Peak(s):  Mt. Harvard  -  14,420 feet
Missouri Mountain  -  14,067 feet
Mt. Belford  -  14,197 feet
Mt. Oxford  -  14,153 feet
Huron Peak  -  14,003 feet
Date Posted:  09/22/2013
Date Climbed:   09/20/2013
Author:  Cthulhu 2008
 Nolan's Middle Section  

After hiking the first third of the Nolan's route a few weeks ago (Fish-> Massive-> Elbert-> La Plata-> Winfield in 16 hours), we went back and hiked/ climbed the Huron, Missouri, Belford, Oxford, Harvard and Columbia.

Hopefully this will be helpful to anyone looking to link this route in the future. Gyro and I started at 4:05 am on Friday morning with a good forecast. The hike up Huron in the dark was easy, cold and crisp under a full moon. We took our time from the Winfield townsite and summitted in under two and half hours. The sun came up as we found the drainage to Cloyses Lake. The scree was frozen solid, so it was very slippery. Eventually, we made it to the avalanche gully and then the 4WD road. We popped out at exactly opposite the singletrack leading up to Missouri, which was a good sign.

Avalanche Gully off Huron

The trail up Missouri is good, but steep. We topped out on a Missouri a little after 10:00. Wishing to avoid Missouri's East Ridge that I ascended last weekend while scouting, we dropped down towards the Iowa saddle and contoured over to Elkhead Pass. Belford and Oxford went in quick succession (11:35 and 12:25), but we were starting to slow down.

Mt. Harvard from Missouri's South Ridge

Descending off Oxford, we spied a trail that contoured west above the trees. We probably should have taken the trail, but it tended "up" and we wanted to go down. We ended up bushwhacking down some cliff bands slick with pine needles. This took a lot longer than it should have if we had found a better route. We ended up on some sketchy downclimbs.

Bedrock Falls Below

Cliff Bands Covered in Pine Needles

After topping off with water at Pine Creek, we crossed Bedrock Falls, went right of some cliff bands navigating deadfall and found our lowest gear for the long slog up Harvard.

Harvard's North Slopes

We topped out on Harvard at 16:11.

Huron, Missouri, Belford and part of Oxford

Finally, we limped over to Columbia by 18:42, bombed the scree field to a good trail and made the bridge over North Cottonwood Creek (where we'll begin the next leg up Yale) after 16 1/2 hours on our feet and to our car at the NCC TH in 17 total hours.

So... 32 1/2 hours on the course with 9 down and 5 to go. I will be content with "section hiking" Nolan's as I can't conceive of the effort it would take to enchain all 14 in one outing.

PS - the trip report only allows you to enter 5 peaks, so poor Columbia is left off the entry.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions
Steve Climber

05/09/2014 12:26
Is awesome. I am also looking at linking this course together over 3 days. The guys who do this in one push astonish me. Nice work and nice write up! Cheers! Sam

Cthulhu 2008

09/24/2013 04:27
When you come down Oxford, the trail to the right (just at treeline) is obvious. I'd recommend taking it to avoid the scruffy cliff bands above Pine Creek. I don't know where it goes, but it has to be better than what we went down.

It's a really fun outing. Enjoy!

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