Peak(s):  Mt. Harvard  -  14,420 feet
Mt. Columbia  -  14,073 feet
Date Posted:  07/25/2011
Date Climbed:   07/24/2011
Author:  ericwilsondc
 Harvard & Columbia  

Mt. Harvard & Columbia Traverse (July 24th, 2011)

Reading the reports, doing the research I knew this was no walk in the park. Doing a double across the traverse with that distance and exposure is always a risk. With that said this day was like a gift... Crystal blue skies and a perfect shot at bagging both...

Day 1.... I cruised in on Saturday around 12pm and took my time "strolling" the 3.5 miles to the fork. I had the time so I lugged my weekend pack, tent and a few PBR's to enjoy a relaxing night at treeline. I made it to base around 3pm and had the evening to cruise around and take some pictures. I decided to do a day hike to bear lake and do some scouting of the summit. Beautiful and Highly recommended to take some time and play in this basin!! Absolutely gorgeous!!!!!

Day 2... (the long haul) I ran across a girl that was doing this one day and she was solo, so its completely doable in one day with some luck from the clouds above and the stamina for 6100 feet and 15 miles. I however was loving the 5am wake time and watching the alpine soaked glow of the fluffy overnight clouds dissapating before my eyes.

Mt. Harvard is pretty straight forward.. The last section is definitely a little bit of a hands on approach with a nice end to picture perfect 14er. I REALLY enjoyed this mountain and the views. I cannot wait to take on the San Juans if they are supposed to trump this experience..

IF you decide to take the traverse, a head of warning to those embarking on this adventure. You still have quite the climb ahead of you. Honestly its almost like starting over. It's only 1500 down and back up?? hah!! I'm not complaining it was completely awesome, but just an insight to the journey ahead. The traverse is what you expect, ridge line and sketchy trail that is for the most part easy to follow. The trail slowly starts to wander and dissapear in front of you.

As of July 24th there is still about 6 snow fields to cross. I did this without spikes or poles, so its totally doable with decent boots.

The final climb awaits after crossing the last snow fields and ending up in the bowl right below Columbia. If you go far right you will pick up a faint path that goes up the ridge. I would say at this point you're in between class 2 and 3 sections. ( I had my amazing dog Charles with me and this was certainly a challenge for him, and for me guiding him through the boulder maze and deep crevices. ) Not dog recommend on the traverse!!

The final push was fun as the boulders grow in size. I totally expected a false summit at the top, but was pleasently surprised to actually reach the peak after the last few big boulders.

Well you would think at this point its all down hill right?? I hate switch backs as much as the rest of you, however I was wishing there was some coming down. If you have done Bross then expect much of the same only Columbia's standard route is pretty much a straight quad burning, scree siding good time all the way to tree-line.

The only saving grace to this is the wild flowers on the way down. I was quite happy to reach tree line! Thank you to Lynn who I met along the way and had a blast exploring this moutain with. I hope to see you again on the mountain!

 Comments or Questions

Great day!
08/02/2011 02:45
I'm so glad my friend ran across this TR and told me about it! It was great meeting you too. I had so much fun and it was nice having company for the traverse. Yes, hope to meet you again up there soon!


08/02/2011 02:50
For sure lets get back up soon... I'll send you those pics..

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