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 Peak(s):  Mt. Columbia  -  14,073 feet
 Post Date:  07/17/2006
 Date Climbed:   07/16/2006
 Posted By:  moko

 Columbia via Southeast Ridge   

Michelle and I, after hearing that the scree/loose rock on the west slopes were "horrible", decided to hike Mount Columbia via the southeast ridge and the Harvard Lakes TH (located about 1.5 miles before the N. Cottonwood TH, the standard route for harvard/columbia)... We hopped on the Colorado Trail toward the harvard lakes at about 5 am, and climbed up the first two switchbacks... At the top of the second switchback, you are on the ridge that guides you all the way to the summit. Make sure to stay on top of this ridge, and turn left off/head straight off the colorado trail before it turns to the north around the side of the ridge (this is the one thing to watch for). we went up the ridge sometimes following the "path", which was hard to follow, but sometimes marked with rock cairns... Below is one of the more recognizable portions of the trail below treeline.

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Although the trail was fairly consistent, some of the steepest portions of the trail were in the trees... after about an hour and a half of staying on top of the ridge in the trees, we approached treeline...

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In the photograph below, taken 20 minutes after being above/near treeline, you can see what we think is the 12,740 point, the thirteen something point, and the summit .. stay close to both the 12,740 ft and 13k peaks, especially the 13k peak, as the least exposed route is straight up and over the peaks...

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As you could see, there wasn't much of a trail, however, above treeline, and for the majority of the time, the ground was relatively solid and easy to walk on.. The photos below are taken at about 13,00 ft (or higher?). The first is looking back down the southeast ridge where we hiked from, and the second is a shot of the final portion of the southeast ridge and the summit...

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From this point, the hike up the ridge was not too steep, easy to walk on, not very exposed, contained some bouldering, and very enjoyable... the ridge eventually met up with the trail that ascended the west slopes about 20 minutes before the summit, and we saw a person in a red coat coming up a couple hundred feet below on the trail... We made it to the summit around 9:30, after some short breaks and time spent enjoying our company and surroundings... We were on the summit alone for the majority of thetotal time we were up there (45 minutes/hour?), and were soon joined by the man in the red coat... We were pretty exhausted by the time we got back down to treeline and had a little trouble staying on the main portion of the southeast ridge, sometimes jetting off side ridges... So make sure to watch for landmarks on the way up to help on the way down... All in all we had a great day together and were on the mountain from 5am to about 2:30 pm!!!



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