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Mt. Columbia  
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Conditions Information  Posted By   Posted On    Photos  Comments  Likes, Dislikes    
2013-10-26  Route: West Slopes
Info: The route is in pretty good shape! There was some snow on main trail for the first 3.6 miles to Horn Fork Basin before the turn-off for Columbia, but not enough to require micro spikes. After the turn-off the snow got a bit deeper in some spots, but it didn‘t last very long. We were able to follow the footprints of previous hikers, and if it doesn‘t snow our prints should still be there! Once you get to tree line and start the very steep ascent, there is snow, but you can still see the cairns and follow the trail up to the ridgeline. We ended up cutting out a portion of the trail and followed some cairns that led us STRAIGHT up to the ridge. Using traction for this ascent and on the ridgeline were super helpful, and I would advise using traction for the descent as well, even if there is very little snow because there is a ton of loose dirt, rock, etc. The summit was so warm, we didn‘t even need to wear jackets! Also, Mt. Harvard looks like there is hardly any, to no snow at all on the route above tree line or on the summit. Looks like things may change after this week! 
LizWeiss  2013-10-28   0         Edit  Delete
2013-10-20  Route: West Slopes
Info: Patchy snow starting shortly after leaving TH all the way to summit. Very little in trees, maxing out to maybe 6" in spots above treeline. Most I postholed was to my lower calf. No traction needed on ascent but used microspikes on descent. Seems like a good time of year to do this peak, as the frozen ground in the AM solidified most of that awful scree. The snow patches also helped stabilize as well. 
aliciaf  2013-10-21   0   2      Edit  Delete
2013-07-27  Route: West Slopes
Info: Summer conditions on the trail. The scree fest is not very fun to ascend, but I would take that over coming down the steep slope after a long day on the mountain. 
michaelgrundy  2013-07-29   0         Edit  Delete
2013-06-30  Route: Harvard-Columbia loop
Info: Harvard-Columbia traverse is in great condition, as is the general route up Horn Fork basin. I jogged from the N Cottonwood TH at 5:45 and summitted Harvard at 8:45, then descended the ridge towards Columbia. There are a few easily avoidable patches of snow on the north faces. I dropped below the ridge proper and into the basin and then back up. Lots of water throughout the route if you need to re-fill. Columbia summit at 10:45. Clouds were gathering and threatening to worsen, but held off. Remember to plan for mid-morning lightning storms and be off the peak at the appropriate time. 
ulvetano  2013-07-01   1           
2013-06-22  Route: West Slopes
Info: I don‘t think we encountered any snow on the route. Some places were muddy. The route up/down the West Slope is a long, steep, scree hike with poor traction in many places. If you want to follow the 14ers.com traverse route from Harvard, download the route pictures to your phone beforehand with the app, or print the pictures, and follow them carefully. Otherwise, just follow your nose, but you‘ll probably drop down pretty low (~12,500). The traverse is short mileage wise, but is mostly off trail and requires crossing boulderfields and a very steep uphill hike on the Columbia side. Do not try the traverse if there is any forcasted weather, or if clouds are forming on Harvard‘s summit. We took about 3 hours summit to summit. Some groups take five hours. 
ezabielski  2013-06-23   0   2      Edit  Delete
2013-06-09  Route: standard and part of southwest coulior
Info: The standard route up to Columbia is opened for business. No snowshoes required. There are some good dry camping spots about 3.3 miles from the trailhead. There was some snow on the main trail but it has been packed down. The southwest couloir is fading fast. We packed crampons to do the SW couloir but the warm conditions made us leery of the conditions. We did the majority of our climb up the standard route then slid over to the couloir at 13,200 and climbed the couloir to the ridge. The conditions of the upper part of the couloir at 8 AM were pretty good. Im not too sure about the lower part of the couloir. Im hoping to post some pictures shortly, send me a PM if you want more info! Happy to help. Photo 1: West Slope (standard up Columbia) Photo 2: Lower section of SW coulior photo 3: Ridge to Harvard and Horn Fork Basin photo 4: ridge at 13,600 loooking at Columbia Summit 
Stiffler_from_Denver  2013-06-10   4   3        
2013-06-01  Route: Southwest Couloir
Info: Speth and I climbed the SW Couloir Route, which was in fantastic shape. If you are looking to do Columbia without the miserable talus this year, get on this route soon! We anticipated that in another 1.5 weeks or so the route would no longer be in. The trail is bootpacked to the beginning of Horn Fork Basin. Saw about 8 people total making their way into the basin so it should be trampled down even more. Snow shoes on the approach are not necessary. Gaiters recommended. We found a nice little campsite to the right of the trail at 11,050. There is another campsite less than 1 minute away that also looks really flat. Both sites are 100% dry. We veered off the route and bushwacked a bit to the gully, where we encountered some minor postholing (around 6-7 am). Crampons, ice axe, and helmet are needed for this route. Microspikes are not sufficient for safe ascent. The couloir is holding at least several feet of snow in the middle. We started down the Couloir around 12:40 and we were able to plunge step and glissade the whole way down. Overall an amazing day! Please PM me with any question you may have. I would be happy to help. Mike 
zdero1  2013-06-02   4         Edit  Delete
2013-05-12  Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: There was solid snow from about 10,000 feet on up. It is still quite deep in the trees, but it was starting to melt. At this point I wouldnt go near the ridge without some sort of flotation. There is SO much snow everywhere! Pic #1 is looking south from the ridge, in Pic #2 you can see the ridge in the background. 
