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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2016-09-08||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Started at Colorado Trail trailhead going north toward Harvard Lakes. Follow the CT trail up through the first two switchback turns. Not far up the third leg of switchbacks, look for a large cairn on left side of trail -- the SE ridge trail begins here. For the most part, this trail is well marked with small cairns all the way to timberline. In spots the trail can be lost, such as where downfall hides it. Except for the lower section and a couple other spots, the trail is just off the top of the ridgeline on the north side; if you lose it, look there for cairns. Trail ends at timberline. From there the entire SE ridge route is straightforward, just follow the ridge line; a few knobs can be contoured around. Nothing more technical than a few stretches of talus (no snow at all on this day). It is long, however, and you are well above treeline for a couple miles, making any quick retreat from lightning difficult (not a cloud in the sky on this day). Beautiful climb.
|2016-08-31||Route: West Slopes
Info: After a brief wintermission, Harvard and Columbia are pretty close to back to summer conditions. A touch of snow up high on each, but nothing that made us even consider getting the spikes out of the packs today. Traverse is pretty much dry. We did the lower, less technical and less time consuming version and still took us 3:24 from Columbia summit to Harvard summit.
|2016-08-14||Route: West Slopes
Info: Just in case you were wondering, Columbia's West Slopes still suck. Although CFI is working hard on a multi-year project to completely reroute the trail, the new trail won't be open for a few more years. Until then the standard trail remains the same. As you climb up the nasty gully, make sure to cut right (south) to the shoulder around 12,500'. I was amazed at the number of people who tried to climb straight up the entire gully.
|2016-07-09||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Climbed directly from the first switchback after the river crossing up the South ridge. Steep but completely snowfree. No snow on the ridge or that we could see on the standard trail up either. Dropped the traverse toward Harvard, crossed upper Frenchman Creek at the 12600ft mark in the talus, snow is a non-issue and all can be easily avoided. As of 7/9 there were good strong waterflows at 1300ft on both the Columbia and Harvard side of the traverses if you need to refill water. Flowers are popping on the Southeast face of Harvard, beautiful weekend up there.
|2016-07-03||Route: NE Slopes/East Ridge
Info: Via Frenchman's Creek TH. (See TH Rpt for 7/3/16). Route is dry and snow free. Routing and trail conditions still mostly as described in 9/17/14 trip report by tdliles. Good trail from 4wd TH up Frenchman's Creek to treeline and upper basin, with a few meanderings at and after the upper meadow due to tree fall. (Look for cairn on the right to re-enter the trees at west end of meadow.) Trail becomes faint in the willows in upper basin, but can be detected ascending ridge to the south of the basin. Trail disappears ascending to east ridge. There is no discernible trail across the east ridge, but routing is obvious. Fun scramble for last 100 yds on summit block. Attempted traverse to Harvard, but weather and time dictated otherwise (which is why we chose Frenchman approach if we needed to bail). Descended gully (with some snow) from low point on traverse and met up with Harvard trail on north side of Frenchman's Creek. The willows/marsh in the upper basin is inundated, so stay high on the north (Harvard) or south (Columbia) sides of basin until reaching the choke at the bottom of the upper basin. Long day: 14 miles RT. 4a start and back to car (.7 miles above 2wd TH) at 1p.
|2016-06-17||Route: West Slopes
Info: We climbed Columbia and traversed over to Harvard yesterday. Columbia is in summer conditions with only one little patch of snow at the base of the gully. The traverse, however, is covered in snow. The suggested route at the base of the slope is all snow and too steep to cross so we had to drop much lower and do a lot of bouldering to get across. Added a lot of time to our trip (worse than picture looks, of course). I would definitely never do that traverse again until the snow is gone.
|2016-06-11||Route: East Ridge from Three Elk Creek
Info: Hiked Mt Columbia from Three Elk Creek. Beautiful route. Full-on summer conditions. There were three tiny snowfield crossings just below the summit, but they will be avoidable or gone within days. Harvard and Horn Fork basin appear to be quite snowed-in still.
|2016-06-03||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Approached Columbia from the Southeast Ridge, started at 4:30am and summitted at 10:00am. Saw two other groups coming up from Horn Fork Creek, I was the only climber who did the SE Ridge that morning, and by the looks of tracks most likely only one other small party had gone that route since the last snow (week and a half ago?). It was an overcast morning, so snow held strong later than usual - only slight mush starting around 1030 on my descent. Had crampons and ice axe just in case, but never put them on I just hiked in boots across the snow with trekking poles + snow shields to disperse weight. The easiest part of the climb was on these high snow drifts - highway in the sky. On the descent, the slight mush-melt was made for easy heel-plunging, so I didn't mind it. I never had to posthole on the SE Ridge, but two groups coming up the standard route on HF Creek said they got slammed with it for about an hour and a half on the way up, dreading it on the way down. Very thankful for the overcast skies, I can't imagine the hike would have been as easy without it having summitted so late - get up there earlier than I did. SE Ridge is long - very long. Overall, fantastic hike. Go get it.
