Friday Night: Boulder to the TH
On Friday night, Ian and I drove from Boulder to the La Plata Northwest Ridge trailhead. During the drive, we hit one of the worst rain/lighting storms I have ever driven through, hydroplaning several times. The trailhead is well marked on CO-82 (Independence Pass Road). We decided not to camp right at the trailhead due to private property (although there was a tent there in the morning) and instead went back down the road to a Forest Service campground. At this point, the rain subsided to a light mist, but this would not be the end of rain on this trip.
Saturday Morning: TH to Northwest Ridge
Started out very early on Saturday morning. The rain stopped until we got to the big saddle on La Plata's enormous Northwest Ridge. After a steep hike out from the trailhead, you end up in a gorgeous valley that stretches miles away in front of you. The creek was really flowing after all the rain from the previous week.
After half a mile or so of relatively flat hiking, you begin up a long series of switchbacks.
Switchbacks up to the Northwest Ridge
Eventually, you gain the Northwest Ridge and on a normal day would have a great view of the summit and Ellingwood Ridge. On this day, the clouds were hovered in and the summit was in not visible.
Top of Ellingwood Ridge
View from the saddle on the Northwest Ridge. The summit is in the clouds and the remainder of the route stays on or near the ridge.
Ridge to Summit
After a quick break and change of clothes (it started raining and didnt stop for the rest of the day), we continued up the ridge. After another mile or so, we were in the clouds and the visibility went to zero. We had a hard time finding the route and were basically hopping rocks straight up the ridge. Eventually, we made the summit in a nice light rain.
La Plata summit.
Total time to summit was around 3 hours, though we didnt really pay attention. We started down and found a few trails, all of which were better than our ascent route. Several small groups passed us going up. By the time we were back in the valley, it was a steady rain that soaked everything we had. Overall, a great day.
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