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Argentine Pass info

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Argentine Pass info

Postby Eph 2 5 » Sat Jan 16, 2010 10:21 am

Does anyone know if there is avalanche danger on the 4WD road that interesects the Guanella Pass Rd. and leads west towards the Waldorf Mine and Argentine Pass (see Roach's Colorado 13ers book) ? I was thinking of starting at the Leavenworth Creek Trailhead and hiking up to the Waldorf Mine area. I'm assuming that road is not driveable or even open this time of year. Thanks for the info.

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Re: Argentine Pass info

Postby weschun » Sat Jan 16, 2010 10:37 am

I snowshoed up there in Feb 08. Very pretty. I don't recall any avy danger on the road, it is heavily treed, but when you get up closer to Waldorf Mine, there could be signifcant danger.
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Re: Argentine Pass info

Postby Mark A Steiner » Sat Jan 16, 2010 3:47 pm

If you get to Waldorf, Mount McClellan rises fairly steeply above the town to the west with fairly loose rocks on the surface. Last time I was there the Santiago mine structures will still intact, as was the Quonset built in the 1950's. These were apparently spared any avy events. From there to Argentine Pass, I'm not sure, but there are other steep slopes guarding this route above timberline.

If you can find it, the roadbed of the former Argentine Central Railroad above Waldorf may provide on opportunity for snowshoeing (about 4% grade with several switchbacks on the N side of McClellan). Don't take chances even here if in doubt about avy danger. ATV's and enduros frequent the roadbed in summer.
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Re: Argentine Pass info

Postby Van McDaniel » Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:25 am

If memory serves.....From the Guanella Pass road at the Waldorf turnoff it should be about 6 miles up the railroad grade to the old site of Waldorf. You will know that you are there by the old quonset hut just above the grade. The road that will take you up Mt. McCellan will go off to the north/west, more or less and the road up to the pass will go off to the south/west, more or less. It is about 3 miles from Waldorf along the pass road to Argentine Pass. You may encounter some avy danger along the pass road beyond Waldorf but one can avoid most of it if need be by going around it and maybe heading up the slopes. Also, Mt. Edwards is doable from Waldorf and one can proceed from the Edawrds summit south, more or less, along the Divide down to the Pass and then follow the Pass road back down to Waldorf.

Other possibilities......Argentine Pass can be had from the Peru Creek TH along the road below Montezuma but it will be a long day if not on skis with increased avy danger as one starts up the old Argentine Pass road from the old mine ruins nearby. Also, keep in mind that if you can get to the Naylor Lake TH that is about 2 road miles below Guanella Pass on the Georgetown side you can summit Argentine Peak( 2700' +-)and then proceed down to Argentine Pass and Waldorf and from there back down the RR grade to the paved road, assuming a car shuttle back to the starting point. If one really wants to test their workout program and if it is possible to park at Guanella Pass, then Squaretop, Argentine, Wilcox are doable with a return via Naylor Lake TH with a car shuttle back up to Guanella. Or just forego Wilcox from Argentine Peak and proceed down to Argentine Pass and Waldorf, back down the RR grade to the paved road with a car shuttle back up to Guanella Pass, assuming that one can drive to Guanella Pass this time of year. A higher up winter camp in the area can certainly add to the possibilities over a 2-3 day winter event. I have camped at Waldorf(early February)and maybe twice stayed in the quonset hut there if the door was unlocked.

Avy possibilities are there but for the most part it should be avoidable to moderate but caution is advised.

There are many possibilities west of Guanella Pass and few go there because of 14ers Bierstadt and Evans nearby.

