Made Columbia its own challenge by climbing long southeast ridge in the snow
Good climb, south slope was steep and relentless but not difficult. Alone on summit which is odd for a Memorial Day weekend.
Had a fair bit of time the day before but not enough to summit anything so I hammocked up at the base of Columbia and woke up early to chain the two. So going from Columbia to Harvard, traversing the ridge is fine as long as you can find a good place to descend to where you can meet up with the Harvard side of the ridge without rock climbing. I got as low as 12,850 feet.
Started around 4:30AM. Conditions excellent up to Harvard summit. Traverse was very long as expected. 4 or 5 small snowfields along the traverse. Thunderstorms started rolling in at 11AM. Spent minimal time at Columbia summit. Light rain all the way back to trailhead. Was back around 2:40PM.
Long day of 17 miles or so doing a loop we did not intend to do but we missed the SE ridge trail from the Colorado Trail so we went all the way to Harvard Lakes and then caught the ridge on the north side after climbing in the snow to gain it. Great traverse on good snow conditions all the way to the summit and we were able to take the SE ridge down to the main trail on the descent.
Hiked with my son from the east. Nice route.
Hiked Harvard and then continued on to Columbia.
I reached the summit about 9:30 just as another climber finished the traverse from Harvard. Not a cloud in the sky. It was an easy decision to continue to Harvard.
I think I was here in the right month. The creek was roaring and the trail was mostly visible. Used GPS to get to the South Ridge, which looked like the nicest. Glad I did, it was schoss coming back down. Nice easy day hike 10 RT. The snowfields were easy to walk through, not much wind loading. We'll see which month I get to Harvard.
From North Fork TH, we did Harvard first, then traverse to Columbia. Beautiful loop hike hitting these two impressive 14er's.
#1 8-11-15 W/ Brent. A long two-fer with the weather being nearly as challenging as the west slopes scree fest and the subsequent journey to visit the teeny Harvard summit. Saw 2 other hikers the entire day. Total loop time was 11+47. It rained on us for two hours beginning with the descent from Harvard.
Enjoyed another beautiful day in the Sawatch.
My first 14er was Harvard. Glad finally to get back to Horn Fork Basin then past all that scree! Played tag with a mountain goat from 13K to summit.
Today I soloed 14,073 foot Mount Columbia via the West Slopes route. I started around 5 AM from the North Cottonwood Creek Trail head just a few miles out of Buena Vista. The sun was just starting to rise when I hit the trail. I continued along for 1.5 miles to a bridge and trail junction. I continued on towards Horn Fork Basin on a good trail. After a few more miles and stream crossings I reached tree line and split off the trail towards Mount Columbia. The views of Mount Yale and Mount Harvard were great. I noticed a few more climbers ahead of me on the talus slope I had to ascend. This was a nightmare due to all the loose rock, making route finding difficult. I reached the group on the western slopes of Mount Columbia and chatted with them for a bit. I followed them up the rocky "trail" to the ridge. From the ridge, I still had a bit of a ways to go. Weather was clear so I was feeling confident. After a bit more effort the summit was in view. I made the summit around 9:30 AM. I didn't linger too long, as clouds were building around the summit. I made my way down the same way I came up. Steep, loose scree. I made it back to timberline at 11 AM. I followed the good trail back to the trail head, and made it back to my car by 12:30 PM. Around 4,250 ft of elevation gained over 7 1/2 hours and a total of 11.5 miles. Successful day!
On Sat Jan 17 we hiked up from Buena Vista to Horn Fork Basin via North Cottonwood (parked around 8500 as we didn't have chains and our 4WD had trouble going up the snow). Snowshoes are a must from North Cottonwood trailhead to the base. By our campsite there was nearly 3 ft of snow. Camped around 11500. Sunday, we went up Mount Columbia via West Slopes. Traverse from Columbia to Harvard was difficult, with much snow. The trail would be very hard to follow without GPS (cairns weren't easy to spot - we saw only a couple the entire way). We got to Mount Harvard by sunset and went down via South Slopes. We went up in microspikes, but I'd probably go with crampons if I had to do it over.
Via the west slope
Loved this mountain but Greg, Colette and I had summited Columbia first and come across the ridge to Harvard. The combination of the two is demanding, to put it lightly. Next time I think I will do them separately and enjoy them both a little more.
Closed out the Collegiates (and Sawatch range 14ers) with a successful ascent/descent of Colubmia via the steep SE ridge. Interesting way to go, especially if you don't require the security of a marked trail. Scattered cairns provide confirmation that someone else was there before you, but do little to keep you on the "trail." If you decide to go this way, just aim for the ridge and negotiate each "obstacle" as it comes up - as long as you're on the ridge, you can't go wrong! GPS claimed we did 11.8m miles and 6100 ft elev gain (not sure how reliable it is). Clear, sunny skies but quite windy - beautiful day overall.
Started at Harvard Lakes trailhead to grab the SE ridgeline trail (no snow) all the way up. A 5.5hr ascent and 3.5hr descent on solid-rock (no scree). Sky on both sides of trail with the occasional skirting around high rock piles. Summit was nicer than expected, out of wind, and with aerial view of Harvard's basin.
Climbed Harvard's standard from Horn Fork Basin, and then traversed to Columbia (17 miles RT), which was a fun route. The early evening descent down the ultra-loose face into the basin was definitely not fun, but it was a rewarding day nonetheless.