| Summitshot with Marmot
Trailhead: Three Elk Creek
Mileage: 10 miles
Elevation Gain: 4800 ft
Jim and I decided to tackle Mt.Columbia this weekend. Having done the standard approach from North Cottonwood Trailhead a few years before, we decided to try the East Ridge from Three Elk Creek.
After spending the night at the trailhead, we left the car by 5am. It was already light enough and the trail was easy to find for the next 3 miles up to treeline. At treeline, the trail crosses the creek a few times back and forth and at some point we lost it.
From here the it's pretty clear in which direction to head and we made our way across some easy former avalanche territory, marked by lots of fallen trees. Our goal was the snow filled couloir in the far right of the picture below, heading up to a saddle on the east ridge: .
Up to this point at 11900ft we were easily able to skirt around any snowfields, but now it was time for crampons. With the snow gear we slowly climbed up the snow field in the couloir, staying to the left until we hit a false summit around 13400ft. Looking back into the valley:
From this point it's a mellow ridge walk to Columbia's summit. Approching the summit, we saw a marmot sitting on the summit block. The marmot didn't run away, but actually hang out with us on the summit. He came as close as 3 feet, posing for some pretty pictures !
View of Harvard from the summit of Columbia:
We took the same route back and were able to glissade down the couloir, ice axes in hand, for a fun ride 1000ft down ! It's just the right angle to keep some speed, but also to be able to break easily.
We were back at the car by 3pm, having had another great day in the mountains !
Hope the pictures help for anyone planning a trip.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):