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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2016-04-13||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Trail is trenched at least up to 10.8k, no snowshoes required on ascent or descent to and from this point. Microspikes may make your life easier on the steeper sections of the trail, but not necessary. Creek crossing is half snow/half log, much easier than summer conditions but still test the snow before you trust it on that section. DO NOT turn right at the fork in the trail at 10.8k if you are attempting the winter route. We went up to Sayres yesterday and turned off the packed down trail at 10.8 to head into the basin. So if you see a faint fork in the trench here, make sure to turn left for La Plata.
|2016-04-06||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Started at 7AM, summited at 1:30PM. Only one other couple with their dog at the TH. On my way back down I only saw their track below tree line. You need to bring snow shoes! Below tree line the trail was pretty firm in the morning. I could follow a previous trench easily that only got 1-2 inches snow the previous night. However, there was evidence that those before me without flotation were post holing bad. On the way down snow was getting pretty wet. This is why you must have flotation available. I occasionally post holed despite snow shoes. Above tree line and once up on the ridge, I continued with snow shoes until about 13K feet. Although, I could have gotten away without them but enjoyed using my heel lifts on occasion. Changed over to crampons at ~13K feet before last pitch up to the summit. Microspikes would also be fine (mine just don't fit some new boots I bought). Most of the entire ridge has some rock exposed on the west side and continuous snow on the east side. I honestly wasn't sure of the best way up around the Buttress when you come out of tree line. I went up to the right where there was mostly bare rock and loose gravel...little slow going. Came down a quicker route (NNW face) that was through some steep snow....getting a little wet and I was causing a bunch of roller balls. In theory this could have some loose wet avy's but surely not as prone as south faces.
|2016-04-03||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Highly recommend wearing/taking snow shoes regardless of conditions at the trailhead or previous posts. We assessed the base of the trail and it appeared that snowshoes were just added unnecessary weight due to the conditions and trenching efforts done by previous hikers and opted to leave them in the car. Huge mistake! All went well until about 1.5 miles up where, which was too late to turn back and get the snowshoes. We ended up expending way too much time and effort continuously post holing waist deep, just reaching the headwall after about 3+ hours and decided to turn back from there. As the day warmed, the snow softened considerably and post holing worsened going down. If attempting to summit La Plata around the date of this post, do yourself a favor and wear/pack your snowshoes regardless of base morning trail conditions.
|2016-04-01||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Summitted La Plata today, barely. My father and I found the trench heading up the winter variation to have about 4-6 inches of new powder. Many many thanks to all who helped put in the trench before us! We helped pound down all the new powder. We have left a really good track all the way up to the headwall and you may even see our tracks above along the ridge as well. We ditched snowshoes at the headwall and that seemed to be the right idea. Tons of snow down low still! Also found tons of snow on the ridge. Postholed in various places up on the ridge finding deep snow between rocks and other such places. Not worth dragging the snowshoes up that high though. It was a real grunt to gain the summit through all the snow. Carried ice ax, but did not use it. Carried microspikes instead of crampons and they were helpful as always. Hope this helps, enjoy!
|2016-03-26||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Two of us attempted the NW Ridge route only making it to the headwall. We followed a set of ski tracks most of the way, but had to put in a trench on our own. At times the snow was 3-4ft in depth and was very slow going. It took us 3hrs to reach the headwall...but there is now a solid trench in place now. We saw the skiers making their way up the headwall and decided too much energy had been spent trenching so we turned back around. Great day out there, but I'll have to come back in another week or so to finish the climb. The below link has the GPS track if anyone needs it. Cheers! https://www.gaiagps.com/public/0WxPPLMwcvLcCfhJOrfT9vmU/
|2016-03-12||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: As of today, leave the snowshoes in the car. The trail was a beautiful hard packed super highway (albeit a steep one!!#) up to the headwall. For the headwall, following the firm snow and solid rock up the climbers left was the key. From there up was a healthy mix of tundra hiking, rock hoping, and hiking up on firm snow. There certainly are some soft snow fields high on the ridge, but these can be easily avoided on the rocks. Traction is a must! There are plenty of steep snow patches. We used micro spikes all day, up and down. The steep snow made for some great glissades! My party was the only one to summit today from the standard route, and the weather was flawless. Cloudy, cool but not cold, and not a breath of wind. Some slow flurries rolled in as we reached the car. Get out there while it's great!!
