Peak(s):  La Plata Peak  -  14,344 feet
Date Posted:  05/17/2022
Date Climbed:   08/11/2018
Author:  Chagster1
 La Plata Misery   

La Plata Peak 11 August 2018

Although I did a bunch of hiking in Arizona in 2018 (Mt Humphries, Mt Lemmon, Mt Wrightson, Miller Peak, Carr Peak, Flat Iron Mountain, & Pichaco Peak), my only hike in Colorado 14er land would be at La Plata Peak.

I was in El Paso for work in early August and my buddy, Justin and I decided we’d run up to Aspen and climb La Plata over the weekend. We left on Friday at 1:00 pm and no idea that the drive to Independence Pass was over 12 hours long to get there. After an extremely long drive, we finally made it to the trailhead at 2:30 am. We attempted to sleep for about an hour, and after tossing and turning in the car, we decided to quit fighting it and put on our packs at 3:30 am.

The night was unusually dark and we definitely put on our headlamps so we could see. We found the bridge and crossed it and proceeded into the forest. After a few hours of hiking, we finally made it to tree line, and that’s where Justin slipped off the trail and cut his ankle. After “doctoring” it up, we headed up the La Plata Gulch where the terrain became steeper and the switchbacks began.

When we hit the rocks, the altitude and sleep deprivation really began to hit Justin and he was moving much slower. This was no area to be sleepy-eyed and finally Justin gave up. I told him I’d meet him back at that location in a couple of hours while I summitted, ate, and came back to him. I then proceeded up to the ridge and made the summit at about 10:00 am. Long day so far. After my small snack, I headed back down and Justin had indeed to give it one last push where I met him on the ridge. He summitted and then we headed back down.

This is where Justin really began feeling bad. Having never been exposed to these types of conditions before, he began to suffer altitude sickness, dehydration, hunger, tiredness, and his feet were destroyed. I knew we were in trouble. After getting him some help with his feet, we slowly made our way back to tree line. I went ahead and finished to the car while Justin took the next 3 hours to finally get down. This hike kicked his butt and he was officially done when he got back to trailhead.

Conditions were perfect. Warm weather and no thunderstorms in sight. Moral of the story: Always prepare, never take the mountains for granted, hydrate, eat when you need to, wear sunscreen, and NEVER wear brand new boots on a mountain to this scale. Justin learned his lesson for the next one.


Looking Down
On the Way Up

La Plata Summit
Justin Misery

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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