We left the La Plata trailhead around 8:00 feeling quite giddy with the prospects of the excursion at hand (and under foot). We jogged the jeep road .3 miles to the singletrack. Trickiness ensued. Hoping off rocks, swinging on branches, I even had the gumption to execute a front handspring, which I will probably never do again whilst wearing a hydration pack.
Upon crossing the second creek we stayed east on the faint trail that would take us to Ellingwood Ridge. There were sporadic pink ribbons that kept us on course as the trail came and went. We toiled through tedious talus once we breeched treeline. It was a good warmup for both our legs and arms.
Along the ridge, things were awesome. Route finding was fairly simple; when deviating from the ridgecrest itself we would invariably stick to the east slopes. Picking lines and executing downclimbs was a blast. It's truly a joy to be growing comfortable with moving swiftly over class 3-4-5 terrain. To get my heart racing on a 5-0 downclimb became addictive, so I elected to pursue more difficult options for the sake of increasing my climbing confidence and competence.
The route was truly sensational, despite being exhausting. I don't really have a lot to say on it besides that. I would encourage you to do it. Word of warning, though, allow a little more time than you may think you'll need; we anticipated the traverse taking 3.5-4 hours and it ended up being closer to 4:40. It's quite gratifying to gain 5,900 ft of elevation hand over foot over the course of only 5 miles. We descended the standard route wrapping up the day after about 5 hours and 50 minutes out.
Enjoy the photos. I lament to say that they do little to capture the magnitude of the beauty or the enjoyment we experienced.
|Travis and Mike talusing.|
|Gaining the ridge|
|Mt Elbert looking stunning, per usual|
|Travis can climb|
|Me, enjoying a 13,xxx summit along Ellingwood Ridge.|
|Travis, soaking it all in|
|Moving along the last few pitches.|
|Eyeing the Nolan's route.|
|Mandatory summit shot|