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La Plata Peak  
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Route  Conditions Information  Posted By   Posted On    Photos  Comments Likes Dislikes    
2014-11-28  Ellingwood Ridge  La Plata in November sugar is quite the beast. The traverse over to the start of the ridge is very pleasant gentle terrain however it is a steep climb to the tree line after crossing the 3rd creek. Also, the route description on this website is spot on for this climb. Day 1 - We made the traverse and ascended to 11,500‘. The snow made the elevation gain difficult as it is not consolidated except where it has been scoured by wind. We dug out a solid campsite a few hundred feet above the tree line, and called it a day. Day 2 - This was a very difficult day. We started up the talus with our heavy packs. The wind has blown most of the snow off the ridge and its possible to follow rocks up. From point 13,206, the rest of the day was technical. We had 2 rappels and many descents to keep the climb manageable. There are several 4th class and a few low 5th moves on this route in winter like conditions. After 10 straight hours of climbing we were still several major gendarmes away from the turn in the ridge so we cut out a nice platform on the east side out of the wind. Day 3 - From camp it was back to technical climbing. This part of the ridge was by far the most fun and challenging. We climbed for 2.5 hours before deciding to bail. We chose a gully that leads to the basin between Ellingwood and the NW route. The descent was straight forward and only required one minor rappel. The walk out of this basin sucked with the snow. Post holing and side hilling in snowshoes were the name of the game. Our team could have completed this climb given an extra day. In these conditions, and carrying the equipment necessary to keep it safe, this climb is a beast. I think 4 days would be prudent for a successful climb of La Plata in winter. On a side note we bailed because of work and school obligations on Monday morning. JohnnyDangerous   2014-11-30 6  2 1  Edit Delete 
2014-11-08  Northwest Ridge  La Plata Northwest ridge is covered by snow at 90%. The forest approach and switchbacks near 11,300 receive little sun during the day and microspikes were helpful during the steep sections. The traverse south along the slope was hiked in the dark, the sun reaching the ridge (9.30AM) only 2.5hrs after hitting the trail. Around 12,300 snow is much deeper on the ridge, progression is slow and postholing frequent (until knees and waist) pumping most of your energy. From then you hike looking at the sun, bring sunglasses as it is blinding. At around 14,000, snow becomes less significant and progression can be done much more easily to the summit. Fr3ako   2014-11-09 6     Edit Delete 
2014-10-24  Northwest Ridge  The trail below 11,000 is snow free and easy hiking. From 11,000 to the switchback gully, it was frozen mud in the morning and slop in the afternoon. Didn‘t need traction in the mud, but it made for dirty boots. The first snow on the trail hits in the switchback gully and then is pretty much constant from 12,500 to the summit. It gets to be a bit of an issue once you start your way around the buttress. Route finding is tough although the trail sneaks through in places. I recommend traction above 12,500. In the morning, it was icy and slick in the afternoon it was soft and slick. That was pretty much the condition the rest of the way. This might seem odd, but definitely bring good sunglasses, as you climb up the north ridge, as that ball o‘ light is really blinding over the route due to season. Had to hand block the sun, with my specs on to check my ascent. Lots of postholing - thigh high on me (6‘2") in places. Also, I suggest lots of appropriate layers. I started early, but the sun doesn‘t reach the west ridge until well after 10:00 AM. Cold, icy, and shaded for most of the climb. Stay warm and be safe. Blue6String   2014-10-26  0     Edit Delete 
2014-10-03  Ellingwood Ridge  It was a LONG day on Ellingwood on Friday. I‘m not sure if I was having an off day, or if it was the snow; but it took me 9 hours to reach the summit (and only 2 to descend down the northwest ridge). The snow wasn‘t impassible by any means; but it made route finding more arduous. I definitely felt as though the route was class 4 rather than class 3; but perhaps I was following too close to the ridgeline on account of the snow. There were no other people on the route nor were there footprints in the snow. Long story short, I wouldn‘t recommend this route until next season. It‘s pretty dicey with the snow. The standard route is still doable at the moment. jladderud   2014-10-06  0     Edit Delete 
