Thursday, December 19, 2013

Little French Gulch - Mount Guyot Attempt

Mount Guyot
My winter break from school has begun, so that means I have about a month to climb and ski before I’m back at the grind with spring term.  I have three days off in a row from work this week so what better than plan a few climbs.
Mount Guyot has been a mountain that I have wanted to climb for well over a year now, so I thought with the low snow levels this would be a good option.  I couldn’t convince anyone to head out with me, which is to be expected for a Tuesday climb.  After getting off work at 10:30pm on Monday I snuck in a few hours of sleep and was up at 5am for the drive to Breckenridge.
The TH I used for this hike was French Gulch.  From Main Street in Breckenridge turn east onto Wellington.  Follow this road through quite a bit of residential area till it turns into French Gulch Road.  From French Gulch Road just follow the road till it ends with a massive TH sign; there will be a sign there saying to drive no further.  The lot is fairly large, but I assume it is full on the weekends.
Bald Mountain
I arrived a little before 8am and it was frigid, my truck thermometer was reading 7°.  The road was snow packed and looked like it got a lot of use, so I was deciding whether or not to put on my snowshoes.  Instead of strapping them to my pack I just put them on at the TH.  The first 1.25miles is packed well enough not to use them for those heading out soon.
The first 1.25 miles is along a road and gets a lot of ski traffic.  I noticed a few boot prints and no snowshoe prints, so I’m assuming this is cross country skiing paradise.  Not far from the TH the first view of Guyot came into view.  It is a very impressive looking mountain.  I imagine this is a relatively easy climb in the summer months, but today I knew I would be battling the snow.
I was moving fairly well along the road, stopping here and there to take pictures of Guyot as I made my way.  After a while I walked right by a newer barn type structure and there was a beautiful home across the road.  Once passed this property there is a trail that splits off to the left.  There is no real sign but it is roughly 1.25miles from the parking lot.
Once on the trail I would say snowshoes were mandatory.  This trail leads into Little French Gulch which is the preferred way of climbing Guyot in the winter and shoulder seasons. This trail was very nice, gaining elevation but very gradually.  I followed the trail past the last remaining cabins where I was shocked to see a “Beware of Dog” sign.  From this point there was a trail that started heading up towards the northwest ridge or you could stay in the basin and make your way up the never ending gully to the summit ridge.  I had no desire to get suck in the deep snow at the base of the gully so I took the trail leading up towards the ridge.

Cabin Remains
This trail was not packed as firmly as the previous sections of the trail.  I soon passed the remnants of an old cabin that would have had an amazing view back in the day.  About another hundred yards up the route the snow went to crap.  I started punching through to about knee level, this was exhausting.  I am on the north side of the mountain, so I was expecting some snow and it looks like I got it.  I tried climbing up through the deep snow, creating quite a trench but it was too much for me. There was a rut I was in where the snow was waist level and I was having a hard time convincing myself to continue through this. The sad thing was I knew I just needed to get to the ridge, where the wind had blown most the snow away.  There was about 300-400ft to gain to get to the ridge.  After I did a calculation in my head of my progress through the crummy snow, I decided it was not feasible for me to try and gain the ridge by myself so I threw in the towel.
Parting Shot of Me and Guyot
Getting back down through the deep snow was no fun either, but once down on the hard pack I knew it would be a simple walk out.  The sun was just starting to make its way over the mountain, so finally I was starting to warm up.  I had a nice snowshoe out to the main road that seemed to go by fairly quickly.  The views of Bald Mountain were unreal, the entire climbing route was visible and the snow helped to define the steep shoots on the north face.
I got about a thousand foot in gain today even though it didn’t feel like it.  Hopefully next time I bring some of my climbing buddies to help me break a trench if the snow is too deep again.  With any luck someone else will do the trenching and we will reap the rewards.  This was a fairly short trip, so I’m planning to get out on something tomorrow and I have no idea what it’s going to be.
GPS Track

Date: 12/17/2013
Starting Elevation: 10,289ft
High Point: 11,344ft
Total Gained Elevation: 1,055ft
Class: 1
Distance:  4.86 miles
Time: 2:20 moving, 30 stopped. 
Climbing Partner: Solo

No comments:

Post a Comment