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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2016-08-11||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: There is an apparently abandoned tent within a mile of the 4WD TH. There is nothing but a bit of junk inside (no packs, bags); if it is still there in a few days, I think it is safe to remove. The marshy area is still a bit obnoxious, but we saw few bugs. I wore low-tops, and got one slight soaker; just be prepared to jump.
|2016-07-17||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: The marshy area in the willows has one spot that's a muddy, sloppy mess and difficult to avoid completely. So I would recommend actual hiking books rather than running shoes as those are no fun when they get wet (although I did see someone hike up the peak in Chacos). The gravel chute up to the ridge is quite steep and slippery-- make sure to move quickly and watch your step so you don't slide down! There will likely be lots of bugs as you return down to treeline and back to your car even if it is windy at the summit-- don't count on a breeze down lower to keep the bugs away. I didn't see many mosquitoes, but the flies are really annoying. I took my friend up here yesterday: this was only her second 14er, and she doesn't do a lot of hiking to begin with. Overall, I think this is a good route for a beginner who still wants a bit of a challenge.
|2016-07-16||Route: Ellingwood Ridge
Info: No snow on the route, summer conditions. We saw one or two totally avoidable patches of snow. Feel free to travel light and fast. Side note, this route is LONG. Took us 12 hours round trip with a long lunch break. We're not usually slow, but it took almost 3 hours to gain the ridge, and about 5.5 hours on the ridge itself.
|2016-07-09||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: The road up to the trailhead is in great condition and I easily made it in a Tiguan past the very mild "washout" before the trailhead. Mosquitoes on the lower portion of the route were terrible due to a lot of standing water in the marshy area (don't expect to keep your shoes free of mud). The section up to 12,800' is very steep with a lot of dry, loose rock that you pretty much are surfing on the way down. Route finding on the upper section is hard. Find as many cairns as you can. We couldn't find the way down that we came up and it was slow going climbing over large rocks. My gps watch had this at 9 miles, not 7, so take that for what it's worth. Overall, there is probably a reason this is not the standard route and I'm not sure if I would choose it if I had to do it again...might be worth it to climb a few hundred more feet to have a more enjoyable time.
|2016-07-09||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Summer conditions on the way up. Trail is completely dry except for a few yards down by the creek where it is "damp", and there is no snow to avoid on the trail.
|2016-07-04||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: Great conditions. The meadow above treeline is a bit soggy, but easily navigable. Summer conditions all the way to the summit, no snow to avoid.
|2016-06-26||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: I hiked the SW ridge with no problems just starting just before the 2nd washout from the Winfield TH. There was plenty of SUV's and stock pickups crossing the washout crossing, but I decided against it. We started out at 5am hit the summit at 8am. Very little snow to contend with and all of it was easily avoidable. The willows were wet but plenty of little rocks and logs to hop across and not get too wet on the way up and down. We took our time on the way down with a great day and no threat of a storm. Overall the trail is in great condition and ready for peak summer conditions.
|2016-06-19||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: La Plata is in 98.5% summer conditions. Meaning, right before you gain the ridge after all the gnarly switchbacks, there's two slabs of snow you have to cross - but its icy and walkable before 830 but mushy and sinkable to thighs in places around midday. Nothing too bad to worry about, boots will trek right through it dont worry about microspikes, snowshoes, etc. - just walk through it. And then, glissade down. Super fun. La Plata was a little more than I bargained for, physically, it gassed me pretty good but got to enjoy the beautiful conditions on the summit for over 30 minutes on a bright, sunny day. Enjoy this mountain this summer.
|2016-06-18||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: The SW ridge of La Plata is looking like summer. There's still a few snowfields, that are soft and slushy by midday, and are totally avoidable. The walk through the willows is almost nothing but mud. Sometimes, you might sink in 6 inches or more if you're not careful. Other than that, it's a great hike, the trail is hard to follow in places, but you can follow the cairns and you'll be ok. Still some snow on the summit as well.
|2016-06-12||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Route is mostly dry with a few muddy spots down low, one large snowfield right before gaining the ridge (easy to miss the trail access on the left, we muddled our way right) which was fun to glissade down later, a few small snowfields on the ridge between rock areas that may or may not be hip-depth postholing depending on time of day. No special equipment required (not even microspikes), we were in mountaineering boots which killed us on the downhill, but you'd be fine in hiking boots, and could get away with trail runners if you don't mind the occasional snowfield. Just don't be that person hiking up at 1pm thinking it's a walk in the park as the storm clouds come rolling in.
