Peak(s):  La Plata Peak  -  14,336 feet
Date Posted:  07/24/2011
Modified:  08/08/2013
Date Climbed:   07/23/2011
Author:  rajz06
 Bagging "Silver" from the Southwest  

I started the hike from the West Winfield cemetery having made it that far in my "lowly" passenger car. I had made an unsuccessful attempt at summiting La Plata late last fall, having had to retreat shortly after I'd climbed out of the basin to the ridge, ill prepared for the harsh cold winds that ravaged the ridge that day. Today, even though I didn't set foot on trail until nearly 10 a.m., the weather was definitely on my side.

At the turn off point on the 4WD road, the pine-strewn slopes on the south side offered an enticing view.

View to the South at fork leading to TH

As I trudged northward through the dense woods, a clearing in the foliage opened views to the spectacular valley and the majestic mountains to the west.

Valley to the West

As the trail climbed up and away from the stream, I was amazed by the amount of water raging through.

Raging Stream

Coming out of the woods, I was treated to my first view of the picturesque valley ahead and the trail leading up to the ridge.

Coming out of the Woods

View of the Valley

The trail meandered through the basin for half a mile or so before presenting the first challenge - the steep climb up to the ridge. While the loose rocks and sand certainly did no favors, they would prove to be a real handful on the way down. Here's a look down the trail to the valley beneath.

Looking down the basin

Once on the ridge, the views all around were breathtaking.

View from the Ridge 1

View from the Ridge 2

The trail then offered a brief respite as it made its way to the large boulder field leading to the top of the first false summit.

Trail leading to First False Summit

Heading to the pitch up the talus face, I stopped to say hello to this little denizen of the tundra that seemed to be basking in the sun and enjoying having his picture taken by hikers!

I'm just passing through, little one!

The steep talus face posed the next challenge and here you can see a couple of fellow hikers resting momentarily.

Talus Face

I pressed on up the talus and snapped this shot looking down from near its summit. The tiny specks on the rocks are indeed hikers and the trail through the top of the valley is visible in the distance, lending some perspective to the magnitude of that pitch.

Looking back from Talus summit

At nearly 14,000 feet, the talus top afforded great views of the majesty of the Sawatch that surrounded us.

Views from the Talus Summit

The hike though, was far from over, as evidenced by the view up the remainder of the trail showcasing a relatively steep climb up through two more false summits.

View of Remaining False Summits 1

With well placed cairns marking most of the trail from here, route finding was thankfully not a major challenge.

View of Remaining False Summits 2

The pitch to the last false summit was the final challenge leaving the peak and its other proud occupants only a casual stroll away.

Pitch to Last False Summit

Almost There!

The panaroma from the top was definitely worth the effort.

Mountains Ahoy!

Beautiful Rockies

Finally, some rest and reward for the weary!

Yours Truly

In nearly a decade and a half of hiking Colorado's majestic fourteeners, I have come to expect serious challenges and dramatic weather changes tempered with awesome sights and sounds but, as a predominantly solo hiker, sparkling conversation hasn't typically been on that list! On this descent, though, I was rewarded with just that as I met with a fellow hiker, making for a very enjoyable return; so if you're reading this, here's to you, Francis, and happy summiting!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Good report!
07/25/2011 17:22
I think this route is really more beautiful with more solitude than the standard one. Congratulations on your summit!


Excellent job
08/04/2011 04:04
I attempted La Plata 7-21-11. Was forced to retreat because of lightning. Made it to the top of the talus pile. Congrats on your climb. Great report and photos. And, yes, that steep slope descent into the basin was no fun. Like descending on ball bearings! We had a good time anyway, the scenery was beautiful.

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