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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2016-05-21||Route: South Face
Info: Skied the peak today as a day trip. Long approach, which we did in the dark. No freeze in the trees, so lots of postholing. Coverage is good, including the summit. Firm corn conditions today due to wind. Ran into another skier party on the summit.
|2016-05-14||Route: South Slopes
Info: Nice and solid snow on the trail until 10am. After that snowshoes are necessary. Watch out for wet slides later in the day.
|2016-03-10||Route: East Slopes
Info: Despite the favorable snow, this route was still a slog. To ensure I was able to get both Harvard and Columbia, I decided to do this combo as an overnight. A well fit individual could do the combo in a day and most folks could probably now day trip either peak. Poach this trench while it's installed! If you like it, buy me a beer at the next HH. Road Conditions: Despite how enticing the snowpack on the road is 0.2 mile short the 2WD parking area at the beginning of the French Creek 4WD road, do NOT drive it. Being naive, which I generally am, I didn't think much of it and drove it anyways. As soon as I started down the hill, I knew it was going to be problematic on the return. In fact, my arms hurt more today than my legs do from the trip due to the 2 hours of shoving and winching (sorry, aspen tree) that I did to get my car unstuck. Don't underestimate that hill on the return. Looking back on the photo, what in the f*&X was I thinking? That's right, I wasn't. The Approach: I ended up skinning the entire approach but considering the lack of snow below 10,000, I would probably prefer snowshoes. There were rocky areas on the first half which I couldn't ski on the return unless I completely wanted to trash my skis. It is safe to say, I think one wouldn't need floatation for the first two miles up the French Creek 4WD road and if they did, the effort would be very minimal. Once on the French Creek trail, trailbreaking was laborious (mostly easy, some moderate) until treeline. Now that a trench is installed, the trailbreaking would be minimalized but still required. Snowshoes or skis mandatory. The Climb: Once out of treeline, the snow is a windblown hardpack with very little laborious trailbreaking. The East slopes of Harvard are mostly windblown and clear of snow. I also completely underestimated the caliber of slog that Harvard entailed. That last 400 feet/0.25 mile really blows as it requires time consuming, snow covered, large boulder hopping. Due to high winds, some fresh snow, and being solo I was a little apprehensive on the direct traverse to Columbia so I gave the ridge a wide margin of safety. Columbia's north rib offered a mostly snow free, and enjoyable climb to the summit. I know lots of folks hate Columbia, but I think that north rib offers the most enjoyable, albeit steep, climb to the summit. 1) Don't be an idiot. 2) Snow-free East Slopes of Harvard. 3) Time consuming summit ridge of Harvard 4) Route up Harvard. GPX, for current trench poaching pleasure, can be found at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/d11pfeajlevb0kp/AACaHokgGMHM1hSY1mDO0Jkva?dl=0
|2015-10-25||Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Info: We hiked to bear lake under the full moon this morning. It‘s ankle deep snow to the lake and a easy path to follow but we couldn‘t find the standard trail. There are a few trails that venture off but end up in knee to waist deep snow. Since we didn‘t both have gators or gps with standard route we decided not to push a trench through. Still gorgeous and you can still make it to the upper TH even in a 2WD as of this morning.
|2015-10-13||Route: South Slopes
Info: Still completely dry on Harvard standard route. Didn‘t do the Columbia traverse, but there appears to be just a bit of snow on the north facing slope.
|2015-10-11||Route: South Slopes
Info: Great day to be in the high country today. Trail was mostly dry and even dusty in spots. No snow at all on route. Saw maybe 10 people total all day today and even had the summit for almost a hour all to myself.
|2015-10-08||Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Info: I climbed Mt. Harvard and Mt. Columbia on 10/8/15 via the standard traverse route. Snow was manageable and I did the entire route without microspikes. It was a perfectly clear day without any wind which made it very hot and exhausting on the traverse. All the snow I saw on Harvard that morning had melted off by 1pm. Only place that if it got any worse could require microspikes is the final ridge ascent of Columbia. The snow was about 4-5 inches deep with no ice underneath. I‘d recommend bring spikes in case but otherwise the conditions are basically summer.
|2015-09-28||Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Info: Absolutely no snow enroute to Harvard and the traverse is also clear. We screwed up on the Columbia descent and went down the completely wrong gully, but again, totally dry and snow-free. Fall colors are at their peak and if the weather continues to be nice the routes should remain dry and beautiful!
