Peak(s):  Mt. Columbia  -  14,073 feet
Date Posted:  08/21/2011
Modified:  03/08/2012
Date Climbed:   08/19/2011
Author:  fleetmack
 My Future  

Mt. Columbia
Route: WestSlopes, N. Cottonwood Creek
Summit Elevation - 14,073
Elevation Gain: 4250
Trip Distance: 11.50 miles
Total Round-Trip Climb Time (including all breaks): 7:30
4WD Required: negatory, 2wd accord made it just fine
Exhaustion Factor (on scale of 1-10): 3
Scenery Factor (on scale of 1-10): 3

In the year 2037, the world was a very, very changed place. I had one single regret in my life that I just couldn't get over. I went to my church and asked Rev. Sheen for some guidance as to how I could get over some things.

Reverend Sheen (hey, I already told you the world is a very different place in 2037) asked me, "Fleetmack, what is bothering you?" I said, "Reverend, first let me say that I loved your acting in Hot Shots and Platoon. But to turn the tables back to me, I just can't get over my biggest regret in my life." Rev. Sheen asked me what my biggest regret was. "On August 19, 2011, I wasted 7 hours of my life by climbing Mt. Columbia. Never, Rev. Sheen, has time been so misused. I have spent countless hours cheering for the Cyclones, Royals, and Seahawks. Sure, there were miserable years in there, but when the Royals won the World Series every year between 2015 and 2022, I was in heaven. When the Cyclones shocked the world and won the NCAA basketball tournament in 2014 under Fred Hoiberg, that paid off. And the Seahawks, well, they still suck, but at least I got some joy out of attending the Saints/Seahawks playoff game in Seattle in the 2010 season!

"But Rev. Sheen, I can't get over how I could have been so stupid as to waste 7 hours climbing Mt. Columbia.

"You see, Reverend, I was bored. I wanted "my number" of 14ers climbed to reach 35 on this day, and my girlfriend being in Boston, it would have been kind of me to climb one she had climbed already so we have more to climb together when she returns to Colorado. I only had Mt. Sneffels and Mt. Columbia to choose from, so I chose the closer of the two.

"Reverend, the more I think about it, I wasted more than 7 hours that day, as I left my home at 3:30am to drive to the trailhead. I spent $30 topping off the tank in my new-to-me 2008 Accord (note to the reader: I still have Laetitia (my 95 accord), and she is in ICU right now with a cracked head gasket at age 288K miles. She will be placed in hospice shortly. If anyone reading this is a mechanic who wants to fix her for me, I can offer you IT services, or can trade you something to fix her for me, but I, can't afford a $1200 repair) and I drove along I70, through Leadville, up to the Columbia/Harvard trailhead. Around 6:45am, I started hiking."

Reverend Sheen interjected, "Fleetmack, your day actually sounds like it is going quite well! I can see how you'd be disturbed and feel like you are betraying Laetitia by driving another car, but what can you do. A cracked head gasket is costly and it doesn't make sense to fix it on a car with 288K miles on it. She'd surely understand why you needed to take the new Accord."

"Reverend Sheen!", I uttered, an irritated tone to my voice, "Remember in Hot Shots when you kept sitting down on a dog? I'm sure you didn't mean to hurt the dog, but the dog was hurt nonetheless."

Ok, ok, ok. This is just getting f'n stupid. I have no idea where I'm going with this story, I just wanted to pump some kind of entertainment into a trip report of Mt. F'n Columbia, which is next to impossible to do. Hopefully it worked. Here is your trip report.

I climbed Mt. Columbia.
It sucked.
I hated it.
There were mosquitoes everywhere.
It was steep, loose, crappy rock.
I only saw one person all day and had the summit to myself (the only cool thing about this day)
There was no summit register so I couldn't leave Altidude the PBR I hauled up that I planned on leaving him in the PVC pipe for when he was to climb it on Sunday.
I fell no fewer than 7 times on the loose scree descent
I summitted in 3:45 (arrived around 10:30)
I was on the summit for 7 minutes
It took me 3 hours to get down
I hated this mountain, it is crappy.

So crappy was this trip that I only took this picture, with a timer, as I wanted to remember none of it

Ok, I lied. I tried to take another picture to show how steep and crappy the scree descent is, but it looks like a walk in the park, the picture does it zero justice.

