Peak(s):  La Plata Peak  -  14,336 feet
Date Posted:  08/23/2009
Date Climbed:   08/23/2009
Author:  dpwellington

 La Plata Peak - Northwest Ridge  

I climbed La Plata Peak on Sat 8/22. It was really just a long slog with better views unfolding well past timberline. I should mention that there are some definite erosion problems with the class 1 trail above timberline with the small pebbles on bare dirt. Falling on your backside a few times on the way down seems likely. The spots of erosion will be obvious, so you can work through them. Walking sticks could be quite helpful in this regard. I left the Denver area at 5:30 am and hit the trailhead at 8 am and was very fortunate that I found a parking spot. I felt energized after a good night's sleep. It was going to be a warm day, but most of the ascent in the morning was in the shadow of the mountain. Nice views of the South Fork of Lake Creek

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I blitzed up the mountain in under 2 hours. The views from the top weren't anything special until Ellingwood Ridge came into view and the summit views made the trip worth it.


The trip down La Plata took me nearly as long (10 minutes faster) and even when I could jog my quads didn't feel much like running. There's seemingly no way to safely blitz down this peak and if it could be done would probably contribute to the erosion problem. The East Ridge on Elbert, which is similar in distance and elevation gain, on the other hand has reasonably solid footing and is a slightly quicker hike for those climbers driving from Denver and back in the same day. Of course you could make it into a weekend like most sane people.

In closing, a guy that I met on the summit said that a few years ago his dad coaxed him into doing the Ellingwood Ridge and that it took them 9 hours to reach the summit from the trailhead! This year he did it in 3 using the NW ridge route.

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