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Mt. Harvard

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Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 9/22/2023, By: wildschut
Info: Still summer conditionsGet your trips in before it ends. Ha. Did Harvard only. Wind was way too much for me to head over to Columbia. 
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Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 9/21/2023, By: NativeTransplant
Info: Did Harvard - Columbia Traverse on 9/20/2023 via Columbia West Slopes and Harvard South Slopes. Trail up to Columbia via west slopes and trail down from Harvard via south slopes are both dry without any snow/ice. The traverse between the two has snow and ice in some areas with one significant snow field on the northeast aspect just before Harvard. Microspikes came in handy on the snowfield. The traverse sucks (there is no trail), and it's better to do the two peaks separately. Not your average "class 2 Sawatch" 14er day... had some class 3 and class 4 maneuvers on the traverse near Harvard. 
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Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 8/29/2023, By: AndrewJCraigie
Info: Started hiking at 3:45 in light rain, but ended up posting under a tree for 45 mins as a thunder storm blew in. The rain in the valley was snow at the summit, so things were a bit slick at top but nothing too bad. 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 8/27/2023, By: donovanrice
Info: Left car at 3, summit of Harvard 7, summit of Columbia 9:40, back to car at 1. Snow free entire trip. Traverse took longer than expected! 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 8/13/2023, By: shapovalovm
Info: CFI did some trailwork 08/10-08/13 on Harvard trail with a group of volunteers: installed some rock checks (steps) at around 12400 and cleared the trail of willow/fir overgrowth between 11600-12300. Just for reference, in case anyone is curious about how many people to expect on the trails: counted 25 people going up on Fri and 85 on Sat (despite raining all day). 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 8/5/2023, By: Benito_Esposti
Info: Did Columbia first and then traversed to Harvard in a day trip from North Cottonwood TH. Mostly summer conditions, but four snow patches near the lowest point of the traverse. They can be avoided by going lower (east), but I just walked (or slid on my butt, oops) across them; widest one was ~30' across. Hike in from the TH to the Harvard/Columbia split is easy and mostly flat. Hike up Columbia is steep, but manageable. Coming down from Columbia is again steep, and a bit more loose, be careful. The traverse requires some route finding and significant rock hoping, but is very fun and cairns are around, albeit spread out. Regaining the ridge and elevation towards Harvard isn't too bad, but once again steep and full of talus. Final ascent to Harvard is nice. The hike down Harvard wasn't too bad, just a bit of skree. Rest of the way back to the TH is pleasant. I would highly recommend doing the traverse in this order, it was super fun! Started around 3:30, top of Columbia just after 7, top of Harvard around 11. Be mindful that the traverse can be very slow in places and water is scarce. I'd recommend filling up just before the trail splits to Columbia. Also, watch the weather carefully, could be very dangerous to be caught in a storm mid-traverse and there are extremely few options to shelter. Did notice one small cave (yellow dot on the picture I attached) ~15 ft west of the trail just before the sharp right then sharp left to start the ascent towards Harvard. Looked like the only place to hunker down without going far off route east into treeline. Have fun and stay safe! 
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Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 7/21/2023, By: silverton24
Info: 97% summer conditions. There is only one small snow crossing but it is flat and no traction needed. There are several sections with thick goopy mud. The creek crossing in the willows is running over the stepping stones a tiny bit so expect you may get your feet a little wet if you are wearing trail runners. 
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Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 7/20/2023, By: skweiler17
Info: Did rabbit ridge today. Posted two photos of cruxes. Going from Columbia to Harvard (which I did) allows for you to climb(vs downclimb)the crux 10 foot v2 boulder problem, but more involved downclimbing that way as well. Its fun, if you have the climbing/scrambling background its better then dropping way off the ridge like the standard route. It might not be any faster though. 
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Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 7/17/2023, By: crispy_asparagus
Info: Right now is the perfect time to do the Harvard / Columbia traverse. The talus is tamed with most of the middle section covered in supportive and grippy snow so no traction is needed. Poles definitely helped a bit too but not necessary. Using the gpx track from the traverse route description made route finding a breeze. 
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Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 7/13/2023, By: AlessiaAscent
Info: Beautiful day out on the traverse! We hiked in and camped right across from the Columbia turn off - there are lots of dispersed camping spots around that area. Started on the trail at 3:10, summited Harvard at 6:15am. Two brief snow crossings, but I was comfortable without spikes. The traverse is easy down to point 13.516, but after that its harder. We stayed ridge direct instead of descending down to 12.6, and did some fun scramble moves. We were slower because of it, but it was fun. Unavoidable snow on the route heading back up towards Columbia, but low angle, so again, I wasnt worried without spikes. Snow is surprisingly supportive! Summited Columbia around 10am, down to camp at noon, back to the car at 2:45. Round trip on summit day was about 14 miles. 
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Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 7/8/2023, By: pbharris359
Info: Trail is clean up until around 13200, after that there are a few snow fields. For the most part there was not any post holing. The cairns are easy to find. Wanted to take the traverse to Columbia, but it looked icy in parts. People who looked more experienced than I am, said it was not summer conditions. 
