Support 14ers.com
Buying gear? Please use these links to help 14ers.com:

More info...

Other ways to help...
 Peak(s):  La Plata Peak  -  14,336 feet
 Post Date:  08/02/2010
 Date Climbed:   07/31/2010
 Posted By:  dmccool

 The Silver Peak - SW Route   

La Plata – Southwest Ridge Route
July 29-31


Having moved to CO about 2 years ago, I left some of the greatest friends a guy could ask for behind in Ohio. For a week, everything was right in the world as they came out for a little time in the wilderness.

After a nice warm-up on Wednesday on Blodgett Peak, the guys and I set out for the "road less traveled" on La Plata Peak – the Southwest Ridge Route.

Thursday, July 29

We set out from about halfway up the high 4WD road around 2pm on Thursday, July 29 with a goal in mind to hike about a mile in. We started looking for campsites after about 45 minutes since the trail toward the Southwest Ridge begins to move away from the creek.

Image
Dan P. Doing his best Uncle Sam


Image
Luke "The Duke" and David enjoying the rain and a quick break


We found an awesome spot that was relatively flat and had some good shelter nearby – which would come in handy over the next 48 hours.

Image
View from our campsite


We had just enough dry weather to set up camp. Then the rain came in and didn't let up until sometime during the middle of the night. We did get a small window to cook an early dinner, but spent most of the evening in the tent playing Euchre – ahh, the Midwest Card Game of Kings.

Image
Clouds rolling up the valley as Dave and Dan prep for a firewood expedition


Friday, July 30

With just about everything being so damp, ¾ of us were pretty cold during the night. We hadn't planned on a morning fire, but I couldn't resist. We had a traditional Colorado Summer Morning, which was a pleasant sight for the Ohio Boys – and a relief for me. After all, I didn't want to bring them all into the mountains just to sit in a tent.

Image
Morning light and Dave stirring out of the tent


Because of the shaky forecast and the beautiful morning, we partially considered heading up Friday morning. But reason and rationality took over, since it was now past 8:00am, and we just decided to head up to the meadow to scope out the route. What a fantastic place. The willows were a little muddy and wet, but posed no real problems – except for one extremely muddy boot (sorry Dave!)

Image
Dan taking the lead with the ridge climb in view


After a tasty lunch of Ramen and Tuna/Salmon (Duke's favorite, right Duke?), we caught some rain once again. This time, we chose naps over cards. For me, this was one of the only naps I've taken over the past 6 months, thanks to my 6 month old son, Miles. I love you buddy!

The rain was much shorter-lived than the day before and we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening sunset-gazing.

Image
Last-light on Huron Peak


Image
Euchre again…this time by the campfire on a clear night.
– Dan showing his "strong" hand – a 9 as usual. Dave and I won 5 games to 0. Maybe next time, guys. Practice makes Perfect, ya know.

Saturday, July 31 – Summit Day

We got up around 4:30 and fetched the food bag from its branch. After filtering water and some quick fruit bars, we hit the trail towards the meadow about 5:30.

Image
Looking back from the meadow toward camp


Image
Things got a little "marshy" through the willows, but the previous days' rain gave us some sweet scenes.


Gaining the ridge was not a walk in the park. We took the necessary breaks, kept a great pace, and got past our first obstacle well ahead of schedule.

Image
Ridge around 12,800


The next ¼ mile was a nice break between the steep ridge climb and the SW shoulder of La Plata that was to come.

Image
Here are the guys preparing to gain the 1,200 feet or so of the next slope


Image
Dave tackling the first Class 2 of the day while Duke chooses his own line.


Image
Dan trying to contain his joy after seeing snow in July


Since the weather forecast was for storms – and possible early storms – I thought we may not get a good view of the Elk Range. Instead, the "mind over matter" pace we were on got us up high early enough to see those Icons of Colorado – Pyramid, the Maroon Bells, Capitol, Snowmass, Castle, and Conundrum. Can I include Conundrum? Aww, what the heck.

Image
Elk Range with full zoom


Just above 14,200 ft, Dave says, "If we were still around 13,500, I'd stop here." It's a good thing, man. Because in less than 10 minutes, we were topping out at our goal – 14,336!

Image
Heroes of the Day – Duke, Me, Dan, and Dave


Image
Dave's arch rival, Huron, and the Three Apostles


Image
Ellingwood Ridge w/Elbert (right of center) and Massive (left of Elbert). I'll definitely be doing this route next time up. You, too Dave!


We hung around on the summit for about 20 minutes and decided to get a head start on the thicker clouds forming far off. We all agreed that our summit experience was a "Double Rainbow" that "started to look like a Triple Rainbow".

Image
Duke and his Redlegs cap heading down one of the false summits


Once we got back down to the ridge, we took some time to sit and soak up the views and some rays. This was truly one of the best views I can remember as we stared out over the meadow toward Huron. Maybe it was just the company I was with that made it so great.

Image
Dan (the 4th Apostle) lookin' all "Lewis and Clark-like" on the ridge


Image
Couldn't resist the trademark shot


What a perfect week filled with laughs, tears (as a result of the laughs), the occasional altitude headache, and great friends in one of the most beautiful places God allows us to be.

To Duke: Congrats on #2. You are definitely the Silent Assassin when you come to Colorado. Next time I'll try to think of a challenge for you! Remember, if you're not settled down by 30, you owe it to yourself and to me to move out here. And if you cut your hair, I'll teach Jack to bite you in an unpleasant location.

To Dan: You would make such a great hiking partner out here for 3 reasons. 1) You're a natural leader by example and by energy level. 2) You're not afraid to run up the mountain – if only for about 7 seconds. 3) You're willing to pack in all the "necessary" things I refuse to carry. I already miss the excitement you bring to even the simplest things in life. Great work on 14er #1!

To Dave: What can I say…after about a month of analysis, phone and text conversations, Ellingwood Ridge paranoia, and "What do you think the chances are that I make it to the top?" questions – you did it man. You got your revenge. And if your knees recover by next year, we'll head out again!

Memorable lines and moments from the trip: This is only for our own archives.

Dan, Dave, Me: Countless "That's What She Said"s.
Duke: "Man, she sure talks a lot."

Dave: "I don't want any Snickers in the tent." Etc., etc.

Dan: "I want to cook my (already cooked) Salmon over the fire."

Us: The "Double Rainbow" song – including, but not limited to – "Oh my God…It's so beautiful", "What does this mean?", and "It's so intense."

Dan: "I'm gonna drink this lemonade all weekend. By the way, how much do we have?"

Me: Chain smoking my pipe

Dan: Flannel "base-layer" (wet)

Me: Rolling a rock downhill into my Rainfly…I swear I threw it far enough to the right. Anyone recommend a good patch kit?


Thanks for coming out here, gents. It was truly one for the ages.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions (0)

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here


Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2014 14ers.com®, 14ers Inc.