|2016-05-15||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Made a rather futile (considering the forecast) attempt on LP this morning. On and off snow to ~10.5k, then continuous snow. Good trench to winter turnoff, from there it rapidly degenerates into a horrendous posthole mess. Made it to about 11.3 before deciding brunch sounded like a better idea (also it was dumping snow at this point). There was really no more visible trench beyond our turnaround point. On the way back, we explored a bit up the main trail going up the creek bed. This seemed to have seen some recent traffic, but appears to go toward Sayres and not the LP summer trail. FWIW, parts of the summer trail are now visible on the sides of the NW ridge (see photo), but given the state of the snowpack I wouldn't want to be on those slopes. EDIT: For the curious skiers out there: can't say I got a very good look at the North Face. However, there does appear to be a continuous line on one of the gullies on the west face, all the way down into La Plata Gulch - would be about a 3000' vert continuous line off the summit. Just throwing that out there. I think it would go something like this: http://www.hillmap.com/m/ag1zfmhpbGxtYXAtaGRychULEghTYXZlZE1hcBiAgICwpKzjCQw
|2016-05-07||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Snowboarded the N. Face of La Plata Peak Yesterday, Saturday May 7th. Started at 4:30 - Despite the forecast, snow froze well. Keep boards on pack until after the bridge. there are large sections of vehicle tracks as well as various "trenches" and patches of dirt. not the on and off skin/walk game. I skinned most of the way up to the toe of the NW ridge. There is a firm trail that I would pick up from time to time. this is walkable without flotation if your judgment is good. I assume it enters La Plata Gulch. I encountered foot steps up the 150 feet of steep snow to the ridge itself. Snowboard or ski crampons would minimize your transitions between walking and skinning on the ridge. Snowpack was firmly frozen above 11,000 feet and thawed around 11am below 11.4. everything else sported a stout crust mostly unbreakable on my board. Trench warfare below 11.4 to the trail. All aspects seem to have undergone some capacity of MF metamorphosis. Western aspects in the alpine feature a 10cm crust on less consolidated snow. S. Aspects are very locked up as are east aspects. Pit data on exposed N. aspects gives 5-10cm of MF crust, ontop 10cm P on 2-3 cm of 4F snow ontop of 30 cm 1F + to P snow. which also sits on a thin MF Crust. I rode an unconventional line on the N. Face of La Plata. the top 400-600 feet were 20 cm of wind consolidated powder, but only in very protected areas. Below that, thin MF crusts have been developing. even on the due N. aspects with preserved old storm snow. The remainder of the snow has been slid out due to warming and loose avalanche cycles. - No evidence of slabs were found. The report from Sayers from two days ago isn't great. Avalanche Hazard for them seemed to be due to warming and can be managed with timing (hot as balls on the 5th). This opinion comes from examining the debris on Sayers and from riding an identical aspect on La Plata.
|2016-04-13||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Trail is trenched at least up to 10.8k, no snowshoes required on ascent or descent to and from this point. Microspikes may make your life easier on the steeper sections of the trail, but not necessary. Creek crossing is half snow/half log, much easier than summer conditions but still test the snow before you trust it on that section. DO NOT turn right at the fork in the trail at 10.8k if you are attempting the winter route. We went up to Sayres yesterday and turned off the packed down trail at 10.8 to head into the basin. So if you see a faint fork in the trench here, make sure to turn left for La Plata.
|2016-04-06||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Started at 7AM, summited at 1:30PM. Only one other couple with their dog at the TH. On my way back down I only saw their track below tree line. You need to bring snow shoes! Below tree line the trail was pretty firm in the morning. I could follow a previous trench easily that only got 1-2 inches snow the previous night. However, there was evidence that those before me without flotation were post holing bad. On the way down snow was getting pretty wet. This is why you must have flotation available. I occasionally post holed despite snow shoes. Above tree line and once up on the ridge, I continued with snow shoes until about 13K feet. Although, I could have gotten away without them but enjoyed using my heel lifts on occasion. Changed over to crampons at ~13K feet before last pitch up to the summit. Microspikes would also be fine (mine just don't fit some new boots I bought). Most of the entire ridge has some rock exposed on the west side and continuous snow on the east side. I honestly wasn't sure of the best way up around the Buttress when you come out of tree line. I went up to the right where there was mostly bare rock and loose gravel...little slow going. Came down a quicker route (NNW face) that was through some steep snow....getting a little wet and I was causing a bunch of roller balls. In theory this could have some loose wet avy's but surely not as prone as south faces.