I leave you with two pieces of advice:
1) Bring trekking poles (I did)
2) There is only one reason to ~ever~ climb this mountain, and only one time you should ~ever~ do this. It should only be climbed if you plan on climbing every 14er. It should be 14er #57 (I count 58 14ers). Save it for second-to-last because:
a) You don't want to do it last, because your finisher should be something enjoyable
b) You want to make certain you will get atop every 14er before you waste your time on this one

I drove into BV, went to Eddyline Brewpub, had a delicious Reuben, and drove to the Elbert trailhead to meet with Altidude, Chris, and 2 of Chris' friends to camp for the night to do a repeat of Massive on Saturday. It rained all f'n night and I slept in the backseat of my new car instead of my wet tent.

Not that I ever did to begin with, but I will never cheer for Columbia University in sports again. I will never wear Columbia gear again. I am going on a full boycott of all things Columbia. That mountain b.l.o.w.s.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions
Doctor No

Go Seahawks!
08/21/2011 20:27
I thought I was the only one on here.

As for the hike, just be glad that you got it - I posted a TR from last month where we got Harvard but were scared away from the last quarter-mile to Columbia by thunderstorms. Now I have to go back and get it again. During that trip, we named Columbia ”God's Little Joke”.

Looking at my report, I think I have the exact same picture as your last shot. What a slope...

Ridge runner

08/21/2011 22:18
This was a great read! I unfortunately didn't learn from my past mistakes and hiked it twice.

James Scott

You kill me!
08/21/2011 23:01
Enjoyed the read, and wish I could sit with Reverend Sheen for a few minutes discussing the mistakes and errors of my life. I wonder if he'd suggest that ”All dogs go to heaven, all cats go to the scree slope on Columbia.” I think the only ways to do Columbia would be via the traverse, or from the east side. The standard route sucks like none other. I only went down it, and I will never go up it.

MUni Rider

Great Read
08/22/2011 12:58
I knocked this one off by dipping below the traverse from Harvard on the back side, so I did not feel your pain. As evidenced by your choice in professinal team time wasters, you are no stranger to pain, so this day must have felt like par for the course?

Congrats on summitting the 1st time, and not getting stormed off 100 feet from the summit and having to repeat 99% of it at a later date. (It has probably happened to someone.)

One thing: Why the hell are you smiling in your summit shot? I see this as further evidence that you trully relish in your pain.


Why is it standard?
08/22/2011 15:49
Why is the SE slopes the standard route? Because people are LAZY. Too lazy to take a longer more beautiful route (i.e. any route from the east). Too lazy to do even a small bit of research to determine there are more enjoyable routes (i.e. any route from the east). Boo hoo, you had a bad time on Columbia like many others before you and you didn't learn a thing from that.


it's not so bad
08/22/2011 16:03
I failed with Doctor No on our Harvard/Columbia traverse, so cursing Columbia the entire slog out. So i went back a week later to finish the job up the standard route. I've made my peace with Columbia, i think most people do. In the least, it shows you what a 2000ft ascent in under a mile is like.


durrr.... me smart and active
08/22/2011 17:06
dr. no - we need to get rid of tavaris
james & drhansenej - also ran out of time to do the combo 2 weeks ago when i was on harvard for a number of reasons
muni - no reason not to smile 100% of life's time! unless you're in a frowning contest
super - if that makes me lazy, so be it

Jon Frohlich

I don't get it either
08/22/2011 16:18
I have no idea why that's the standard route either. There are much better ways up Columbia. I actually enjoyed climbing Columbia from the east. Standard routes aren't always the best routes.


08/22/2011 21:03
Columbia sucked serious butt, even on the traverse. If you had done the traverse you would probably have hated Columbia more, the Dude will never be on that pile of feces again. I was in disbelief on the way down, I couldn't believe people would climb up that trash.


I guess I'm unique.
04/25/2012 15:59
For whatever reason, the descent from Columbia didn't seem so bad to us. It may be that we had previously descended Lindsey's dirty gulley. It may be that we had just traversed from Mt. Harvard and were ready to be home. It may be we were lucky and went on a good day. In any case, sorry you didn't enjoy your time at Columbia. I can assure you, the traverse from Harvard was a lot of work. (as was attaining the summit of Harvard)


04/01/2014 20:31
thought my 3-year-old prediction of ISU winning the NCAA would actually pan out there for a second. If Niang hadn't broken his foot in round 1, maybe they would have!

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