|2017-01-18||Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2017-01-18, By: aflaim
Info: There is currently about 8 inches of powder in the trees, give or take a few inches depending on the area. My partner and I left our vehicle the first time at about 5:15am; he was on skis while I was on snowshoes. We followed a single set of snowshoe tracks that followed the recommended winter variation fairly closely. The unusual thing about these tracks was that they only led one direction - up the mountain. We never did figure out how the hiker in front of us descended the mountain, but we were the only vehicle at the trail head. We turned around immediately after the foot bridge because my partner was unable to ascend the steep hill on skis. We returned to the vehicle so he could switch to snowshoes, leaving the second time around 6:00am. The deep powder in the trees slowed us down dramatically, and made the steep slopes of the winter variation very slippery and difficult to ascend safely. We didn't see any major signs of snow pack instability that might cause the slopes below the trees to avalanche, but the ascent was still difficult, slow, and precarious. Ultimately, we decided to turn around at 11,474', before we had even climbed above treeline. We made this decision for many reasons, primarily because we had encountered very steep and unstable slopes that we were unsure of our ability to safely ascend, and also that we had spent such a great amount of time gaining only a small amount of elevation. Essentially, we felt we were traveling too slow and we were not confident that we could continue safely given the conditions. The single set of snowshoe tracks continued bravely up the mountain, and we are not sure how far the hiker eventually made it, or how he/she got down off the mountain. The descent was very unstable due to the large amount of loose snow on the mountain. We would discourage anyone without extensive snow-travel experience from following the trench that we built through the trees, at least until the snow pack stabilizes, which may not be for some time. Here is a .gpx file of our route: https://goo.gl/t8T4rf
|2017-01-08||Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2017-01-09, By: graberz
Info: Not that this info is relevant anymore given the snow the mountain is probably getting/got, but as of Sunday we made a good trench all the way to the headwall, a portion of the trail was all ready present and rebroken. There was a lot of fresh deep powder. We used crampons at the headwall and up the ridge which was mostly wind blown. Route finding was difficult with low visibility around the class 2 terrain. 2 in the group ended up making summit. I was moving slower and given the time turned around at around 13,500. Overall, it was 10.5 hour day to summit.
|2016-12-31||Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2017-01-01, By: CreekRunner
Info: Thanks to those before us, a solid trench has been put in all the way up to the base of the winter variation gully. Microspikes are nice below treeline, but Marmot96 took the challenge to make things difficult going up and didn't use them. Once on the ridge, most of the route is bare of snow. About halfway up the ridge, there are two options of either snowshoeing on wind packed snow or talus hopping until the route heads east to the summit. Other than that, snowshoes are not needed and more of a preference.
|2016-12-27||Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2016-12-28, By: KelanAnzures
Info: Summited on the 27th. Started at 5:30, Summit by 1:30, car by 5:30. Very cold and windy. Snowshoes a must until treeline, but we managed to put in a nice trench/snowshoe trail. Above treeline snow is thin in spots and microspikes will suffice. If anyone would like pictures I will post a link to them here. Pictures: https://1drv.ms/a/s!AuQaleXGrdUwiHotDsZaNj2NPvyi
|2016-11-13||Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2016-11-14, By: hollamby
Info: Very dry at base. No gators needed or traction devices. Did have a couple inches of snow last 1.25 miles.
|2016-11-03||Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2016-11-03, By: C-Shepguy
Info: Dustings of snow here and there below treeline. An inch or two on some portions of the switchbacks. Varying amount of snow, 2-6 inches deep on the ridge. About halfway up the ridge, I finally put my spikes on because I was starting to slip on rocks under the powdery layer of snow. A few places had some older snow underneath, but it was mostly just a fresh layer from the last day. Anyway, spikes recommended.
|2016-10-16||Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2016-10-17, By: Maverick6981
Info: Peak was extremely windy above 12,000 ft. Around the same point, there is light snow. Closer to about 13k and above, I highly recommend microspikes. At certain spots, snow was knee deep. Route was slightly hard to find as it appeared that new snow had fallen the night before. Stay towards the ridge and you should be fine.
|2016-10-13||Route: Southwest Ridge
Posted On: 2016-10-15, By: summitbound
Info: Banner day on La Plata. It didn't appear that anyone has been on this route since the last snow storm. Road is snow free all the way to the trail head. Upper basins marshy area was frozen in the morning and a muddy mess on the way out. Ridge has typical windblown snow. A foot or so deep in places, but avoidable with a bit of navigation. We took traction but never used it. I have done La Plata from the std route and this one was just as fun. Had the entire mountain to ourselves the entire hike. Rare occurrence these days. Abandon tent (that based on the comments below) has been sitting for what appears to be well over 2 months and countless people walking by it, is now removed. If its yours and you want it back, its will be in my trash can until Wed. You better have a good reason for leaving it along with the tons of trash inside it. LNT!!
|2016-10-12||Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2016-10-13, By: ewiggans
Info: Started at 3 am and summited by 8 back down by noon. About 4 inches of fresh powder in the last 24 hrs from forecast. Light dusting of snow started at 10k, mostly melted by noon. Trailhead is dry. Snow gets gradually deeper starting at treeline, going to the summit. Freeze thaw conditions and deep blown snow toward summit. Traction is not required but recommended for the icey conditions.
