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Peak(s):  La Plata Peak  -  14,336 feet
Post Date:  08/04/2009
Date Climbed:   07/29/2009
Posted By:  jeffcady

 La Plata - NW Ridge   

Made my first attempt on a 14er on this Wednesday morning (solo). Left Colorado Springs at 3:30AM, and arrived at the trailhead parking lot at 5:40. Started the hike at 5:45AM. I was actually way too excited about this hike as I had been thinking about it for weeks. Due to my inexperience, I used way too much energy by hiking at a rapid pace across the three bridges, and through the forest. By the time I reached the entry point of the gully, I was already getting fatigued. The good thing was that the weather was holding at this point with no visible threats of thunderstorms (it rained every day we stayed in C Springs).
I was surprised about how long it took me from the treeline to the ridge, and then from the ridge to the summit. Living at a 550 ft elevation in Texas does not help you prepare well for this! Once I did reach the ridge, it was like a shot in the arm, and I was confident I was going to be able to make the summit. I met some really nice folks from Nebraska on the way up, and also a 67 year old guy from Morrison that was making his 30th summit of a 14er. Once on the summit, I stayed for about 15 minutes before it started snowing (how cool is that for late July). The weather began to deteriorate at that point with dark clouds engulfing Mt Massive to the North so I made a quick decent.

First of three bridges. This one being the closest to the parking lot.

Second bridge with a very turbulent waterfall.

Starting to find the clearing in the forest and hiking parallel to the creek.

First scrambling of the day. I lost the trail at this point by a few yards too far down the slope. I think the tendency would be to take this portion too low. Did find that the trail was fairly well marked on my decent though.

The entry point to the gully. Again, if you miss the trail low across the loose rocks shown in the previous pic, you will be walking up a grass slope to find the gully trail. I wasted quite a bit of energy here.

Finally made the saddle of the NW Ridge looking at the imposing Ellingwood Ridge.

A look up the NW ridge. I was pumped at this point as I thought I was close to the summit (little did I know).

Another look up the mountain. How true it is when posters on this site described reaching several false summits before you actually reach 14,336. The key is don't get discouraged.

At the summit. A look to the north at Elbert and Massive.

A look to the WNW at the Snowmass Area in the distance.

Just happy to be there.

Joe and Gerry from Albuquerque that I met at the summit.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

great report!     09/28/2009 23:32
love the photos, lots of advice, this is excactly what I look four. When I go to climb la plata i‘ll know so much and be so much more confident! thanks

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