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La Plata Peak up the standard route (Northwest Ridge)
June 24, 2015
Total ascent 5,158 feet
Total distance 8.77 miles
Start time 0730
End time 1520
My son Will and I left Westcliffe shortly after 0500 headed for a couple of days of hiking and camping in the Sawatch Range and then into the Elks. Our first destination was La Plata Peak, one of the few in the Sawatch that we have not climbed and a great midway point on Colorado 82 on our way to the Elks. We arrived at the trailhead to the standard northwest ridge and were hiking by 0730. The trailhead elevation was 9975 feet.
We arrived at the manufactured bridge over stream shortly after at 0750 and found the water to be moving like crazy underneath us.
We then crossed a makeshift bridge over the stream. Here is Will crossing ahead of me.
The stone and log steps were a nice help on the way up, and I concur with the descriptions of La Plata as being quite steep. It certainly was. We reached the log steps at 0800.
The steps and then the switchbacks which we encountered closely after were challenging. Here is a view from the top of the switchbacks looking down.
We reached treeline by 0900 and the 6x6 boulder by 0935. The boulder was at an evaluation of 12,300 and 3 miles into the hike. Will had to sit on it.
We gained the ridge above the boulder at 0955 and then crossed a relatively level field before having to ascend the final ridge which was still covered in snow. Here is Will taking a break before the final ridge looking at Ellingwood Ridge, which doesn't look too easy from this perspective.
We reached this snow covered ridge at 1035. Here is a view from the beginning of the ridge.
And here we are midway up the hike through the snow. Microspikes were helpful, and another hiking pair had snowshoes which also looked helpful.
We met a friend as we were climbing up who we would see again on our way down. He was quite intent on watching our progress up the mountain.
Here we are on the final ascent up. Still a lot of snow.
We reached the summit at 1135 after 4.29 miles from the trailhead. La Plata marks summit 25 for us.
We left the summit at 1210 and had an easy and uneventful hike down to the trailhead, arriving at 1520. Here is our little friend again. We was quite indifferent to us as we just walked around him. Those horns would hurt, however, if we got him mad. Fortunately, he was too busy eating. All in all, another great day in the mountains.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
La Plata is on my list for next week – I hadn’t planned on micro spikes but now I’m thinking I’m going to need to add that to my packing list. Thank you!
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