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Columbine Route (Winter/Summer Variations)
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Columbine Route (Winter/Summer Variations)

 
Columbine Route (Winter/Summer Variations)

Page Type: Route

Location: Colorado, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 40.84300°N / 106.929°W

Object Title: Columbine Route (Winter/Summer Variations)

Route Type: Snowclimb (winter)

Time Required: Most of a day

Difficulty: Moderate

Route Quality: 
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Page By: Scott

Created/Edited: Jan 11, 2005 / Jul 25, 2010

Object ID: 163512

Hits: 7496 

Page Score: 72.08%  - 2 Votes 

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Approach

Winter

From Steamboat Springs, drive to the north end of town and to where County Road 129 leaves Highway 40. A sign marks "Clark" and "Hahns Peak". This is the same road heading to the airport. Follow County Road 129 north for about 29 miles, past the small town of Hahns Peak, and to the small village of Columbine. In winter, you will have to park at the Columbine General Store. The road is always open to this point.

Summer:

In summer, you can drive east off County Road 29 (see above), on FS Road 490. After 0.9 miles turn left. The road is pretty good for all vehicles here, but becomes rougher after this (4wd recommended). Turn left after another 0.3 miles and left again after another 0.2 miles. Soon you will reach a parking area at 9407 feet elevation. This could be considered to be the "normal trailhead". Park here unless you are prepared for some really serious off-roading. If you have a good 4wd, you can drive another 0.5 miles to the beginning of the actual trail, but there is only enough room at that trailhead for one vehicle, and there isn’t a good place to turn around.

The Columbine general store...
The Columbine general store is at the trailhead.

Route Map

Our winter ascent route is...
Route Map.

Route Description

Winter

In winter, the roads beyond Columbine are not plowed east off County Road 29 (see above). Snowshoe or ski east on FS Road 490. After 0.9 miles turn left. Turn left after another 0.3 miles and left again after another 0.2 miles. Soon you will reach a parking area. This would be considered to be the "normal trailhead" in the summer.

Notice on the map, there is a switchback between the words "4wd" and "Pack". This is right at the 9600 foot contour. The topo map is in error, as a 4wd road actually goes straight (not shown) and the trail switchbacks to the right. A trail sign marks the beginning of the trail. The route will likely not be packed down by snowmobiles from here on, and trail-breaking becomes more strenuous.

The now single-track trail (which can be hard to find in winter) switchbacks up the slope and to timberline at 10,300 feet elevation. There is an old cabin located just below timberline, and an old mining road crosses the trail near here. There is a steeper section before the trail flattens out right below an old mine.

In winter, you can mostly forget about finding the trail from here on, and it is best to climb directly up the ridge to the summit. The last part of the ridge can be heavily corniced, and extreme caution is warranted. Avalanche danger is usually low if you stick to the ridgeline, but if you get off route or too close to a cornice the danger could be considerable.

In winter, the fire lookout on the summit is often ice encrusted, making an interesting scene.

In winter, the round trip distance is about 7.1 miles with about 2200 feet elevation gain.

Climbing Hahns Peak
Climbing Hahns Peak on March 6 2010.


Summer:

See above under the “Getting There” section to find the beginning of the actual trail. Notice on the map that there is a switchback between the words "4wd" and "Pack". This is right at the 9600 foot contour. The topo map is in error, as a 4wd road actually goes straight (not shown) and the trail switchbacks to the right. A trail sign marks the beginning of the trail.

The single-track trail switchbacks up the slope and to timberline at 10,300 feet elevation. There is an old cabin located just below timberline, and an old mining road crosses the trail near here. There is a steeper section before the trail flattens out right below an old mine. The trail passes near some ATV tracks, so take care to find the correct trail on the return trip.

There are several tracks through the talus and leading to the summit. Use caution in summer as deaths have occurred from lightning strikes. There is an old fire look out on the summit from which you can enjoy the fine views from.

In summer, and assuming you can drive to the "normal trailhead", the round trip distance is about 3.2 miles, and with about 1432 feet elevation gain.

Hahns Peak as seen on...
Hahns Peak as seen on September 2, 2005. Photo taken near timberline on the Columbine route.




Essential Gear

Winter:

Ice axe, snowshoes or skis, warm winter gear. The standard route is relatively avalanche free-provided of course, that you don't step off a cornice. Avalanche probes and beacons are good equipment to have.

Summer:

Only a good pair of boots is needed.

Images

The still well corniced upper...The Columbine general store...