Peak:  Mt. Harvard (14er)
 Route:  Harvard and Columbia Traverse
 Range:  Sawatch
 Posted By:  Lindyhapa
 Date of Info:  05/26/2012
 Date Posted:  05/29/2012

I started hiking at 3am. I headed to Harvard first. The trail below treeline is 95% free of snow. Just a few small banks here and there. It really is a "treepocalypse" out there. It looks like Paul Bunyan was playing a 10 foot tall game of pick up sticks on the trail in some places (Image 1: Yes, the trail is under that). It was easy to lose the trail while navigating around the roadblocks in the dark, but with a little traversing, it wasn't hard to find the trail again.

Above treeline, there are a lot of snow patches, but they're easy to avoid (Image 2: the canyon approach to Harvard ridge). As I ascended the ridge to Harvard, there was a snow field that could not be avoided, but the snow was stable and easy to walk on at about 8am Image 3: The snow patch on ascent to Harvard Ridge). There's some snow on top of the Harvard ridge heading over towards Columbia, but didn't present a challenge. I descended to the east side of the connecting ridge. Here there is a large snow field (Image 4: Large snow field on east face of connecting ridge). There's a lot of snow, it was about 11am, and I post holed a little bit, but we're talking maybe 10 times crossing the whole thing, so it wouldn't have been worth lugging snowshoes.

However, it would've been great to have hiked Columbia first. That way I could have glissaded the entire snowfield instead of climbing it.

The snow field ends as you reach the final ascent ridge to Columbia and it's just rocks from there to the top. I peaked Columbia around 1pm. On my return, I dropped off of the ridge a bit too late and ended up picking my way down an unstable slope in the large drainage coming down from the peak. I was surprised to find myself in a different drainage than the main trail. After consulting my map, I followed the stream in that drainage to where it linked in with the main creek and found the trail again. It was much easier to keep track of the trail while going around the "treepocalypse" in the daylight. I was back at my car at 4pm.

Photos (click for slideshow):
Image #1Image #2Image #3Image #4

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