| Mt Columbia W Slopes – SE Ridge Loop
Date of Climb : 2/12/11
Peaks Climbed :
1) Mt Columbia – 14073’
Distance : 15.5 miles
Elev Gain : 5074’
Time : ~14 hrs, 4:30am - 6:15pm, Ascent 9hrs, Descent 5 hrs
Ascent Party : John B. solo
I was planning to make this a 2-day trip, but had the opportunity to turn this into a day trip because I was spending the weekend at the Mt Princeton Hot Springs Resort (terrific place). Weather conditions were fantastic. I also had some good luck to be behind a duo camping and heading up to ski Mt Harvard. I met up with Craig & Zach after sunrise and helped break trail up to my Columbia turn-off. Ascending the std W Slopes route and descending the SE Ridge was a great combo loop, and worked best given the deep snow conditions on the ridge below tree line.
Columbia’s SE & E Ridges
6:12a – Parked alongside the road near the N Cottonwood Winter TH ~8960’ at 4:30a and walked via headlamp 3.3 mi. to the Summer TH 9860’. Crossed the 1st bridge 9900’.
7:10a – Crossed the 2nd N Cottonwood Creek bridge, 10340’
8:51a – Craig & Zach breaking trail. We are at 11000’ and 0.1 mi. E of the std trail in a more open meadow area. Beautiful snowshoe, but slow going. The std trail was not much help anyways since no fresh tracks.
9:58a – We parted ways at my Columbia W Slopes turn-off at 11540’. The slopes were what I expected – wind blown SAFE.
10:12a – I kept my snowshoes on for as much snow travel as possible. The steep scree slope was loose and much harder to move on than I imagined.
12:35p – Reached the W Slopes – SE Ridge junction point at 13660’. What a beautiful sight with the summit only 0.7 mi. away. I wasn’t feeling too well at this point having little to eat and only drinking 1 Qt. I decided to sit, rest, and eat my lunch. Then I decided I could leave my snowshoes and pack here, taking only 1 Qt and my SPOT device. The ridge to the summit was either barren or hard-packed.
12:50p – View of Columbia & Harvard at 13740’.
1:15p – finally a view of the true summit passing by two false summits. The wind gusted once in awhile along the summit ridge, blowing my hood off my head even though my goggles were wrapped around it.
1:20p – View from Columbia’s summit: E & SE Ridges, Buena Vista, Mt Princeton, and Mt Yale.
1:20p - View from Columbia’s summit: Horn Fork Basin & Mt Harvard.
Close-up view of Harvard
1:24p – ready to descend the SE Ridge – reached my pack at 13660’ by 1:47p.
2:28p – view descending SE Ridge at 13400’
2:49p – at 13200’ headed left around this bump
3:26p – view from 12340’, a nice treat to see an Elk herd (they heard/saw me coming)
3:44p – looking back at complicated view of SE Ridge from 12160’
3:45p – approaching tree line, view from 12120’
3:52p – looking back from 12020’
4:03p – heading down with snowshoes on now, view from 11940’
4:11p – view back from 11660’
4:16p – at 11620’
4:28p – looking up from 11320’. The snow began to get deeper at this pt. My snowshoe came off once due to the depth and weight of snow holding it back.
4:58p – every once in awhile you see one of these, at 10320’. Dropped 1K in 30 min (glad I was not ascending this stuff).
5:31p – back on the road by sunset at 9440’ near the CO Trail TH. Back to the car before needing headlamp! Exhausted, but what a great climb for February! Craig & Zach’s Subaru was still here.
GE view: pink – GPS route, red – GPS track
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):