La Plata Peak  
Condition Updates  
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2021-01-10, By: arnavxv
Info: Summited La Plata today. There is a nice trench till the headwall. I booted that section. The headwall, while a short part of the climb, is miserable. Scrambling up 40 degree scree/talus with snow on top. I brought a small ice axe, and it was very helpful. After the headwall, I left my ice axe at the beginning of the ridge. From there to where the summer trail meets up, I booted it pretty easily. A little ways after that, I decided to wear snowshoes from around 13,300 to 13,900, was very helpful. Then, booted it to the summit. It was very steep, solid snow for much of the climb from 12.7k to 14.3k. I had rigid sole mountaineering boots, so I step-kicked most of the way up this. If you're using hiking boots, you definitely want traction. Either use your snowshoes traction, or micro spikes. Crampons wouldn't be out of place either, but not worth the weight to carry it that high. Highlight of the day was being able to glissade 500 vertical feet between the headwall and the summer trail. Ice axe was helpful here too - stopped me from whacking into a few trees. Also, the East side of the ridge is heavily loaded. I did some stability tests and sawed off a couple of cornice chunks (about 2/3 of a person sized I'd say) trying to trigger an avalanche, but I couldn't. Make of this info what you will - but snow is much more stable than last week. 
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Route: Northwest Ridge (Winter Variation)
Posted On: 2021-01-09, By: supranihilest
Info: Perfect day on La Plata today. From the trailhead there's a solid trench to about 11,000 feet. It splits a time or two but I reestablished what I thought was the primary one. It's bootable to that point but I found snowshoes useful for the traction and heel risers on the steep stuff. Past they I had several hundred feet of thigh deep garbage to break to treeline, much of it quite steep. The headwall is very obvious from treeline. I went up the center of it trying to avoid snowier ground on either side. It's not hard at about Class 2+ but it's steep, snowy, and loose. A fall would probably be unarrestable. The ridge is essentially split into thirds. First third: I booted it but the snow is sugary crap. Some minor scrambling to avoid very loaded east-facing slopes. Use the tundra to your advantage. Middle third: Rocky and steep. Very snowy. Hard to follow the trail. Probably the most tedious section, just power through it. Last third: I had debated leaving my snowshoes at the top of the headwall and I was glad I didn't, since this entire section was caked in deep snow and would have been a brutal booter. I wore my snowshoes for it up til the last 100 or so feet then took them off when it got rocky again. The start of this section is obvious. Avalanche danger: aside from the headwall most of the steep stuff is below treeline. There's some to avoid right at the top of the headwall, and little bits along the ridge, but for the most part the ridge is either dry or not steep enough to slide. Gear: flotation mandatory as far as I'm concerned. Spikes very useful for the snow and scree on the headwall, marginally useful on the ridge (when not wearing flotation). Ice axe only useful for the headwall. 
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Route: Northwest Ridge with winter variation
Posted On: 2020-12-21, By: CaptainSuburbia
Info: There was a really nice boot/sled packed trail to winter turn off. Trenched from there to headwall. Took spikes up a snow covered headwall. The lower ridge was snow covered with plenty of postholing and some windblown sections. I stayed in rocks on right as much as possible. Upper ridge was a mix of deep postholing, rock hopping and occasional windblown trail. I didn't find any consolidated snow until around 13,900. Climbing got much easier from there to summit. 
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Route: North Face
Posted On: 2020-11-23, By: CharGalli
Info: Trail from the road is well packed now , we had a party of 4. There is not enough snow yet, what made hard to climb some parts of it to get to the ridge... Lots of boulders and loose scree ... Never used snowshoes ... Up in the ridge some snow and brutal winds ... on our way back from the summit most of our foot prints had disappeared with the snow blowing... We went up with the winter route and came down thru the summer one... Lol don't do that... It doesn't have any real good snow for Avy yet but the trail down was snowed in and we postholed all the way back... Stick with the winter route but wait first for a good snow to settle so you don't have to deal with loose boulders and scree.. We parked by the road so access was easy... Happy trails 
 
Route: Winter up, summer down
Posted On: 2020-11-22, By: askwjs
Info: Went up the winter variation route. Headwall was very dry and was much tougher than when snow loaded. Recommend waiting for more substantial snow before attempting, a lot of scree made for a less than enjoyable ascent to the ridge. Summer route looked doable so we took this way down. The gullies are becoming loaded and the summer route would be ill advised, especially after the next big storm. Final approach to the summit was from the ridge had a lot of bouldering and picking your own route as snow was covering much of the trail. Needs more snow before winter climb is in full swing. A little wind on the ridge but sunny. Tough but fun day. Gaiters and spikes recommended. 
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Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-11-22, By: geg86
Info: Good trench line along the winter variation/ridge direct route. Ice ax is helpful, but snow shoes would be overkill. 
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-11-06, By: jryor121
Info: Started at 6:45AM. Made it to the summit at 11AM. Back to the car at 3:20PM. Honestly the conditions were perfect. There was some ice where spikes would have been helpful, but I was hiking just as fast as my friend who decided to bring spikes. Snow was super hard packed and had no real issues with major post-holing (worse was maybe lower shin). Route was super easy to find. Icy in the morning, and slightly muddy in the afternoon as ice was melting. These conditions really only matter for anyone hiking tomorrow morning before the storm, afterwards its back to step one with packing down the route. 
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-10-31, By: Ericsheffey
Info: La Plata, 10.31.20 I'd say it's as close to winter conditions as it will get until the next storm. The summer/standard route is snow covered but well tracked out and doable for the time being. I wouldn't personally do it with any more snow than we found today though. After the next storm, folks will probably have to opt for the North Ridge Direct Winter Variation. The deepest snow we found was on the ridgeline to the summit. A lot of wind drifted snow, occasionally waist high in some spots, but mostly 6-8 inches, give or take a few inches depending on location. A fair amount of occasional post-holing was done over the course of the day. We brought spikes and snowshoes, but ended up stashing the snowshoes at treeline, and I think overall I didn't really feel like I needed them, just a small handful of areas where they would've been nice (but not worth the hassle to carry them just for those areas). If you're itching for a 14er that can still be done with minimal gear, La Plata is in decent shape. Grab your spikes and go make it happen. 
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Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-10-31, By: Dignus
Info: Bumbled around in the dark until I lost the trail about a mile in. Trail untracked beyond there so hopefully someone with a better sense of direction can find their way and not be misled by my prints. Plenty of snow up top, looking from Independence Pass. 
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-10-22, By: rlb11111
Info: Trail is clear, very little hard packed ice near peak. Wind is a challenge though. 
 
