Square Top Mountain A (Naylor Lake Loop)

elevation: 4,204 m.  height gain: 890 m.
area: Guanella Pass,Colorado,USA
map USGS 1:24,000 Mount Evans, CO
39105E6 & Montezuma, CO 39105E7

Ref: 14ers.com
route planning

Last minute route planning.
Snowshoe trip. RT 10.75 (includes Argentine Peak and Mount Wilcox); 5.25 up. Here I am near Guanella Pass where I soloed my first 14er, Mount Bierstadt, on this exact same date last year. This time, I've got a pretty cool traverse planned which includes three ranked 13ers. I'll make my way to Guanella Pass, climb Square Top Mountain, traverse to Argentine Peak continuing to Mount Wilcox before heading out via Naylor Lake. This loop is popular in the summer but I suspected I wouldn't run into anybody in these snowy conditions on a weekday. Aside from solitude, this traverse would also grant an awesome view of Grays and Torreys Peaks from an entirely different aspect. I spent the night at the winter closure and set my alarm for 5 AM; with a stellar day in the forecast, I felt no need to walk to the pass in the dark. When my alarm went off, I didn't want to get up but I still managed a pre-dawn start. Nobody had gone up the road since the recent snow storm, I had to break trail in boot-top deep snow. Already, I started questioning my endeavour. At the pass, I beelined towards the south-east ridge of Square Top; my line of ascent took me over gentle rolling terrain, the surface was greatly affected by wind and varied from firm snow to ankle-deep breakable crust. When I finally reached the ascent ridge and started climbing, I could really feel the accumulated fatigue and just set my mind on gaining this summit. The day was beautiful as promised and the scenery was fantastic. Once I stepped onto the flat top of the objective, the way to the other two summits came into view. They looked close and I was able to visualize safe lines of travel. I dropped my pack at the summit cairn and checked the time, it was 10:30 AM. Suddenly, I knew what I came here for; tired or not, I felt the urge to carry on. With no more hesitation, I picked up my pack and started heading down to the col between Square Top Mountain and Argentine Peak.

evening clouds

Interesting evening clouds at the winter parking lot.

guanella pass road

No one has ventured to Guanella Pass since the last storm cycle.

breaking trail

Looking back as I near the pass.

nearing the pass

I remember this view of The Sawtooth and Mount Bierstadt from last year.

square top mountain

From the pass, Square Top Mountain looks really simple.

sign along the way

A sign along the way.

leaving the pass behind

Leaving Guanella Pass behind.


Lovely Ptarmigans.

south-east ridge

Ascending the wind-swept south-east ridge.

good travel

Firm snow grants good travel.

gray wolf mountain

Looking over Square Top Lakes towards Gray Wolf Mountain.

getting closer

Getting closer to the summit ridge.

north-eastern view

North-eastern view over Naylor Lake.

summit ridge

The summit ridge with the top at the west end.

view east

View east from the top with Mounts Evans and Bierstadt.

mount wilcox

Mount Wilcox and Murray Lake to the north.

argentine, edwards, grays and torreys

Argentine Peak, Mount Edwards, Grays and Torreys Peaks to the left.

western view

Western view.

Continue on to Argentine Peak
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