Grays Peak - South Ridge
Climbing mountains is dangerous! Please read the Mountaineering Safety Page and make sure you have a map+compass and can use them effectively. A GPS or cell phone can be very helpful with navigation but you should still be able to use a map+compass in case your device stops working.
(WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. Even the "easy" 14ers (Quandary, Sherman, Grays & Torreys) can be deadly in winter.
|Difficulty:|| Class 2 |
Ski: Intermediate+, D4 / R2 / II
|Total Gain:||3,250 feet if you drive to the Shoe Basin Mine|
4,400 feet starting from the winter TH
|RT Length:||7.0 miles if you drive the Shoe Basin Mine|
16.5 miles starting from the winter TH
|USGS Quad.:||Grays Peak|
|County Sheriff:||Summit: 970-453-2232
This trailhead is used to access both Argentine Pass and Horseshoe Basin. Take U.S. 6 to the west end of Keystone. If you are driving east on U.S. 6, take the exit for Montezuma Road before U.S. 6 begins its climb to Loveland Pass. If you are driving west (from Loveland Pass), turn left into the River Run area of the Keystone Ski Resort. Take another quick left and drive a bit to get to the Montezuma Road.
Drive ~4.3 miles on the Montezuma road and turn left on the 260 (dirt) road. There is a large parking area at the start of this road. From the parking area, drive 4.5 miles along Peru Creek to the Argentine Pass trailhead at 11,050', just below the Shoe Basin Mine. The road is gated beyond the trailhead.
From the trailhead (Photo #1), walk up the road a bit and pass through the gate near the Shoe Mine - Photo #2. Hike approx. 1/3 mile and there may be a sign on the right for the Argentine Pass trail - continue up the road into Horseshoe Basin - Photo #3. Continue north above 11,800' (Photo #4) and then west when the road turns left near 12,000' - Photo #5. Reach a road junction near 12,080' (Photo #6) and stay right to continue higher on the main road - Photo #7.
Reach the end of the road at 12,300'. A few feet from the end, turn sharply left to find a trail that heads west - Photo #8. Briefly hike west on the thin trail and begin a traverse up a rocky slope - Photo #9. Continue south west (Photo #10) to reach a corner below 12,400' - Photo #11. Photo #12 looks back on the climb up from the road.
Taken from Argentine Pass, to the east, Photo #13 and Photo #14 shoe the remaining route to the summit. Walk up to 12,400' to see the summit and the slope leading up to the south ridge - Photo #15. The trail turns northwest and continues towards Grays Lake, a bit higher than this point. Leave the left side of the trail and hike directly west toward the broad shoulder below the south ridge - Photo #16. The route is fairly straightforward - continue west up the shoulder to reach the southern end of the upper south ridge - Photo #17. Reach a flat area near 13,100' and then continue up steeper terrain above 13,200'. Stay just right of the shoulder's left edge to find trail segments leading up to the crux of the route - a few hundred feet of steeper, rocky terrain below the ridge - Photo #18 and Photo #19. Continue up to reach the ridge left (south) of some steep rock.
Near the left edge of the shoulder, look for a thin trail that leads up through the rocks. At 13,300', the shoulder becomes steeper. Navigate through some small ledges below the ridge and reach the ridge crest at 13,800' - Photo #20. Turn right and follow the ridge (Photo #21) up to the summit - Photo #22.
The Southeast Slope holds good snow in the spring. From the summit, hike south back down onto the south ridge and look for a starting point off to the left. If the snow is good, you can ski to the unnamed lake below 12,800', and possibly down to Grays Lake or lower. Here's a ski trip report with more photos.
The road becomes much worse after the trailhead. Most of the hiking is without a trail.
: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety
pages for more information.