Southwest Gully
 Class 2 
Snow Steepness: Moderate  
Trailhead:La Plata Peak
Start:10,400 feet
Summit:13,823 feet
Total Gain:3,450 feet
RT Length:4.0 miles
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:39 reports
Cell Signal:1 report
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? (WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. All 14er routes are more difficult and more dangerous in winter.


From U.S. 24 south of Leadville, take Colorado 82 west towards Twin Lakes. Drive 14.5 miles on Colorado 82 until you see the marked trailhead and parking area on the left.


In snowy months, Independence Pass Road (CO 82) is only open to the La Plata Peak trailhead. If you're climbing this route before Indy Pass opens, park at the La Plata trailhead and walk 1.2 miles up the road. If the road is open, drive the 1.2 miles and look for a small pull-off on the left, which holds 3 or 4 cars - 1. From the pull-off, walk up the road 50 yards and look north to see the bottom of the route - 2. Cross a ditch next to the road and hike northeast along the left side avalanche run-out, below the gully - 3. After 600' of elevation gain and a bit of bushwacking, you'll reach the choke at the base of the gully - 4. If there's snow through the choke you can continue directly up but if it's dry, cross to the right side of the stream and hike over the rock-outcropping seen in 4 and re-enter the gully 100' higher - 5.

With crampons and axe, climb directly up the narrow couloir ( 6 and 7) to reach easier terrain, above 12,000' - 8. The remaining gully is fairly obvious although you cannot see the actual summit. Continue north and northeast up the gully as the angle gradually increases to 37 degrees at the steepest point - 9, 10 and 11. Reach the top of the gully near 13,400' where the angle eases just below the summit ridge - 12. Continue northeast until you can see the summit bump up to your left - 13 and walk 0.1 mile north to reach the summit - 14, 15, 16 and 17.


The southwest gully is a fun, intermediate ski line which usually holds snow into June. If the road is open past the La Plata trailhead, the route's run-out is likely a bit dry but it's still a good line if you can't ski all the way down to the road.


This route should only be done as a snow climb as it would otherwise be an ugly scree-fest.
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