metalmountain  2013-05-13   2   1      Edit  Delete
2013-02-07  Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: There was a trench to the tree line that was a few days old, which helped a lot. We did have to break trail in the deadfall area just above the tree line, but after that the ridge was mostly windblown all the way to the summit. We stashed snowshoes at about 12.2k. SW couloir looks good, filled almost all the way to the ridge. The SE ridge is long and close to 5k elevation gain, expect a long day. No tracks in the Horn Fork basin en route to Harvard as far as we could see from the ridge. Image 1 SE ridge Image 2 Final section of the ridge Image 3 Harvard-Columbia traverse Image 4 Frenchman Creek approach 
nkan02  2013-02-08   4   4      Edit  Delete
2013-02-02  Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: We attempted Columbia via the Southeast ridge on Saturday the 2nd. The road to the trailhead was closed about 1 mile short of the Colorado Trail turnoff. We broke trail through about 10 inches on the CT and when we left the trail to head up the ridge, that turned into 20-30 inches. We made it up to 12k feet before we were wiped and had to turn around. Anyone giving it a shot before the next big snow will have a much easier time of it as snowshoes didn‘t look to be necessary above our trench. 
Ramfan24  2013-02-04   0   1      Edit  Delete
2012-12-15  Route: West Slopes
Info: Happy to report that there is snow in those hills! Summer TH access is good, 6-8in at start of trail, 8-16in, well over knee in the mid-basin area. The west slopes looked to be in great shape. This peak is however becoming a bit of a nemesis to me. It said, ‘you shall not pass today!‘ 
ulvetano  2012-12-15   4   3      Edit  Delete
2012-11-20  Route: West Slopes
Info: I arrived at the trail-head last night at 6pm. I thought for sure there would be several cars parked at this popular trail-head. To my excitement I was all alone all night and all day today! There was not a sole who use the trail-head for Columbia, Harvard, or for the lakes, it was like the forest was all mine. The trail had a light dusting of snow with little to no ice. I brought my micro-spikes and gators but didn‘t use them at all. (It seems I often take these two things on 10+ mile hikes in my pack instead of on my feet.) If you are going to take this trail before the next snow I‘d leave yours at home. There is only small section about .5 miles before the "not fun" steep part that my shoes did get wet from all the snow but since it was 40 degrees today they dried in a hurry. It should also be noted that the drive to the trailhead has virtually no snow and neither does anything above treeline. 
Jump Roper  2012-11-20   3         Edit  Delete
2012-11-03  Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: The route to Mount Columbia is very dry; there is hardly any snow. Where there is snow, it‘s not deep at all. Poles are nice to have in general on this route but are not necessary right now. We did not use our Microspikes, and definitely no ice axe or snowshoes are needed yet. 
SilverLynx  2012-11-04   1      1   Edit  Delete
2012-10-06  Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: No snow at the 3 Elk Creek trailhead, but an inch or two of snow covered the trail after about 2 miles. From the alpine plains below the ridge, snow became constant, but usually only a few inches deep. On the climb up to the ridge, there was only a little snow, as this slope is south-facing. On top of the the easternmost portion of the ridge, thin snow did not present a challenge. Above about 13,000 feet, snow depth was variable. In places it was thin or absent; in places it was as much as knee-deep. In some areas, slippery ice caused a few minor stumbles. Talus slopes were slow to navigate, and poles were helpful to find where snow between rocks was thin or deep. Snowshoes would NOT have helped anywhere on the hike, as the snow was too thin except in the odd places on talus slopes. Poles were very helpful, both for probing and for balance. Weather was clear, in the 30s, with only slight occasional gusts of light wind. 
trinkner  2012-10-09   3      1   Edit  Delete
2012-06-09  Route: West Slopes
Info: Very little snow at the top and easy to skirt. There are still a number of trees down- probably around 30 which will add on a bit of hiking time to both Harvard and Columbia. One area in particular had a bunch of trees down which made it a mess to move around and we took about 10 mins to find the trail on the way back down. 
sheller  2012-06-11   0         Edit  Delete
2012-06-09  Route: Standard
Info: Lower portion of the trail only had approx 5 downed trees as many which were once crossing the trail have been cut. The upper portion had multiple downed trees, but all were easy to detour around or hop over. The trees probably added 10 minutes extra roundtrip to the climb time. Other than the trees the trail is in great summer shape! 
