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 Peak(s):  Mt. Bierstadt  -  14,060 feet
Square Top Mtn A  -  13,794 feet
Argentine Pk  -  13,738 feet
 Post Date:  06/02/2013
 Date Climbed:   05/26/2013
 Posted By:  KansasBoarder

 Going for it on GUANELLA   

Good day everyone,

When I sit down in front of my Mac to compose these trip reports, I try to pick out a single relatable piece from the adventure around which I will compose the story. Sometimes that piece comes from the people involved, other times from the surroundings or particular emotion the day takes on. Today I am struggling to identify that piece and write this report.

To clarify, last Sunday was a significant day for me personally. I put together an unusually lengthy and physically strenuous day in the hills, linking together high peaks on both sides of Guanella Pass. I skinned, hiked, climbed, and snowboarded over 7,500 vertical feet, covering 20 miles. It was a unique route (read weird, not logical), and all the more empowering as I completed it solo. And yet I don't know how to tell its story.

Rather than take you through a chronological rundown of my tour of Mt. Bierdstadt, Square Top Mountain, and Argentine Peak, I will leave you with a few thoughts and some images from the day. I hope that these words and pictures will allow you to engage in the experience.

As always, I appreciate you following these journeys. Peaks for Peace, the non-for-profit which I direct, recently published our 100th post, and now average over 150 views of the website each day. Peaks for Peace as a brand is growing, and with it the story and support of children with Burn Injuries.

Take care, and thanks.
Brennan


Image
Driving down Highway 9, I pulled off the road in a frustrating state of indecision. I couldn't decide where to drive, where to camp, and where to ride the next day. As I sat in my car aimlessly searching online databases of backcountry conditions and routes, the sun fell behind the Sherman Massif.

Image
Even a broken lens and a busy mind couldn't get in the way of such beauty. Twighlight in Park County.

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Eventually I decided on Mt. Bierstadt as a destination for my Memorial Sunday tour. Bierstadt is often thought of and even teased as the most boring and trivial of Colorado's 54 fourteeners; having a short approach, easy standard route, and limited snowfall. My solution to boring Bierstadt would be to hike and snowboard it at night under a full moon. Unfortunately, the predicted clear night proved cloudy. A missed alarm meant my secondary plan of a summit sun rise wouldn't occur either. Square Top Mountain makes me feel better about being late.


Image
Just after dawn, I found myself standing on the summit, staring down Bierstadt's surprisingly white west face. Yes, I understand that this picture appears rocky. But the west side of Bierstadt has little reason to hold snow; windy and dry it remains most years. Most people who ski or snowboard Bierstadt chose to descend the flat and meandering hiking trail, eventually stopped by twisted towering thickets of willows. I was surprised to find a continuous steep line just rider's right of the summit - providing access to 2500 vertical feet of snow into the Scott Gomer Creek Basin. I'm sure that the sound of my steel edges attempting to hold purchase on the refrozen snow caught the attention of a few hikers.

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Looking back at Bierstadt's Northwest Face. Not exactly a classic, but a memorable descent given the conditions.

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In my opinion, Square Top Mountain is much more interesting and aesthetic than neighboring Bierstadt. However, it is neglected by many parties as it fails to hit the magic 14,000ft mark, rising a meager 13,794 feet from sea level. Miles to go and not a soul in site.

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Well, there ended up being one other soul on Square Top, a kind man from Aurora. He offered to prove my presence digitally, and I agreed. Mt. Bierstadt rises just under my armpit - a nice metaphor, really.

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Looking back at Square Top on my way towards Argentine Peak, its name became more and more logical. I snowboarded the north line off Square Top's summit, finding completely ripable spring softened snow.

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Argentine Peak, as seen from the west face of Mt. Bierstadt. Argentine has it all: a summit elevation of 13,738ft, a mellow southeast face, a steeper northeast cirque, and high voltage power lines.

Image
20 miles of amazing scenery. The tallest points on the Continental Divide in North America: 14er's Grays (left) and Torrey's (right) as seen from the west slopes of Mt. Bierstadt.


Passion.Pursuits.Philanthropy
www.peaksforpeace.com



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions (3)
ameristrat



Great Pics!     2013-06-02 15:10:14
And a nice report! Lots of snow up there!


nkan02


I agree     2013-06-02 19:41:35
that ski descent off Square Top looks way more interesting than off Bierstadt. Congrats on all 3.


SchralpTheGnar



one of my favorites     2013-06-02 22:59:00
Square top has always held a special place in my heart, it was one of the first peaks I ever skied in Colorado, back in 1999, and one of the first hikes my then girlfriend and now wife ever did together, so I always enjoy seeing pictures and reading trip reports with that peak in it.

Many times we've been up on that peak by ourselves and watched the throngs on Bierdstat, once the 13ers become cool I'll switch over the the Bierdstat side.

Great pictures as always.



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