La Plata Peak

  • La Plata Peak
  • 4370 m
  • Primary factor 560 m
  • 5th Highest in Colorado
  • Climbed September 10, 2000.


How to get there: We started from Leadville, you drive about 15 miles south on Hwy 24, then another 15 miles west on Colorado 82 (direction Independence Pass). There is a parking lot right next to the (signed) road (going left) called South Fork Road. Do not try to park along this road, the distance to the trailhead is minimal, the land is private and there are No Parking signs posted.
Route description: The trail fork of from the South Fork Road after just a few hundred meters to the left. It is well marked, first crossing a nice creek (in a gorge) on a well designed wooden bridge. The trail then descends a bit and contours around to the second creek which is also crossed on a small bridge. Thanks to (recent?) work/maintenance on the trail there is no way to confuse/get lost (as indicated in a few popular guide books). The trail proceeds to follow this creek climbing until a very beautiful, almost level higher valley basin is reached. The Sayres mountain (4137m) rises prominently at the end of this valley. La Plata is up to the left. The well marked trail climbs left and reaches a ridge from where the famous Ellingwood Ridge comes into view across a deep valley. The trail continues more or less on the ridge climbing up to the final, almost horizontal, ridge that leads to the summit. There are no difficulties and the trail is now very clear from beginning to end.
Comments: Pål Jørgen, age 11 did this climb with me. It took us about 4 hours from the car to the summit, allowing for a couple of stops for photography. We spent 45 minutes on the summit. The weather was crystal clear blue sky, not a cloud anywhere. There were traces of new snow on the summit, so winter may now arrive at the higher elevations. We started at 0630, returning to the car at 1245 after a trip that will be long remembered.