Peak(s):  La Plata Peak  -  14,336 feet
Date Posted:  11/03/2007
Date Climbed:   11/03/2007
Author:  akmpolsen

 La Plata - std NW ridge route  

La Plata Peak
Date Climbed : Saturday Nov. 3
Trip Time : Just under 8 hours (yeah I am slow…)
Route : Standard NW ridge route

Having sat idly for upwards of six weeks, I decided I needed to drag my flab up a mountain and chose La Plata because of the easy TH access. Arrived at the TH around 8 and noticed that there was not nearly as much snow on the ground as I expected. My dog, Brian, and I set out with a group of three other hikers but they were going a bit faster than I was, so I lagged behind (Brian, being a Shepherd "mix" spent his time shuttling between the groups).

Trail conditions under treeline were variable. In some stretches, it was pure dirt. Other stretches had nice crunchy snow that caused little traction issues. But, there were a number of stretches where crampons would have been useful. (Yes, I had them but was too lazy to put them on, knowing I would be taking them off after 50 yards). Best advice I can give on those stretches is keep just off trail and you'll be fine. Below is a picture of one of the snowier sections of trail :


Getting to near the treeline at about 11,400', we were treated to a beautiful view of Winfield Peak. (below) Weather was outstanding – a little breezy at times but generally mild. The summit was rather cold and windy but tolerable nonetheless.


Had a quick snack break at the shoulder at 12,300'. Brian amazingly still has energy…


Gained the summit ridge at about 12,800'. Cornices are only beginning to be developed. The snow was pretty fluffy and was generally lousy for walking on. I chose to hopscotch on the rocks (R side of ridgeline) and that worked out very well.


Despite the bluebird conditions, the last ~400' to the summit saw a significant drop in temperature and increase in wind speed. I spent maybe 10 minutes up top (did not find a registry but then again didn't look too hard), and snapped a summit shot of Brian and I. It was his second 14er (Democrat was #1). He ran into a few pickles where he would whine which I cannot figure out – he used to be a heck of a mountain dog in Alaska.


There were only a few spots where one could glissade, unfortunately….


Overall, a really nice early winter climb. I would recommend some sort of traction assistance for the treeline section of the route. The standard route I took is NOT a usual winter route, but avalanche risk was extremely low due to the minor amount of snow, so I would recommend this route until the next major snow system hits. After that, it may be more advisable to take the winter route. Here is a link for that (courtesy of Scott P, who posted this link on a board) It gives a general description but unfortunately no maps.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

glissade/mud trail
02/05/2011 00:22
Well, I did do a couple of glissades but it was in deep snow and I did not hit dirt at all. I am familiar with the glissade track you speak of (in the switchbacks up the gulley around 12,000') -- it appeared to me to be about a week old, and I agree that it was not a good spot to glissade.

Going to try to do Princeton tomorrow. I hope I don't need snowshoes...

Cheers and happy trails,



Nice Report
11/30/2010 17:28
Look s like it was a great hike. I'm thinking of doing the same this weekend. How was the drive to the TH?



drive to TH
11/06/2007 17:09
Perfectly dry roads. Small parking area which is clearly marked off of Rt 82. Should be fine for this wkend, assuming no new snow. My understanding is that the TH is accessible year-round. Enjoy the hike!


2nd your comments
11/30/2010 17:28
I just wanted to second your comments since I was on trail the same day. Indeed the ice in the trees was probably the hardest spot. Anyway good to see you on another hike.

By the way, I don't know if it was you or the other guys, but please don't glissade on only an inch of snow. Not only do you risk hitting a rock in a place you wouldn't want, but more importantly it tore a huge mud track down the trail, which is going to erode poorly and hurt the nicely switched back trail. Again, it may have been the other guys, but either way I was concerned.

Happy Hiking,


brian shepherd
11/10/2007 22:01
nice to see a pic of Brian and you Marty...good trip report. Princeton should be a breeze considering last Sunday 11/4 it looked almost completely dry from my view in Buena Vista.

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2017®, 14ers Inc.