Harvard/Columbia Traverse

Colorado 14er peak questions, condition requests and other info. 14er Trip Reports, Condition Reports
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Harvard/Columbia Traverse

Postby Project Ralphie » Sat Jun 22, 2013 2:17 pm

Considering the Harvard/Columbia traverse early tomorrow morning (Sun. June 23). Harvard to the summit via standard looks good, and Columbia seemed good with packed snow a few weeks ago, but does anyone have any beta on the traverse and/or an update on Columbia downclimb via the standard route?


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Re: Harvard/Columbia Traverse

Postby Dex » Sat Jun 22, 2013 2:44 pm

Project Ralphie wrote:Considering the Harvard/Columbia traverse early tomorrow morning (Sun. June 23). Harvard to the summit via standard looks good, and Columbia seemed good with packed snow a few weeks ago, but does anyone have any beta on the traverse and/or an update on Columbia downclimb via the standard route?


When I did Harvard on 6.12 and snow wasn't an issue except for when you post hole and get water in your boots.
From memory there wasn't any snow on the traverse.
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Re: Harvard/Columbia Traverse

Postby argothor » Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:27 pm

I am planning on doing Harvard and Columbia from Frenchman's Creek, and was wondering if anyone has descended off of Columbia back to Frenchmen's Creek and if so what kind of terrain should I expect? Talus? Boulders? Gentle alpine walk?

Also, what is the road like like to the 10,300' Frenchmen's Creek trailhead? And is there any camping spots near that trailhead?

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Re: Harvard/Columbia Traverse

Postby MountainMedic » Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:50 pm

I loathe that traverse. You neither climb nor descend it - you just slide in whatever direction you're going. Here's a link to my TR. Not the best, but Rob and I both hated it, and Rob liked everything:

I think the traverse pictures will give you some idea as to the crap involved.

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Re: Harvard/Columbia Traverse

Postby ezabielski » Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:52 pm

There are current conditions reports, including one of mine.

The descent on Columbia via the standard route sucks in my opinion. It's steep, slippery marbles. You can't really get hurt (might fall backwards on your hands), but you won't have fun descending, otherwise. Beyond that, the traverse was a really fun long day. On of my better mountain experiences so far, that's for sure.

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Re: Harvard/Columbia Traverse

Postby Aug_Dog » Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:45 am

My buddy and I just did Columbia a couple weeks via the standard route. I remember thinking going into it, "It can't be that bad."

It is. It is a rotten, crappy mountain. There were boulders, rocks, sand and other hellish crap falling down the side of the mountain all day. Now, the approach trail is actually a nice trail, but the climber's trail is the worst I've experienced so far.

I also remember looking over at the traverse thinking it just looked awful and I mean dreadful. I'm glad I decided to split them up.

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Re: Harvard/Columbia Traverse

Postby awilbur77 » Wed Jul 03, 2013 6:04 am

I did that traverse last year, and while descending the scree on Columbia sucks, the traverse is sort of fun. There is a bunch of endless talus hoping, and the ascent of Columbia is exhausting but it's not the worst sufferfest. I would say to make sure when you hit the summit of Harvard that the weather is near perfect. With clouds building, this traverse can suck. It is long and will take most between 2-4 hours, just for the traverse.

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Re: Harvard/Columbia Traverse

Postby El Scooter » Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:55 am

I just had a friend who completed this traverse last weekend - she loathed it as well. I don't believe she encountered any issues with snow.

Years ago I got about a quarter of the way through the traverse (from Harvard to Columbia) and had to bail because of a huge storm that came in.

Columbia (via the regular route) pretty much sucks - but Harvard is a fun mountain.

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Re: Harvard/Columbia Traverse

Postby goingup » Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:37 am

We are headed to do exactly this right now. Up the west slopes of Columbia and then over to Harvard and then down the standard Harvard route. Awesome to hear the pile of suck I am headed into :wft:
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods;
There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where no one intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more......

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Re: Harvard/Columbia Traverse

Postby rijaca » Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:39 am

IMHO, the best way to climb Columbia/Harvard is from Frenchman Creek. Just sayin'.....
"Well a couple shots of whiskey, women `round here start looking good"

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Re: Harvard/Columbia Traverse

Postby ulvetano » Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:43 am

And to answer the question about Frenchman, you can pick a meandering line from Columbias summit that avoids the talus and it mostly grass-rock mixed slopes. Avoid a direct line and stay low in the traverse and you can find decent conditions.

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Re: Harvard/Columbia Traverse

Postby Mtnman200 » Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:57 am

There had been a lot of downed timber across the Frenchman Creek trail about a year ago. Has anyone been up it recently who can let everyone know if the trail has been cleared? Thanks!


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