Peak(s):  La Plata Peak  -  14,336 feet
Date Posted:  05/21/2008
Date Climbed:   05/20/2008
Author:  ThinAir
 NW Ridge ascent/NF ski descent   

First off, my apologies for no photo beta. Ill try to add some in a couple of days when my climbing partner gets em to me.

We ascended the standard NW ridge route, which was uneventful, though we did meander a little bit as we entered La Plata gulch. Our meanderings left us high on the west side of the gulch, forcing us to dump about 400 vertical feet as we did a downward traverse to the base of the main gully that leads to the saddle on the NW ridge. From the base of the gully we booted up to the switchbacks just below the saddle. Booting conditions were good, and we made decent time, but our late start (7 am)combined with our earlier meandering down low had us a little behind schedule. We gained the ridge, and headed on up, summiting about 12:30.

After a break on the summit, we dropped in to the main couloir that starts just east of the summit. It was evident at the top that temps were getting away from us, as the new snow from last week was giving away in small wet slabs. By favoring the west facing side of the couloir, we found good, stable snow, but the easterly aspects were easily triggered into small wet slabs. These slow moving piles of glop were fairly benign, but a couple of them managed to pick up a head of steam, turning into roiling waves of wet cement. Carefully selecting our lines, we settled in and enjoyed the 2000+ feet of 40+ degree skiing that is the NF of La Plata. We descended into the basin, stopped to check out our tracks, and began the traverse out of the basin and back to the trailhead. All in all, a great day, though we agreed that we need to get an earlier start. Instead of leaving Steamboat at 3:30 am, we should have car camped at the TH for a proper start time.

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