Peak(s):  La Plata Peak  -  14,336 feet
Post Date:  11/11/2007
Date Climbed:   11/10/2007
Posted By:  Alby426

 La Plata NW Ridge in November   

Who knew that it was possible to climb a Fourteener in mid November without the use of crampons nor snowshoes.
I set-off at about 6 AM (stupid me, I forgot my watch), and after following the road too much and missing the trailhead, I came back and did discover my mistake (Due to the darkness). Well, minor setback, but for future reference, when coming across a green gate, the trail starts there.


The first section in woods was quite pleasant and crossing the first bridge gave a great view of the little "Canyon" eroded by the stream. The waterfall was almost completely frozen.



Finally at the second "bridge".


The trail from here became somewhat treaturous as it was covered with snow, but even worse: ice!
walking here made was difficult to dangerous.
At this time I crossed path with Clay, Dave and Holly (La Plata was her 30th 14er in 2 years!!!). I ended up celebrating with them on top and making my way down abusing their good company.


Finally coming out of the woods and the ice is over !!!
So the real ascent begins. The tightly spaced switchbacks are actually fun to go up to the first traverse.


The traverse was also covered in snow, but the climb was easy with just boots.


The second set of switchback awaits after that snowy part of the trail and in little time, I was on top of the saddle and looking up at the ridge that I had to climb to reach the summit. Well, from here I can say that it looked quite imposing, and snowy!


The view from here is breathtaking, both because it's possible to see everything around, but even more because the ridge is visible and the daunting task ahead is now clear.


Climbing from here was a mix of trail following on rock, snow and mix. The snow was somewhat soft and a little difficult to cross. Every chance I had, I stepped in other climbers already dug in holes (Sometimes as deep as my knee. I am not really sure the that day snowshoes would have done the trick: the snow sections were short and the I was skipping on rocks.
This was, by far the most difficult part of the climb, both, because of the difficulty of the terrain and the fact that I hadn't been this high in a couple of months and my physical condition wasn't at its peak.

A picture looking down at the first part of the ridge.

An example of the condition around 13800'

And looking up

I did seriously strain up this slope, I am not 20 anymore
Every time I would step in snow and dig in, I could feel my body scream for mercy. But, finally, the trail turned East and in no time I reached the TOP !!!


Me proudly on top.

I reached the summit at about 11 AM. Dave didn't forget his watch.

After celebrating our success and cheering with three other climbers that had chosen the south route, we all decided that it was time to head back as the clouds were approaching.


On our descend, we actually got to play in the snowy slopes, using gravity as our playmate.
The rest of the descent was, as always long, but the chance to chat with other climbers made it quite pleasant, until the icy trail in the forest! That was again quite breaknecky.

Well, this was a great climb, especially considering it was Nov. 10th.

Dave and Holly on their way down from the ridge.

One last look at La Plata from the vehicle bridge not far from the parking.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Nice report!     08/28/2008 00:37
Good job on attaining the summit!


Enjoyed Hiking With You     11/22/2007 23:21
Great trip report! Enjoyed looking at the pictures and remembering the hike. Dave, Clay and I enjoyed hiking with you. Maybe we‘ll meet you on another peak next summer. Hope the racing is going well.

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