Ascent of Mount Guyot on 2007-03-17

Climber: Brian Stansberry

Date:Saturday, March 17, 2007
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Guyot
    Location:USA-North Carolina/Tennessee
    Elevation:6621 ft / 2018 m

Ascent Trip Report

I took the Snake Den Ridge Trail from the Cosby Campground, 5.3 miles to the Appalachian Trail. I have hiked up Snake Den about a dozen times, and it usually takes me between 2:45 and 3:00 hours to reach the AT, moving at my fastest pace. In March, the winds on the west side of Snake Den Ridge (as you approach the Maddron Bald Trail junction) can be very loud, though the forest protects you.

The stretch of the A.T. between Snake Den Ridge and the slopes of Guyot has some of the most spectacular views in the Eastern Smokies. Mount Guyot, Old Black, Clingmans Dome, Mount Le Conte, Luftee Knob, Big Cataloochee, and Mount Sterling are visible at various points along this stretch of trail.

The manway to the false summit didn't look very appealing, so I departed the AT near a point where the trail comes closest to the summit. The spruce-fir forest atop Guyot is very, very dense (think of the Vietnam vets who tell stories about how the Mekong jungle was so thick, you could lean up against it). I was able to "island hop" from clearing to clearing. Do note that it's much, much easier to navigate this forest in March and early April, before the vegetation returns.

Somewhere around the 6,600-ft point, I happened upon a large Fraser fir blowdown that lay across several other blowdowns and a lot of impassable underbrush, and I simply crawled the length of its trunk up the side of the mountain (this was not easy, as the dead branches were sharp). At one point, I felt comfortable enough to stand up atop this blowdown, which allowed me to see just over the treeline, and I took the following picture: (which I've posted to the Wikipedia article).

At the top, the underbrush was frozen together and covered in hoarfrost, and I was unable to find the benchmark (I didn't look for very long, as I was already well beyond my "point of no return" and I had to head back down). The bushwhack portion of this ascent, from the time I departed the AT until the time I returned to the AT from the summit, took 1.5 hours.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:4321 ft / 1317 m
    Distance:17 mi / 27.4 km
    Route:Snake Den Ridge Trail/Appalachian Trail/bushwhack
    Trailhead:Cosby Campground parking lot  2300 ft / 701 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground
    Weather:Cold, Windy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:4 Hours 45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:4 Hours 30 Minutes

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