|2016-09-25||Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2016-09-25, By: AlexeyD
Info: Fairly minimal snow - mostly above 13k, and melting rapidly even there. Made some rocks a little slick, but not nearly enough to warrant spikes. Beautiful day, zero wind on the summit and no storm hazard! Aspens in la plata gulch are a bit past peak, but the drive along 82 is spectacular right now!
|2016-09-17||Route: Southwest Ridge
Posted On: 2016-09-18, By: Josh Bux
Info: The only snow I saw all the way to the top was small patches between rocks where the sun never shines. The lower part of the trail in the basin is very muddy. Early in the morning the mud was all frozen and easy to avoid. On the way back down it was a bit harder to stay out of it. Also a couple of streams intersecting the path on the climb from basin to ridge that freeze in the morning, but narrow enough to avoid slipping. No traction needed.
|2016-09-17||Route: Ellingwood Ridge
Posted On: 2016-09-18, By: Dan_Suitor
Info: The route was virtually snow free with some snow in the shaded areas. In these areas, snow was about 1 inch dep. Only a couple of times did we have to contend with snow in smaller, completely shaded gullies. It was slick, but we managed just fine without traction.
|2016-09-17||Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2016-09-17, By: Daniel Joder
Info: Trail is basically in summer condition. There were a few spots up high where some snow remained on the trail (1/2" or less) but it was easy to avoid or just take care where you step. Leaves in the Independence Pass area are looking mighty good. Some aspen colonies have already peaked, others not quite yet. This coming week should be the best viewing time for the area.
|2016-09-17||Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2016-09-17, By: SamFletcher
Info: I started hiking at 4:20, and the trail was really well made and solid until about 13,000. There were a few muddy spots below treeline but nothing serious, and these had mostly dried up by the time I descended (10:30). There were a few patches of snow, especially above 13,500, but most of these were avoidable. The summit was windy and very cold, so be sure to bring (and put on before getting up there) lots of layers if you plan to spend a long time on the summit.
|2016-08-31||Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2016-09-01, By: VegasRich
Info: Heavy storm the evening before left 3 inches of snow on the top, mainly above 13,500. It was easy to walk through. The real issue was all the moisture around; clear skies allowed a lot of dew and a heavy frost on everything. The bunch of small logs across the 2nd creek looked too risky; I went upstream a little ways for slightly less risky boulders. But the worst was the frost. All the rocks were covered and extremely slick. Unless it was perfectly flat, every step had to be wedged between more than one rock. And much of the upper areas were shaded until 9 or 10am. Haven't been that afraid of hurting myself on a mountain in many years. Otherwise, an okay trail. You can tell a lot of work has been put into it. But right now I think the SW ridge has to be preferred. I wish I had made the drive back there.
|2016-08-25||Route: Southwest Ridge
Posted On: 2016-08-25, By: Solo
Info: Clear dry and frozen going up... Then dry sleet coming down. 6+30 round trip from a half mile short of 4WD TH (I'm old and flatlander just flown in yesterday. Ps... Abandoned tent still there.
|2016-08-11||Route: Southwest Ridge
Posted On: 2016-08-13, By: hwstock
Info: There is an apparently abandoned tent within a mile of the 4WD TH. There is nothing but a bit of junk inside (no packs, bags); if it is still there in a few days, I think it is safe to remove. The marshy area is still a bit obnoxious, but we saw few bugs. I wore low-tops, and got one slight soaker; just be prepared to jump.
|2016-07-17||Route: Southwest Ridge
Posted On: 2016-07-18, By: LataLizzy
Info: The marshy area in the willows has one spot that's a muddy, sloppy mess and difficult to avoid completely. So I would recommend actual hiking books rather than running shoes as those are no fun when they get wet (although I did see someone hike up the peak in Chacos). The gravel chute up to the ridge is quite steep and slippery-- make sure to move quickly and watch your step so you don't slide down! There will likely be lots of bugs as you return down to treeline and back to your car even if it is windy at the summit-- don't count on a breeze down lower to keep the bugs away. I didn't see many mosquitoes, but the flies are really annoying. I took my friend up here yesterday: this was only her second 14er, and she doesn't do a lot of hiking to begin with. Overall, I think this is a good route for a beginner who still wants a bit of a challenge.
|2016-07-16||Route: Ellingwood Ridge
Posted On: 2016-07-17, By: stoopdude
Info: No snow on the route, summer conditions. We saw one or two totally avoidable patches of snow. Feel free to travel light and fast. Side note, this route is LONG. Took us 12 hours round trip with a long lunch break. We're not usually slow, but it took almost 3 hours to gain the ridge, and about 5.5 hours on the ridge itself.
|2016-07-09||Route: Southwest Ridge
Posted On: 2016-07-11, By: ericwolf88
Info: The road up to the trailhead is in great condition and I easily made it in a Tiguan past the very mild "washout" before the trailhead. Mosquitoes on the lower portion of the route were terrible due to a lot of standing water in the marshy area (don't expect to keep your shoes free of mud). The section up to 12,800' is very steep with a lot of dry, loose rock that you pretty much are surfing on the way down. Route finding on the upper section is hard. Find as many cairns as you can. We couldn't find the way down that we came up and it was slow going climbing over large rocks. My gps watch had this at 9 miles, not 7, so take that for what it's worth. Overall, there is probably a reason this is not the standard route and I'm not sure if I would choose it if I had to do it again...might be worth it to climb a few hundred more feet to have a more enjoyable time.