Mt. Columbia

Condition Updates  
Route: Southwest Couloir
Posted On: 2023-06-01, By: Christensenje
Info: Still a fun ski! But definitely agree with a lot of the last conditions report. Quite an adventurous exit. 1. Bring socks for the post holing which starts at 10.7k. 2. Starting to dry out in the choke but still very skiable for this time of year! Coverage pictures attached. 
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Route: Southwest Couloir
Posted On: 2023-05-22, By: MBosch27
Info: Trail mostly dirt from N. Cottonwood Creek for about a mile, and then about a mile of dirt/snow, and then all snow, thinning quick. From 11,000 up the snow was horrendously sticky accumulating 5-6" thick on the bottom of skins in less than 3 steps. Stick style sunscreen applied to the skins, and all was good again. Above 12,000' the snow was supportable, and flat out FUN SKIING- big GS turns... Below 11,000 the snow was fully settled, warm spring/summer conditions. Between 11,000 and 12,000, the snow was super sticky on the surface, and collapsible below even on skis if one did not maintain enough speed to keep the skis acting like skis and not snowshoes... SUPER GLOPPY and GLUE-like between 11 and 12K; survival skiing. Enjoy everything above 12K! 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2023-05-08, By: FrankP
Info: Skied Columbia on Friday. Climbed up the west slopes after doing Harvard. Perfect cramponing snow until the last 300ft to the summit. SW Gully was in great condition. Corn all the way down. 
Route: Southeast Ridge
Posted On: 2023-04-17, By: coloradomojo
Info: Attempted from Harvard Lakes TH. Basically little snow to turn off from Colorado Trail, but lots there after. One old snow shoe trail and a couple of old skin tracks off and on to treeline. Made it to 13,300ft but with strong wind and a reminder that the snow we traveled across with spikes would be softening, we turned around. The softening snow didn't disappoint....areas of postholing even with snowshoes. My son found evidence that even a moose had belly-flopped in soft snow. Saw about 20 sheep at 12k. Didn't see a moose but saw more moose poop below treeline than I have collectively ever seen. Be wary as there was evidence of moose calf poop as well. 
Route: Southeast Ridge
Posted On: 2023-02-03, By: Chipmunk
Info: Made it to Harvard Lakes TH in a 4Runner with snow tires. The road is snowy but there are plenty of tracks to follow. Easy in the morning when frozen, a little sloppier on the way out this afternoon. The Colorado Trail is nicely packed down with intermittent dry patches and ice. Two groups did Columbia today - myself and partner and a third solo hiker. We started later than the solo hiker and he did a ton of work re-establishing the trench! Our path diverged from his at times, but all routes lead to the summit (and some also lead to 'fun' snowshoe rock walking). Snowshoes are necessary to treeline, we stashed them and barebooted the ridge. Beautiful day! Started at 7:30, summit at 12:30, back to the car at 3:45. 
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Route: Southeast Ridge
Posted On: 2023-01-15, By: IanJSmith
Info: Someone go get the Columbia snowflake! I couldn't... Harvard Lakes trailhead accessible to Trucks or Large SUVs with good treads. Although any AWD vehicle can make it about 0.6 miles from the trailhead (38.8605389, -106.2301959), which is what I did in a Subaru. I started at 4am, and I'd recommend doing the same if attempting to summit. No tracks to be found when I started the day, but I broke trail and 2 others followed them to tree-line leaving a decent trench to treeline - snowshoes necessary. It should be a little easier going for the next few folks unless the trench gets covered up. Above treeline is much easier going and is either dirt or wind scoured snow - microspikes were all I used above treeline. I made the decision to turn back at about 13,300 and 1 mile from the summit due to annoying winds, general slow-going throughout the day, and worry that trudging back through the trees would be difficult. I ended up making it down relatively quickly with the trench well in place from the 2 other hikers. I would say I wish I had gone for the summit, except ear-popping, knock-you-over winds making it very difficult to walk came from nowhere midway through my descent. Probably best not to have continued further away from the shelter of the trees afterall. A tough but doable climb winter climb. Go get it! Quick note about Avy Danger: This route avoids most avy danger being on the ridge, but I did cause 3 medium sized "crack-womphs" in the trees resulting in a fracture in the snow about 10-20ft around me. The slope was not steep enough to slide, but may have on steeper slopes. I became hyper-aware of where I might end up if a small slide occurred, keeping close to trees of possible. The snowpack is fragile, indeed! Above treeline, very little snow or steep slopes exist on the route, and avy danger didn't feel like a concern. 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2022-11-24, By: infinitealpine
Info: Road to TH is in good shape, last 1.5mi has compact snow but easy to drive on. The first few miles up to the horn fork basin junction is compact snow and easy to move fast through. After this point the snow is a little bit deeper (4-6in) but not enough for flotation. After the turn off to Columbia the trail is hidden and shin to knee deep until you get above tree line. This was the hardest part to navigate. I rock hopped after getting to the big cairn above tree line to avoid more post holing on the proper trail. Spikes and axe recommended above this point, as certain parts are hard ice on steep slopes. I turned around at 12,600ft due to time constraints. If you start early, move fast, and don't mind possibly doing a portion in the dark it's doable. But I'll likely be back next year for this one. 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2022-11-02, By: jmfb3