2014-10-02  Northwest Ridge  Above the tree line there is a lot of snow. Trail entirely covered; drifts more than 1 foot deep. Don‘t know how much of this will melt, as I think it was very fresh (last 2 days??). Lower trail was melting by 11am. markjameson   2014-10-02  0     Edit Delete 
2014-09-24  Northwest Ridge  No snow accumulated on the route, even at the summit today. Crossing the stream at La Plata gulch likely to be slippery in the morning - the 2-log crossing was frosty and wet at 8:45 a.m.. Im not sure if people use the multiple small log crossing, but water is high enough to make that very dicey. I followed a trail upstream a short way and crossed on rocks, but those, too, were slick - water is higher than normal for this time of year. Trail was damp but not soggy in the morning, parts were dried out later in the day. ochotona   2014-09-24  0     Edit Delete 
2014-09-13  Southwest Ridge  Started at 5:30 am. The willows were muddy/slightly frozen. Sections of it were hard to follow in the dark, but I could see the trail leading up to the ridge, and was able to merge back onto the main trail. The section above the willows was frozen on the ascent, flowing water on the descent. The next section of trail (just below the first ridge) was steep (fall line in places) with scree. Once on the first ridge the view made me forget about the ball bearing scree. As others have stated, the boulder filed cairns were interesting. I stayed further to the west on my way down and had an easier go. Fun trail, but if I take my kids up La Plata we will take the NW ridge. RockCaCO3   2014-09-13  0     Edit Delete 
2014-09-07  Southwest Ridge  Trail clear all the way to the top. Started from trailhead at 6:30am and reached the summit at 9:30am. Quickly turned around due to approaching storm. On the way down passed about four groups and warned them about the storm. One guy with his son replied back that he‘s climbed 70 of these and he‘s keeping an eye on it. Once we reached back into treeline there was plenty of thunder and lightning. Most of the groups were probably just reaching the summit at that time. Hike smart out there and don‘t get caught on top in a thunderstorm! mogulman   2014-09-07  0     Edit Delete 
2014-09-02  Southwest Ridge  Climbed La Plata on Labor Day and thought there should be a more recent report. Parked at the loop past the cemetery and walked. There are a few places with water on the road to the TH, but there were plenty of somewhat high clearance vehicles parked past those spots, a truck with high clearance was at the TH. The willows were definitely muddy, but if youre careful you can keep the top of your boots dry. In one swampy place new trails have been padded down to avoid it. They‘re a little hard to follow, but the trail is only about 30 feet away. Looking at picture one, we opted to take the blue route and do some climbing up one of the chimneys. Definite scree all over the place, but was fun! Second pic is looking down the chimney we took. Just a touch of snow towards the summit, but other than that none on the trail. goldenite   2014-09-02 2     Edit Delete 
2014-08-06  Southwest Ridge  Started just after sunrise. The road from the cemetery to right below the trailhead turnoff was passable for a passenger van with no 4WD or carriage scraping. The trail (follow the arrow to the left) was in good condition to tree line. In the willow-filled valley, there was mud across the trail in many places and almost swampy conditions at times. It is a very steep hike out of the valley to the ridge, and the footing is definitely poor for the hike down. After crossing the smooth (green) part of the ridge to the large scree slope, the trail gets hard to follow and the hiking becomes strenuous at times until you top out and can see the final summit ridge. No ice on the trail. emgordon   2014-08-06  0  1  Edit Delete 
2014-07-27  Southwest Ridge  Sign was not much help. It was a plain piece of wood. Guessed and went left at the trailhead not through a gate on the right. There wasn‘t a lot of snow but the willows were muddy. The trial prior to the rocks was steep and somewhat slippery. The last part of the trip was huge rocks with 3 false summits. There are several trails up the rock area that we‘re tough to follow. outdoorjen5280   2014-07-30  0     Edit Delete 
2014-07-10  Northwest Ridge  Trailhead is closed for bridge reconstruction. The sign says that the construction is scheduled to end on 7/12/14 (this Saturday) vladinator   2014-07-10  0     Edit Delete 
2014-07-09  Southwest Ridge  The registration box is no longer on the sign by the gate. Nothing on the sign really indicates that it is the right trail to La Plata, but the gate and coordinates matched up so I went for it. No snow on the trail, just along the sides. Large muddy sections, but if you hop skip and jump around you can avoid getting your feet wet. I was a little nervous about the 4wd/high clearance part of driving to the trail head, but my RAV4 did fine and I never put it in 4wd. amberw   2014-07-09  0     Edit Delete 
