Ascent of La Plata Peak on 2017-06-24

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Can't Find ClimberID br>Brad Sherman
Krista Scott
Andrea Torske
Barbara Newsome
Dan Hildebrand <5520
Date:Saturday, June 24, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Hi-Clearance Vehicle
Peak:La Plata Peak
    Elevation:14336 ft / 4369 m

Ascent Trip Report

Joined the Colorado Mountain Club (CMC) and this was my first hike with them. Of the 8 tallest peaks in the contiguous USA, this leaves only Massive, and Williamson for me to do.

1. Mount Whitney 14,498 CA
2. Mount Elbert 14,433 CO
3. Mount Massive 14,421 CO
4. Mount Harvard 14,420 CO
5. Mount Rainier 14,411 WA
6. Mount Williamson 14,373 CA
7. Blanca Peak 14,345 CO
8. La Plata Peak 14,336 CO

David Kuenzli was the CMC leader and asked us to meet at the Winfield Cemetery which is a unique historic place at the junction of two county roads west of the town of Granite CO. Winfield is a restored historic mining community that is pretty interesting. We were to leave at 6AM sharp so nearly everybody camped near the cemetery the night before. I spent the night in the rental car.

The road to the cemetery is fine for most cars and certainly any SUV. We parked there. Adventurous HCV SUVs made it much further was found out later, but we elected to pile into David's SUV and drive closer to the trailhead. We crossed one creek easily but the second looked sketchy so we parked there and hiked to the TH. This cut about half the distance from the cemetery to the TH.

The trip up this route is very well documented on and on so I will add just what we noticed that was not covered in this reports. The trips starts as an easy class 1 through the woods but then deposits you in a large willow wetland thicket that was filled with snow melt. The trails in here are so worn in and flowing that it was slick mud. Heavy H2S smelling muck. The Class 2 starts at the beginning of the ascent up the steep cirque. The trail does not switchback much and is so worn down that it is filled with feldspar sand/scree and is slippery. Going up is not so bad but coming down created a number of slips and couple of falls. One couple outside our party slid on their butt down parts of this section. The few snow packs that had to be crossed or climbed were firm in the morning and perfect for slide stepping later in the day and none of us used our microspikes that we had brought. They would have been needed a week early but things are melting out early this year.

The fourth section of terrain encountered on this climb was alternating low slope and medium slope boulders of relatively small size; but only class 1 up to some class 2 scampering in a few places and a couple of false summits. The NW approach had far more people hiking up it than our SW ridge approach, so at that junction of those two trails we saw perhaps 15 people total. The SW route contained only 4 groups all day.

In addition to meeting many fine hiker/climbers that were all great attitude and fit for the summit, I was especially pleased to meet a fellow user (Dan Hildebrand). It is always great meeting fellow peakabggers who you have read their reports over the years. He and his charming partner, Andrea, were a delight to hike with. We recognized each other's name from reading each others trip reports over the years, he from Vermont, and me from Florida - both ended up on this CMC sponsored hike in Colorado- it was fun comparing notes and climbs. So many of the peakbaggers I have met on this site, got addicted to the hobby in their 40s,50s, or 60s, It is inspiring to meet an eager couple that found this healthy lifestyle outdoor hobby at an earlier age than many in peakbagger. I can only imagine what his page will look like in 30 years...impressive no doubt.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3926 ft / 1196 m
    Total Elevation Loss:120 ft / 36 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8.4 mi / 13.5 km
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:43F up to 75F
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3866 ft / 1178 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 3806 ft / 1160 m; Extra: 60 ft / 18m
    Loss on way in:60 ft / 18 m
    Distance:4.2 mi / 6.8 km
    Route:SouthWest Ridge
    Start Trailhead:second creek crossing  10530 ft / 3209 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:60 ft / 18 m
    Gain on way out:60 ft / 18 m
    Distance:4.2 mi / 6.8 km

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