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Any reason to not do Mt. Harvard as our first 14er?

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Any reason to not do Mt. Harvard as our first 14er?

Postby m_sell31 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:40 am

We are flatlanders (my wife and I) but will have been in the state 6 days before we try climbing Harvard. Those 6 days will mostly be spent in and around RMNP hiking. We will be driving a rental ford escape it looks like and from reading the wealth of info on this site hope to be able to drive to the N. Cottonwood Creek Trailhead and camp in the Fork Horn Basin so that we do not have to try to do the whole thing in i day hike. We will start early and take our time. I see nothing that makes this hike/climb look overly technical for our skill level(active folks but beginers). Thanks for any feedback!

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Re: Any reason to not do Mt. Harvard as our first 14er?

Postby Scott P » Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:44 am

Should be doable, especially if you are camping in Horn Fork Basin.

Strange choice though to go to Mt Harvard for just one day if your main destination is Rocky Mountain National Park. Those two places aren't very close.
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Re: Any reason to not do Mt. Harvard as our first 14er?

Postby Cruiser » Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:25 am

I agree with Scott. Harvard is a fine choice if you'll be spending a night in the Horn Fork Basin. The camping there is really beautiful and the ascent up Harvard from the campsites is nice and direct. Have a great trip!
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Re: Any reason to not do Mt. Harvard as our first 14er?

Postby SteveBonowski » Fri Aug 30, 2013 11:39 am

Getting to the top of Mt. Harvard involves some easy rock scrambling. There are other peaks you can do; like Mt. Belford in the same area; that does not involve the scrambling.

Because you're packing into Horn Fork Basin, the vertical gain on Harvard for your second day will be less. I recall some nice camp sites right at treeline and off the trail a bit.

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Re: Any reason to not do Mt. Harvard as our first 14er?

Postby SilverLynx » Fri Aug 30, 2013 11:44 am

Harvard would make a great first 14er! It was my fourth overall 14er, but my first in the Sawatch Range. Be prepared for beautiful scenery and really sore legs at the end of the day. Harvard is on the longer side. :-D
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Re: Any reason to not do Mt. Harvard as our first 14er?

Postby Randy » Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:54 pm

I did Harvard from the trailhead and thought it was not to taxing at all. I don't remember there being much of a scramble. The valley is beautfull, with a nice stream and a great little alpine lake. Id rank Harvard high on my list. Now its neighbor Columbia, don't get me going on that son of a biscuit. ](*,)

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Re: Any reason to not do Mt. Harvard as our first 14er?

Postby mtree » Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:15 pm

Go for it! Have fun.
As I recall, there is a bit of an easy rock scramble to the summit. Gorgeous area.

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Re: Any reason to not do Mt. Harvard as our first 14er?

Postby larkinrx2 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 3:09 pm

m_sell31 wrote: We will be driving a rental ford escape it looks like and from reading the wealth of info on this site hope to be able to drive to the N. Cottonwood Creek Trailhead


i did harvard at the end of July and Columbia this past tuesday, the road to the TH does not require 4x and the only place clearance would even be needed is the parking lot as there are a few rocks about though totally avoidable

just be prepared for a lot of gain at the end of the basin as you really dont gain the saddle but head straight up to the summit from the bottom!
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Re: Any reason to not do Mt. Harvard as our first 14er?

Postby Dex » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:11 pm

m_sell31 wrote:We are flatlanders (my wife and I) but will have been in the state 6 days before we try climbing Harvard. Those 6 days will mostly be spent in and around RMNP hiking. We will be driving a rental ford escape it looks like and from reading the wealth of info on this site hope to be able to drive to the N. Cottonwood Creek Trailhead and camp in the Fork Horn Basin so that we do not have to try to do the whole thing in i day hike. We will start early and take our time. I see nothing that makes this hike/climb look overly technical for our skill level(active folks but beginers). Thanks for any feedback!


Have you looked into Yale? Paved road to the TH, camping spots,
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Re: Any reason to not do Mt. Harvard as our first 14er?

Postby bohlsen » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:26 pm

Dex wrote:
m_sell31 wrote:We are flatlanders (my wife and I) but will have been in the state 6 days before we try climbing Harvard. Those 6 days will mostly be spent in and around RMNP hiking. We will be driving a rental ford escape it looks like and from reading the wealth of info on this site hope to be able to drive to the N. Cottonwood Creek Trailhead and camp in the Fork Horn Basin so that we do not have to try to do the whole thing in i day hike. We will start early and take our time. I see nothing that makes this hike/climb look overly technical for our skill level(active folks but beginers). Thanks for any feedback!


Have you looked into Yale? Paved road to the TH, camping spots,



Yale is nice, but I'd recommend Harvard over Yale for a first 14er. Yale is steeper and the scramble at the end is a bit longer, both are great hikes though.
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Re: Any reason to not do Mt. Harvard as our first 14er?

Postby Pops921 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:13 pm

Harvard would be great. Your rental car will be fine on the road. Harvard is a long 1 day hike, but camping in Horn Fork Basin is beautiful with lots of camping options. The scramble at the top of Harvard is not difficult and it is very short. The only draw back is that Harvard is a bit of a drive from RMNP.

Mt of the Holy Cross is a little closer to RMNP and another long 1 day hike with good camping options for making it a 2 day trip. Road is a usually a little rougher.

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Re: Any reason to not do Mt. Harvard as our first 14er?

Postby m_sell31 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:35 pm

Scott P wrote:Should be doable, especially if you are camping in Horn Fork Basin.

Strange choice though to go to Mt Harvard for just one day if your main destination is Rocky Mountain National Park. Those two places aren't very close.



We are going to RMNP our first 3-4 days then leaving via Grand Lake then heading to Glenwood Springs for a day. Down through Aspen to Buena Vista. Then to Black Canyon and over to pikes peak area and finally back to Denver. Thanks for the reply!

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