Summer of 14er Fever Part III: La Plata, Missouri Mtn, and Blanca Peak

Posted on August 12, 2008

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Well the Summer of 14er Fever has come to an end. I was able to squeeze an extra climb in on Wednesday of this week, making for a total of 11 climbs this summer, and my grand total of 14ers is 13. That leaves 45 to go, so I’ll be back to climbing (and skiing!) some this coming winter.

La Plata Peak

With my friends Max and Lindsey anxious to get out of the city for a weekend, we found a perfect opportunity to hike a 14er closer to Aspen that isn’t too difficult and not a mandatory ski: La Plata Peak. La Plata is in the northern Sawatch Range across the street from Mt. Elbert, the tallest of Colorado’s Peaks. La Plata is the 5th tallest peak in the state, making it my second highest ascent to date (Blanca, #4, is below). Max and Lindsey alongside friends Chip and Jared came on this hike.

We took a wrong turn, and after some backtracking and correct trail hiking we found that La Plata is still where it is supposed to be.

This crew was happy to see that.

After some crazy switchbacks, we were greeted with the summit ascent from just above treeline.

Switchbacks

View of summit

When we finally reached the summit, we were greeted with views of almost 20 other 14ers in the state, from the Elk Range with Snowmass and Capital to the Sawatch/Collegeates with Elbert, Belford, Oxford, Missouri, and Harvard to the Mosquito Range with Sherman, and one guy claimed that Uncompahgre was in the distance, but I wasn’t sure about that.

Snowmass, Capital, and Sopris

Mt. Huron and the 3 Apostles

Belford, Oxford, Harvard, and Missouri Mtn.

Group on the Summit

With La Plata accomplished we went for a little swim in lincoln creek before camping in that area. Needless to say, crazy stuff went down off a nice 20 foot drop.

Missouri Mountain

Since I finished work the week before, I was able to sneek out for an “extra” 14er that wednesday with my friends Bobby and Damien on Missouri Mountain. Our intention was to hike Belford, Oxford, and Missouri, but after getting off the path we ended up only bagging Missouri. Looks like I’ll have to come back to ski Oxford and Belford this winter. Here are some shots from that trip.

Red sunrise

Bobby ascending the ridge

Bobby and Damien on the “crux”

Missouri Summit Shot

After taking the standard route up to Missouri, we thought we could drop the east ridge to elkhead pass in order to ascend oxford and belford more easily. Not being too stoked on the class 4 business, we descended on the backside of Missouri Mtn on the Pine Creek side. This route was sprinkled with exposure, super loose rocks, and just all around slow-going.

Damien on loose rocks

Our route is the orange rock

We made it down, came back up over elk head pass, and decided the weather (and our fatigue) was enough reason not to give belford and oxford a go. i’ll be giving them a shot this winter.

Blanca Redemption

The weekend following Missouri I drove down to the Sierra Blanca group of the Sangre de Christo range near Alamosa to give Blanca Peak a second shot. My friend Jenny and I tried to climb this mountain Memorial Day weekend, but had to turn around at Lake Como because of wind, snow, and cold. This time we were accompanied by Darcy. My car couldn’t make it very far on the wet, loose rocks on the 4×4 road to Lake Como, so we were forced to hike to a campspot at about 10,800 feet. The next morning we were greeted with fantastic views of Little Bear Peak and Lake Como, plus the Waterfall and Ellingwood Point.

Little Bear and Lake Como

Ellingwood and the Waterfall

Darcy needed to turn around at the Waterfall, and Jenny and I trekked on. It was Jenny’s 1st 14er, and not an easy one at that, so it was a definite pull, but we still made it! Shots from the ascent:

Ledges and Blanca Peak

Jenny coming up

Jenny and Crater Lake in the distance

about 100 feet from the summit a massive cloud moved in (not a storm, just a big cloud) and blocked on the views from the summit. so no good views from the top, except one of ellingwood point on the descent.

Summit shot

Ellingwood Point

And just like that my Summer of 14er fever came to an end. No worries, however, because my next post will be coming from Sweden, and will include a stop in Iceland. See you then!

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