Peak:  Mt. Columbia (14er)
 Route:  East Ridge from Three Elk Creek TH
 Range:  Sawatch
 Posted By:  Gene913
 Date of Info:  05/29/2011
 Date Posted:  05/31/2011

Trail is clear but not entirely snow-free from TH to junction with Colorado Trail at 10,270. Continuous snow starts at 10,500 with very little possibility of locating established trail by sight. GPS was helpful but did not have snowshoes so it was posthole purgatory! The meadow at treeline was snow-free and a welcome relief from the post-holing in the trees. The ascent from the meadow to the headwall at 11,500 was mushy snow and more post-holing. The bench at the top of the headwall at 11,500 is snow-free but most everything above that is snow-covered. Downloaded some free open source pano stitching software to create the attached pano of the basin as viewed from 11,500. Saw no evidence of slide activity in the basin but maybe better trained eyes than mine may spot something in the pano. The wind was overwhelming at this point. Could not see a decent non-snow ascent route and knew that the winds only would get stronger on the ridge so I made the decision to turnaround since I had only a dog partner and no human partners. Did not see anyone else on the route that day and no evidence of anyone being there before me. Hope this is helpful for others considering this route in the near future. Image 2 shows snow-free top of the headwall at 11,500. Image 3 was taken from above the top of the headwall and looks down onto it.

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

 Comments or Questions

Nice effort, Gene!
06/01/2011 04:36
A valiant attempt under suboptimal conditions. Given the circumstances, you made a wise choice to descend when you did. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. Way cool photos of this lonely and forlorn basin, and some nice reconnaissance work.

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