| WINDY morning on La Plata
After a couple 14er ski descents in May, and then the Teva Games taking up all of last weekend, I was anxious to really kick off "hiking season." My friends Andrea and Brian, who both just moved to Colorado for the summer, were psyched up to go after their first 14er. Originally we had planned on hiking Quandary, but on Saturday I changed the plan to La Plata... hoping that they would get some solitude on the summit, and it would memorable first 14er.
We left Vail around 5:15am and began our hike at 6:30am. The skies were clear and it looked like it was going to be a gorgeous June day. The beginning section of the hike through the forest flew by, with Andrea setting a very steady pace. Before long we were making our way up to the NW ridge. That's where the fun started!
When we hit the top of the ridge, the wind was really starting to pick up. Andrea's hat flew right off her head and off the side of the mountain! By the time we got around the buttress, the rest of the hike was in the snow (which was actually perfect snow for hiking... just soft enough to sink in a little bit and get good footing, but you didn't really have to worry about sinking in up to your knees). The wind was whipping HARD... and it was consistent all the way to the top.
We reached the summit at 9:20am, took a few pictures, and immediately began our descent. The views were stunning, but we were COLD up there! Going down the ridge was a lot of fun, bombing through the snow... and further down we hit a little snowfield that we could glissade down. Back on the road before noon, we all agreed that it was a fantastic day.
I'm glad we hit the summit early, as it looked like the weather took a turn for the worse as the day went on. At least it looked that way on Independence Pass, according to Lance: http://www.livestrong.com/lance-armstrong/video/weatheronthepass-avi/546d20b7-a249-44e2-bef0-c2f298af25a5/
Looking back North
Heading up the steep gully
Taking shelter from the insane wind
Almost at the top
Having some fun on the way down
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):