Sunday, May 10, 2009

Saturday, 05/09/09 Mt. Guyot

Mt. Guyot (13,370)
Ascend E. Ridge
Descend SE. Ridge
~9 miles
~3,000 vertical
Jeff and Allison Valliere, Dave and Emily Hale, Sharon Hale (to Ga. Pass), Sierra, Shep, Kiefer, Sophie

After a week of bouncing around different ideas, none really sticking, Dave suggested that we give Mt. Guyot a shot. I have often times eyed Guyot’s symmetrical East Ridge driving past on 285 and it has been on my list for many years.

The Hales camped Friday night at the Michigan Creek Campground, where we met them around 7:45am on Saturday morning. From the campground, we drove another ~2 miles or so on the Michigan Creek Road toward Georgia Pass where we were stopped by several snow drifts about ¼ mile from where the road crosses French Creek. For a long way, the walk along the road was mostly dry, save for several inconsequential sections of snow to cross. About a mile or so below the pass, snow became the dominant theme and we donned our long dormant snowshoes.

The slowshoe plod to Georgia Pass was a breeze on hard packed and well consolidated snow as we followed faint snowmobile tracks. From the sign on the pass at 11,500, we turned West, walked for a short distance over rolling snowdrifts and through the final remaining trees/krumholtz. As the wind scoured East Ridge became more pronounced and steepened, we packed up the snowshoes and began the stiff climb on loose talus.Soon, Dave and I became a bit annoyed with the steep and somewhat loose talus, so we veered a bit to climbers left onto the snow in search of easier walking. Conditions were perfect for easily kicking steps and we made efficient upward progress, all the while keeping close to the rocks as to not temp any trap door cornices.

Once at the false summit, perhaps less that 100 vertical/300 lateral feet from the true summit, we could see the remaining difficulties (that we were aware of from our pre-trip research) which consisted of a somewhat narrow, knife edged corniced ridge. Staying on the ridge proper would not be that steep, but the potential for a cornice collapse, dropping you 1,000+ vertical to the left is significant. To avoid this danger, one must stay a bit right below the ridgeline on ever steepening snow which is above LONG and steep snow/talus slopes. A fall here would certainly be bad news.Emily had no crampons or axe and opted not to continue on. Allison had crampons/axe and agreed to consider it after I tried it and gave report. Dave had an axe, but only Kahtoola Microspikes.

I started along the final section, very confident with my axe and crampon placements, knowing the snow was in perfect condition. The snow steepened and I got great purchase with all points and felt great, all the while reminding myself of the increasing exposure beneath my feet and to not become complacent. I made a last cautious mantle move over a hardened drift and was on the summit. The views were great and I strolled around for a bit taking pictures while waiting for Dave.I looked back down and saw him slowly ascending and could see that he was uneasy with his less than optimal traction.

I carefully walked down to meet him, the exposure now more apparent and we backtracked to a safer area. His Microspikes were not at all adequate for this type of terrain and I offered him my crampons. Since his feet are so much larger, he thought his boots would not fit, but luckily they extended far enough and he was able to complete the climb with relative ease.Allison and Emily were kicking back in the warm sun on the sub summit, keeping track of our progress and ultimately made the decision that they were content where they were.

Before long, we all reconvened, took a long break and then cautiously descended the SE Ridge down the variable snowfields and talus. At treeline, snowshoes were required once again and we made the easy trek back to the cars.All in all a perfect day. A great climb in excellent weather with great company. It was awesome to be back in the high mountains again after a near 2 month hiatus. Thanks for planning Dave!


1 comment:

  1. I consistently have to bust out my map to see where the hell you are adventuring.