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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2014-06-28||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Closed out the Collegiates (and Sawatch range 14ers) with a successful ascent/descent of Colubmia. Interesting and steep way to go, especially if you don‘t require the security of a marked trail. Scattered cairns provide confirmation that someone else was there once but do little to keep you on the "trail." If you decide to go this way, simply aim for the middle of ridge, negotiating each "obstacle" as they come up - as long as you‘re on the ridge and aim for the summit you really can‘t go wrong! GPS claims we hiked 11.8m miles (guess we found a shortcut) and 6100 ft elev gain (not sure how reliable that is, it felt like less than 5000 ft). Clear, sunny skies but quite windy above treeline - beautiful day overall. 5.5 hrs up, 3.5 hrs down - with breaks.
|2014-05-18||Route: Southwest Couloir
Info: BenfromtheEast and I attempted a ski descent of Mt Columbia via the Southwest couloir on Sunday morning. The road is clear of snow all the way to the Upper TH at North Cottonwood Creek. There is still a ton of snow on the trail nearly the entire way with intermittent dry patches. We would skin for a few hundred yards and then have to take off our skis and hike a hundred feet. It took forever. When we finally reached the turnoff for the Southwest Couloir we found it to be in great shape (see attached photos) with excellent coverage. We did not see any signs of wet avalanche slides in the couloir but there was a constant stream of small rocks that were trickling down, so be aware. Around 11:00am conditions softened up and we abandoned our summit attempt in exchange for some great turns down the couloir. When we reached the main trail we experienced pure misery trudging through the mashed potatoes.
|2014-05-18||Route: Southwest Couloir
Info: Expect to frequently post-hole and possibly cry, especially in the afternoon. Patchy snow coverage on the first ~1 mile makes for awkward snowshoe experiences. Plenty of snow in the couloir, and plenty of pink snow in the run-out. Was stupidwindy today too.
|2014-05-10||Route: Southwest Couloir
Info: Standard trail through the trees is 95% snow covered to treeline and post holing was definitely an issue at lower elevations, even with snowshoes. The SW couloir had excellent coverage all the way to 13,500.
|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!
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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. I‘m not too sure about the lower part of the couloir. I‘m 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
|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
|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 wouldn‘t 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.
|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
|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.
|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!‘
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
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!