|2016-03-05||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Solid Trench in place from the trailhead to the headwall. No flotation needed and I didn't use any traction, although microspikes would be helpful but are not required. The route above the headwall is spring like with sections of solid snow and rocks. I chose to use crampons to ascent the snowfield starting around 13,300 all the way to about 100 ft below the summit. Its definitely climbable w/o crampons as there are rocks you can stick to. I just figured I'd brush up on my crampon usage since its been a bit since I last used them.
|2016-02-26||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: I had La Plata all to myself today! I started hiking at 7:20 am. It was around 15 F and absolutely no wind. There was probably 1-2 inches of untracked snow for most of the route, starting between the first and second foot bridges (I guess it's all tracked now though!).The trail/trench was very solid. I brought snowshoes but didn't put them on until treeline by the headwall where I first started postholing. Just bare boots until then. They're pretty aggressive snowshoes (MSR lightning ascent) so I wore them up the headwall. I think the headwall would have been horrible without some kind of traction. Also used an ice axe for a third point of contact, and glad to have it (also came in handy glissading later on). I kept wearing the snowshoes until about halfway up the ridge before leaving them, but in hindsight I should have ditched them way sooner (probably right at the top of the headwall) because there is so much exposed rock and grass to walk on, which is faster/more efficient than shuffling along in showshoes. Plus, a lot of the snow was very sugary so my snowshoes couldn't really bite into it. I didn't notice any wind until very near the summit, around 11:20 am. I'm not sure if that was location or time dependent, but it was probably a steady 15-20 mph and VERY cold. I returned from the summit to below the headwall in just bare boots with almost no postholing, but in the meadow I sunk up to my crotch so I put the snowshoes back on and wore them all the way back to the road. I was glad to have traction going down since the upper portion of the trees is very steep and I was tired. The afternoon was very warm and the snow was super sticky/wet, so anyone getting an early start tomorrow should have a nice solid hiking surface tromped down by my snowshoes. Got back to my car at 2:40 pm. There were no clouds all day. It was my first winter 14'er and I was nervous and wished there was more recent condition info, so I made an account just to post this. Hope it helps someone!
|2016-02-20||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Summited La Plata today. Second winter summit of this peak (yay). The trench in the trees seems to be the same one described by Furthermore in his peak conditions report from 2016-02-11. The trench is very good but I agree it has a few minor bushwacky spots. I know lots of people have been hitting these trenches without snowshoes but I used them, and I know I would have been doing a lot of post holing if I hadn't. I hate everything about post holing so that just wasn't an option for me, especially on the descent after the sun had been warming things. I used microspikes and my ice axe to ascend the headwall (ice axe only at the top), and left my microspikes on until I was entering the trees on the way down. Descending that head wall never gets any less sketchy. To my surprise there are quite a bit of old tracks sun baked into the crust on the ridge. If you stay along those, you'll be okay, otherwise you'll post hole in quite a few spots, though there are some large sun crust slabs that are really firm. There are large sections of the ridge that don't have any snow at all, but then others that have a pretty thick crust. There are some wind slabs and small cornices, about what you'd expect. I saw a ton of surface hoar on the ridge, which doesn't really matter there, but is probably something to think about come next snowfall, in general. I made my life more difficult than necessary by trying to stay high around the buttress, like I have in the past, and not taking advantage of the fact that there's so little snow the entire summer route around the buttress is doable (I didn't see it a lot of it well until the descent). So I did a bunch more scrambling than necessary. I only ran into two other people (a single group) who I passed on my descent on the ridge while they were on their way up. Quite a few skiers out down in the gulch but I was pleasantly surprised there weren't more on the mountain. RT 10h 12m (~7h up ~3h down, including all stops, etc) More pictures, most crappy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewdavidoff/albums/72157664758083911
|2016-02-19||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Made it above the headwall on 2/19. Lots of new, sugary snow had filled the trench. Should be a trench for a few days now though, but high winds will probably keep filling it in up high, so bring snowshoes for flotation. (I think skis would be an awful day.) Had (and used) axes and helmets on the headwall. Plan for a lot of time and energy just to reach the base of the headwall. We were out of time and gas by the top of the wall and called it a day. TR pending...
