
The line can be accessed by snowmobile up the Georgia Pass Road or waiting for the road to melt out. The other, perhaps simpler option is to climb and ski the route from the Breckenridge side and gain the 12,000 ft saddle north of the peak to get back into French Creek. The second option is what we wound up doing and it worked out great.
This spring’s overnight freezes have left something to be desired to say the least, and this night was no different. By the time we left the French Gulch Trailhead at 6:30am we were already feeling the need to hustle.
Up the road a few miles from the trailhead we managed to miss the turnoff that leads to the mini-drainage directly north of Mt. Guyot, so we wound up having to improvise by climbing a steep west-facing slope from French Creek up to Guyot’s northwest ridge. This worked out well enough, and by 8:30am or so we were skinning on firm snow up Guyot’s northwest face.
Some relatively easy skinning had us to the summit, where we spent a good amount of time lounging and admiring our surroundings. Guyot’s south face looked like it’d be a steep ski.
When it was time to ski, we all clicked in, headed over to the far east side of the summit, and dropped in. 1,500 ft of excellent spring corns turns ensued, timed perfectly.
Once at the bottom of the line, we slapped the skins back on and traversed west, eventually gaining the 12,100 ft saddle to the north of Guyot. From there we were able to ski all the way back out to the French Gulch Road. Overall this plan worked well and I’d recommend it for people looking to ski Swan Dive in the future who don’t feel like messing with the Georgia Pass road. I’m guessing climbing and skiing snow up and over the saddle probably requires a larger snow year though, which might be why it doesn’t seem like many people have considered this option in the past. I’m not entirely sure.
After a quick stop off at Broken Compass Brewing for a double IPA, we finished the short and sweet drive back to Denver with a classic Front Range line under our belts.
Hoping to get one or two more before the end of ski season…