La Plata Peak, 4370m (14,336ft)

Mountain area : Sawatch Range, Colorado USA
Map : Nat'l Geographic #127 - Aspen/Independence Pass
Books : Colorado's Fourteeners Volume 1, Louis W. Dawson II
Books : A climbing guide to Colorado's Fourteeners, Walter R. Borneman/Lyndon J. Lampert
Primary Factor:
Hiked : July 2000
La Plata Peak seen from Twining Peak

La Plata Peak seen from Twining Peak


La Plata is the 5th highest mountain in Colorado. It is a very convenient mountain to hike - close proximity to road and no diffcult sections of the trail. Despite this, I find La Plata Peak to be one of the most spectacular peaks in the range from Mt. Massive to Mt. Antero. It is probably due to the way the peak stands out in contrast to the terrain.

Trail descriptions:

La Plata Peak trailhead - La Plata Peak trail (summer)

Difficulty : Low. Could be strenuous
Risk : Low on trail
Distance :
Time : 2,5-4 hours to the summit
Starting Elev.:

Map of the area
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Topozone Interactive Map
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From Leadville, go 15 miles south on highway 24, and turn right on highway 82. Go another 15 miles south on 82 and look for a turnout signed "South Fork Road". Find a place to park on the turnout.

Please refer to the above books for more details and alternative routes.

Trip Report July 2000:

Bjørn Gillholm and myself had come a long way for our first peaks > 14,000ft. And our ambitions were high. We planned to do 5-6 peaks in a week. After arriving Leadville, we allowed one day for acclimating, but the next day was summit day for La Plata Peak. I didn't acclimate too well, and instead of doing the right thing, I wanted to get the summit, so at least I had one on the record.

Early morning, we parked at the trailhead and made our way through the forest, in a slow pace. We enjoyed the mighty view of Sayres as we came to the forest end. When we saw the La Plata ridge, I remember we felt it would be a tough hike. But steady does it, and we got up on the ridge below the summit. First then, we could absorbe the mighty views of the Sawatch range. And a marmott kept us company.

The final climb was tough, but we made it to the top with grace. After that, I don't remember much. Bjørn was signing the summit log, and I must have been taking pictures. We observed the weather and found that it was time to descend. Immediately I started to vomit, and I didn't stop until we were down from the mountain. I don't remember anything from the drive back to Leadville.

The next day, we went for a lower peak in the Tenmile range, but I needed a doctor more than a peak, so we drove to Leadville Medical Hospital, where AMS was the conclusion. We drove back to the motel with the car full of oxygen equipment and a plan to leave Leadville the next day. Bjørn was able to do Mt. Elbert early next morning before we left. He did not suffer any altitude problems at all.

The trail:

Follow South Fork Road, and after a short hike, exit left onto the La Plata trail. Cross a couple of bridges before the trail ascends into a valley, with Sayres Mountain rising in the south.

The trail goes up to the left and switchbacks until you arrive a ridge. From this ridge, Ellingwood ridge on the other side of the horseshoe comes in sight. The final climb up La Plata to the right of the snowfield now remains.

Pictures from the July 2000 hike:

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Some of the thumbnails may have been cropped to fit the format

Almost out of the forest, Sayres comes into view (124KB) Out of the forest, La Plata Peak comes into view (134KB) Arnt celebrating the summit (149KB) Bjorn signing the summit log (200KB) Views from the top (164KB) Views from the top (161KB) Views from the top (188KB) Back at base camp with Acute Mountain Sickness (107KB)

Pictures from other hikes:

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Some of the thumbnails may have been cropped to fit the format

La Plata Peak seen from Mt. Elbert (202KB) La Plata Peak seen from Mt. Sherman (134KB) La Plata Peak seen from Independence Pass (142KB)

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