After summitting Holy Cross the day before followed by dinner that night at TN Pass Cafe in Leadville, one of our favorite places, and a restful night at the Leadville Hostel, we headed to West Winfield Trailhead. I had been up La Plata about 10 years ago but via the NW Ridge. This time we would be summitting via the Southwest Ridge.
Our group included me, Greg (Prairie Village, KS), Tim (hikesafelyalot - Little Rock) and John (Wineguy - Kansas City). It was an honor to have John with us, even if it was just for this one day. After the La Plata summit, John was only four short of completing all of the recognized Fourteeners. Immediately after La Plata, he headed towards Durango where he summited Mt. Wilson, Mt. Eolus and North Eolus and now only has Little Bear to go. If not for a twisted ankle on the Mt. Wilson decent, he would most likely now have them all. An impressive feat, made even more impressive by the fact that he is 64.
On the drive to the trailhead we did stop and park at the last turn and hiked the final hundred yards to the actual trailhead. Glad we had a high clearance, four wheel drive, and rental vehicle. The drive back was beautiful as the Aspen appear to be turning a golden color even earlier this year.
The weather was perfect and the first part of the hike/climb fairly uneventful. Once we left the willows, and a bit of muddy stretches, the trail climbed rather steeply up a slippery, talus slope to the ridge. From there we headed over a mainly rocky trail towards the summit. Being the day after Labor Day we saw very few people and only one other person on top and he had come via the NW Ridge. We were envious as he had brought a PBR to celebrate with.
The round trip took about 7 hours including the time on top. We headed back to the Leadville Hostel with wine and steak at Quincy’s. Shavano and Tabeguache on tap for the next day.
Wineguy, Greg and I on the way up
Tim (hikesafelyalot), refuling and hydrating
Several false summits to go over and around
Rockchalker, hikesafelyalot, Greg and Wineguy