Route: Ellingwood Ridge
Posted On: 2020-10-11, By: Auburus
Info: As dry as you could hope for (be aware that this could change with the snowfall that could happen today, Sunday). Total trip time, 14h car to car, with ~30min at the top. I started the trip at 2.15am, reaching the first spire as the sun was raising. As others have said, the route finding is tough while in the ridge (especially soloing), since there are so many paths that end in a cliff, or in a class 5 climbing section. Apart from that, this trail has hours of class 3-fun, so definitely worth it 
 
Route: Ellingwood Ridge
Posted On: 2020-10-04, By: Gandalf69
Info: The ridge is 99 percent dry, 2 or 3 little snow patches. As others have mentioned the ridge is long. Ultimate route finding challenge.The sketchist towers were in the middle section. I started at 430, summit at 5 pm lol The ridge took me 9 hours, but because weather was so perfect I took my time. One person passed me on ridge, otherwise didn't see anyone. 
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Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-09-21, By: NatDog
Info: Pretty much same conditions as from the last report. This route is totally doable without traction right now. Photos #13 and #14 from the route description are pretty indicative of the current snow coverage on the upper ridge. Easy boulder hopping just to the right of the snow shown in photo #14. 
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Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-09-19, By: Alpinefroggy
Info: Ridge (trail) free of snow until about 13,500 ft when there is snow on the trail about half the time. Easily avoidable with talus hopping and following cairns uphill. That being said the snow is hardpacked and steps have been created so it is possible to cross some snow fields without microspikes or other traction and there are some snow fields that would make the climb easier if you chose to do that. I brought and did not use my microspikes. Windy and cold on the summit. Reccomend extra layers/gloves/handwarmers. Fall colors are out in full. Snow is on the ground. IMO top 3 best hikes I have ever done. Unreal scenery to me. All in all fairly easily done and a great time of year to do the hike. 
 
Route: Southwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-09-16, By: grotegutj
Info: The southwest trail to La Plata Peak is dry all the way to the boulder field at 12,000 ft. Here you will find small patches of avoidable snow, however it does increase the trail finding difficulty which is already difficult in this section of this route. We were able to hike up without any sort of traction devices, just boots. The weather was warm and clear. There are a few muddy spots in the meadow leading up to the ridge but in the morning it was frozen and on the way down easily avoided. Other wise the trail is dry and very doable right now from the southern approach. 
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Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-09-13, By: brodiecr11
Info: Hiked the standard route today (9/13/20) with microspikes and crampons. Postholed above my knee a few times, but snow was dry and relatively sturdy. Amazing views of all the other snowy mountains from the top with perfect weather! Snow was largely melted below treeline coming back but I'd highly recommend bringing traction. 
 
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-09-12, By: ThuChad
Info: I attempted the standard route on 9/11. Below tree line there was around 6 inches of snow but quickly melting in the afternoon. Decent boot track below tree line. Above tree line the trail gets harder to make out and no boot tracks. I broke Trail up to 12,600 just below the ridge before getting turned around by knee deep snow. I was unable to see the trail even though my GPS said I was on it. There were three people behind me that may have pushed the trail higher or summited. If you can gain the ridge you should be good. I ran out of gas before I could get there. A lot of the snow may melt off in the coming days but it was full early winter conditions yesterday. I was questioning whether I made a bad choice taking the standard route opposed to the snow route. I have now been rejected by both in snow conditions. Spikes and flotation may be handy in the next couple days. 
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Route: Ellingwood Ridge
Posted On: 2020-09-08, By: Thevirtualsherpa
Info: Set out to tackle Ellingwood solo and very glad I ran into another hiker along the way. No disrespect, but the route description for this hike is severely lacking details, its like the cliff notes version. The woods to the ridge gain is adequate, but once on the ridge expect HOURS and HOURS of route finding, getting cliffed out and loads of class 3,4 and 5 options. I was glad to have a partner so that we could divide and conquer the infinite amount of towers, route options and class 3,4,5 sections. The rock is generally pretty terrible on this route (TEST EVERYTHING) with under 5 cairns on the entire ridge. The biggest mental letdown was having faith that a tower would not end in a cliff and being let down time and time and time again. Air quality was very very bad, zero visibility of anything. Felt like climbing in a bonfire the entire day. Car to car in about 11.5 hours - over 6 of that spent on the ridge. 
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Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-08-30, By: mtgoatmike
Info: Trail was wet from the prior day's rain. Summit ridge was mainly dry, rocks on the east side were slick with a thin layer of ice. On the summit there was snow/ice, but was melting as the sun rose. (I reached the summit at 7:05am) 
 
Route: Southwest Ridge
Posted On: 2020-08-23, By: Mitsugi
Info: Summer Conditions. Smoke wasn't that bad. More or Less a non-factor. Coming down the slope back into the valley is a hell of skree. Gods. You're basically sliding down a mini avalanche of rocks on your butt. But great views. 

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