Argentine Pass is a lovely place any time of the year and I have winter snowshoed/summer hiked it many times from different directions. I have driven it many times in my 4x4 in the summer/fall and there are always mountain goats sunning themselves at the Pass or nearby. More than once I have had to wait for the goats to get up and move out of my way. I have photos of baby goats licking the tires and body of my 4x4. One time an adult female goat almost jumped up in my truck bed but she changed her mind.
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Re: Argentine Pass info

Postby Eph 2 5 » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:48 pm

Thanks for the good information. Is it true that I could snowshoe to the town of Waldorf from the Guanella Pass Rd. with bascially no avalanche danger? It sounds like it based on the replies I've gotten. I'm assuming I'd be above treeline for several miles before I got to Waldorf and that the views would be good along that stretch of road. I think I saw the Argentine Pass road when I hiked Bierstadt so I'm assuming the views over toward Bierstadt would be good as would the views up toward Argentine Pass. Thanks again.

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Re: Argentine Pass info

Postby kimo » Tue Jan 19, 2010 7:57 am

I can't answer your question regarding avalanche danger between Guanella Pass Rd and Waldorf. In many trips up there in summer months, I don't recall seeing any avalanche paths. The road is forested and views are limited until you reach treeline near Waldorf. You will not be able to see Mt Bierstadt from the road. Mt Wilcox will be limiting your views of the Evans massif.

Here are a few photos of the area taken in early June, 09.

This is the "town" of Waldorf. Notice the tailings just above and to the right of my Jeep. Not much of the town remains.
Image

This is the view from the east slope of Mt. Edwards. The Waldorf site is down in the basin at the far left of the photo. The views to Bierstadt open up once you are above Waldorf.
Image

This is the road towards Argentine Pass. The road is covered with snow. I'm maybe a mile or so past Waldorf.
Image

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Re: Argentine Pass info

Postby dbroudy » Tue Jan 19, 2010 12:19 pm

Keep in mind the road closure on the Georgetown side of Guanella Pass Rd. If I understand where it is ("6 miles between Georgetown to Clear Lake") correctly, the road to Waldorf splits off right in the middle of the closure, and it would add 3 miles each way.

You might be better off starting in Silver Plume and snowshoeing up the entire railroad grade from there. I ran into someone who was doing that hike when I was up there once. I don't know exactly where the trail head is, but the trail is pretty clear on a topo map.

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Re: Argentine Pass info

Postby cwm » Tue Jan 19, 2010 1:29 pm

Just some random thinking from reading some of the posts and having been to this area several times.

To get to the west end of Argentine Pass from the Peru creek parking area is about 4.8 miles. There is one avalanche chute in the narrow part of road at about 3 miles. But once you get to the Argentine Pass turn it is about 2.5 miles to the summit. The first half mile or so is probably safe but you have a willow area that could be hard. The last 2 miles up the old road (west side of the Divide) I would call extremely dangerous. The old wagon road is now only about 3 feet wide due to the rock sliding down. There is one drainage where the road is so damaged you use hands and feet to safely pass through this section.

As mentioned it is 6 miles from the Guenella Pass road to Waldorf. The first mile+ is a forest service road then you connect with the old Argentine Central Railroad. Average grade is about 4% but it can be bumpy and with rocks so depending on the snow depth it might not be very smooth. And if you have to break trail you are talking 6 miles. You are in the trees almost all of the trip to Waldorf so not much danger. But from Waldorf up to the east side of the pass could have some dangerous spots. Also if you get into trouble you may not find anyone else up there and no cell phone service.

Going up the Argentine Central Railroad bed from Silver Plume would be interesting. I have mountain biked that route all the way up. The problem would be getting around the old collapsed trestles. There are three or 4 of these. In the summer you hike around them but in the winter it may be harder to find any trail. Especially if the snow is deep. But this year this area and along the Continental Divide the lack of snow is the problem. The railroad grade starts about 1/4 mile west of the Silver Plume RR terminal. There is a gravel frontage road that runs to the west parallel to I-70. You are on the south side of the interstate. Just before you get to a house the railroad bed connects to the right going east. This is the first of the "Y" connections used on the Argentine Central. If you keep going to the west you are on a old railroad bed that go all of the way to the Loveland Valley east parking lot. There is also a connection bridge at Herman's Gulch.

