Ascent of Latir Peak on 2012-08-13

Climber: Richard Oestreicher

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Monday, August 13, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Latir Peak
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:12708 ft / 3873 m

Ascent Trip Report

I took SR 196 to the Rio Costilla Park and paid the $20 entrance fee at the gate. This well-kept camping and fishing park sits adjacent to the Valle Vidal unit (east) and the Latir Wilderness (south) and includes a whole string of gorgeous Alpine lakes and several of New Mexico's highest peaks. One of the most scenic areas in the state! From the gate I drove about 7-8 miles to the campground at the Latir Lakes. The first two miles is a good road. After the turnoff to the Latir Lakes, it's a 4wd road.

I parked near the end of the road at just under 11,200 feet and started bushwhacking uphill, running into a trail in a few hundred feet. I discovered on my return that the trailhead for this trail, maintained by the Rio Costilla Park, starts about 0.2 mi. up the road near a portapotty. The trail ascends steeply at first then levels off around a couple of the lakes before petering out at the next to the last lake at 11,800. From there I bushwhacked steeply up the hill to the ridgeline. I veered a bit north of my GPS heading to a slightly less steep portion of the hill, but whatever route you take it's a steep ascent up to the ridge at a bit over 12,000 feet. From there the route to the top follows the upward sloping ridge. Here and there I followed a use trail.

A rock cairn and a post mark the hp. Great views in all directions. Shortly south, atop another bump just a few feet lower, sits a barrel full of rocks, what I presume is meant by the Latir Rock Cairn on the maps.

From Latir peak I continued south along the ridge to the hp of Latir Mesa--about a half mile--and then onto Venando Peak. A pretty decent trail-marked by rock cairns--skirts the southeast side of Latir Mesa, but if you go over the top, you need to scramble down some rock and scree to get to the saddle between Latir and Venando. There I met the trail coming up from Heart Lake in the Latir Wilderness. The clear trail skirts a steep rock outcropping at the south end of the saddle, heads a bit toward Venando Peak but veers off to the southeast shortly. From there its a modest ascent of about 250 feet elevation gain up the bare slope to Venando Peak. There are two bumps on the top. My GPS coordinates pointed to the second one, but the first looked higher to me.

Coming down I followed the Heart Lake trail back to the saddle between Venando and Latir, followed it skirting south and east of Latir Mesa and then bushwhacked down very steeply to a ridge spur between the two highest of the Latir Lakes, and then down that ridge to the trail. This saved about a half mile compared to the slightly more circuitous route I took up.

A wonderful day amidst spectacular scenery with three 12ers in one day--including a p2k! Didn't see another hiker all day. The Latir Wilderness and adjoining Rio Costilla Park get far less traffic than the Wheeler or Pecos Wilderness Areas.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1527 ft / 465 m
    Total Elevation Loss:11 ft / 3 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1527 ft / 465 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1516 ft / 462 m; Extra: 11 ft / 3m
    Loss on way in:11 ft / 3 m
    Distance:1.9 mi / 3.1 km
    Route:Latir Lake trail; bushwhack
    Start Trailhead:Latir Lakes Campground  11192 ft / 3411 m
    Time:1 Hours 35 Minutes
Descent Statistics
Ascent Part of Trip: Latir-Venando

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Latir Peak2012-08-131527 ft / 465 m
2Latir Mesa2012-08-1395 ft / 29 m
3Venado Peak2012-08-13787 ft / 240 m
Total Trip Gain: 2409 ft / 734 m    Total Trip Loss: 851 ft / 259 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Richard Oestreicher
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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