Mt. Guyot Ski: The Swan Dive

      10 Comments on Mt. Guyot Ski: The Swan Dive

Mt. Guyot from the northeast. The “Swan Dive” is the curling couloir dropping straight off the summit. Photo by Bill Middlebrook at

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”.

An early morning start along the French Gulch Road lent some nice views of the moon over Bald Mountain.

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.

Bald Mountain’s northeast ski routes were in full view for most of the day.

A nice zoom of the southern-Gores – Buffalo Mountain (left) and East Thorn.

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.

Grays and Torreys always look powerful when viewed from nearby peaks.

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.

On our way up Mt. Guyot’s sprawling northwest face.

Looking back down the face as more of our group pops up over the ridge line.

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.

Mike and Marc approaching Guyot’s summit.

Being early as opposed to late has a few perks besides the obvious one. We had a lot of time to enjoy the summit.

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.

Mike making turns off the summit. The route curves around and out of sight to skier’s right.

Conor’s turn to make turns.

My turn.

Brian enjoying the corn.

Things got more manky the lower we skied.

Marc riding the lower half of the route with Swan Creek below.

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.

Regaining the saddle to the north of Guyot gave us an easy descent back to the car.

A last look at Guyot from the saddle with our ascent route on the right and our descent route partially visible down the left skyline.

Guyot again with our route drawn in. Ascent – blue, descent – red.

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…

10 thoughts on “Mt. Guyot Ski: The Swan Dive

  1. Brandon Chalk

    Mmmm…love me some corn. Nice write-up there Ben. Sweet looking line. Kristine & I and dogs climbed Guyot late November 2013 in blizzard-like cold ass temps in prep for Vinson, and your day looks much more fun & enjoyable. Hope to see you soon, buddy.

    1. Ben Post author

      Nice Brando, sounds like a perfect prep day in that case. Swan Dive is a cool line, you should throw it on the list! I may be able to make it down to the Saturday shindig for a beer or two 😉

  2. Brian

    Nice little write up Dr.Connors for a nice little day. Fun late spring day with great weather and great snow conditions. Can’t ask for much more than that.

    1. Ben Post author

      Couldn’t agree more Col. We seem to be getting to the end of the line with regards to the “great snow conditions” part of that formula. I think if this last ski is good, I’m hangin’ em up.

    1. Ben Post author

      Me too Richard. We’d been talking about it for a long time. I think we lucked out with enough coverage to make that up and over work. Not sure that’s an option every year. I’m glad it all worked out for you and the girls too!

  3. Michael R.

    Thanks for posting Ben! Great to get out with you all again, Swan Dive is a pretty sweet little line and I like the “no Georgia Pass” route we came up with. Its getting pretty warm out, seems our freezes are not happening and it might be time to hang ’em up. Its been a good spring though!

    1. Ben Post author

      Was good getting out with you as well, Mike! I completely agree about it being over. I’m sure there will be those who ski into July but I will not be one of them. I’m ready for shorts, trail runners, and a 5lb pack 🙂
      P.s. Going for Tuning Fork on Sat to cap it all off if you’re interested in joining…


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