| La Plata -Northwest Ridge / June 2nd, 2007
We drove the 1.6 miles through private property to public land and found the sweetest camping spot. This was Texas Taylor's first ascent, and it ended up being a gem.
We awoke a half-hour late at 4:13am and scrambled to break down camp, get dressed, and drive the 1.6 miles back to the parking area at Colorado 82 and we were off. We must have been too excited because after passing the waterfall bridge, we ended up on what appeared to be an elk trail thanks to my trusty trail dog Cody. When we reached the next creek, the "log bridge" was nowhere to be found and in it's place were aspen branches partially submerged. "Is this what they meant by 'small log bridge?'", I exclaimed. Determined, I sprang out onto the "log bridge" only to soak my feet before the sun even showed itself. Finally, we reached another creek and realized we were going the wrong way. However, it happened for a reason. On the way back to find the true trail, we met up with some skiers who saved us again later up above timberline. The climb through the forest was great and the sun lit up the surrounding peaks.
When we began the climb out of La Plata Gulch, the switchback trail was covered by what can only be described as a small glacier.
We had to climb the rocks on the sides of the gully to get above the snow, and again at the next snow patch some Class 3 scrambling was required to avoid the slick and hard snowpack. Once we reached the buttress, the ridge was kind to us and the trail pointed up to a mountain that was still shrouded in snow. At this point, a decision was made that we had come too far to turn back and our newly acquired climbing partner "Hook 'Em Horns" felt confident as well.
The skiers donned their ski boots and had cramp-ons to climb the snow. Fortunately, the minute toe holes created by their acsent provided a little added confidence on tackling the rest of the hike.
The wind began to pick up and I believe it was at this moment when all the warnings given to my flatlander partner that this hike was not going to be a walk in the park, began to sink in.
Finally, the summit was in our sights and Texas Taylor could not muster a smile... But, I knew he was smiling on the inside.
The summit was incredible... The sun came out and warmed our backs, the snow covered peaks were breathtaking, the company was great, and we were treated to some extreme skiers descending right off the snow nipple at the summmit. WOW!
We had lunch, packed up, and began our descent. This is where I was introduced to a unique way of travelling down the peak. Thanks to the ever present snow that made each step dangerous on the way up, we were treated to an expressway down. Watching "Hook 'Em Horns" in the distance I could see him travelling at great speeds on his rear end! This snow sliding was fantastic!!! What a way to travel.
Image #14 (not yet uploaded) Thanks to Texas Taylor's persistance in wanting to climb this particular weekend, (which I cautioned against, we have been training since December and a few more weeks were not going to kill us) I was treated to my all time favorite 14er experience.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):