Silver King Peak/Magdalene Mtn.
UN 13,762, aka: Magdalene Mtn.; aka: Silver King Peak; is a rocky, Class 2 summit that's fairly difficult to reach from any direction. With 4WD capability, the road up to Clohesy Lake provides the shortest access, but the peak can also be accessed from the Pine Creek TH off US24 just south of Clear Creek Reservoir; or from Texas Creek on the Taylor Park side. G&M provided a route description utilizing the Pine Creek access. This access would require 24 miles round-trip of hiking and 5,000 vertical feet of gain. If choosing that access, it would probably be advantageous to backpack in, establish a base camp and ascend other summits as well, such as Emerald. Our route description begins at the trailhead north of Clohesy Lake. Even if you started walking form Rockdale, the overall mileage would be less coming in at about 18 rather than 24.
UN 13,762 West Side & Ridge Route
Long Day // Back for Dinner
RT From Rockdale/Clohesy Lake:
11.4 mi /
From Leadville, drive south a little over 19 miles on HWY 24 to the turnoff for Clear Creek Reservoir (CR390) and head west. The turn is less than 2 miles south of "Granite." From Buena Vista, drive north just under 15 miles to the same turnoff. Drive west on the graded dirt road to Vicksburg and the Missouri Gulch Trailhead that gives access to Missouri, Belford & Oxford. From that trailhead, keep driving another 2.3miles to the turnoff on the south side of the road for Rockdale. The coordinates provided are for this turnoff. The road angles down past a small group of cabins and parking can be found at 9,940 ft. for passenger vehicles. For 4WD with good clearance, drive on down to Clear Creek, likely passing through some flooded area as you approach the creek. There is no bridge across Clear Creek here. Warning: This is a low water crossing. During runoff season, high water can make this crossing either very risky or impossible. It is often not safe until mid-July to make this crossing. If you do manage to get across, the road will climb up the south embankment steeply and then level off some. The climb out of the creek is often the roughest section of this road. The remainder of the drive is a slow 2.5 miles to the trailhead at 10,880 feet. Last time we were here, there was a large information sign. The trailhead stops short of Clohesy Lake because of private property, however, more recent reports indicate Clohesy Lake has now passed from private hands. If true, then the old roadbed that heads more directly to Clohesy Lake may once again be followed. The start of the bypass trail that has been in use for several years is at the south end of a clearing and into the forest a little. A locked gate prevents continuing on the road to the lake. A simple trail sign indicates the route for Missouri Peak to be to the left and a trail to the right leads to Huron Peak. Only the left (east) trail will take hikers beyond Clohesy Lake and farther up Lake Fork Creek. Coordinates for the end of vehicle access and this upper trailhead are: N 38° 57' 14.87" W 106° 24' 32.04".
The open meadow at the 4WD trailhead offers some at-large camping with no facilities. Otherwise, there are at-large spots on the drive in on CR390 and a somewhat designated campground at the west end of Clear Creek Reservoir. Camping can also be found around Vicksburg, but there is private property there and weekend hiking traffic makes it very difficult to find a place to camp unless you push on past Winfield.
Click thumbnail to view full-size photo + caption
Year Climbed: 1994
From the 4WD trailhead about a third of a mile north of Clohesy Lake, walk south on the roadbed into the woods a little and take the left (east) fork trail labelled for Missouri Mountain. The trail wanders through the woods some, climbs a steep switchback then climbs less steeply as it heads south. In about .7 mile it comes to the intersection for the trail to Missouri Mtn. At this point, you've gained over 400 feet in elevatio. Now you must lose most of that as you continue south and drop back down to near lake level, but well south of Clohesy Lake and the private property. Continue on the trail for the next couple miles to the pass between the two drainages. Over the next couple miles, the trail diminishes from an old vehicle track to just a one-lane trail. One thing that stands out about this trail from our multiple uses of it is how frequently small streams/rivulets cross it and the boggy mess that creates for much of the hike through the forested section. As the trail approaches the upper reaches of the valley, it moves out more to the valley center and into the willows. Though it's not difficult to pass through this willow section, it could get hikers rather wet if passing through right after a rain. The wide open basin of the upper valley feels very isolated. It is filled with tundra, lush grasses and scattered boulders. The trail will begin to fade in and out. If you lose it, simply head toward the pass and you'll likely come across it again.
At the pass between the two drainages, follow the remains of the old vehicle track down through tundra to Pear Lake, losing about 400 feet. Contour around the north end of the lake to the eastern side and continue contouring south at about the 12,200 foot level or slightly above, for the next .8 mile or so. This contour will require crossing some minor drainages so there will be some ups and downs, but keep trending upward toward the 12,400 foot level. Most of the terrain will be tundra and/or embedded rocks. Once you're basically west of Magdalene's western summit, choose a route to head up. We followed up just to the south of a long, skinny snowfield in a shallow gully. This aided in avoiding some of the loose rock. The first couple hundred feet of ascending was not too bad, but once the snow and tundra played out, the hiking turns to almost all talus/rubble. In fact, the entire side of the mountain is basically all rubble - medium sized rocks & boulders. Keep slugging away at the slope until you reach the western summit. From there, the difficulty relents some as you drop to a saddle on mostly tundra with rocks sprinkled here and there. Finish on larger rocks as you approach the summit. The summit is a fairly large are with a mix of tundra and rocks. Enjoy a nice view down into the inviting Pine Creek area and of Mt. Harvard to the east.
For the return trip, basically just follow the entire approach route back out. You may want to stop and cool and soak some tired feet at Pear Lake! Unfortunately, you will have to do some re-ascending to get back over the pass and to follow the trail back around the Clohesy Lake private property.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
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