Peak(s):  La Plata Peak  -  14,336 feet
Date Posted:  05/11/2010
Date Climbed:   05/08/2010
Author:  ArloGuthroJeep

 La Plata - North Couloir`s   

A coworker of mine and myself headed to La Plata Peak's Northern trailhead Friday after work and camped there. We woke up 30 minutes late (watch battery died) and started our hike up around 5:40am.

The first mile or so were huffed it through the dense forest, taking the wrong turn a few times, until we finally hit solid snow so we could throw on our skis w/skins. Excuse the sweat buildup on my lens

A short while later we reached the mouth of the La Plata Basin and started heading South.

As we approached the apron a storm quickly blew in and covered up the mountain and gave us a nice head wind:

As I cursed the wind I wished it was at our back to push us up...sure enough it did a 180 and was helping us

This is a view of the North Couloir's - we headed up the "main" one in the center of the photo which goes left and then straight up...

Our goal was to ascend the North Couloir's (as opposed to the easier western ridge) so we would know the conditions of the snow pack for the decent...

My partner was quite a bit more fit than I am so he waited quite a bit for me it felt like:

At around 12,000 ft we reached the top of the apron and the start of the couloir's so we switched from skis to crampons and began the boot packing section - this was a first for me. Ice axe and crampons!

I did lots of what I was calling praying:

Collapsing out of exhaustion and praying the intense wind, which has now turned into a strong head wind, didn't blow me back as I balanced while resting...

We measured slopes between 35 and 40 degrees:

Around 1pm we made it to the summit:

We skied down what we came up in about 30 minutes, taking turns going down and waiting in safe zones.

At the end of the apron we had to stay high to avoid a massive traverse in the tree's. It turns out we didn't stay high enough. We eventually hit La Plata Gulch and skied out in there for most of the way. It was a bit scary since there was rushing water (and holes in the snow) underneath us:

So while I have done 12 14ers over the past 2 years, some class 4's and more challenging skiing, this has by far been my most exhausting day. This has been by first successful winter 14er (Quandary has denied me twice in winter and Bierstadt once). The latest in the year I have ever skied...

I loved it, even though I hurt badly now!


 Comments or Questions

nice line
05/11/2010 21:46
that looks like a cool line. thanks


Hey Rock Frog!
05/12/2010 04:23
That snow climb was nicely done. We‘ll have to combine some mountains with some classic 4WD roads this year. An attempt at Mount Holy Cross from Holy Cross City has been on my mind for this summer.

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