Peak(s):  Argentine Pk  -  13,738 feet
Date Posted:  08/14/2014
Date Climbed:   07/25/2014
Author:  9unm3741
 Not So Glorious Return  

It's been a while since I have done a trip report, and sadly I don't have much to report here either. After moving to New York for graduate school, my ability to mountain climb in Colorado has been severely limited. So I took advantage of my time back for my wedding to try to get in a few peaks. A few friends and I had decided we were going to try for Argentine Peak from Guanella Pass on Thursday, July 25. We were going to leave fairly early, but our hiking partner who had also agreed to drive had decided the night before to sand off wall texture without air circulation or a painters mask. He wasn't feeling so hot that morning, and had also figured he didn't need to let either of the remaining hikers know. As a result, we left at about 8:30am, much later than planned, to grab some sandwiches for lunch and drive up to Guanella Pass. I didn't realize that CDOT was widening tunnels on I-70 either, so our drive took longer than planned as well. All in all, our chances for the summit were pretty slim from the get go considering our late start.

We finally got to the trailhead and got going near 11am.
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Trailhead

I had already been in Denver for a couple of weeks to do wedding preparation, so I was somewhat acclimated. But I wasn't in good enough shape, and the entire way up Silver Dollar Road was pretty tough on my lungs. Fortunately, I got my first wind after we took a snack break at the end of the road, and the hike below treeline was pretty good.
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I knew that Naylor lake was private property, but it appeared to be some sort of private retreat, with cabins and the like for people to stay in for a fee. Maybe its a more specialized retreat. I hope so, because if its just your run of the mill for profit business, I am a little disappointed that more people won't be able to spend time at Naylor Lake, because it is quite pretty.
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First Good View of Naylor Lake

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Naylor Lake

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Panorama of Naylor Lake


The wildflowers along the hike were also quite pretty. There was a really large variety, including columbine, which I find extraordinarily beautiful. But I really loved the mix of colors from the large variety.
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As we left Naylor Lake behind, we went above treeline into alpine tundra terrain. Despite now living at sea level, I was still doing pretty well. Although Kyle's pace was much faster than my own (as should be obvious from the number of pictures his back is in).
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One of the things I like about hiking in July is that the alpine flowers are in full bloom, and they were just as abundant above treeline as they were below.
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Alpine Flowers in Bloom

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Vast Tundra

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Once we got high enough we were also able to see Mt. Bierstadt, Mt. Evans, and Sawtooth, which was quite splendid.
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We also had a good view of Square Top Mountain to our South.
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Square Top Mountain


Once we got to Silver Dollar Lake, we stopped for lunch, then continued on to Murray Lake.
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Paorama of Silver Dollar Lake


This was the only other part of the hike that strained my out of shape, sea level legs. The trail from Silver Dollar Lake to Murray Lake is quite steep initially. But once through that, I felt like I got my second wind and was ready for a summit push.
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Murray Lake. Kyle said it looked like the entrance to the Mines of Moria

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Panorama of Murray Lake


Trip reports I had read beforehand suggested climbing to the ridge to Argentine Peak from the North side of Murray Lake. The South side looked less steep, and the easier climb, but would require a more carefully picked route to stay that way, and would be much longer. The North side looked steeper with more talus, but would get us onto the ridge more quickly. We decided to go with what I had read and take the North route.
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View of the North talus field we climbed


It was steeper than it looked, but the talus was much more stable than it appeared as well. The route finding, however, was also more difficult than it appeared, as a stream ran down that side, which made many otherwise good routes muddy and difficult.
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Kyle decending the talus field

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Good idea of the slope of the talus field

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Me decending the talus field


We finally made it onto the ridge, but the weather wasn't looking good. While we were climbing, it had started raining on the peak, and some of the rain was blowing down onto us. We decided, since it was already pretty well into the afternoon, that this was likely to turn into a full blown storm so we decided to take a few pictures of the views and then head back down.
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The view of the hike up the ridge once we got up the talus field

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Square Top Mountain with Murray Lake

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Panorama of the highest point we got to


We were quite tired, but made excellent time back down to the car. Kyle's window had gotten stuck in the down position when we parked, so we were pleased to see that none of the rain had made it down to the trailhead.

All in all, it was a really excellent hike in a very beautiful area. With an earlier start, I think we would have been successful without too much pain. Perhaps next time I make it down to Colorado again. I really miss it there.



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