Peak(s):  La Plata Peak  -  14,336 feet
Date Posted:  06/06/2007
Modified:  06/12/2007
Date Climbed:   06/02/2007
Author:  TexasTaylor

 La Plata -Northwest Ridge / June 2nd, 2007  

We drove the 1.6 miles through private property to public land and found the sweetest camping spot. This was Texas Taylor's first ascent, and it ended up being a gem.
We awoke a half-hour late at 4:13am and scrambled to break down camp, get dressed, and drive the 1.6 miles back to the parking area at Colorado 82 and we were off. We must have been too excited because after passing the waterfall bridge, we ended up on what appeared to be an elk trail thanks to my trusty trail dog Cody. When we reached the next creek, the "log bridge" was nowhere to be found and in it's place were aspen branches partially submerged. "Is this what they meant by 'small log bridge?'", I exclaimed. Determined, I sprang out onto the "log bridge" only to soak my feet before the sun even showed itself. Finally, we reached another creek and realized we were going the wrong way. However, it happened for a reason. On the way back to find the true trail, we met up with some skiers who saved us again later up above timberline. The climb through the forest was great and the sun lit up the surrounding peaks.
When we began the climb out of La Plata Gulch, the switchback trail was covered by what can only be described as a small glacier.
We had to climb the rocks on the sides of the gully to get above the snow, and again at the next snow patch some Class 3 scrambling was required to avoid the slick and hard snowpack. Once we reached the buttress, the ridge was kind to us and the trail pointed up to a mountain that was still shrouded in snow. At this point, a decision was made that we had come too far to turn back and our newly acquired climbing partner "Hook 'Em Horns" felt confident as well.
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The skiers donned their ski boots and had cramp-ons to climb the snow. Fortunately, the minute toe holes created by their acsent provided a little added confidence on tackling the rest of the hike.

The wind began to pick up and I believe it was at this moment when all the warnings given to my flatlander partner that this hike was not going to be a walk in the park, began to sink in.
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Finally, the summit was in our sights and Texas Taylor could not muster a smile... But, I knew he was smiling on the inside.
The summit was incredible... The sun came out and warmed our backs, the snow covered peaks were breathtaking, the company was great, and we were treated to some extreme skiers descending right off the snow nipple at the summmit. WOW!
Image Image Image We had lunch, packed up, and began our descent. This is where I was introduced to a unique way of travelling down the peak. Thanks to the ever present snow that made each step dangerous on the way up, we were treated to an expressway down. Watching "Hook 'Em Horns" in the distance I could see him travelling at great speeds on his rear end! This snow sliding was fantastic!!! What a way to travel.
Image #14 (not yet uploaded)
Thanks to Texas Taylor's persistance in wanting to climb this particular weekend, (which I cautioned against, we have been training since December and a few more weeks were not going to kill us) I was treated to my all time favorite 14er experience.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

small world
02/05/2011 00:22
Hi guys! I'm one of the skiers - the one with the gray moustache. But about the only extreme we were was extremely stoked...or extremely worn-out.

I loved your dog, your pictures are great, and you two did a great job hanging in there when the air got thin - I still think it was so hard to breathe because everyone ahead of us was using up all the air.

It's good hearing from you. Here's to many more peaks and happy turns.


Snow on the Sangre De Cristo's
11/30/2010 17:28
Yea... OK. Not extreme eh... That shoot you guys went down was gnarly... I was impressed. What a great day, thanks for the comments. By the way... I forgot, how much snow did you say was on the Sangre's? Please advise...


many more to come!
06/07/2007 17:55
Nice job! Looked like a perfect day for you!

Kevin Baker

11/30/2010 17:28
Congrats on your first 14er, Texas Taylor. The last pic of your report is actually of neighbor centennial 13er Hope. Great job. I know what it's like being a flatlander at altitude b/c I used to live in KS.


southern sangres conditions
11/30/2010 17:28
mrkite1977 - the snow in the New Mexico Sangre de Cristos is thin and getting thinner every day. The most recent first hand information I heard was scotthsu saying that he skied in the Williams Lake basin (Wheeler Peak location) on the same day we were on La Plata. Here's his TR:

Lake Fork Peak is directly across the drainage from Wheeler. You can PM me if you need more/different info.


06/08/2007 17:50
What an awesome trip. I think my favorite part was your dog! You guys must have the love of some amazing women for them to let you climb in that much snow with just some simple hiking boots! Oh and your pictures are incredible! I loved the details of your journey...quite the author! All I have left to say is WELL DONE GENTLEMEN!!! I AM PROUD OF YOU!

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