|2015-08-29||Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Info: Did the combo of Harvard and Columbia today. Got a late start at 8am, but weather was forecasted to be great. The route up Harvard was no issue, trail is well marked and easy to follow. Started the traverse over to Columbia around 12:30pm with the thought we would take the ridge the whole way. Got to a point in the ridge and it looked like the only way was the trail dropping off to the left. Took that down a steep and loose chute, which ended up spitting us out much below the ridge and into the gully. Decided to just take the gully and bouldered our way up to Columbia along-side the ridge. Added a few extra miles and the route was not clear, but the bouldering was pretty easy. Made it to the summit of Columbia around 3pm, stopped for a quick bite to eat and headed out on our descent. This is where things got tricky. The typical descent down Columbia is AWFUL. Steep with very loose dirt and rock the entire way down. In my opinion, worse than the descent down Bross (and I thought that was in bad shape). Really hoping REI puts in the money for trail restoration on Columbia (vote!). Eventually made it back down to our car around 5:30pm. My fitbit read almost 20 miles by the end of the trip. I can see why many people choose to do the combo in two days.
|2015-08-22||Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Info: Did Harvard to Columbia traverse today. Weather was good, Harvard no problems and traverse over to Columbia no problems until the gully section. The gully section and the remainder of the route until you gain the Columbia ridge is a s--t show and very difficult to figure out (at least for me). Very difficult route finding and difficult to interpret the pictures of this section. Study pictures #15 and #16 closely...I avoided the main death gully, but got caught up in a second smaller one and did not completely descend the east ridge. Cairns are few and far between at this point and the right turn @ 12,800 is also super tricky. Picking through the talus is mind numbing and finding the route is very frustrating. The down climb of the west slopes of Columbia is a complete disaster. This is easily the loosest runniest chauce pile I have encountered. Probably a better idea to climb Columbia first if one were to do the traverse as others have suggested. The west slopes of Columbia is a very slippery down climb and hope REI applies the money to improve this trail (I certainly voted for it).
|2015-08-09||Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Info: My girlfriend and I just did this and its was very difficult and dangerous coming from Harvard to Colombia. The route to Harvard was decent and accurate however: the decent from Harvard over to Colombia is not marked and it‘s very difficulty to locate a trail. We did tons of bouldering and sliding down very steep talus and loose rocks at 1 point I was very afraid I was going to get hurt and fall because the rocks are incredible loose. We were very lucky to make it to the top to Colombia and had very good weather but I am warning everyone to really consider not doing these 2 in the same day because of how dangerous the rock slides are to get over from Harvard to Colombia. We met some really nice hikers and had great company. The total hike took us 14 hours to complete and lucky enough we camp in the night before. Feel free to message me if you have additional questions I can answer.
|2015-07-29||Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Info: This was quite the hike! I consider myself in decent shape and had already climbed 13 peaks before climbing these two yesterday and it took my partner and I 12.5 hours!! MAKE SURE YOU PRINT OFF ALL THREE DIRECTIONS: Harvard: South Slopes, Harvard to Columbia: Traverse, and Columbia: West Slopes. To get the full details visit my blog at sunshineof1985.com. I‘m planning on climbing them all this summer and these two make it 14 and 15. *GEAR (to bring): GPS, extra socks, phone, SPOT Satellite Tracker, Map, hiking boots with 2 pairs of socks on, long-sleeve, wind-guard, light weight puffy coat (I didn‘t have to use it), Yak Traks, poles at your discretion (could help on such a long day), first aid kit, toilet paper, day pack with water (100 oz at least), food (2 cliff bars, 2 granola bars and trailsmix), sunscreen, lip balm. *Road Conditions: Minor potholes and a little rough in some parts, but a 2WD should have no problem making it to the trailhead. *Trail Conditions: A couple wet spots in trees, but shouldn‘t get your feet soaked.Luckily other hikers put clues on the forks you‘ll pass so you know which way to go. Little exposure. Do bring your Yak Traks if you‘re climbing both mountains as we ran into a lot of snow especially going to Columbia. It almost would be nice to have poles as well. There is a steep, very slippery, very long gully making your way to Columbia. Once you climb Columbia, the trail down is mostly the same: steep, slippery, very very long gully. I‘m glad we went the way we did (Harvard first).
|2015-07-11||Route: South Slopes
Info: The trail through the trees is still muddy in some spots but very manageable. If you reach treeline before sunrise make sure not to miss the stream crossing around 11,700‘ (based on route photos). Several groups on Saturday missed the crossing and got lost in the willows for a while. Only a few small snowfields to cross above 13,000‘.
|2015-07-03||Route: South Slopes
Info: Hiked the standard route as a day hike from the trailhead. Very wet (sloppy mud and standing water) once you get up in the Horn Fork Basin. Waterproof shoes and extra socks recommended. High creek crossing can now be done without searching for a way to keep your feet dry. Snowfields present on upper 1000 feet of route, which weren‘t an issue. Carried an axe and spikes, but never needed them. Easiest route on summit block (climber‘s right) was blocked by sketchy snow. Took the steeper route (climber‘s left), which was solid and fun. Storm clouds moved in unusually early, before 8 AM, but luckily blew away to the south, providing a successful summit for my group. Nearly turned back.