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Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 7/5/2023, By: happyallyy
Info: Successful summit on 7/4/23. The first 3-4 miles from N Cottonwood Creek TH are smooth sailing, and are basically in summer conditions. Once you pass the turn off for Columbia, the mud starts. Per LNT, be prepared to hike down the middle of the trail even when wet or muddy stepping off the designated trail to avoid mud or standing water can quickly lead to the creation of undesignated trails, which can lead to even more erosion. Pack extra socks or wear your waterproof shoes! There are a few snow patches that need crossing but the first few are easily navigable. You will also spend some time walking through talus past the turn off for Bear Lake, and this section is very clearly marked with cairns until a massive snow field around 12.5-13k that is covering switchbacks to gain the ridge. I was able to avoid postholing by starting early and spikes/poles were helpful, maybe necessary, for this section. It made for a wonderful glissade on the way down. My dog is very confident on talus and scree made it to the summit easily, but I wouldn't recommend this summit for all dogs - know their ability before bringing them out. Storms werent forecasted until 12pm, but they ended up blowing in before 10am - so keep an eye on those clouds! Beautiful views from the top. 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 7/4/2023, By: timelessodyssey
Info: Excellent conditions to do the traverse - with a choose your own adventure options to either traverse in the snow, or descend a further 600ft and avoid the snow altogether. Following the GPX on this website will take you over the snow traverse - which should be manageable with just hiking/running shoes - but microspikes will provide some additional traction. Descending from Harvard will provide a good overview of both options while descending. I traversed from Harvard to Columbia over the snow - and used the GPX from this website as a rough guide. I glissaded a couple of short sections in wet snow and had micro spikes and a whippet - though I used the whippet only on to glissade down Mt. Harvard on the south slopes. 
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Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 7/4/2023, By: timelessodyssey
Info: Some snow above 13k feet on the route - but can be avoided to a large extent by going around the snow if required. Made for excellent glissading on the descent! 
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Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 7/2/2023, By: scottieconqueso
Info: Mostly beautiful day, with brief snow storm that quickly moved out. Willows section near and past treeline is very muddy, constant stream running down, some places hard to avoid sinking into mud. several snowfield crossings above treeline. Section of the hike pictured in photo number 12 is still a giant snowfield. It was possible to ascend to the right of the normal trail otherwise I think you need traction. Summit itself was clear. 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 7/1/2023, By: mcosby
Info: Great weather this morning. Made a quick ascent up the W Slopes on Columbia, snow free. The traverse is very snow filled below the ridge, but that helps avoid a ton of talus hopping. Spikes definitely still recommended and I also used an axe because I was slipping constantly on the angled snow. Descended the S Slopes of Harvard; fair bit of snow if you want to use it, otherwise can probably avoid if needed. The basin is saturated and the trail is super muddy, but oh well. 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 6/30/2023, By: edmdais1
Info: Still lots of lingering snow banks up to 12k in the Horn Fork Basin where I got into a thunderstorm at 8am and turned back. LOTS of mud through the willows. 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 6/24/2023, By: Miles P
Info: Trail is wet and snowy after the first mile or two - almost all the way up. If going early when all is still frozen the snow fields up top are very slick - take metal traction (I used micro spikes) and poles. Wished Id had an axe. Great glissading down. If you find a Garmin GPS up there please PM me. I lost mine today within 1000 feet of summit on my way down. 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 6/24/2023, By: Logan5280
Info: Harvard-Columbia traverse is in excellent condition right now. Today, I ascended Columbia via SE ridge, traversed to Harvard, descended through Horn Fork Basin, then did the road walk back to Harvard Lakes TH. I started at 6:30, made quick work of the Colorado Trail section, and easily founded the SE ridge cairned turn. Route finding isn't terrible in the woods with daylight, but I lost trail segments here and there. Above tree line, the ridge is quite long, but the rock quality is excellent, and any remaining snow patches are avoidable. Easy going to Columbia summit from there. The traverse is great right now because many of the loose scree slopes are still covered in snow, making for easy glissading/microspiking. The initial Columbia headwall is mostly dry except for one large-ish snowfield, but the rock is loose and annoying as usual. From there, snowfields descended into the basin, to a dry section at the bottom of the slope on the Harvard side. This slope was mostly dry, except for a few small snowfields. Even with warm temps, the post holing was surprisingly minimal. I made the Harvard ridge more complicated than it needed to be by ascended the easternmost tower, which was fun class 3 but unnecessary. A few snow-infused talus sections led to the Harvard summit. From Harvard, there are on and off snowfields down to a little below 11k; nothing crazy, but gaiters would still be advised. There's a nice glissade from the beginning of the ridge down to the big cairn. Intermittent snowfields led back down to dry trail around 10.7k. Ended up being about 9:20 roundtrip, 16-18ish miles, and 7k vert. See Columbia report for photos. Shoutout to the marmot that jump-scared me on the ridge. 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 6/22/2023, By: bribaker2001
Info: Very wet trail conditions! Trail was essentially a flowing flood/stream from 10,600' to the very top, with significant melt occurring after 10:00am. Significant snow drifts in the forest starting around 11,000', which made trail finding difficult on the way in, and very postholey/slushy on the way out. Significant snowfields starting around 11,700'; several ice bridges held as I was heading out, yet I did see a couple collapse just after I crossed. Bear Lake still mostly frozen. Made it to the top of Harvard with poles and microspikes; took about 5 hours to summit. Snow gaiters and waterproof shoes/socks recommended! Still plenty of snow visible on the north/east side of the Columbia/Harvard Traverse. 
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