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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2015-03-15||Route: NW Ridge Winter Route
Info: An increadibly beautiful and sunny day. Follow standard NW Ridge route to 10,900‘ and then follow trench up steep slope to gain ridge. This steep section should be carefully considered if the snow pack is at all suspect. The trench at 10,560‘ started by JtheChemE on 7 Mar dead ends. Early in the morning on the way up snow was firm. Spikes worked well all the way to the top. As the day warmed up, snowshoes were very helpful on the way down. If the day is very warm, wet slides on the steep slopes could be a possibility. There was a lot of snow on the route after the scree slope. Depending on temperatures, you may want to use your snowshoes past the scree slope. The existing trench takes a line up the scree slope to climbers right. The scree slope is steep but not too long. Send me a PM if you‘d a copy of the GPX file I captured.
|2015-03-07||Route: Northwest Ridge DIRECT
Info: Trench to treeline if you follow the right one. Snowshoes mandatory. Spikes and an Axe were very useful for the rubble slope as well as along the ridge.
|2015-01-10||Route: NW Ridge, winter variation
Info: Had a long day on La Plata‘s standard winter route yesterday. First off, don‘t blindly trust existing trenches! We followed the existing trench and snowshoe tracks from the trailhead until we realized we were going up the wrong ridge. After a lot of traversing around and a hair-raising ravine/stream crossing, we got to the location of the standard summer trail, but had lost quite a bit of time. There was no trench or broken trail from the standard trail in the valley up to the winter ridge crest. We broke a steep line up deep, unconsolidated snow from 10,700‘ or so up to the ridge crest at 11,800‘ (photo #1). This was physically the hardest part of the day, as I was often past my knees in the snow, even with snowshoes. A little past halfway up, we were joined by another hiker (BlenderHead) who took over trailbreaking for a while. Avy danger was definitely a factor on this slope. Finally, we hit treeline, 4.5 hours in, with the worst physical difficulties behind (photo #2). The talus slope was a mix of loose rock and snow, but quite short (photo #3), and soon we were cruising up the standard Northwest Ridge. (#4 and 5). We stayed on rock and trail segments most of the time. Reaching the summit was amazing! (photo #6) The descent went quickly (#7 and . Great route, but it can be a long day if trailbreaking is required. Weather was great too!
|2015-01-10||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Thigh deep sugary snow in the woods. Be very careful following the trenches! One trench begins to venture into avy terrain on the standard summer route... There are a couple tracks that meet back up with the main trail, so leave the trail and cut east (left) early. Either way, use your judgement and don‘t follow a trench into avy terrain! There is a decent amount of snow on the ridge, packed in between large rocks. All in all, a pretty slow moving day.
|2014-11-28||Route: Ellingwood Ridge
Info: La Plata in November sugar is quite the beast. The traverse over to the start of the ridge is very pleasant gentle terrain however it is a steep climb to the tree line after crossing the 3rd creek. Also, the route description on this website is spot on for this climb. Day 1 - We made the traverse and ascended to 11,500‘. The snow made the elevation gain difficult as it is not consolidated except where it has been scoured by wind. We dug out a solid campsite a few hundred feet above the tree line, and called it a day. Day 2 - This was a very difficult day. We started up the talus with our heavy packs. The wind has blown most of the snow off the ridge and its possible to follow rocks up. From point 13,206, the rest of the day was technical. We had 2 rappels and many descents to keep the climb manageable. There are several 4th class and a few low 5th moves on this route in winter like conditions. After 10 straight hours of climbing we were still several major gendarmes away from the turn in the ridge so we cut out a nice platform on the east side out of the wind. Day 3 - From camp it was back to technical climbing. This part of the ridge was by far the most fun and challenging. We climbed for 2.5 hours before deciding to bail. We chose a gully that leads to the basin between Ellingwood and the NW route. The descent was straight forward and only required one minor rappel. The walk out of this basin sucked with the snow. Post holing and side hilling in snowshoes were the name of the game. Our team could have completed this climb given an extra day. In these conditions, and carrying the equipment necessary to keep it safe, this climb is a beast. I think 4 days would be prudent for a successful climb of La Plata in winter. On a side note we bailed because of work and school obligations on Monday morning.
|2014-11-08||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: La Plata Northwest ridge is covered by snow at 90%. The forest approach and switchbacks near 11,300‘ receive little sun during the day and microspikes were helpful during the steep sections. The traverse south along the slope was hiked in the dark, the sun reaching the ridge (9.30AM) only 2.5hrs after hitting the trail. Around 12,300 snow is much deeper on the ridge, progression is slow and postholing frequent (until knees and waist) pumping most of your energy. From then you hike looking at the sun, bring sunglasses as it is blinding. At around 14,000‘, snow becomes less significant and progression can be done much more easily to the summit.
|2014-10-24||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: The trail below 11,000 is snow free and easy hiking. From 11,000 to the switchback gully, it was frozen mud in the morning and slop in the afternoon. Didn‘t need traction in the mud, but it made for dirty boots. The first snow on the trail hits in the switchback gully and then is pretty much constant from 12,500 to the summit. It gets to be a bit of an issue once you start your way around the buttress. Route finding is tough although the trail sneaks through in places. I recommend traction above 12,500. In the morning, it was icy and slick in the afternoon it was soft and slick. That was pretty much the condition the rest of the way. This might seem odd, but definitely bring good sunglasses, as you climb up the north ridge, as that ball o‘ light is really blinding over the route due to season. Had to hand block the sun, with my specs on to check my ascent. Lots of postholing - thigh high on me (6‘2") in places. Also, I suggest lots of appropriate layers. I started early, but the sun doesn‘t reach the west ridge until well after 10:00 AM. Cold, icy, and shaded for most of the climb. Stay warm and be safe.
