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Mt. Harvard

Most Recent Condition Updates
Route: Frenchman Creek
Posted On: 7/25/2012, By: geojed
Info: Some blowdown past the Colorado Trail. Nothing too bad. Maybe adds an extra 10 min or so finding ways around the trees. Bypass trails for most blowdown areas are fairly established and easy to follow. 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 6/7/2012, By: Dex
Info: Harvard is open for business. The forest service is clearing the trail of fallen trees. Those that you encounter can easily be gotten around. The trail is in great shape. No special equipment needed. The road to the TH is also in great shape. 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 5/29/2012, By: Lindyhapa
Info: 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. 
Route: Standard
Posted On: 5/18/2012, By: Matt Lemke
Info: The trailhead is easily accessible by any vehicle. The first two-thirds of the trail to treeline is mainly dry with a few deadfall trees. It will be smooth sailing up to about 11,000 feet. However the last third to treeline has hundreds of downed trees...most of which you can walk around or hop over however there is also knee deep snow in the trees that was very post-holey in the afternoon. Snowshoes will not be needed though...as you would be fighting taking them off and putting them back on all the time. It wasn‘t too bad to just bite the bullet and post hole on and off for about 3/4 of a mile. The real problem is that the trail was hard to follow in this area due to snow cover and trees. I went too far left heading up and followed a side creek to treeline where I was dumped out in a large swamp. I managed to find some solid snow to travel on on the far left side of the valley after crossing the swamp. Once i got to 12,000 feet i found the trail again and it was smooth sailing all the way to the summit with only a few snowfields to cross. There was about a 400 foot snow slope I climbed easily to gain the south ridge of harvard after crossing the shoulder. I didn‘t need my axe though as it wasn‘t very steep. The south ridge and summit block are dry. Really the hardest part is the 11,000 to 12,00-0 foot elevation range around treeline where trees and snow will slow you down. Clouds started to roll in around 10:00 am. Lucky for me I started at 5am, summitted at 9am and was back to my car at noon. On my descent I followed the trail all the way dopwn without losing it and realized it was on the far right side of the valley around treeline (looking up)...not the far left. Morning was great with not too much wind and nice temps. Views of princeton were fantastic! 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 4/24/2012, By: metalmountain
Info: We climbed up to about 11,100 feet on Saturday afternoon. The trail is a mix of snow and dry/muddy trail until the bridge at which point it is almost continuous snow. Snowshoes would have been beneficial. We made it up to were we camped without them, but it was a giant pain. Every couple steps you would post hole up to your knee or higher. There is also tons of downed trees in the area, which are often times buried under the snow. The next morning I ascended the standard route up Harvard and was on the summit by 9:30 using microspikes. The snow was very solid on the way up, but when I started descending from the summit about 10:00 the snow had already started softening and I had a few post hole incidents on my way back to camp. The hike out was much the same as the day before. If you can stay as true to the trail as possible it will make life a little easier since there is less dead fall on the trail proper, but it still requires numerous tree climbing adventures to pass them. Either that or you have to slog through the snow to get around them. I have some pics that I haven‘t uploaded yet but I will try to do so tonight. If anyone needs more info hit me up! 
Route: Harvard/Columbia
Posted On: 10/16/2011, By: lackerstef
Info: Arrived at the North Cottonwood Trail Head at around 5 am and started towards Harvard. Route is patchy with snow until tree line, but does not hinder progress at all. After tree line snow is a little deeper but again, it does not impede progress at all. After leaving Mt. Harvard towards Mt. Columbia, the route has a few patches of deep snow during the first descent. We decided to take an alternate south-western approach on the descent which led to some class 3 terrain, but dry nonetheless. Upon reaching the "world-of-scree" on the ridge below the "rabbit" and up towards Columbia, progress slowed significantly because of the snow-covered scree and boulders. Nothing about this was difficult, but we just had to be careful not to fall in a hole between the large boulders. After summiting Columbia, we descended the southern scree slopes which are NASTY! Minimal snow, but I could not imagine going up this way. Overall, great day and great conditions. If you can get up there before the next series of snow storms, you will enjoy it (at least Harvard!). 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 9/24/2011, By: djkest
Info: Some snow and light ice on the traverse, mostly as you start to ascend Columbia. The upper portion of columbia has a good amount of snow but all the rocks are mostly visible through. Boots will get wet, makes it a little trickier. 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 9/11/2011, By: RockyMountainMustang
Info: Trail in great shape. Weather pretty cold before sunrise, dress for winter. Bear Lake is a pleasant detour. 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 7/20/2011, By: mrschaible
Info: Clear all the way to the summit. The trail is drying out, but it is still very wet around tree line. You will still have trouble staying dry crossing the stream above tree line as the river water level is quite high. We were able to navigate all the water hazards and stay dry in trail running shoes. 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 7/17/2011, By: fleetmack