|2016-02-11||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: There is an excellent trench in place but it‘s a little bushwhacky. I did not use flotation for any portion of the hike. If you feel the urge to take flotation, take snowshoes as the current trench would be awful on skis. I don‘t own microspikes but some folks may find them helpful. Here is a link to a GPX with the current trench. Go get it while it‘s snowshoe free! https://www.dropbox.com/sh/u6ycdmrd8igydc0/AADHlgU9kAiEgJKaUEheCXxNa?dl=0
|2016-02-06||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: 3 individuals summitted yesterday so there is a distinct trench all the way up to the headwall. Snow covering the scree made it easy to ascend the headwall. Snowshoes were used up to where the winter variation rejoins the summer route. Microspikes were used the rest of the way to the summit with minor postholing in some areas.
|2016-01-27||Route: Ellingwood Ridge
Info: There is a boot pack in place to the Ellingwood Ridge Route. It departs the standard route at the "headwall" feature. The snow is very deep, up to waist height in many places unless on West facing aspects where it is firm and supportive. We heard two loud whumphs while crossing below the NE slope of the standard route. Ellingwood Ridge is in decent condition, although there are several large cornices and a good amount of exposed snow that is in very poor condition. We did ~5 rappels with a 60m and simuled across an avy slope. We soloed a LOT of easy mixed terrain. Expect 10 hours minimum from the top of the approach gully to the summit if you solo the whole thing. Also, I left a trekking pole up there! Please bring it back to me : )
|2016-01-23||Route: Northwest Ridge Winter Variation
Info: Just to add some photos (caption notes may be useful) to what other users said for Jan 23rd regarding general route and Headwall. Yes, up to timberline either small snowshoes (trench being not too wide, but quite steep in many spots) or microspikes (which did the job). As for the rest, some even decided to leave snowshoes (though small) below headwall scramble. Your choice of "weight vs. options", there was still lots of work left to be done. Note that the easy part (below timberline) still needs attention. In some places, you just would not like to posthole on the downhill side of the trench. In that very short stretch from timberline to headwall, stick to trench center/visible rock, because careless postholing between rocks can get you down up to your waist. Groups started going up between 4:45 am and 7:20 am. Early ones needed 10 to 12 hours overall. A late one did it in 8.5 hours. Say, in that range, it takes about 2 to 3 hours to headwall, then about 1 hour max for headwall (where bottom half, below that red circle, has less solid rock, and more slipping and sliding), then 2 to 3 hours to summit, then about 2 hours max back to headwall, and about hour and a quarter back to TH. As for the headwall lower portion, some chose the seat-sled option going down (see those long slide marks on headwall pic). Note that mountain-forecast for Sawatches next week shows even warmer conditions, with much less wind (was 20-30 mph on 23rd above timberline) of only 5 to 10 mph for Thursday 28th and Friday 29th. Till then, not much snow expected Sunday 24th and Monday.