|2016-04-03||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Highly recommend wearing/taking snow shoes regardless of conditions at the trailhead or previous posts. We assessed the base of the trail and it appeared that snowshoes were just added unnecessary weight due to the conditions and trenching efforts done by previous hikers and opted to leave them in the car. Huge mistake! All went well until about 1.5 miles up where, which was too late to turn back and get the snowshoes. We ended up expending way too much time and effort continuously post holing waist deep, just reaching the headwall after about 3+ hours and decided to turn back from there. As the day warmed, the snow softened considerably and post holing worsened going down. If attempting to summit La Plata around the date of this post, do yourself a favor and wear/pack your snowshoes regardless of base morning trail conditions.
|2016-04-01||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Summitted La Plata today, barely. My father and I found the trench heading up the winter variation to have about 4-6 inches of new powder. Many many thanks to all who helped put in the trench before us! We helped pound down all the new powder. We have left a really good track all the way up to the headwall and you may even see our tracks above along the ridge as well. We ditched snowshoes at the headwall and that seemed to be the right idea. Tons of snow down low still! Also found tons of snow on the ridge. Postholed in various places up on the ridge finding deep snow between rocks and other such places. Not worth dragging the snowshoes up that high though. It was a real grunt to gain the summit through all the snow. Carried ice ax, but did not use it. Carried microspikes instead of crampons and they were helpful as always. Hope this helps, enjoy!
|2016-03-26||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Two of us attempted the NW Ridge route only making it to the headwall. We followed a set of ski tracks most of the way, but had to put in a trench on our own. At times the snow was 3-4ft in depth and was very slow going. It took us 3hrs to reach the headwall...but there is now a solid trench in place now. We saw the skiers making their way up the headwall and decided too much energy had been spent trenching so we turned back around. Great day out there, but I'll have to come back in another week or so to finish the climb. The below link has the GPS track if anyone needs it. Cheers! https://www.gaiagps.com/public/0WxPPLMwcvLcCfhJOrfT9vmU/
|2016-03-12||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: As of today, leave the snowshoes in the car. The trail was a beautiful hard packed super highway (albeit a steep one!!#) up to the headwall. For the headwall, following the firm snow and solid rock up the climbers left was the key. From there up was a healthy mix of tundra hiking, rock hoping, and hiking up on firm snow. There certainly are some soft snow fields high on the ridge, but these can be easily avoided on the rocks. Traction is a must! There are plenty of steep snow patches. We used micro spikes all day, up and down. The steep snow made for some great glissades! My party was the only one to summit today from the standard route, and the weather was flawless. Cloudy, cool but not cold, and not a breath of wind. Some slow flurries rolled in as we reached the car. Get out there while it's great!!
|2016-03-05||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Solid Trench in place from the trailhead to the headwall. No flotation needed and I didn't use any traction, although microspikes would be helpful but are not required. The route above the headwall is spring like with sections of solid snow and rocks. I chose to use crampons to ascent the snowfield starting around 13,300 all the way to about 100 ft below the summit. Its definitely climbable w/o crampons as there are rocks you can stick to. I just figured I'd brush up on my crampon usage since its been a bit since I last used them.
|2016-02-26||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: I had La Plata all to myself today! I started hiking at 7:20 am. It was around 15 F and absolutely no wind. There was probably 1-2 inches of untracked snow for most of the route, starting between the first and second foot bridges (I guess it's all tracked now though!).The trail/trench was very solid. I brought snowshoes but didn't put them on until treeline by the headwall where I first started postholing. Just bare boots until then. They're pretty aggressive snowshoes (MSR lightning ascent) so I wore them up the headwall. I think the headwall would have been horrible without some kind of traction. Also used an ice axe for a third point of contact, and glad to have it (also came in handy glissading later on). I kept wearing the snowshoes until about halfway up the ridge before leaving them, but in hindsight I should have ditched them way sooner (probably right at the top of the headwall) because there is so much exposed rock and grass to walk on, which is faster/more efficient than shuffling along in showshoes. Plus, a lot of the snow was very sugary so my snowshoes couldn't really bite into it. I didn't notice any wind until very near the summit, around 11:20 am. I'm not sure if that was location or time dependent, but it was probably a steady 15-20 mph and VERY cold. I returned from the summit to below the headwall in just bare boots with almost no postholing, but in the meadow I sunk up to my crotch so I put the snowshoes back on and wore them all the way back to the road. I was glad to have traction going down since the upper portion of the trees is very steep and I was tired. The afternoon was very warm and the snow was super sticky/wet, so anyone getting an early start tomorrow should have a nice solid hiking surface tromped down by my snowshoes. Got back to my car at 2:40 pm. There were no clouds all day. It was my first winter 14'er and I was nervous and wished there was more recent condition info, so I made an account just to post this. Hope it helps someone!