Peak(s):  Mt. Harvard  -  14,420 feet
Date Posted:  06/01/2008
Date Climbed:   05/31/2008
Author:  scotthsu
 Harvard spring ski   

Itinerary: hike/skin to summit of Harvard (14420') from N. Cottonwood Creek TH (~9850'); ski descent to ~10700'; bushwhack/hike out
Who: Nice Axe! (Amy) and scotthsu (Scott)
Elevation climbed: ~4570'
RT mileage: ~12.5 miles
Time: 10.75 hours (stops included); 6.5 hours up; 4.25 hours down
Equipment: skis, BD Whippet poles, shovel/beacon/probe

We slept in the car at N. Cottonwood Creek TH (plenty of parking spots and places to put down a tent) and started hiking (with skis/boots on our packs) at 3:45am. From the trailhead, it was patchy snow starting shortly after the trail register.

Amy hiking with headlamp:

The first part of the trail was easy to follow until the bridge (~1.4 miles in), and then slightly more difficult to follow afterward. The snow was pretty firm and we postholed only on occasion. We stayed with the trail until about 10900' at a stream crossing and then bushwhacked over to Horn Fork Creek. Snow still covered Horn Fork Creek, which provided a great path upward w/o bushwhacking. We switched to skins around 11000' and could hear the rushing creek beneath us.

Even though the weather forecasts called for mid to high 30's overnight, the water in my Nalgene was freezing on the skin up.

Early view of Harvard:

It was great skinning from this vantage point all the way to just beneath the summit snowfield. (We bootpacked the final few hundred feet.)

Amy skinning with Yale in the background:

Close-up view of Harvard south slopes (later, we skied the second line from the right which was the only one without tracks):

View looking back down Horn Fork Basin and west slopes of Columbia:

Scott on summit:

We started our ski descent around 10:40am. The snow was just softening up at the very top and absolutely perfect for the rest of our ski descent. A true summit ski descent is still possible if you are willing to billygoat over some bare rocks and possibly mangle the edges on your skis. We chose to baby our skis

Amy skiing just below the summit block:

Miles, I'm ready for the next turn! (Miles is my tele instructor at Taos):

More sweet corn:

Amy rippin':

Scott skiing on top of Horn Fork Creek:

We had a very nice ski out along Horn Fork Creek until about 10900' when the bushwhacking began. We switched over to boots around 10700' and crashed down through the forest until we happened upon the Kroenke Lake Trail. It was a long slog out, especially for Amy in alpine boots.

Amy glad to have her boots off:

It was a great day in the Sawatch!

PS. Thanks to gb and Jcwhite for recent Harvard conditions beta!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions

06/02/2008 14:50
Looks like you guys had some great corn. I really wish we had joined you. That basin looks amazing when draped in snow like that.


06/02/2008 16:08
Harvard isn‘t the slog everyone says it is, at least not with skis. I saw an xterra just like that with NM plates and everything get pulled over 2 or 3 weeks ago, was that you?


Ha ha!
06/02/2008 17:18
gb, yeah that was probably us (driving home after skiing Grays and Torreys). Let‘s just say that Amy and cop zones don‘t mix very well

del_sur, yes, get a split board! skiing/riding the 14ers are a great way to check them off! makes you wonder why you ever tolerated scree.

Cincy, hope your ankle is in shape for skiing this coming weekend. There are some snowclimbs and couloirs in the San Juans with your name on them.


Nice job...
06/02/2008 19:02
We saw your names on the register... we climbed and skied it the following day. Some nice snow up high. Can‘t say much for the postholing down below 10,600‘ though.


ticket... bummer
06/03/2008 15:18
I noticed your car because of the skis and poles with whippets. I think you were at bongo billy‘s at the same time as us, we were coming back from harvard. Then you passed me and I thought ”don‘t they know there are a million cops between BV and Salida?”- you got pulled over about 60 seconds after passing me. that‘s one stretch of road where I never speed. bummer


06/03/2008 18:37
gb, were you actually in bongo billy‘s? woulda been nice to meet/chat. maybe next time.


06/03/2008 20:54
... we stopped at bongo billy‘s on our way out of bv. Like you said, maybe next time-- I‘ve come to find that people that get out there a lot tend to run into each other, some time or another

Nice Axe

Happy Birthday Dad!
06/30/2008 02:55
Hey dad, sorry I couldn‘t call, there was no cell reception on top of Harvard! 5/31 was my Dad‘s (14ers moniker: nouggie) 64th birthday - I sent him a T-shirt! Last year he summited his first two 14ers (Elbert & Sherman in that order). We‘re still waiting for that TR (hint, hint!). I hear there were clown shoes involved (see

Scott, thanks for another great day!


01/19/2011 03:38
This kind of TR makes me want to learn to ski, or at least get a split board...
Way to represent the Land of Enchantment!

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