Belford and Oxford

20 Jun 2000 - by Steve Bonowski

Hi all. Great climb of Belford and Oxford this past Tuesday under bright, but windy, skies. Did a route variation in that we followed the trail to Elkhead Pass between Belford and Missouri. Very beautiful area, with many flowers poking up through a light dusting of fresh snow. We followed the path along Belford's gentle south ridge to the turnoff to head to Oxford. We returned over Belford and then down the CFI trail for a total time of 10 hours (we weren't in a hurry). Casa del Sol in Buena Vista remains recommended for "apres-climb."

Yesterday we went up La Plata from the south, after a rest day & short hike on Wednesday. A narrow trail leads up a scenic stream gully to a high basin below the south end of La Plata's long & broad summit ridge. The trail winds through meadows and willow patches and climbs steeply to the upper plateau. Because of a large snowback remaining on the trail at the top, we did a longer, but gentler, grade to the right. Then across the "lower upper plateau" and about 600' of scrambling to the "upper upper" plateau. There is a well marked route here, but it's hard to see on the ascent. Much easier to descend. "In & out" paths lead over two small subpeaks to La Plata's actual summit. Ellingwood Ridge looks awesome from the top; we ran into a FS ranger on Belford and she advised that a climber died on this ridge early last week. Was one of four attempting it without any technical gear; he fell about 250'. This route on La Plata reminds one of climbing Ixta in Mexico, with its series of "platforms" leading to the top.

And finally, congrats to Debbie Hampton on her completion of 14ers #20 thru #22. I think she's "got the fever."

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