| silvery snow on La Plata (NW ridge route)
Standard route (NW ridge)
Our original plan for today was to do a class 3 climb in the Indian Peaks. But with all the wet weather we've had, along with the less-than-ideal forecast for today, we decided to do an alternate "walk up" at the last minute (i.e., 4 a.m. this morning).
Even though it's not the most exciting climb in the state, I've wanted to re-climb La Plata via its standard route for a couple years now. Out of circumstance or desperation, it finally made it to the forefront of our list and we were on our way.
Because of the long drive to the trailhead, we were going to have to live with a late start – much later than we normally start.
With no time to stop for a photo, Jen grabbed the wheel and I snapped this pic while I was driving next to Twin Lakes:
Seeing the snow-topped peaks kind of surprised us. But they didn't look too severe.
At 7:35 a.m. we started charging up the trail (well, it's actually a road at first). Because we got such a late start on such a questionable weather day, we knew there would be the chance that we wouldn't make it due to bad weather.
As we gained elevation, we found more and more snow on the trail. None of it was a problem, though. And it just added to the ambiance.
Well onto the ridge, here's a look back:
And a look up:
Ellingwood Ridge, in a mountain-layered sandwich:
The last couple miles of the trail had snow, but none of it was more than ankle deep.
The wind caused it to get pretty cold up there, so we layered up, making it feel like winter was already here.
Like some sort of magical magnet, my camera kept pulling me to that Ellingwood Ridge and the mountains beyond.
As we pushed toward the top, clouds billowed around us. The threat was still low, but we kept a careful watch on the sky.
Just a short and easy saunter over to the true summit:
To our surprise, we gained the summit much faster than anticipated, at 10:50, just three hours and fifteen minutes from when we started.
The views were awesome!
On the descent I took another pan of the Ellingwood Ridge (click to see larger version):
By the way, the snow melted quite a bit during the hours we were climbing. On our descent, at least a mile of the trail above treeline had melted off already. And to see the change, just check out my before and after shots from Twin Lakes.
The aspens were raging, though this isn't the best example:
Jen crossing the bridge below the falls:
At 1:15 we made it back to the trailhead, a bit surprised at how fast we climbed. But we were also fatigued.
The drive back down Hwy 82, in full light, was really cool. The aspens are just about peaking, so get up there now!
Twin Lakes shot:
Overall, it was a great day to be in the mountains. Post-climb, beers of the season were in order …
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):