2014-07-01  Southwest Ridge  The willows meadow is fairly wet and muddy. The ridge to the summit can be hiked with only 1 spot where you have to cross over snow, but its only about 20 feet long. It was solid at 9 am but started postholing by 11 am. Still, no spikes or snowshoes needed. Flowers are out and it is beautiful Trotter   2014-07-01  0  4    Edit Delete 
2014-06-19  Southwest Ridge  Looks like there is more snow on the route than their is. While the entire ridge is a snowfield the left side is clear, so once you‘re up and over the initial hump and on La Plata‘s ridge you are snow free. Below that the gully is clean, with the exception of one point on the trail with a 4-5‘ high snowfield covering, but it is solid snow, walked right across at 11:30am. Willows are willows, and the trail is hard to follow through them, but worse comes to worse follow the creek back down to the trail lol (not joking about that though). marcstrawser   2014-06-19 3  1    Edit Delete 
2014-06-14  Southwest Ridge  Overall it is a beautiful hike. The water from run off has made the path through the valley extremely hard to follow. We were actually on sure we were on a path 10% do the time. We ended up going up a chute that didn‘t have snow and were fine. Don‘t let the false summits deter you. Once you join the path from the other entrance the cairns are more noticeable. There is snow but we were started early enough we found it to be advantageous rather than climbing over rocks. We were not able to find the record at the summit and it was so windy we quickly descended. We were the only two that made it to the top this day however there were several hiking the valley. Nicci1029   2014-06-14  0     Edit Delete 
2014-06-13  Southwest Ridge  We left the trailhead at 5:30 am. Trail to the basin - some snow, but 95% avoidable. Basin - we followed the trail most of the time, but lost it a few times in the willows and snow. The snow was solid before the sun hit it. On the ridge to the summit: there are still some snowfields, but 90% is avoidable. I brought microspikes, but did not use them. There were only a few places where a kick-step was needed. On the decent, we experienced some "character-building" post-holing, but nothing that was too bad. 3.5 hours up for 3,380‘ (even without snow) is a good day for me. Coyote_Run   2014-06-13 4     Edit Delete 
2014-05-19  Ellingwood Ridge  Couldn‘t really find the faint trail in the snow, so GPS very useful below treeline. Used snowshoes on the approach and at many points on the ridge (!!). Sometimes did not find a way around the gendarmes on the west side and were forced to take the snowy east side. East side got bad (snow too warm) by 10 am. Saw lots of avy debris on eastern aspects. Nice bivy spot just after the "first crux" described in the route description. Once we got back on the ridge after various detours to the east, there was a nice section of straightforward class 3 scrambling. This ended in various rock walls/snow gnar/I don‘t know and somehow found a low-ish 5th class chimney to be the easiest way up? After that the remaining ridge to East La Plata was very snowy, weird cornice action, etc. Lots of postholing on the ridge crest even... used snowshoes here. Bivied again just before the last ~70 degree snow slope that lead to the summit of East La Plata. The snow was all unconsolidated and weird. Going from East La Plata to La Plata had lots of odd snow features, huge cornices, etc. Sometimes gendarmes or scary-looking snow thingies made us traverse across some of the north-facing couloirs which had windslab on top of facets and I was not a fan. Nice descent via standard route. People have been taking the summer variation. FYI - Rather sizeable cornices are hanging over part of the NW ridge... not so obvious when you are there, but we could see them from Ellingwood.... so stay away from the eastern edge! scramble   2014-05-21  0     Edit Delete 
2014-05-04  Northwest Ridge  To add to the peak conditions, snow shoes are needed below treeline, and would have been nice to have for the last 1000‘ of the ridge to the summit, but we stashed them at 12,400‘ and managed with microspikes from there to the summit and back. Snow was very wet and slushy below treeline in the afternoon. mtn_nut   2014-05-05  0     Edit Delete 
2014-05-03  North Face ski  Powder from the summit to ~12k, Corn and then wet slush below on the deproach. Car to car skin/ski. nkan02   2014-05-03 4  5      

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