|2016-01-23||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Winter Variation: There is a solid trench from TH to Treeline. I do recommend traction, MicroSpikes or even snowshoes. The steepness of this route causes a lot of step and slip-- traction will help prevent some of that and spare you some muscle fatigue. Snowshoes are NOT need for flotation in the trees until the next snow. The Headwall was a bit loose, but manageable. The ridge has a variety of snow conditions, hard snow, soft snow, bare rock. The trail was fairly easy to follow except for the wind blown rocks in the 13,200-13,500 area. Again, traction is needed. The ridge took longer than I expected, mostly due to the step and slip in the softer snow above 13,500
|2016-01-16||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Climbed La Plata today via the winter variation of the Northwest Ridge route. Despite the fresh snow, we were able to follow a well packed trench all the way to tree line and the ridge headwall. We followed the standard summer route up to 11,000‘ and deviated left / East thanks to a nice trench that has been packed down. The deepest snow of the day came just before the crux headwall which lead to a few post-holes on boulders but for a very short distance. Headwall makes for a nice scramble and we found it to be casual with just our boots. We bare-booted the entire day and only utilized an ice axe on the upper ridge past the false summit, and when we wanted to have some fun on the descent. Though we never dawned the snowshoes it was a good idea to have them just in case. Great snow pack all the way up the ridge with only the occasional knee-deep posthole. Beautiful hike!
|2016-01-12||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Climbed La Plata via the winter route on the NW Ridge. There is a good trench to treeline. I used snowshoes. A group ahead of me had 2 wearing microspikes and one in snowshoes. I recommend at least spikes as it‘s fairly slippery on the way down. There were a few visible tracks up the headwall to the ridge but they were mostly blown in. Right now it‘s a mix of scree and snow on the headwall. There is plenty of solid rock mixed in to make it a little easier. I thought about using my axe on the headwall but there wasn‘t enough snow to make it worthwhile. As of now along the ridge my tracks as well as the trio that I ran into are in place but they may blow in again. It‘s mixed right now along the ridge below the false summit but generally scoured enough to bareboot. I barebooted to the summit, I think the trio used microspikes. Above the false summit on the ridge where its more snowcovered it was better to stick to the edge near the rock. On the climb snowshoes would have made it a little easier but don‘t seem like they would‘ve helped on the descent on the upper ridge Some older prints were visible but mostly blown in. The toughest part was heading down from the false summit as there is just enough snow to make the hidden rocks slippery and hide the occasional deep hole between rocks. I did posthole a few times but usually nothing major although I had a few postholes thigh deep. Now is a good time before the next snow to hit La Plata. As of now I‘d recommend at least microspikes or snowshoes and maybe an axe for insurance. Not hard enough for crampons.
|2015-12-29||Route: Winter Route
Info: Much as blazintoes reported this track has been well traveled recently. From a group of 8, 6 people summited besides myself on the 29th. I didn‘t use any traction going up. Microspikes could probably have helped some in steep parts of the trail. At the ramp/wall to get on the ridge I rock climbed it and avoided snow going up. Coming down I did the opposite: put on crampons/used an ice axe and sought out snow and avoided rocks. The ridge is fairly blown clear but does have a mixture of conditions. I mostly followed and stayed on the ridge crest.
|2015-12-28||Route: Winter Route
Info: I created a GPS track to gain the north ridge direct on La Plata that deviates at 10,600 but didn‘t need it. Instead there is a bad ass trench that deviates at 11,000 (as seen in the first image). Big shout out to AWilbur77 and "Mark" who I met today as these guys did all the work. This trench will lead you to the headwall to scale to gain the ridge. My route drawn in red. Once on the ridge caution it is looooooong and tedious. Bring goggles. Image 3 looking down the north ridge. #4 up at the false summit (notorious bad picture taker, sorry). #5 notorious good picture taker. Scared the crap out of DadMike today, hilarious. He made his own tracks today; this is what the cool kids do. Also, he misplaced his Spot tracker device so if you find it this week/weekend PM him. #6 Looking west from summit. #7 looking east I have a gps track of my route today. FYI.
|2015-11-01||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: 90% of the 9.5 mile hike is snow covered, with some sections having well over a foot. The top 1,600‘ from the saddle are much more difficult due to the bolder fields being mostly covered. Still very doable, but add a few hours to your expected time, and be very careful so you don‘t fall in between the rocks. We kept a somewhat slower pace and it took 11 hours, 5 hours of which was the 2.5 miles from the saddle, to the top, and back.