My wife was unable to come on this trip. My original plan was to do something in the Sangre de Cristo Range. But as I was reading through the threads on this site, I found someone looking for a partner on Mt. Harvard and possibly traversing over to Mt. Columbia. This was my first time meeting up with someone from this site, and it went very well. The plan was to meet up at camp in the Horn Fork basin and hit the trail early in the morning. A powerful storm hit that evening giving us each a very memorable hike in and wet night at camp. More to come on the storm!
I had Friday off and left for Harvard around 11:30am; flashover00 was unable to leave until after work. Below shows the parking area at the trailhead. This site has the road to the trailhead listed as "Easy 4WD." My 2WD Patriot made it with ease.
I loved the fact that I had time to stroll up to camp (so I thought) and enjoy the hike in. This bridge was pretty cool; definitely a lot of work went in to building it.
At the first fork in the trail someone had found these binoculars and left them on the sign. As I continued my hike to camp, I ran into two hunters coming down the trail and asked if they had lost a pair of binoculars. They had and were thankful I told them to be on the lookout for the junction sign. I showed them this picture. I was thinking then "boy, I hope I don't look like an elk."
I was amazed at the downed timber throughout this hike. All I could think of was that a massive avalanche must have come through this area many years ago.
As I approached where I would camp, a storm came out of nowhere. I set up a temporary shelter and hoped it would pass soon.
No luck! I sat under my tarp through a very nasty lightning storm. One flash was right overhead and rocked the whole basin and my nerves. I started to head down to a lower campsite, but I knew the spot I was looking for was close. I headed up less than five minutes and found a spot to camp right across from the Mt. Columbia trail split.
I got my tent set up and changed into my warm and dry thermals. I then thought, "there is noway flashover00 was going to make it up here." I did leave my trekking poles by the trail pointing in the direction of camp, just incase. I kept my light on for a while. As the lightning continued, I began to give up hope of his coming. I tried to keep my eyes open and look for his headlamp. At 9:30pm I must have fallen asleep because flashover00 came into camp and startled me. He told me about his crazy experience of walking through hail, rain, ice and lightning to hike in the four miles to camp.
The next morning we would get a later start then we had planned. We both had a lot of wet gear. This made for a cold night and a colder morning. But the morning was clear and the storm the night before provided some snow for awesome views throughout the day.
Our first look at Mt. Yale. This is my favorite side of Yale.
Here is flashover00 filtering water for the day.
A look up at the long walk to Mt. Harvard.
Further along the trail looking up to the saddle, you can see there is still a long way to go. The weather stayed clear for now, and we both put on sunscreen.
Looking back at Mt. Columbia to the left and Mt. Princeton to the right.
This is a good photo of the snow on Mt. Columbia. At this time we were still considering the traverse over.
Here is a good look at the scramble up to the peak. The ice made it a bit tricky, but still very doable.
Looking back down at the route from the top.
Looking Northeast you can see the Fall colors. At the top, we noticed the storm from the night before was isolated to the mountains in the immediate area, everything else was snow free.
I thought this was a great picture of flashover00. One thing I enjoyed about climbing with him was his very evident love of being in the mountains. We wouldn‘t make it over to Mt. Columbia, which would've finished off the Sawatch range for him. He had a great attitude and made it a joy just to summit Mt. Harvard. Mt. Harvard is not a gimme, trust me!
Here is my summit shot.
Here is a big reason we did not attempt the traverse over to Mt. Columbia: rain to the North.
As we got off the peak, looking back at Mt. Harvard, we saw this storm above and knew we made the right decision to head down. Thunder would follow shortly after.
Looking at Yale and Princeton, we could see it was storming over Princeton.
On the way out, we stopped to enjoy the Aspens changing. This was a great end to the summer-a summer I will never forget.
Many people look forward to winter and snow in the mountains. Summer is my true love. I was able to climb eight 14ers and was turned back on five this summer. On each climb this summer, I backpacked in and camped. This has become a love for me. I'll be in the mountains this fall and winter, but the joy of summer camping up high won‘t come soon enough.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):