Peak(s):  La Plata Peak  -  14,336 feet
Post Date:  05/18/2009
Modified:  05/21/2009
Date Climbed:   05/16/2009
Posted By:  Peakrunner

 La Plata North Face   

A perfect day with some great folks!
~2500 ft. skied
Approach standard route with north face descent

Four of us camped down at Twin Lakes for the night with the winds howling and a nice light show over the Mosquito Range. It was a 15 minute drive to the La Plata TH up Hwy 82. We were on the trail by 5:45 just behind two other solo climbers (one skiing). It was a casual paced walk up the standard trail with some low clouds early that delayed sunhit by a couple hours and kept the snow firm.

Hiking towards the summit ridge with some small snowfields

It looked more like an AK day than CO

Starting up the lower part of the summit ridge

There was very little snow on the trail all the way to the summit ridge around 13,300 ft. The snow was still solid with the sun coming out for the first time this morning ... and not a bit of wind!


After reaching the summit there were many ski choices directly from the top. The east facing slopes were perfect with about 2 inches of soft snow on top while the true north aspects were just starting the soften up a bit.

A look at our line from just east of the summit

Skisotope dropping in for some turns

Hillary droppin' the knee


Hillary turning through some of the narrows


Elam(sp?) and shadow

Skisotope getting some

Hillary on the softer east aspect

Elam about halfway down


Christine droppin' the knee

Skisotope rippin'

Hillary at the last steep part before the runout. Perfect spring snow!


Most of the route can be seen here, except the top. There was good continuous snow the entire way down to the basin.

On the way to the traverse out

Overall great conditions and a beautiful day! There was a little bit of suffering while both boot and ski post holing back around on the traverse in the trees, but it left a small impression after the great ski and climb we just had.
Nice to meet you Kansas and Elam!

A look from just beneath the summit

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

05/18/2009 22:21
Last year I looked over into the entrance (exactly in your picture) and wish I had my skis. Full flavor and spicy!


05/18/2009 22:46
Thanks for letting me join you for the descent, I don‘t think I would have dropped in solo. I‘ll send you some pictures when I get time to go through my camera. Hope to run into your crew in the future.


Easy Rider

Great report
05/19/2009 04:52
Good timing on that route.


Glad you guys showed up!
05/19/2009 13:47
Sitting in the parking lot by myself at 5:25am I thought for sure it was going to be a long lonely day on the mountain. Imagine my surprise when 3 cars showed up within 2 minutes, for me its always nice to know that someone else is out there. Looks like you guys had fun on the other side of the ridge! I got a couple pics of you dropping in and sent them to Elam. I‘m always amazed how friendly people are while suffering up to 14,000ft, you guys were no exception!

See ya out there!


How much snow near the summit?
05/19/2009 19:35
Can you summit w/out crampons or snowshoes? How much snow can one expect this coming weekend?


05/21/2009 04:09
There are so many good lines on La Plata! Great pix, looks like a good day.


05/21/2009 21:36
We boot packed the entire way. I added a picture to the bottom of the report showing the majority of the snow encountered on the standard route up (final 800-900 ft). If you get a good freeze it is easy booting without crampons (not that steep), but if it is sunny out you may be post holing. If thats the case stay climbers right in the last pic to stay on the rocks to minimize your efforts.



LaPlata Basin Trail
06/07/2009 20:24
Nice report. Thanks. We‘re headed up there early next week for a ski. Any idea what the walk out via the Basin Trail is like? After skiing the North Face it seems it would be easier than hiking back up out of the Basin and then down to the standard route.



09/09/2009 05:34
I should add that I hiked the whole thing in running shoes (carrying skis + boots). The post-holing in the sneakers was not fun, however. Kansas and Elam, it was great to meet you. See you out there!

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