The day after climbing Mt. Massive, I took on a different challenge: La Plata Peak, Colorado’s fifth-highest mountain. I was to take the main trail right off C82. You will find many describing this short trail (4.5 miles) as “steep”. Well, let me tell you: they are correct.
There are two flat sections. One is at the beginning and one is Plata Gulch. The rest is a steep, steep grind.
I made my way past the private land/fences and crossed several bridges across South Fork Lake Creek before the initial climb up to the Gulch started. You will climb along a roaring creek that is so loud, it makes it impossible to hear someone from more than 10-15 ft away. Consequently, I scared someone as I was passing him. Didn’t mean to, but couldn’t help it either.
The Plata Gulch is a nice relieve for your calves. Take advantage of it, because now it’s time to really climb. And climb. And climb. Eventually, you’ll reach the Northwest Ridge. From there it’s still another 1+ miles to the top, except there is less and less of a trail and you might be scaling some boulders. I don’t think I took the best route up, because there was more of a trail apparent when descending.
Curiously, it took me the same amount of time to summit La Plata as it did to scale Mt. Massive. Perhaps I was a bit tired from the previous day’s effort or maybe La Plata is just that steep. Regardless, the views on the way up and from the summit were absolutely mind-blowing. In fact, this is was my favorite climb and summit in terms of views. This is one of only seven 14ers I have done, but among those, La Plata is gold!
Date climbed: 6/22/10
Time: 3:07 up/2:16 down from main trailhead