|2016-05-29||Route: West Slopes
Info: Great day to bag Columbia. Good amount of snow on the trail to the talus field but we did okay with microspikes. Past the talus field there were only patches of snow and were avoidable. Snow from the ridge to the summit. Some postholing on our way back but it wasn't that bad.
|2016-05-22||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Snow is mostly avoidable until you get above treeline. Above the trees, it's pretty much solid snow all the way to the summit. Conditions were sunny but windy on the way up, so the snow stayed frozen until about 11 am. Snow was softening and provided the occasional posthole on the descent, but we never felt the need to use snowshoes.
|2016-05-14||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Climbed SE ridge. Snow starts around 10,800'. It is best to stay on the bare, more south-facing side of the ridge to avoid post holing in the trees. The snow was solid above treeline and we didn't need snowshoes. Microspikes and an ice axe were necessary as we traversed around the face of of one of the ridge bumps. The ice axes were never needed for the rest of the trip. On the way down in the late afternoon, we found a section around 11,900' elevation that had deep/wet wind-blown snow that showed signs that it could have a minor slide.
|2016-03-05||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Snowshoes are a must from just above the Colorado Trail junction to the tree line. We stashed snowshoes just above the tree line. The snow in the AM was solid(ish), but the afternoon was an entirely different story with very soft snow. You will posthole even with snowshoes, but it'd be a nightmare without snowshoes. Be aware the SE ridge is a very long ridge and you'll be above the tree line for the majority of your day. Not a great route if it's a windy forecast.
|2016-02-20||Route: Image from Yale
Info: Photo from Yale
|2016-01-09||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: I don‘t think I‘m quite justified in a trip report here. We set out for what ended up being a VERY long day at 6:40AM from the Colorado Trail Trailhead that serves as the initial approach for the Southeast Ridge Route. Snowshoes were on from the get-go, though a determined hiker in micro spikes could manage an exhausting and time-consuming summit. There is clearly a constant path up the ridge up through treeline. We tried to tramp down an easier path where it made sense. There are a couple areas as you approach treeline where the trail moves onto some slightly sketchy terrain for a winter summit; I would consider it worth it to break trail up the center of the ridge, rather than follow the trail onto that steep terrain. Once you reach treeline, both snowshoes and spikes/boots become an option. The wind drifted snow of the mountain allows a route for either choice on through the summit, though my entire party had removed snowshoes by about 13,000‘. The wind-drifted snow presents a very real challenge for the last 2 miles of ridge walk. It is a long, slow, slogging climb with some areas of completely exposed scree, and others of 2-3 feet of wind drifted snow, all with its fair share of light scrambling. At about 1:00 PM, we finally gained the summit. After a brief picture session, we headed down, Eddyline pretty much all we could think about. Conditions changed very little throughout the day, and we were lucky to have less than the normally insanely high amount of wind on the high ridges. We finally returned to the trailhead about 6:00 PM, headlamps on and ready for pizza. All in all, a beautiful day.
|2016-01-03||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Summited Mount Columbia today, trench all the way to summit. Harvard Lakes trailhead was accessible by jeep to about 9,300 feet with good driving skills.
|2015-10-08||Route: West Slopes
Info: dirt & rocks were frozen solid in the morning.it was very easy to climb up. on the other hand NE face had quite snow so I had to use spikes to come down. connecting ridge & Harvard were mostly dry. std route of Harvard was like summer condition.
|2015-07-11||Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Info: Traverse is mostly free of snow until you reach the lower elevation between Harvard and Columbia near the "rabbit". Snow was mostly well packed with some postholing near rocks by 9 am. Microspikes recommended but not needed for the snow crossings. Above 13,200‘ there is no snow all the way to the summit.
|2015-07-08||Route: West Slopes
Info: The trail has been massively washed out, making it VERY easy to end up climbing the scree field left (north) of the real trail. Our group and at least two others did that, which is much more difficult, dangerous, and damaging to the mountain before we found the cairns and resumed the trail. IF you‘re on scree for more than half the route, you are off trail! Tend right and after you pass the eroded section, you‘ll be rewarded by finding the trail along a grassy, more stable section of the mountain. Safer, faster, and less damaging.
|2015-06-28||Route: West Slopes
Info: Trail in good condition- no snowshoes or spikes needed. Only a few very manageable snowfields on the summit ridge. Scree on push to summit ridge is pretty bad, would definitely reccomend taking poles- I saw several people take some pretty bad spills on the way down. Thunder clouds started building up around 930.
|2015-06-28||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Decided to go for the LONG southeast ridge on Columbia, instead of dealing with the mud fest on the trail from N. Cottonwood into the basin. The lower part of the ridge in the forest is easy to follow and trail segments are well cairned. Mosquitos were hell though. No snow to deal at all, the few patches along the higher parts of the ridge can be completely avoided. My advice, check the weather and plan accordingly because you are up high for a long time and getting caught up there in a lightning storm would be bad news! Some dark clouds came in around 11 and I booked it from summit to treeline along the ridge in under an hour.