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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2014-09-02||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: 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 you‘re 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.
|2014-08-06||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: 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.
|2014-07-27||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: 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.
|2014-07-10||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: Trailhead is closed for bridge reconstruction. The sign says that the construction is scheduled to end on 7/12/14 (this Saturday)
|2014-07-09||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: 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.
|2014-07-01||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: 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
|2014-06-19||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: 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).
|2014-06-14||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: 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.
|2014-06-13||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: 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.
|2014-05-19||Route: Ellingwood Ridge
Info: 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!
|2014-05-04||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: 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.
|2014-05-03||Route: North Face ski
Info: Powder from the summit to ~12k, Corn and then wet slush below on the deproach. Car to car skin/ski.
|2013-10-27||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: In the morning the muddy marsh around 12000 feet was all frozen over and easy to cross. The trail is snow free until you reach the top of the first false summit around 14000 feet. From there on, much of the trail is covered in 1 1/2 to 2 feet of snow. On the way down as the snow and mud were warming up, conditions became slick, so microspikes were helpful. On the way back the muddy marsh was completely melted but it was easy enough to skirt around most of the mud. This muddy area was probably 300 feet in length.
|2013-10-12||Route: Ellingwood Ridge
Info: the faint approach trail is really hard to find in the snow and dark, i‘d recommend really studying up on it beforehand and being good with map/compass/gps because you REALLY want to make it to the trail up the narrow ridge through the woods after the 3rd stream crossing (or at least get to that ridge), as if you miss it, bushwacking through aspens can REALLY suck. anyway, once up on the ridge... we brought crampons and microspikes but didn‘t use either. nothing was terribly icy and mountaineering boots edged pretty well. some of the snow was fluffy and useless, but some of it made for some rather secure (if post-holey up to knees and thighs lol) travel. definitely some layers forming in the snowpack and some big slopes are getting filled in, just something to keep an eye on. also, i would read roach‘s guide as well as the 14ers route description. i think we wasted too much time messing around on the ridge proper.... around sunset, we bailed down a gully after the ridge turned to the west. long s--tty boulder hop down the valley, but good to remember that this "safer" (if longer and more painful heh) option exists : ) the ridge is super pretty right now. feel free to ask if you want more info or pics. enjoy!
|2013-10-03||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: fairly continuous snow on the upper part of the route (above 12.5k)...some of it was drifted up to knee to thigh deep. It was pretty surprising actually. This is before the snowstorm this weekend. I‘d say boots are a must and microspikes/gaiters could definitely be helpful.
|2013-09-28||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: As of this morning, Saturday Sept. 28, there was continuous snow on the standard route from the trailhead to the summit. Snow amounts ranged from 1-2 inches in the lower areas to several places of waist-deep drifts near the summit. From around 11,000 feet to around 13,500 feet, the average snow depth on the trail was probably 8 to 15 inches, with many areas over 2 feet deep. By early afternoon, much of the snow had melted, especially in the lower areas. But as of now, there are still many areas of significant snow on the standard route up high. Boots and microspikes were very helpful today.
|2013-09-21||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: Snow from early last week was gone. Dry from the TH to the summit other than the muck through the willows.
|2013-07-22||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: The trail is clear all the way to the top. You might pass by a few patches of snow, but you dont have to touch any of it unless you want to. Also, the stream by the parkinglot is not safe to drink, unless you have some way to remove heavy metals and arsenic that is leeching out of some old mines. I assumed all the water I saw (except the snow) was unsafe from that point on. I really wished I hadnt used up 1L of my water cooking and cleaning breakfast. Or pumped another L before seeing the warnings. Lucky I didnt contaminate my main resivor.
|Relative to Zero||2013-07-26||1|
|2013-07-08||Route: Northwest Ridge
Info: The wife and I started out prepared to do Ellingwood Ridge (Photo 3)- but the instructions from 14ers.com confused us and we backtracked to the Northwest Route. So a quick note for those trying to do Ellingwood Ridge - after the road hike and then starting on the trail, you will come to a small bridge crossing a spectacular creek bottleneck - just after this take a left where the trail splits right (South) & left (North). After a little hike you will come to another creek - you may have to wade across this if run-off is high. That\‘s were we turned back but should have continued on, so I hope that helps some of you. Now, our climb up the standard route was great (started at 6:00) it was a bit wet (a large thunder/lightning storm rolled through the night before) but by the time we reached rocks/boulders things were drying up. The willows were a bit damp but did not soak through to my socks. This standard route is very steep and involves a lot of switchbacks - so be prepared. After timberline there\‘s a traverse that leads to a small saddle, and then it\‘s up, up, up lots of boulders. Here (at the boulders area) there was some leftover snow, but it doesn\‘t hinder the hike at all. We made summit at about 10:15 with few clouds and began our descent at about 10:40. Have your camera ready for there are lots of marmots just hanging out (Photo 4). Clouds came and went, but without moisture nor lightning. Really a beautiful hike.
|2013-06-15||Route: Southwest Ridge
Info: Hiked from the West Winfield trailhead. The trail is clear of snow until the upper Southwest ridge. Be prepared for several inches of mushy mud on much of the trail through the willows. As you near 14,000‘, there is a good bit of lingering snow on the ridge. Much of it is avoidable, but there was no postholing when walking straight across. Saw several people in shorts and trail runners that made the summit with no issue. Traction, gaitors, etc definitely not needed. Photo 1: A look at the steep slope leading to the Southwest Ridge Photo 2: The remaining route shortly after gaining the Ridge Photo 3: The remaining snow on the last stretch of the route