La Plata via Southwest Ridge June 28 2009

La Plata Summit June 28, 2009

La Plata Summit June 28, 2009

We Left Boulder at 4 on Saturday and drove to La Plata’s southwest trailhead. We took the Copper exit off of I-70 and turned onto rt 390 about 14 miles north of Buena Vista. Took rt390 the 13+ miles back to the old mining town of Winfield and missed the right turn there (at the historic marker). The liberty handled the pretty rough 4×4 road as we drove to the Huron trailhead before realizing our mistake and going back to the turn off at Winfield for the La Plata trail head. The 4×4 trail was totally free of snow, but running water to cross and some deep ruts and tall boulders to drive around.

At the trailhead we heard some corrupted boom-box Ted Nugent off in the distance and occasional gunfire from at least 3 different weapons so it seemed like a good idea and hike in before camping. The hike from the trailhead follows a creek up through to tree line and after just a mile of hiking up steeply the noise nuisance was no longer in mind. We threw down gear just before tree line ended and agreed we would hit it early as long as the weather was good.

A 3:30am start and followed the trail easily taking a snow free route up the back bowl. We saw some pre dawn wildlife, a pair of eyes staring us down from across the creek that never budged and just watched us hike by and a deer that ran down from the high saddle as we approached the top. The usual selection of Picas and Marmots also starting popping out as the sky got brighter. The sun was still not up yet as we headed for the 600ft+ push up the first false summit. Went off trail to the right and walked up some frozen snow fields – crampons would of made easy work of this predawn refrozen snow but there is not so much snow left. The super hard core could still ski or board down into the north side bowl.

The weather was absolutely perfect on this hike. The early early start meant that when some thunderclouds rolled in we were already pack up and rolling out in the jeep. The wind was even gentle over the duration. We did put on gloves and additional layer once we hit about 13000ft.

We had the summit at 7am all to ourselves and not a soul in sight, which kind of surprised me for a Saturday morning in June. Just another benefit of the super-eeeeeearly start.

On the way down we followed the trail more dilligently which made the false summit scramble section better.
We took our time back to camp and enjoyed the rest of the short hike back out to trailhead before 11am.

It took us about 3.5 hours to summit, and only 1.5 down. LaPlata was a great time, there are so many incredible areas to explore in the area, and tons of camping opportunities. Can’t wait to get back.