| Harvard/Columbia Combo
MountainMicah83 already posted a nice recap of this hike ( http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=6223#bottom ) but I have some more pictures to share.
My friend Dan and I woke up early and drove down to the trailhead on Saturday morning. The dirt road is in pretty good shape... I have a 4WD vehicle, but that probably isn't even necessary to reach the TH. We hit the trail at 4:30am, a little later start than planned, so we missed the 14ers group that was planning to start at 4am or before.
Dan and I at the trailhead
The walk through the woods was gradual, but long (the length of that section hit home on the way out). Eventually we got above treeline and saw Columbia and Harvard for the first time. We also realized that the weather probably wasn't going to clear up.
First view of Harvard
Looking back at Yale, which briefly appeared through the clouds
Marmot and Me
The trail up to Harvard is really easy to follow, and never really gets too steep. A couple patches of snow near the top, and we were at the summit.
Micah and Jean on the summit
The weather cleared for a few seconds, and I was able to snap this picture from the summit
Dan reaches the top
I discussed the Columbia traverse with Micah, Jean, Matt, and Dan while on the summit. We decided that while it was cloudy, it didn't look too threatening, and we would give it a shot. Dan had developed some bad blisters on his feet, so he decided to call it a day on Harvard and head back to the trailhead.
Micah did a nice job explaining the specifics of the traverse to Columbia in his trip report, so I won't rehash any of that information. While it wasn't a long traverse in terms of mileage, there was a lot of scrambling, crossing snow fields, loss of elevation, etc. It took a while, to say the least!
Micah descending the ridge
Matt hanging out above the clouds
Jean leading the way
This was from about 12,400, when we started heading back UP to Columbia
The snow was just firm enough to make the route we chose possible. My legs were feeling great, so I set the bootpack up the snowfields.
Jean following behind me
Finally, the ridge to Columbia!
And the stunning view from the summit!!
Group shot on the summit of Columbia
The scramble up to the top of Columbia took some effort and careful foot placement, because it was snowing/raining. About 150-200 ft from the top, we heard a couple rumbles of thunder. That got everyone's heart beating a little faster, and we really hauled it to the top... spent about a minute snapping some pictures, and then immediately began our descent. The trail down Columbia's west slopes is essentially just a loose rock field, and when its wet, it can be treacherous! We were all soaked by the time we hit treeline, and needless to say, it felt good to get in the car and turn the heat on! It took me a couple hours to warm back up.
Thanks to Dan, Micah, Matt, and Jean for a great hike. It was a good day in the mountains, despite less than ideal conditions. The advantage of all the precipitation? The next day there was fresh snow on Missouri Mountain, which made for some great turns on my ski descent! I'll get that trip report posted shortly.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):