|2014-10-03||Route: Ellingwood Ridge
Info: It was a LONG day on Ellingwood on Friday. I‘m not sure if I was having an off day, or if it was the snow; but it took me 9 hours to reach the summit (and only 2 to descend down the northwest ridge). The snow wasn‘t impassible by any means; but it made route finding more arduous. I definitely felt as though the route was class 4 rather than class 3; but perhaps I was following too close to the ridgeline on account of the snow. There were no other people on the route nor were there footprints in the snow. Long story short, I wouldn‘t recommend this route until next season. It‘s pretty dicey with the snow. The standard route is still doable at the moment.
|2014-10-02||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Above the tree line there is a lot of snow. Trail entirely covered; drifts more than 1 foot deep. Don‘t know how much of this will melt, as I think it was very fresh (last 2 days??). Lower trail was melting by 11am.
|2014-09-24||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: No snow accumulated on the route, even at the summit today. Crossing the stream at La Plata gulch likely to be slippery in the morning - the 2-log crossing was frosty and wet at 8:45 a.m.. I‘m not sure if people use the multiple small log crossing, but water is high enough to make that very dicey. I followed a trail upstream a short way and crossed on rocks, but those, too, were slick - water is higher than normal for this time of year. Trail was damp but not soggy in the morning, parts were dried out later in the day.
|2014-09-13||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: Started at 5:30 am. The willows were muddy/slightly frozen. Sections of it were hard to follow in the dark, but I could see the trail leading up to the ridge, and was able to merge back onto the main trail. The section above the willows was frozen on the ascent, flowing water on the descent. The next section of trail (just below the first ridge) was steep (fall line in places) with scree. Once on the first ridge the view made me forget about the ball bearing scree. As others have stated, the boulder filed cairns were interesting. I stayed further to the west on my way down and had an easier go. Fun trail, but if I take my kids up La Plata we will take the NW ridge.
|2014-09-07||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: Trail clear all the way to the top. Started from trailhead at 6:30am and reached the summit at 9:30am. Quickly turned around due to approaching storm. On the way down passed about four groups and warned them about the storm. One guy with his son replied back that he‘s climbed 70 of these and he‘s keeping an eye on it. Once we reached back into treeline there was plenty of thunder and lightning. Most of the groups were probably just reaching the summit at that time. Hike smart out there and don‘t get caught on top in a thunderstorm!
|2014-09-02||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: Climbed La Plata on Labor Day and thought there should be a more recent report. Parked at the loop past the cemetery and walked. There are a few places with water on the road to the TH, but there were plenty of somewhat high clearance vehicles parked past those spots, a truck with high clearance was at the TH. The willows were definitely muddy, but if you‘re careful you can keep the top of your boots dry. In one swampy place new trails have been padded down to avoid it. They‘re a little hard to follow, but the trail is only about 30 feet away. Looking at picture one, we opted to take the blue route and do some climbing up one of the chimneys. Definite scree all over the place, but was fun! Second pic is looking down the chimney we took. Just a touch of snow towards the summit, but other than that none on the trail.
|2014-08-06||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: Started just after sunrise. The road from the cemetery to right below the trailhead turnoff was passable for a passenger van with no 4WD or carriage scraping. The trail (follow the arrow to the left) was in good condition to tree line. In the willow-filled valley, there was mud across the trail in many places and almost swampy conditions at times. It is a very steep hike out of the valley to the ridge, and the footing is definitely poor for the hike down. After crossing the smooth (green) part of the ridge to the large scree slope, the trail gets hard to follow and the hiking becomes strenuous at times until you top out and can see the final summit ridge. No ice on the trail.
|2014-07-27||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: Sign was not much help. It was a plain piece of wood. Guessed and went left at the trailhead not through a gate on the right. There wasn‘t a lot of snow but the willows were muddy. The trial prior to the rocks was steep and somewhat slippery. The last part of the trip was huge rocks with 3 false summits. There are several trails up the rock area that we‘re tough to follow.
|2014-07-10||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Trailhead is closed for bridge reconstruction. The sign says that the construction is scheduled to end on 7/12/14 (this Saturday)
|2014-07-09||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: The registration box is no longer on the sign by the gate. Nothing on the sign really indicates that it is the right trail to La Plata, but the gate and coordinates matched up so I went for it. No snow on the trail, just along the sides. Large muddy sections, but if you hop skip and jump around you can avoid getting your feet wet. I was a little nervous about the 4wd/high clearance part of driving to the trail head, but my RAV4 did fine and I never put it in 4wd.
|2014-07-01||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: The willows meadow is fairly wet and muddy. The ridge to the summit can be hiked with only 1 spot where you have to cross over snow, but its only about 20 feet long. It was solid at 9 am but started postholing by 11 am. Still, no spikes or snowshoes needed. Flowers are out and it is beautiful
|2014-06-19||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: Looks like there is more snow on the route than their is. While the entire ridge is a snowfield the left side is clear, so once you‘re up and over the initial hump and on La Plata‘s ridge you are snow free. Below that the gully is clean, with the exception of one point on the trail with a 4-5‘ high snowfield covering, but it is solid snow, walked right across at 11:30am. Willows are willows, and the trail is hard to follow through them, but worse comes to worse follow the creek back down to the trail lol (not joking about that though).
|2014-06-14||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: Overall it is a beautiful hike. The water from run off has made the path through the valley extremely hard to follow. We were actually on sure we were on a path 10% do the time. We ended up going up a chute that didn‘t have snow and were fine. Don‘t let the false summits deter you. Once you join the path from the other entrance the cairns are more noticeable. There is snow but we were started early enough we found it to be advantageous rather than climbing over rocks. We were not able to find the record at the summit and it was so windy we quickly descended. We were the only two that made it to the top this day however there were several hiking the valley.