Start on the normal route for the NW ridge from the Twin Lakes trailhead. About 1/2 mile down the trail after crossing bridge over creek, turn east (left) and follow a small trail cutting across LaPlata gulch and into LaPlata basin. Hit the stream draining LaPlata basin and turn south (right). Follow trail on the west side of the stream up into LaPlata basin. This trail is unmaintained and numerous blowdowns will hinder your progress. Occasionally the trail will wander away from the stream, but minimal route finding skills will keep you on track. When you break out of the trees into an area of low growing shrubs, the north face of LaPlata will be right in front of you. At some point, cross to the east bank of the stream and continue south to the scree slopes leading up the face. The route we took was the western most couloir running up the face.
Climb the western most couloir. This is a moderate snow climb of appx. 30 to 40 degrees. We encountered some rockfall when the sun hit the upper slopes, but we could avoid it by staying on the east (left) side of the couloir. About half way up, the couloir turns left and slightly steepens. Near the top, we encountered ice, but at a moderate angle. At any time near the top, you can traverse right onto the rocks for a relatively easy scramble, if you want to avoid the ice.
A couple of pickets could be used for the snow, and a couple of screws for the ice at top.
Matt and Mike climbing snow on LaPlata
Route on north face of LaPlata
|By Shane Zentner|
Mar 30, 2004
Climbed the north face via several couliors in May 1999 while camping at bottom of the Northwest Ridge. I remember a substantial amount of snow on the peak which made for an interesting adventure (I did this solo). I carried an ice axe and wore crampons which kept collecting snow. So, I would ditch the crampons if you so desire and Definitely carry an ice axe. Pickets might have worked o.k., but Colorado snow is often 'fluffy' and not condusive for pickets.
One should consider the snow conditions in May and be wary of avalanche conditions. Also, I remember seeing several signs that said not to drink the water from the stream.
|By Michael Doyle|
Jun 2, 2004
Further to Paul Corridon's description of the route (I was the one who picked it out, and am the 'Mike' referred to in the caption of the second pic) - it can be easily picked out on the photo of LaPlata on the main page, which is a very nice view of the whole N. side of the peak. The couloir we climbed is the one angling from left to right below the prominent/permanent snow/ice field of the NW Shoulder. We climbed the route in mid-July 2002, which was an EXTREMELY bad year for the snowpack and this couloir was the last one still filled in. The snow was all gone from the permanent field on the NW Shoulder which added to the fun (for me, anyway) by giving several hundred yards of nice moderate ice.