Peak(s):  Mt. Harvard  -  14,420 feet
Date Posted:  06/17/2007
Date Climbed:   06/16/2007
Author:  native_mntguy

 Slushfest to Harvard  

Trip Distance: 13miles
Trip Duration: 10.5hours (1.5hours on the summit)
Trip Vertical Gain: ~4400'

Yesterday, I planned to hit Harvard and Columbia. Last night I drove up and reached the north cottonwood trailhead just after midnight. I decided to get a couple hours of sleep and was on the trail by 4:25am. This was my first hike in the dark and after last week on Yale, I was very careful to stay on the correct trail. This actually proved to be a piece of cake as the trail is well defined in the trees. 8) Even before the sun came up, it was already very warm. So by the time I reached treeline, the trail was already full of runoff and a muddy mess.

First light on Harvard

Muddy mess on the trail

There are still a few snowfields that are hard to get around. I was actually postholing at 8 in the morning. There was one snowfield around 13000' that had a nice river running underneath it when I went up. There was still not a cloud in the sky at this point.

Small snowfields at 12400'

This is the bad snowfield with the river underneath it @ 13000'

As I headed up towards the ridge, the snow was still soft. I never pulled out my ice axe but I hiked around the few I encountered on the ridge. Having one with you wouldn't hurt though as there were a couple icy spots right near the summit.

Snowfields near the saddle and ridge(summit to the right)

Clouds starting to build as I near the summit.

I finally made it to the summit around 10am, I was actually hoping for 9 so I could be over to Columbia no later than noon. By now the clouds were building but they were still "friendly". Several other forum users where also on the summit, they decided as I did not to got over to Columbia. I knew if I headed across the ridge or even dropped down to the east, I would be exposed for bad weather. After an hour on the summit the other left me to enjoy the summit for another half hour. I knew that I better head down as the clouds were darkening up.

Looking west from the summit

Five 14ers to the south

Belford and Oxford to the north

Looking towards the Elks

As I was heading off the ridge there were several groups heading up.

Looking down from the ridge

Mt. Columbia…not today

As we postholed through the snowfields which had raging rivers under them now. We all got our feet soaking wet. I'm glad I had several extra pair of socks. At the rate the snow was melting, this most likely won't be an issue in another week or two. We met another group going up and we warned them of the snowfields. They continued up anyway. We changed our socks and noticed the clouds had actually grown quite nasty.

Storm approaching Harvard

Clouds over Yale

We started moving a little quicker, and wonder if the groups were heading down at this point.. We made it down to treeline just as the first rumbles of thunder. As I continued down through the trees with the lightning flashing , thunder rumbling, and it trying to rain every few minutes. I thought to myself that I'm glad I saved Columbia for another day.


 Comments or Questions

tis'the season
02/05/2011 00:22
congrats on summit---yesterday was especialy good to keep eye on clouds



Nice Report
11/30/2010 17:28
Thanks for the report on the conditions. I'm looking to head that way this weekend- was Horn Fork Basin dry enough for some nice camping spots? I'll bring a tarp for a footprint but I was thinking about a two-car Harvard/Yale combo using Yale's NW ridge. The pics of Yale are a big help. Hopefully one more week of sun will dry things out a little.

Nice summit and even better choice on turning back. Its always hard to do.


06/18/2007 15:20
There were some dry spots in the basin. Met one guy on the summit that was camping up there. Plus another week should make conditions even better.


11/30/2010 17:28
I saw the word 'slushfest' and scrolled through the pictures of the mud, snow, and wet slush! I guess! I sympathize!


11/30/2010 17:28
Hey I'm the guy whose bacon you saved by setting your car alarm off at the TH. If it weren't for you I wouldn't have been able to climb Saturday. Guess I need a louder alarm

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