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La Plata - Northwest vs Southwest Ridge

Colorado 14er peak questions and conditions should be posted here. 14er Trip Reports
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La Plata - Northwest vs Southwest Ridge

Postby Cheaton6 » Fri Sep 20, 2013 9:27 am

Hey we are looking to climb La Plata tomorrow and I was wondering what everyone thinks is the best route? Doesn’t matter the difference in elevation and mileage. I am interested in which way people think is a better hike/prettier. Any information would be appreciated!

Re: La Plata - Northwest vs Southwest Ridge

Postby Turtle Boy » Fri Sep 20, 2013 9:43 am

I enjoy the SW Ridge. It's more of a Wilderness experience and the dispersed camping is better. I also think the views are better for most of the climb but that's debatable. There can be water issues in the willows in the meadow before the cirque climb (can be a scree fest here). Nothing challenging but something to note on your boot choice. Enjoy the climb.

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Re: La Plata - Northwest vs Southwest Ridge

Postby 2 left ft » Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:26 am

I hiked to the saddle on the northwest ridge a couple years ago and enjoyed the hike. Didn't summit due to the group I was hiking with. I hiked the southwest ridge last year and wish I would have done the northwest ridge. I didn't care for the boulder field. Maybe I just had an off day. I talked with someone a couple days ago that did Ellingwood Ridge and said it took them 12 hours (I think). I encourage others to do the standard route 1st time up on LaPlata.

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Re: La Plata - Northwest vs Southwest Ridge

Postby bigredmachine » Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:33 am

I haven't done the nw ridge, but the sw ridge was one of the more enjoyable routes I've done. Plus it's almost entirely in the sun so I would imagine there would be little to no snow at all. The views are very good through most of the hike.

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Re: La Plata - Northwest vs Southwest Ridge

Postby Cheaton6 » Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:46 am

Awesome thank you guys! Right now I am kind of leaning towards the southwest ridge since its not the "standard route" I am thinking it might have a few less people :mrgreen:

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Re: La Plata - Northwest vs Southwest Ridge

Postby zinj » Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:57 am

My group of four will be on the NW ridge if that helps your decision (either way!) :-k

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Re: La Plata - Northwest vs Southwest Ridge

Postby Exiled Michigander » Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:06 am

I've done both routes. Normally I'd recommend the SW ridge--I think it's a bit more scenic and usually less crowded. However, with all the rains, the trudge through the willows in the basin between 11,750 and 12,000 might be a soggy mess with ankle-deep mud. Even last autumn when it was much dryer there was quite a bit of standing water up there. So I think, for this weekend, I'd recommend the NW ridge.

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Re: La Plata - Northwest vs Southwest Ridge

Postby dpage » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:00 pm

2 more will be on the SW ridge but we won't be camping. Hoping for better views than last time when we couldn't see more than 5 ft in front of us.

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Re: La Plata - Northwest vs Southwest Ridge

Postby Cheaton6 » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:44 pm

Awesome see you in the AM. what time are you planning to start the SW ridge. Were shooting to start by 3am and get a high altitude sunrise!

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Re: La Plata - Northwest vs Southwest Ridge

Postby dpage » Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:23 pm

Most likely not until 5. See you on the mountain

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Re: La Plata - Northwest vs Southwest Ridge

Postby SolarAlex » Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:27 pm

me and a couple friends are heading up the nw ridge. probably gonna be getting a late start (730 or 8) but the weather looks good. see you guys up there!

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Re: La Plata - Northwest vs Southwest Ridge

Postby kaiman » Fri Sep 20, 2013 3:20 pm

I climbed La Plata by the NW ridge 2 times before trying the SW route and found that the SW route is much better, less used, and more scenic. You will need a 4WD vehicle or at least high clearance beyond Winfield to drive the last couple miles to the trailhead.
"I want to keep the mountains clean of racism, religion and politics. In the mountains this should play no role."

- Joe Stettner

"Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end."

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