Do a Google search for the Argentine Central Railroad. There are some great old pictures of the railroad in operation. The Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden has a couple of the Shay Locomotives on display. The Shay geared locomotive was used because of the steep grade of the tracks. One has the signage of the Argentine Central but I am not sure if it was one of the actual engines used on the Argentine central.

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Re: Argentine Pass info

Postby Greenhouseguy » Tue Jan 19, 2010 3:58 pm

cwm wrote: Do a Google search for the Argentine Central Railroad. There are some great old pictures of the railroad in operation. The Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden has a couple of the Shay Locomotives on display. The Shay geared locomotive was used because of the steep grade of the tracks. One has the signage of the Argentine Central but I am not sure if it was one of the actual engines used on the Argentine central.


A bit off-topic, but they're still running Shay locomotives on the Cass Scenic Railroad in West Virginia. I went for a few rides when I was a kid:

http://www.cassrailroad.com/
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Re: Argentine Pass info

Postby Van McDaniel » Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:50 pm

Greenhouseguy wrote:
cwm wrote: Do a Google search for the Argentine Central Railroad. There are some great old pictures of the railroad in operation. The Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden has a couple of the Shay Locomotives on display. The Shay geared locomotive was used because of the steep grade of the tracks. One has the signage of the Argentine Central but I am not sure if it was one of the actual engines used on the Argentine central.


A bit off-topic, but they're still running Shay locomotives on the Cass Scenic Railroad in West Virginia. I went for a few rides when I was a kid:

http://www.cassrailroad.com/


I do not know about the upcoming tourist season at the Georgetown Loop out of Silver Plume but a few years ago they were running some Shay(sp?)locomotives up and down the track from Silver Plume to Georgetown. The Shays were geared to the drive wheels instead of the more familiar rod engine. The bottom line was more torque to the drive wheels on the Shay but a slower speed. The Shays were good at a 15% grade amd that is very steep for a locomotive. The CRRM in Golden is an excellent place to revisit our railroad history. At one time the Georgetown library had a lot of good info on local railroad stuff.

IIRC, the Argentine Central RR was built to haul ore from Waldorf but it ended up being an excursion train to take people up to almost the summit of Mt. McClellen....early mountaineers.

A sidebar.....At one time the ore was sent by aerial tram from Waldorf or nearby, up and over Argentine Pass, down into the basin at the foot of the pass on the west side(many of the timbers are still visible)and along with ore from nearby mines, put into wagons that would travel up to and past Montezuma, up, over and down Webster Pass to the railhead at present day US 285 at the foot of Kenosha Pass. Sounds like work to me.
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Re: Argentine Pass info

Postby Mark A Steiner » Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:01 am

The late Colorado historian Caroline Bancroft has a brief, fine treatment about Waldorf and the Argentine Central in a booklet, "Unique Ghost Towns and Mountain Spots (1961). Several bookstores in Georgetown may still have books about the history of railroading in the area: Colorado Central, Argentine Central, etc. I believe Mount Bancroft (next to James Peak) was named for her father.

I wanted to get to Waldorf last fall but was buried in work, so kimo's photos are welcome memories.

If you take the grade up Mount McClellan (the tourist line) in summer you may still find pieces of coal and even narrow gauge railroad spikes left behind when the line was sadly abandoned - and of course many friendly mountain goats. At the top it is about 13,040 feet. Waldorf is listed as 11,594 feet.
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Re: Argentine Pass info

Postby wildlobo71 » Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:12 am

Image

This image is from the Denver Public Library's Western History Collection, as the date in the photo says, August 14, 1914. Advertising was important even back in the day; who wants to take the train to the top of a high, unofficial, 13,587-foot tall ridge? Had to compete with Pikes Peak anyway we could. I believe this was the same time period developers planned on building a hotel on top of Grays Peak.
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