A long scree-laden trek from just above treeline to the summit ridge. Not nearly as much fun as Harvard (perhaps that goes for the universities as well!) It is easy to lose the route and end up on lots of loose scree and talus on the way up; we found the trail easier to follow on the descent. Although the ascent route that we took worked out just fine we found that the trail to the south of our ascent route appeared easier.
Yikes. Everything Bryan said below is true. It was a lot longer than we thought! I'm always proud of us, though, and how we stick it out. I guess we didn't have a LOT of a choice, though. We could either make it to Columbia and head back down or go BACK to Harvard, which would be as hard, if not harder. So we kept on truckin! I thought the ride down from Columbia was pretty crummy, but I didn't think it was ridiculous. I kind of like sliding down scree. I know I would NOT want to go UP that route! There was a guy with his dog going down with us. The poor dog was NOT happy and his owner had to carry him down half the scree. I felt bad for both of them! I guess I learned that if I bring a dog up a mountain, I should avoid scree-filled slopes! We were hoping to hike out that night but it was getting really late, and it was fun to camp there again anyhow! Can't wait til our next trip to CO so I can add on to my 9 fourteeners!
After making Harvard in just over 3 hours, I was feeling pretty good and wanted to go for Columbia. We started out by following 3 groups. As it turned out, it was like the blind following the blind. The trail was pretty good as it traversed the rabbit ridge. However, a little over half way there the trail ended. You could either start rock climbing the ridge or drop down the scree. We dropped down the steep scree and then had to do some serious boulder hopping. I mean some of these were the size of a car. From there we could head back up the boulders and snow fields, but we chose to head east and intercept the Frenchman Creek route. Not much of a trail there, but we did make the summit some 5 hours after leaving Harvard. Spent just a few minutes on the summit and started heading for the descent route into the Horn Fork basin. The west slopes on Columbia are terrible steep scree and there is no avoiding it. So, I followed the ridge to about 13,700' and then scree surfed all the way to about 12,000'. What a terrible route, I would do Columbia from any other route than this one. Finally, made it back to camp 12 hours later. No packing out tonight....decided to spend one more night at camp.
I traversed over from Harvard. Well, traverse is the wrong word. I climbed down into the upper basin and climbed Columbia from there. I bit lower than I wanted to go at 12,500. Eventually, I made the summit. The hike back down into Horn Fork Basin was terrible loose dirt and scree. Not recommended. If you want to bag Harvard and Columbia I suggest doing them from Frenchman Creek.
I loved Columbia - it climbed quickly and we saw no people on the route we hiked nor on the summit. We got there pretty early (around 10:30 am I think) so others climbing up the other side probably hadn't arrived yet. I would definitely climb this mountain again.
I thought the traverse to Columbia from Harvard was nice. There is a pretty marshy area on the backside of Columbia along this route that I found memorable. I also enjoyed the scree skiing down Columbia's West Slopes Route.
The first time I summited (via the SE Ridge), I didn't have enough time to do Harvard also. Greatly desiring to do both in a day, I made sure that this was accomplished the next time, as I 'rode the Rabbit (Ridge),' traversing across after first climbing Harvard. This day was great fun overall, with the exception of getting sick (perhaps from the altitude, but I'd already summited Harvard (!), so I'm not sure...), and it being really windy. Despite needing to take a break for awhile halfway through, still managed the traverse in 2:26. Took 3:43 to get back to the CO/Main Range & Harvard Lakes TH, via the SE Ridge.
Summated mt. columbia around 6 p.m. during the '02 nolan's '14 endurance event. Very intense and memorable hale, ice and thunderstorm storm on the summit.
GOD bless! Praise JESUS!!!!!!!
The traverse to Columbia from Harvard was terribly difficult. I never did find the route described by Roach in his book. I dropped to nearly 11,500 ft. and climbed Columbia via a scree filled draw. A terrible route. Additionally, the descent from Columbia back to the NC trailhead was a 2,500 ft. scree slope. Made it back to my car much later than I intended to. I would have been in deep trouble had a storm rolled in.
If you do this route, do some careful research. Roach calls it "arduous," and it certainly is. If I could go back I would do the peaks separately, and probably do Columbia via it's East slope. Remember that once you make the decision to do Columbia, you can't back out. It's between you and your car!
Climbed Columbia from Harvard and got a little of route but made the summit none the less. It was a beautiful day and luckily not a typical thunderstorm afternoon. We were on the summit around 4pm and didn't get rained on at all luckily. Descended the west slopes and was able to find some nice scree in sections to ski down which made for a fairly quick descent. However the descent was difficult in areas and I wouldn't want to climb up it.
I climbed Columbia by accident. I was trying to climb Harvard. When I left the Colorado Trail, the book said to go due west along the trail. I took out my compass and went due west. "I didn't see no stinking trail". I figured I'd go up hill instead of down and ended up high on Columbia's east ridge. I couldn't negotiate the steep snow so I went down some and traversed until I could find a way to the ridge. I followed the ridge to the summit and there I saw the first human of the day. Signed the register and proceeded to go down the north face. It was a rather easy off trail descent. When I found the trail I followed it to the Colorado Trail and back to the Wilderness boundary where the trailhead is located. I was only 10 feet off the trail. Had I gone down hill instead of up hill I would have found the trail immediately, and climbed Harvard.
Rather steep if you are climbing Columbia by itself, stick to the trail on the descent.