Peak(s):  La Plata Peak  -  14,336 feet
Date Posted:  09/09/2011
Date Climbed:   09/05/2011
Author:  Nelson
 Ellingwood Ridge  

La Plata, Ellingwood Ridge

September 5th, 2011. To date it has been a spectacular trip. Cindy (by far my better half), Max the wonder dog and I had left Salt Lake City on August 22. We had made a swing through Telluride where I had climbed Wilson Peak and Sneffels by the southwest ridge. Both were spectacular climbs in perfect conditions. From there we went to Breckenridge and set up camp. I did the tour d’Abyss (Bierstadt East Ridge and Sawtooth) and then Kelso Ridge. Both were sensational climbs, again in perfect conditions. When I drove to Longs on the 29th the weather changed on me a bit, ie cold, wind, rain, but the climb of Longs via the Keyhole was great. From there, Max and I climbed the standard route of Bierstadt and Torreys and we both found them immensely satisfying and we bonded accordingly. In between I managed the North Ridge of Massive which is the subject of another TR. All that remained was the Elllingwood Ridge.

I was up early in Breckenrdige and started my climb at 6:45 am from the standard trailhead. Things went very well up to point 13,206. Image
Looking back after gaining the ridge.
Even going to point 13,138 I was very much in control and things were class 3 at the most. Image
Oint 13,206
Then the climb started. It was one gendarme or buttress after another. Image
Yet another gendarme.
There were virtually no cairns or trails. It was trial by error all the way. The route description says “This section of the ridge will begin to get tiresome after a while, but it is a fun experience. Just as you think you are getting nowhere, you will see a path of scree leading up to a small saddle.” Image
Rock ribs and buttresses
I found this path of scree 10 times and the gendarmes kept coming! The Route description also says “Though the ridge gets much steeper, it is almost all class 3 scrambling from here. One massive slope of steep talus leads you uphill.” Image
One of many "final" pitches.
What was it before that? The climb is supposed to be class 3 yet at least half of what I had done was class 4 or higher. I am sure some people could find an easier route but I honestly don’t believe anyone can keep it at class 3, certainly not on the first go around.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the hard exposed scrambling that a route like this offers but do not go into this expecting class 3. To make a long story short I sat down on the summit of La Plata 9 hours after I had started. I don’t think it has ever taken me longer to do 5400 vertical feet. I felt fine and I was down the standard route in 2 ˝ hours. In retrospect it was one of my best mountaineering days ever, especially when I realized I was going to have to get “class 3” out of my head and go to work.

I would offer the same caveats as in all the trip reports and route descriptions: You are not going to believe how long this will take. You have to have perfect weather (I did) because retreat is virtually impossible. Secondly, “it ain’t class 3!”

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

09/27/2012 15:31
Thanks for thr TR, did La Plata last weekend to scope out the ridge. It looks amazing!! Congrats on a safe and successful climb.

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