Info: went up today. muddy and lots of water on trail (above timber), you have 2 choices 1) stay on trail with waterproof boots and not ruin tundra 2) go off trail, stay dry regardless of boots, ruin tundra honestly, i think #1 is correct, but perhaps deep mudprints impact the trail more than non-mudprints impact the tundra? I have no idea, it‘s your judgment call. I chose #1. stream crossings are high but passable if you are both patient and stable... else they may be an issue snow is easy to go up on, but if you want to keep the environment in tact, you should probably glissade on the way down (as the up-snow route is probably off-trail and you‘ll be trouncing the greens and wildflowers to go around the schnee). It‘s quite steep in the "snowfields", but I‘d guess that‘ll be gone in a week or two. Is this mid-July or late-May? Tough to tell... But happy to call it "late-July" if that means more snowboarding days than hiking/climbing days!! To each his or her own. Ala Presto: happy trails to all ... 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 7/10/2011, By: iquack08
Info: Did Harvard first then Columbia. There was still a large snow field on the slope leading up to the summit. Halfway through you have a choice: continue on the bootpacked snow or start scrambling on the rocks. I did choice #2 without any problems. The one major stream crossing was pretty dicey; it was running high without an obvious crossing point. Also, the trail was really muddy. The trip over to Columbia was exhausting. There were still about 3-4 significant snow fields on the back side. The snow was still solid even around 11ish. It was possible to drop down and avoid most of the snow, but it would require a good amount of regaining elevation. I decided to walk on all the snow fields with just my boots. A good amount of scrambling was also required to reach Columbia. The way down Columbia had a lot of loose rocks/talus. Somehow I did lose the trail after treeline, after glissading down a short patch of snow. When I pulled out my GPS, I realized I deviated from the path by a good distance in such a short time. Make sure to keep a eye out for the trail near treeline, because I was following the cairns. Start from the TH: 5 a.m. Harvard summit: 9 a.m. Columbia summit: 11:30 a.m. End: 2 p.m. This was a long and exhausting hike. Make sure to start super early, because I probably got lucky with the weather. When I was close to reaching Columbia, there was significant cloud cover and getting worst. Up next, Antero tomorrow. Not toobad to finish the Sawatch Range in two weeks (- Holy Cross). 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 7/2/2011, By: blacomb
Info: Started from Frenchman Creek and did both Harvard and Columbia. There is a good amount of snow and it‘s easy to get off-trail. We went around the snow in many cases and added a good amount of time to the hike that we hadn‘t planned. We were able to glissade down from Columbia and save collectively a 1000 ft. or so of downhill on the knees. Roundtrip time was 10 hours and we only spent 10-15 minutes on each peak. 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 6/28/2011, By: racineflatlander
Info: No snow at TH. Drive up to TH was no problem. Encountered snow fields on trail at about 3 miles in. Snow continued to get very heavy and completely covered trail. Lots of post holing. Above tree line was pretty much solid snow. Was fairly solid early in morning but afternoon descent was bad with very soft snow and post holing. Made it to 13,225‘ at 12:30 and decided to call it a day. Steep slope with snow before ridge and no traction devices plus another 1.5 hours to summit made the decision to quite easy. Horn fork basin is totally filled with snow and Bear Lake looks still totally frozen and snow covered. This trail will take several more weeks before it clears. 
Route: From Pine Creek
Posted On: 6/23/2011, By: Exiled Michigander
Info: The north slopes route from Pine Creek is clear of snow except for a few small pockets of snow near the summit. We did not use snowshoes, crampons, or even microspikes. The standard route via Horned Fork Basin still looks very snowy, and a climber we met on the summit confirmed a considerable amount of postholing via that route. Nevertheless, he also reached the summit without snowshoes. Although the north slopes route is snow-free, don‘t enter into it lightly. It requires a lot of bushwhacking and pathfinding and took us about 11 hours from Little John‘s Cabin on Pine Creek. Images 1 and 2 were taken hiking up the north ridge. Image 3 was taken from the summit looking down into the Horned Fork Basin. Image 4 is of the connecting ridge from Harvard to Columbia. 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 6/12/2011, By: gprandall
Info: I hiked in to Horn Fork Basin on Thursday, June 9, and camped at about 11,580 feet. From approximately 11,000 feet up, the trail up Horn Fork Basin is invisible under 1-3 feet of snow. Some climbers are still using snowshoes, which could be useful for traveling after 12 noon or so. In the early morning, the snowpack was frozen hard enough to walk on, punching in occasionally. There is a fairly packed track up to the Mount Columbia turnoff. As of when I walked out yesterday (Saturday, June 12) not enough people had gone up to Mt. Harvard when the snow was soft to pack in a track. The last 800 feet up the south ridge of Mt. Harvard is largely snow-free. I used crampons and an ice ax for the steep slopes heading up to the south ridge, but it was well before sunrise on a cold night, so the snow was frozen hard. 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2/13/2011, By: cheeseburglar
Info: We dragged a sled past the summer trailhead a little ways and camped where the trail has some sidehilling issues. We broke trail through deep snow all the way to the lower basin. Up high everything above a hard wind crust seems to have been blown away or was in the air at the time. Some nice little snow twisters. We turned around at ~12,900 due to time, avy terrain, and wind. 

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