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 Peak(s):  La Plata Peak  -  14,336 feet
 Post Date:  11/03/2007
 Date Climbed:   11/03/2007
 Posted By:  akmpolsen

 La Plata - std NW ridge route   

La Plata Peak
Date Climbed : Saturday Nov. 3
Trip Time : Just under 8 hours (yeah I am slow…)
Route : Standard NW ridge route


Having sat idly for upwards of six weeks, I decided I needed to drag my flab up a mountain and chose La Plata because of the easy TH access. Arrived at the TH around 8 and noticed that there was not nearly as much snow on the ground as I expected. My dog, Brian, and I set out with a group of three other hikers but they were going a bit faster than I was, so I lagged behind (Brian, being a Shepherd "mix" spent his time shuttling between the groups).

Trail conditions under treeline were variable. In some stretches, it was pure dirt. Other stretches had nice crunchy snow that caused little traction issues. But, there were a number of stretches where crampons would have been useful. (Yes, I had them but was too lazy to put them on, knowing I would be taking them off after 50 yards). Best advice I can give on those stretches is keep just off trail and you'll be fine. Below is a picture of one of the snowier sections of trail :

Image

Getting to near the treeline at about 11,400', we were treated to a beautiful view of Winfield Peak. (below) Weather was outstanding – a little breezy at times but generally mild. The summit was rather cold and windy but tolerable nonetheless.

Image

Had a quick snack break at the shoulder at 12,300'. Brian amazingly still has energy…

Image

Gained the summit ridge at about 12,800'. Cornices are only beginning to be developed. The snow was pretty fluffy and was generally lousy for walking on. I chose to hopscotch on the rocks (R side of ridgeline) and that worked out very well.

Image

Despite the bluebird conditions, the last ~400' to the summit saw a significant drop in temperature and increase in wind speed. I spent maybe 10 minutes up top (did not find a registry but then again didn't look too hard), and snapped a summit shot of Brian and I. It was his second 14er (Democrat was #1). He ran into a few pickles where he would whine which I cannot figure out – he used to be a heck of a mountain dog in Alaska.

Image

There were only a few spots where one could glissade, unfortunately….

Image

Overall, a really nice early winter climb. I would recommend some sort of traction assistance for the treeline section of the route. The standard route I took is NOT a usual winter route, but avalanche risk was extremely low due to the minor amount of snow, so I would recommend this route until the next major snow system hits. After that, it may be more advisable to take the winter route. Here is a link for that (courtesy of Scott P, who posted this link on a 14ers.com board) http://www.summitpost.org/list/337648/Colorado-14ers-in-Winter.html It gives a general description but unfortunately no maps.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
akmpolsen


glissade/mud trail     2011-02-04 17:22:13
Well, I did do a couple of glissades but it was in deep snow and I did not hit dirt at all. I am familiar with the glissade track you speak of (in the switchbacks up the gulley around 12,000') -- it appeared to me to be about a week old, and I agree that it was not a good spot to glissade.

Going to try to do Princeton tomorrow. I hope I don't need snowshoes...

Cheers and happy trails,

MPO


Shane-O-Mac


Nice Report     2010-11-30 10:28:43
Look s like it was a great hike. I'm thinking of doing the same this weekend. How was the drive to the TH?

shane-o


akmpolsen


drive to TH     2007-11-06 10:09:04
Perfectly dry roads. Small parking area which is clearly marked off of Rt 82. Should be fine for this wkend, assuming no new snow. My understanding is that the TH is accessible year-round. Enjoy the hike!


GnomeSherpa


2nd your comments     2010-11-30 10:28:43
I just wanted to second your comments since I was on trail the same day. Indeed the ice in the trees was probably the hardest spot. Anyway good to see you on another hike.

By the way, I don't know if it was you or the other guys, but please don't glissade on only an inch of snow. Not only do you risk hitting a rock in a place you wouldn't want, but more importantly it tore a huge mud track down the trail, which is going to erode poorly and hurt the nicely switched back trail. Again, it may have been the other guys, but either way I was concerned.

Happy Hiking,
GnomeSherpa


rastro


brian shepherd     2007-11-10 15:01:50
nice to see a pic of Brian and you Marty...good trip report. Princeton should be a breeze considering last Sunday 11/4 it looked almost completely dry from my view in Buena Vista.
R



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