Argentine Peak 13,738'
Argentine Peak is a high Front Range Thirteener that dominates the Leavenworth Creek and Naylor Lake drainages. The view from the summit of Argentine Peak includes the Ten Mile Range, the Continental Divide, Grays and Torreys Peaks, Mount Evans, and Mount Bierstadt. Despite this position on the Continental Divide, Argentine Peak is often hidden from view, especially from roads. The Peak’s Northeast Face and Southeast Face are leeward positioned for snow deposit in an otherwise windswept region. Square Top gets a lot of the ski attention around here, but Argentine holds some of the highest quality ski mountaineering routes on the west side of Guanella Pass.
Shared Approach to Silver Dollar Lake
Hike or ski just over a half mile on the Silver Dollar Road to the Silver Dollar Trailhead. The Naylor Lake Road continues to the right and leads to a private fishing retreat. The land surrounding Naylor Lake is private. Please respect this private land and use the Silver Dollar Trail to traverse the valley. The Silver Dollar trail wanders through the forest and is hard to follow if snow covered. If you reach Naylor Lake, contour around the south side of the lake and several hundred vertical feet above the lake. The trail is often covered in snow by the chutes on the north side of the East Ridge of Square Top. Continue to Silver Dollar Lake, a total of about 1.6 miles from the Silver Dollar Trailhead and 2.2 miles from Guanella Pass Road.
Route 1 - Northeast Face
- Rating: II D6, D7, D11
- Season: Spring
- Exposure: Northeast
- Vertical: 1,400'
- Approach Elevations: 10,850' - 13,738'
- Approach Distance: From Lower Silver Dollar TH: 4.25 miles
The Northeast Face holds the classic steep routes of Argentine Peak. You can drop directly from the summit into these exciting couloirs. There are numerous variations on this face and the most moderate is Voltage Drop (1a, D6) on the skier’s right. This chute is distinct because it is the first you encounter when climbing the ridge from Silver Dollar Lake and it does not have a complicated cornice entry. The very steep couloir north of the summit is Amped (1b, D11) and Short Circuit (1c, D7) is the farthest north on the summit block before reaching the broad North Slope. There are a lot of steep variations between Voltage Drop and Amped that have complicated cornice entries and rocks in the chutes. You may be able to work around the cornices on the rocks on either side of the chutes. At the bottom of the chutes you can climb several hundred feet to the saddle between Wilcox and Argentine and regain the approach basin.
There are two options to get to the Northeast Face from Silver Dollar Lake. Head northwest to the top of the slope above the lake. From here you can go north around the east side of Murray Lake and follow a shallow gully leading west behind the Murray Lake Cirque. This will take you to the saddle between Wilcox and Argentine and then descend several hundred feet into the Leavenworth Creek valley and the bottom of the chutes. Alternatively, you can inspect the chutes from the saddle and continue up the gentle ridge to the summit.
Route 2 - Southeast Face
- Rating: II D6
- Season: Spring
- Exposure: Southeast
- Vertical: 1,400'
- Approach Elevations: 10,850' - 13,500'
- Approach Distance: From Lower Silver Dollar TH: 3.6 miles
The broad Southeast Face of Argentine Peak is a distinctively different flavor of skiing than the Northeast Face. The Northeast Face holds defined couloirs separated by small rock ridges, while the Southeast Face has an open and clean bowl. The top turns are surprisingly steep, and an overhanging cornice guards the central part of the bowl. From the top of the bowl you can reach the summit of Argentine Peak via an easy half mile ski to the north. The Southeast Face is a great place for multiple laps, or even combining this with the other routes on Argentine Peak or the North Face Couloirs of Square Top.
Once you have arrived at Silver Dollar Lake, continue northwest to the top of the slope above the lake. From here ski or hike west across the flat basin to the bottom of the bowls. You can climb the slope directly or ski up the Southeast Ridge that borders the face.
Route 3 - Murray Lake Cirque
- Rating: II D5 - D14
- Season: Spring
- Exposure: East, Southeast, South
- Vertical: 700'
- Approach Elevations: 10,850' - 12,900'
- Approach Distance: From Lower Silver Dollar TH: 2.7 miles
The Murray Lake Cirque is a very wide headwall that separates Argentine Peak from Murray Lake and Silver Dollar Lake. It can be a destination unto itself, or easily combined with the routes on Argentine and the north side of Square Top. You can easily scope out the chutes and gullies on the cirque from several vantages during the approach up the valley. There are varying aspects and pitches on this face. Have fun exploring here!
Silver Dollar Lake Trailhead (10,850’ or 11,250’)
The Silver Dollar Road is on the Guanella Pass Road just south of the Guanella Pass Campground and at the first major switchback when driving south from Georgetown. There is a large parking lot on the east side of the road, and a smaller parking lot on the west side of the road next to Silver Dollar Road and interpretive signs. This is the lower trailhead. If the Silver Dollar Road is clear of snow and you have a high clearance 4-wheel drive rig you can drive 0.6 miles up the road to the upper Silver Dollar Lake Trailhead at 11,250’.