ColoradoLawDobe  2012-06-09   0           
2012-05-31  Route: Columbia traverse to Harvard
Info: Climbed Columbia Thursday morning and traversed to Harvard.I kept reading about all the downed trees at Shavano/Tabeguache, but between the two, Harvard has A LOT more trees down across the trail. It‘s not too hard to stay with the trail, but you have to do lots of maneuvering over, around, between. (I did Tab/Shav today and didn‘t have to step off of the trail one, all the way to the summit because it‘s all been cleaned up so well.) Having done the whole thing, I would definitely recommend going UP Columbia and DOWN from Harvard, unless you are a champion scree-skier. No real snow to contend with getting up Columbia, but there are still a few large stretches holding on behind the ridge. They‘re avoidable if you are comfortable skirting deeper into the valley, which would definitely add mileage and elevation lost that has to be regained (on top of the 1,500+ you already have to lose). That said, I did it with no problems in trail runners (with great traction) with trekking poles, but would have felt more comfortable if I‘d had a whippet or ice axe on one stretch. If I‘d have been two hours later, I would have been sliding around more and getting really wet feet. Also, that traverse is LONG! Took me about 3 hours. 
a6ftcruton  2012-06-01   0           
2012-05-27  Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Columbia SE Ridge. Route mostly clear of snow. Down low any snow can be avoided. Higher up only a few small spots to cross. A pole might be helpful. An axe would only be needed if you decided to bail down a couloir into Three Elk Valley. 
MountainHiker  2012-05-27   0         Edit  Delete
2012-05-11  Route: We got off route, then snow route
Info: Condition/Trip report hybrid, hopefully the long story short will give you any information you need. Beta for the Horn Fork Basin is basically the same as the last condition update. Road to TH is great. First 2.5 miles are basically dry with a little bit of live tree fall (about 5). We hiked that real kwick. From there on my partner and I experienced a big loss in momentum. We had a postholopolus or postholupoluzza in combination with like a bizzillion fallen trees on the trail that probably added and extra mile of meandering to. Then we lost the trail in the snow and the fallen trees and wandered around for a bit never finding the turnoffs for the standard route. How about the weather? Well we left GJ at 3am without a cloud in the sky, got to Leadville at 6...not a cloud in the sky. Started our hike at 7:15 not a cloud in the sky. Meandered through the forest until we broke treeline at 9:45 not a cloud in the sky and hot! 9:50 we have A cloud. 9:55 we got lots of em. 10:10 we got very dark clouds and my partner and I decided to take a direct scramble to the summit ridge (not recommended scree mud mix). The alpine standard route is completely dry. 10:30 its snowing, 10:40 we just some thunder, 11:30 we lost all visibility. 12 we got the summit with a glorious view of nothing. It SNOWED THE REST OF THE DAY! It was lightly sticking at about 13,500K and above, However, it was sticking at Tennessee Pass at 5. The snow route described by Bill‘s route description is what we descended. We had a mud scree mix for about half of the coliour. However, we were able to glissade for around 1000 ft. The route below treeline from the snow route was a bit of bush whack, but it was much more efficient than the ridiculous amount of tree fall on the standard trail. We avoided all of our problems of the morning except for the fact the fog made seeing 15 yards ahead very difficult. The snow was really coming down by the time we left. It should be unlikely that much accumulation occurs very far below near North Cottonwood TH, however, with the rate of precipitation and the lack of wind thereof, there could be a couple inches above and just below treeline. 
Rcizzle  2012-05-11   0           
2012-05-05  Route: West Slopes
Info: First 2 miles to the trail junction between Columbia and Harvard are not bad, just a few downed trees and snow patches most of which can be avoided. Then the next mile and a half is rough, lots of knee deep soft snow, and lots of downed trees over the trail. We did it without snow shoes, and Im not sure how much better things would have been with them. Above the treeline the snow is mostly clear and things were dry. And coming down Harvard we found a couple of nice spots to glissade. Im thinking it might be another month before the rest of that snow melts out in the trees though. 
zxbraves  2012-05-08   4         Edit  Delete

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