TR: Southeast Couloir on La Plata (7 & 12 April 2015)

(Last Updated On: May 6, 2015)

La Plata is one of the most aesthetic peaks for skiers in the Sawatch Range. The north face harbors a spider web of lines that are all fantastic for skiing, which I had skied twice before. However, there’s a couloir on La Plata’s south side that beckons as well.

La Plata's south side.
The southeast couloir on La Plata as seen from the summit of Mount Belford

I didn’t really find a whole lot of info about skiing this southeast couloir on La Plata. In fact, I didn’t find anything. So, I had to be creative. After pouring over topo maps, a couple of different guidebooks, and Google Earth images, I decided that the best way to ski this route would be to summit via the standard route, ski the southeast couloir, then reascend via a saddle and ridge, and descend the north side of La Plata. I was able to persuade Josh Macak and Pete Sowar to join me, and we were off.

Me with Sayres behind.
Brittany Konsella with Sayers Benchmark in the distance.

The morning was beautiful and the ascent went fairly well.
Pete Sowar with La Plata in the distance.

Ridge hike on La Plata.

But as we ascended the ridge, the strong breeze became stronger and downright forceful. As we ascended higher and higher, we were continually thrown off balance and occasionally knocked to the ground by gusts.

At the summit we struggled to find a place sheltered from the wind. We shouted just to make our voices heard. With strengthening winds, was pretty unanimous that today was just not the day to descend down the south side, only to have to reascend once again. So, we descended the north face of La Plata. Pete.
Pete Sowar backocuntry skiing on La Plata.

Pete Sowar backocuntry skiing on La Plata.

Pete Sowar backcountry skiing on La Plata.

Josh.
Josh Macak backcountry skiing on La Plata.

Josh Macak backcountry skiing on La Plata.

Josh Macak backcountry skiing on La Plata.

Jash Macak backcountry skiing on La Plata peak.

After I grabbed some photos of the boys skiing off the summit, I had to climb back up to ski. A very strong gust of wind struck as I was putting on my skis. I hunkered down, holding on to my skis in hopes they didn’t blow away in the wind. The gust continued, but lost a bit of strength. I carefully managed to get on my skis and descend into the couloir, as Pete snapped this photo of me, with ice pellets blowing around.
Brittany Konsella backcountry skiing on La Plata.

More of me.
Brittany Konsella backcountry skiing on La Plata.

Brittany Konsella backcountry skiing on La Plata.

The way out.

The bridge crossing was in interesting shape and took extra talent to approach while on skis.
Bridge crossing on the La Plata trail.

Try, try again

I’m an advocate for trying again. The exit of La Plata was in as good of shape as it gets and I knew that it would be best to try again in the next week, or week and a half at most. A weather window opened for the following Sunday. This time, Frank was able to join me along with our friend Mark Cavaliero.
Frank Konsella ascending La Plata peak.

Although the weather threatened us with cold temperatures, occasionally strong winds, and bursts of snow, overall, it held up. We decided to descend the southeast couloir on La Plata.
The southeast couloir on La Plata.

Mark, ready to drop in.
Mark Calaliero on top of La Plata peak.

And now, the skiing.
Mark Cavaliero backcountry skiing in the southeast couloir on La Plata

Mark Cavaliero backcountry skiing in the southeast couloir on La Plata

Mark Cavaliero backcountry skiing in the southeast couloir on La Plata

Mark Cavaliero backcountry skiing in the southeast couloir on La Plata

Mark Cavaliero backcountry skiing in the southeast couloir on La Plata

Frank.
Frank Konsella backcountry skiing in the southeast couloir on La Plata

Frank Konsella backcountry skiing in the southeast couloir on La Plata

Frank Konsella backcountry skiing in the southeast couloir on La Plata

Frank Konsella backcountry skiing in the southeast couloir on La Plata

Frank Konsella backcountry skiing in the southeast couloir on La Plata

Me in the entrance.
Brittany Konsella backcountry skiing in the southeast couloir on La Plata

The couloir was pretty aesthetic.
Brittany Konsella backcountry skiing in the southeast couloir on La Plata

bBrittany Konsella backcountry skiing in the southeast couloir on La Plata

Me at the bottom of couloir.
B

Frank on the apron of the couloir.
Brittany Konsella backcountry skiing in the southeast couloir on La Plata

Now that we were in a completely different basin, it was time to transition for the skin up and out.
Brittany Konsella and Mark Cavaliero in the south basin by La Plata.

This basin completely surrounded us with beauty.
Basin south of La Plata peak.

And then the skin.
Mark Cavaliero skinning out of La Plata's southern basin.

As we ascended the views got even better. The Sawatch and Elks.
View of the Sawatch Range and the Elks from La Plata Peak.

The Apostles.
The Apostles in the Sawatch Range.

We came about 100′ short of re-summiting La Plata. But, it was frigid. So, we decided to head down as soon as we could, taking the skiers left line on the north side. Frank.
Frank Konsella backcountry skiing on La Plata peak

Frank Konsella backcountry skiing on La Plata peak

Mark.
Mark Cavaliero backcountry skiing on La Plata peak

Mark with the north side of La Plata.
Mark Cavaliero and the north side of La Plata Peak.

Another route that I’ve been wanting to ski checked off the list, and another great day in the mountains 🙂

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Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things,Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate 🙂 Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!

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Summary
Southeast Couloir on La Plata (7 & 12 April 2015)
Article Name
Southeast Couloir on La Plata (7 & 12 April 2015)
Description
Brittany tackles a long-awaited goal on her wish list; the southeast couloir on La Plata Peak. The line was aesthetic and fun!
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Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things, Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate :) Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!

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