Mt. Guyot's Namesake

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Mt. Guyot's Namesake


Bethann Weick




Passing Through: The Allure of the White Mountains

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When we talk of early travel through the Whites, we think primarily of explorers and trailblazers living within New England. While this certainly comprised the majority of early mountaineers, the Whites did draw international attention as early as the mid-1800s.

Most notable, perhaps, was the Swiss scientist Arnold Guyot, who in 1848 arrived in New England and pronounced it is life work to explore, measure, and map the Appalachian Mountain chain. Guyot, who was well known in the academic world for his studies of glaciers, came to the US for a professorship at Princeton. Taking full advantage of the nature of his employment, Guyot would spend his summers traversing the mountains. While he spent the greatest time in the Whites, he was equally passionate about the Catskills, Adirondacks, and southern Appalachian mountains. Indeed, you can find features named after him all around the country, including the rounded top of Mt. Guyot within the Twin Range of the White Mountains.

Of all his mountain adventures, however, Guyot is most well-known for his work in the Whites. He compiled the most accurate and extensive records for his time, recording summit elevations and making first ascents and traverses. Guyot was a stand-out, for all his elevation measurements were completed with mercury or anaroid barometers. This required that the recorder actually be on the summit, and, because Guyot was such a dedicated hiker, resulted in his recording of the most accurate numbers, statistics that largely continue to be correct today. And remember, most of Guyot’s exploration was done by bushwacking – few trails existed, and even fewer amongst the mountains he most wished to explore.

In love with the Whites, Guyot dedicated himself to becoming familiar with the terrain and knowledgeable about each peak and valley. From our position today, our hiking experience is much more comfortable. And yet the challenge of knowing the mountains intimately still stands. While access is much improved, the power and grandeur of the Whites continues undeniably. Where do you choose to explore, and what do you like best about your favorite mountain spot?



Bethann Weick, “Mt. Guyot's Namesake,” The Cairn, accessed November 30, 2015,