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 Peak(s):  La Plata Peak  -  14,336 feet
 Post Date:  09/11/2005 Modified: 09/01/2006
 Date Climbed:   08/15/2005
 Posted By:  Aubrey

 9/11/05 Southwest Ridge (4WD from Winfield)   

Took the 4WD road from Winfield (straight, not left to Huron); kind of looks like someones driveway. The road was in decent condition; made it just fine in a Hyundai Tucson ... though, it got rougher toward the end and we bottomed out in a couple spots. Still, made it to the register and parked (ironically, a couple Jeep Cherokees didnt go up the last section). Signed in at 7:15 and headed up through the woods, and then travelled along a gully with a raging creek below (to the left). Broke above treeline and into the willows. Some sections were muddy, but it was mostly frozen mud so it wasnt so bad.

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Headed up to the top of the basin on a steep, slippery trail (thank god I brought the trekking poles, as they came in very handy). Crossed the meadow along an easy-to-follow, single-track trail, but then routefinding became more difficult. There were some cairns, but there were multiple-cairned routes, adding confusion. Didnt really matter, though, because it was all UP. I actually thought the summit was at the top ... but it was a big false peak. We then traversed up the long and broad southwest ridge of the true summit (which had another false peak for us to enjoy). The "trail" was kind of difficult to follow on many occasions, but you always knew where you were going. And, if anything, losing the trail only meant climbing more rocks instead of walking. Hit the summit at 9:45 with steady, chilly winds. No clouds, though.

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Only passed one couple on the way up. From the summit we counted 6 people climbing up the standard route from La Plata Gulch. Only passed two people on the way back down. Here's a pic from the summit looking south:

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Cruised down at a fairly quick pace (jogging on some sections), and made it back to the register at 11:25.

FYI: We used Gerry Roach's map for reference (11.3), but it has some minor inaccuracies that you should look into.



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