La Plata is a peak I’ve been wanting to ski for years, but one thing or another always got in the way. This time the stars aligned though, and I got to enjoy one of my most enjoyable 14er ski days ever. Though the roads were dry, the drive was made interesting by a couple people who clearly should not have been driving at 4:00 in the morning. Matt and I met at the trailhead and were skinning at 5:30 sharp.
The bushwhack through the trees was tough thanks to the steep pitch and icy snow, but – if nothing else – the snow was supportive and the trees spaced widely enough to make the climb almost straightforward. Right about 7:00 we broke through to treeline and got to surveying what was around us for the rest of the ascent.
We found a simple-looking spot to boot up a hundred feet or so to gain the ridge proper, and ultimately decided to keep our skis on our packs for the rest of the climb on account of the constantly undulating ridgeline combined with pretty hard, sloping snow.
From here on it was just one foot in front of the other for a couple thousand feet.
I felt as “on” as I ever have in the mountains, and the next thing I knew I was relaxing on the summit, enjoying the absolutely perfect weather of the day. Matt joined me on top a couple minutes later.
We pushed off right about 10:30, enjoying the steep entry fee to the line, and then just enjoying amazing snow.
I don’t know where it blew in from, but most of the line held a few inches of light, dry powder. It was enough that every few turns you had to stop and/or get out of the way to let the sluff run by down the mountain.
By 11:00 we were off the north face and got to work on traversing out. We moved quickly as the last thing we wanted was to get stuck in mashed potato snow on the ski out through the trees. Skiing along the creek was our call, and it was a good one. There were only a couple melted through spots, with the vast majority of the creek being covered deeply in supportive snow. Just about noon we got back to the bridge across the creek, and after that it’s just a couple minutes of skating back to the car.
La Plata was my anti-Humboldt, the one amazing day in the hills I needed to keep me coming back for a few more sufferfests. I can’t wait for the next one.