|2015-06-27||Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Info: Did Columbia via the southeast ridge and traversed over to Harvard and descended into Horn Fork Basin for a full loop. Previous report for Columbia is pretty much identical (mostly dry until last bit on the ridge), so just updating for Harvard. Still a lot of snow low on the traverse, but you can avoid pretty much all of it the closer you stay on the ridge proper. Moves in general range low 3rd class up to 5th class on Rabbit Ridge proper depending on your routefinding. Still a lot of snow down Harvard‘s standard route. Can avoid a lot of it if you stay closer to the ridge
|2015-06-24||Route: South Slopes
Info: The last entry by BagginPeaks is pretty accurate. Wear waterproof boots (anklets or gaiters not a bad idea) and take poles. Microspikes or snowshoes aren‘t worth it. Starting somewhere near treeline you‘ll find the trail is a creek only too often. Big picture, there are two cruxes on the route currently. The first is crossing the creek once you emerge into the basin from treeline and the trail hits the creek. I also elected to bushwhack upstream until I could cross but ended up in willow hell and on some crappy snow banks (I probably went too far up before crossing). Consider just wading across at the normal point (idea: bring shoes for the purpose and leave them at the crossing for return). The second crux is getting from the "shoulder" at 13,000‘ up on to Harvard proper. You can either cross the snow in the basin (a direct beeline route) or you can climb the mostly snow-free, but rocky, ridge toward Point 13598. Following Baggin‘s advice, I chose the latter. If you choose the snow route it‘s a lottery--it may support your weight, it may go to your ankle, to your knee or to your hip. Going early will help, but not much with current temps up there (no real freezing going on). I watched three guys cross today at around 7-7:30a.m. and they seemed to do OK--did see one hip posthole though. If you take the ridge option you‘ll still have to cross a few short patches of mashed potatoes up high, but it‘s not too bad and the ridge up to Harvard is pretty cool. Oh, and...Through most of the basin itself you can avoid most, but not all, of the snow. P.S. Bring dry socks.
|2015-06-20||Route: South Slopes
Info: Wanted to try for the Couloir on Columbia but it is melted out already so I climbed Harvard Saturday (6/20) and it was a sloppy muddy wet mess most of the way. Trail through the forest is flowing water and super muddy, some patches of deep snow still, lots of post holing in the basin which is still fully covered with soft snow. Lots of wet slides on the S Face. Opted to go directly up the ridge toward point 13598 because traversing that slope along the standard route would have been sketchy due to loose wet snow. Once on the ridge it is straight forward, but still some post holing. Left TH at 5:30, summit at 11, snow was basically slush by then. Carried crampons and snowshoes but did not use either...extra weight for training purposes i guess
|2015-06-20||Route: South Slopes
Info: Climbed Mt. Harvard today and brought crampons and snowshoes - used neither. While there is still a good bit of snow, a lot can be avoided. I followed the summer trail to the shoulder of PT 13,588. From there I continued up the shoulder until I reached the connecting ridge to Harvard. This avoids the snowy south slopes and is a pretty easy route - just used trekking poles. I post holed some, but not enough to bother with snowshoes. The bigger challenge is the water from the melting snow. Much of the trail in the basin has a stream running down it. Also, the Horn Fork Creek is raging where the trail crosses it. I bushwhacked up along the creek until I found a safe place to cross. Added some photos: shoulder to PT 13,588, traverse from PT 13,588 to Mt. Harvard, traverse to Mt. Columbia
|2015-05-30||Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Info: Snow covered the upper basin of Mt. Harvard. Lower South Ridge of Columbia had rock exposed.
|2015-03-21||Route: South Slopes
Info: After being out of commission for over two weeks due to a knee injury, I finally was able to get back out into the mountains on March 21. I had skied the south slopes of Mt. Harvard a few years ago, but didn‘t get an exact summit descent, so I headed back in hopes of skiing directly off the summit. I started the hike at winter road closure, 9000‘ elevation and 3 miles from the summer trailhead, at 8:27 a.m. The snow quickly softened in the morning but remained supportive throughout the day. The snow hasn‘t transitioned to spring corn yet, but was stable, supportive, and didn‘t become too wet in the afternoon. I took the standard route to the summit and summited in under 7 hours. I reached the summit at 3:17, and began the descent about 15 minutes later. I was able to ski directly off the summit (with my hand on the top of the highest bolder), down the east ridge and slightly down the north side, before crossing over to the S face at the notch in the ridge. I made it back to the car by 5:45, for a round trip of 9 hours 18 minutes. Here‘s a link to a short pov video of the S face descent https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnkheckfvSU&feature=youtu.be