Peak(s):  Mt. Harvard  -  14,420 feet
Date Posted:  08/03/2009
Date Climbed:   07/25/2009
Author:  Gopherboy
 Harvard - Long day 4  

Mt Harvard
Summit: 14,420 feet
Trailhead elevation:9,900 feet
Elevation gain: 4,600 feet
Roundtrip length: 13.5 miles

Our day began early with a 2:00 am departure from Leadville. There were still some people milling around on Harrison avenue after bar closing time. We had not been able to get in much party time considering our 7:30 pm bedtime the following evening! After suffering through some moderate bumpiness in the dark on CR 365 we arrived at the trailhead unscathed around 3:15 am.

Brian, Steve, Trent - headlamps on and ready to go!

The air was crisp, but temperatures were still above freezing. The night was clear and moonless, so we had a spectacular view of the night sky when we extinguished our headlamps. The trail was very easy to follow in the dark and we were well into Horn Fork Basin and above tree line before daylight.

Looking back down the basin with early morning light on Yale

Carrie and Steve making way up out of basin

Brian working his way up the slope with view of Mt. Yale and Bear Lake in the background

Steve and Trent approaching the ridge for the final push to the summit

Approaching the summit crux

Steve determining what line to take - although not obvious in the photo, there are actually several well worn paths and the rock is very stable with plenty of handholds and footholds.

After a brief and invigorating scramble, you soon find yourself atop the small summit block This took us a little over 5 hours from the time we left the trailhead.

Trent celebrating number 7 14er for this trip with Mt. Columbia (left) and Mt. Yale (right) in the background.

Carrie briefly celebrating her 6th summit before deciding the exposure was a little too extreme for her liking!

Several other views from the summit

After summiting Harvard, Carrie and Brian turned back while Steve and Trent began the traverse over to Columbia. The traverse proved to be even more arduous than anticipated (even after reading many accounts of people saying exactly the same thing!). Matters were complicated by first descending into the wrong gully and then questionable weather moving in. Columbia was never officially obtained because with audible thunder and nasty looking clouds we each beat a retreat to the relative safety of 'closest' tree line. This might have been too much paranoia as many hikers were continuing to ascend Columbia. But at the end of the day, we all made it back to the trailhead and were all smiles as we recounted the days activities and drama.

This hike was voted the most "intense". Everything from the early start, long distance, and tight summit area made this a great hike that none of us will soon forget!

Brian enjoying life on the way back down!

Ominous clouds building

Nice easy trail through the forest

This bridge is an example of the trail's high degree of maintenance


This hike concluded our trip. DeCaLiBron, Yale, Massive and Harvard made for a wonderful four days. We had plans to do Grays and Torreys on the way out, but rain in the front range and our long day on Harvard made us reconsider. Instead, we opted for a leisurely breakfast at Doc Hollidays and then made our way back to DIA and our flights home. We had a great time on this trip and are already anticipating our next venture to the Colorado 14ers!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Harvard Hike Time
08/12/2009 19:42
Gopher Boy, We are thinking of doing Harvard the first week of September. About how long, in time, was the hike.


Hike Time
08/13/2009 01:45
It took us about 5 hours up and 4 hours down at a fairly leisurely pace. You really can make good time for the first portion of the hike (even in the dark) because the elevation gain is very moderate.

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