Peak(s):  Mt. Columbia  -  14,073 feet
Post Date:  02/12/2013
Date Climbed:   02/07/2013
Posted By:  SnowAlien
Additional Members:   semitrueskerm

 Columbia via SE ridge (a photographic journey)      

Route: SE Ridge from Harvard Lakes TH
Distance: ~14 miles (according to the GPS)
Elevation gain: ~5,400 feet
Time: ~12 hours
Participants: Natalie (nkan02) and Jim (semitrueskerm)

Jim and I arrived to the Harvard Lakes TH the night before within an hour of each other and promptly went to sleep. We agreed to an early start (around 5am) as we had hopes to make it back to Denver for happy hour.

Colorado Trail sign marks the turn off to the SE ridge route (taken on the way down). Follow the arrow that points "North"

Catching the sunrise from the beginning of the ridge (~10,500k)

Mt. Yale

Another view of Yale

Jim with the valley behind him

Finally approaching the end of the tree line

Taking a break on a nice winter day

Mt. Yale

Another view of Mt. Yale

and another one

Jim is contemplating the route ahead

Approaching the ridge ~12,500k

Following a faint trail


Gaining the ridge

Jim is working his way up

SE ridge

The route traveled so far

Jim on the SE ridge

Point 13,300

Point 13,300 up close

The remaining route becomes visible (another 1.7 miles to go)

One of many bumps on the ridge

Remaining mile to the summit

SW gully - the summit is just 0.7 miles from there

The never ending SE ridge

Looking back at the ridge

me (as seen by Jim)

Jim (as seen by me)

Near the summit - it becomes clear that nobody has been here for days. No reason to get excited about the small trail - those are animal tracks. I slowly make my way, almost hitting the false summit on the way (the summer route bypasses it to the right).

False summit with the true summit ahead

Harvard-Columbia traverse

Summit views (R-L: Missouri-Iowa-Emerald)

Jim on the summit

Another look at the ridge

Shadows are getting longer (Jim)

Trees on the way down

Approaching the treeline

Approaching the treeline - Jim

Our snowshoe track, complete with nice switchbacks

Thankful for the pre-existing trench, all the way to 12,000 ft

Sunset to cap the spectacular day


Thank you for reading. Jim's additional photos are here

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):


  • Comments or Questions

Beautiful!     02/12/2013 16:09
Looks like a great day--this mountain seems much more appealing with a little snow on the ground (emphasis on ”little”).


Nice!     02/12/2013 16:20
”Like” button is not working - Consider it ”liked.” : )


Thanks, Nat!     02/12/2013 16:46
Good pics, Nat!

I didn't have the best cardio or conditioning, but it was still worth it. Thanks for your patience.

Columbia SE Ridge is long!

Video available at:


nice recap w/pictures     02/12/2013 17:25
What's with the helmet?!


Warmth     02/12/2013 17:48
Warm and comfy!


Helmet     04/02/2015 19:45
It has GoPro on it. Jim can't hike without it. It is 11th essential.


Gopro     02/12/2013 18:28
takes surprisingly nice pics. I haven't researched the editing or calendar quality, but they seem to be fine. Nice picture report of a looong ridge.


Comment     02/12/2013 22:05
I refuse to ”Like” anything including the words ”Mount” and ”Columbia” used in conjunction, but because I like both you and Jim, I'll at least comment. GREAT photos!


Way to go     02/12/2013 22:11
That ridge is a long, long hike above 12K. Nice pics.


Fond Memories     02/13/2013 00:39
It was my first winter 14er, a solo effort. Though 'twas the standard route, my quarry. Thanks for bringing back the great memories.

”Like me two times baby, Like me twice today...”


Very nice!!     02/13/2013 04:19
Some truly excellent shots; lots of great ones of Yale but I love the 3rd image the best with the approach from the SW and what I assume is Mascot on the right. That is a LONG ridge, but a lovely route in winter. Great job! Thanks for posting!


Cool     02/16/2013 15:29
Looks like a pretty decent day for a Columbia hike. Nice photos too!


Awesome     03/18/2013 00:56
Thinking of doing this over 2 days sometime in the next 2 weeks. Were there any areas with bad avalanche risk on that route? It doesn't look overly dangerous for the most part. Don't know what conditions are like now...


avy risk     04/02/2015 19:45
RM Mustang - SE ridge is considered a reasonable route for winter. Ridges tend to be windblown. You can probably find some avy danger if you go look for it, but we didn't see anything of concern. SW Gully (route #6) is another story...


Thx 4 gpx     06/27/2014 23:30
Thanks for posting the GPX. Armed with this, I hope we have a better time route finding than others' have reported. Nice pics and report.

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