Info: 8+ inches of snow the entire way. 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2022-10-16, By: lesliegb6720
Info: Trail was mosty clear and dry with just a few muddy spots during the first three miles, nothing significant. The trail was clear of snow and ice all the way to the summit. 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2022-10-17, By: Gtpokrant
Info: Trail was dry and completely free of snow/ice. No spikes were required. Of note, there was snow on the southern Sawatches (Yale, Princeton, etc) but the central Sawatches (Columbia, Harvard, Bel/Ox, etc) were dry on 10/15/22. 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2022-10-16, By: lang_daly
Info: Traverse is >95% snow-free, a little icy coming off Harvard but certainly can be done without traction. 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2022-10-16, By: Kush_Mountains808
Info: Still summer conditions on the trail. Trail below Columbia's ridge has a lot of loose dirt / scree. Definitely need to take your time coming down to avoid falling on your butt/wrists. 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2022-09-17, By: shapovalovm
Info: Still summer conditions. Part 1. TH-> Harvard. Got there at around 7am. The lot was full, but I still managed to find a spot. The road is very doable in any car. There were portable toilets at the TH. The trail is very easy to follow and is class 1 until the last, maybe, 20 feet. Part 2. Harvard->Columbia traverse. This took way longer than expected (2.5 hours), mostly due to rough terrain. There is a lot of go up-around-down boulders. Navigation at the very bottom of the traverse was not that obvious and barely cairned. Maybe it is just me, but my advice, think how long it would take you and then add 50-100% on top of that. Not surprised that the route page has a large disclaimer about "numerous rescues" there. Only saw 3 other people on the traverse. Part 3. Columbia->TH. Not sure why people complain about this on FB. The first section (after you leave the ridge) is a bit loose, but not horrible if you have proper hiking boots (vs sneakers/trailrunners). Then the switchbacks start, which are in perfect shape and are essentially a highway. Whoever made them this way deserves a raise, IMO. That whole trail is class 1. Took me about 2:05 to get down. Overall, 7:10am start, 4:00pm finish, so just below 9 hours. If you ask me, I think Harvard->Columbia is the best direction to do the loop. 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2022-08-27, By: madmattd
Info: The area got a lot of rain Friday if what I drove through in South Park Friday night is any indication. The trail up to the Harvard/Columbia split has a good number of mud bogs, some with rocks/logs to step on, but not all. The new trail up the lower half of Columbia is great, I was sad when it ran out at 13K and turned into the usual steep dirt/kitty litter. Still, not too bad overall. Nice day up top. 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2022-08-17, By: wanderlust073
Info: Tried to squeeze one in between the unusual bouts of rain this past week. Road was in good condition, any vehicle could make it with just a few larger potholes to avoid. Trail was also in good shape though the recent rains (and periodic bouts of rain while we were hiking) have worn long stretches of ruts down it due to the run off. CFI did an amazing job up on the mountain itself. 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2022-06-25, By: Skimo95
Info: Backside of traverse is still holding some consolidated snow. Route from Harvard to Oxford/Belford is summer conditions. Started at N Cottonwood Creek, dropping into Pine, and descending Missouri Gulch 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2022-06-21, By: brchristensen
Info: Road to trailhead is in great condition, 2WD. No snow worth mentioning. Typical spring conditions with occasional mud and small streams. Easily bypassed, trail 99% dry. Some downed trees before the Harvard / Columbia split, fairly easy to step over or bypass. Overly friendly marmot on the trail, watch your snacks! The high winds made the ridge miserable, definitely one to avoid on higher wind days. 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2022-06-14, By: subalpine_style
Info: Little bits of snow in the trees, completely dry above about 11.6, summer conditions. 
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Route: Southwest Couloir
Posted On: 2022-05-31, By: ChossyChimayo
Info: Active wind loading of new snow resulted in variable depths throughout the couloir, 0 - 10 inches deep. Excellent powder skiing for late May. Trail is dry to about a quarter mile before leaving the summer trail. Southwest couloir is mostly in, albeit the choke at very beginning, a rocky section shortly afterward, and final 100 feet or so. The rocky section can be avoided by descending further skiers right. I opted to boot the entire couloir given freezing overnight and morning temps; did not use crampons but they would have been helpful. The ridge to summit is mostly snow-covered. Unsurprisingly, wind loaded snow did not bond to the existing crust, resulting in an unstable upper layer in the deepest sections. Not likely to cause a large-scale avalanche, but certainly enough to take you off your feet in consequential terrain. That being said, the southwest couloir will corn up real nice and make for a worthy ski over the next week. 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2022-05-31, By: hannah422
Info: Patchy snow to ~11,000 ft Snowline ~11,000 ft - once above treeline areas of no snow, but major postholing from 13-14,000 ft if don't boulder hop. Supportive snow in morning, when coming down ~10am snow very soft. Melting fast. 

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