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Mt. Columbia  
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Route  Conditions Information  Posted By   Posted On    Photos  Comments Likes Dislikes    
2012-11-03  Southeast Ridge  The route to Mount Columbia is very dry; there is hardly any snow. Where there is snow, it‘s not deep at all. Poles are nice to have in general on this route but are not necessary right now. We did not use our Microspikes, and definitely no ice axe or snowshoes are needed yet. SilverLynx   2012-11-04 1  1  Edit Delete 
2012-10-06  Southeast Ridge  No snow at the 3 Elk Creek trailhead, but an inch or two of snow covered the trail after about 2 miles. From the alpine plains below the ridge, snow became constant, but usually only a few inches deep. On the climb up to the ridge, there was only a little snow, as this slope is south-facing. On top of the the easternmost portion of the ridge, thin snow did not present a challenge. Above about 13,000 feet, snow depth was variable. In places it was thin or absent; in places it was as much as knee-deep. In some areas, slippery ice caused a few minor stumbles. Talus slopes were slow to navigate, and poles were helpful to find where snow between rocks was thin or deep. Snowshoes would NOT have helped anywhere on the hike, as the snow was too thin except in the odd places on talus slopes. Poles were very helpful, both for probing and for balance. Weather was clear, in the 30s, with only slight occasional gusts of light wind. trinkner   2012-10-09 3  1  Edit Delete 
2012-06-09  West Slopes  Very little snow at the top and easy to skirt. There are still a number of trees down- probably around 30 which will add on a bit of hiking time to both Harvard and Columbia. One area in particular had a bunch of trees down which made it a mess to move around and we took about 10 mins to find the trail on the way back down. sheller   2012-06-11  0     Edit Delete 
2012-06-09  Standard  Lower portion of the trail only had approx 5 downed trees as many which were once crossing the trail have been cut. The upper portion had multiple downed trees, but all were easy to detour around or hop over. The trees probably added 10 minutes extra roundtrip to the climb time. Other than the trees the trail is in great summer shape! ColoradoLawDobe   2012-06-09  0       
2012-05-31  Columbia traverse to Harvard  Climbed Columbia Thursday morning and traversed to Harvard.I kept reading about all the downed trees at Shavano/Tabeguache, but between the two, Harvard has A LOT more trees down across the trail. It‘s not too hard to stay with the trail, but you have to do lots of maneuvering over, around, between. (I did Tab/Shav today and didn‘t have to step off of the trail one, all the way to the summit because it‘s all been cleaned up so well.) Having done the whole thing, I would definitely recommend going UP Columbia and DOWN from Harvard, unless you are a champion scree-skier. No real snow to contend with getting up Columbia, but there are still a few large stretches holding on behind the ridge. They‘re avoidable if you are comfortable skirting deeper into the valley, which would definitely add mileage and elevation lost that has to be regained (on top of the 1,500+ you already have to lose). That said, I did it with no problems in trail runners (with great traction) with trekking poles, but would have felt more comfortable if I‘d had a whippet or ice axe on one stretch. If I‘d have been two hours later, I would have been sliding around more and getting really wet feet. Also, that traverse is LONG! Took me about 3 hours. a6ftcruton   2012-06-01  0       
2012-05-27  Southeast Ridge  Columbia SE Ridge. Route mostly clear of snow. Down low any snow can be avoided. Higher up only a few small spots to cross. A pole might be helpful. An axe would only be needed if you decided to bail down a couloir into Three Elk Valley. MountainHiker   2012-05-27  0     Edit Delete 
2012-05-11  We got off route, then snow route  Condition/Trip report hybrid, hopefully the long story short will give you any information you need. Beta for the Horn Fork Basin is basically the same as the last condition update. Road to TH is great. First 2.5 miles are basically dry with a little bit of live tree fall (about 5). We hiked that real kwick. From there on my partner and I experienced a big loss in momentum. We had a postholopolus or postholupoluzza in combination with like a bizzillion fallen trees on the trail that probably added and extra mile of meandering to. Then we lost the trail in the snow and the fallen trees and wandered around for a bit never finding the turnoffs for the standard route. How about the weather? Well we left GJ at 3am without a cloud in the sky, got to Leadville at 6...not a cloud in the sky. Started our hike at 7:15 not a cloud in the sky. Meandered through the forest until we broke treeline at 9:45 not a cloud in the sky and hot! 9:50 we have A cloud. 9:55 we got lots of em. 10:10 we got very dark clouds and my partner and I decided to take a direct scramble to the summit ridge (not recommended scree mud mix). The alpine standard route is completely dry. 10:30 its snowing, 10:40 we just some thunder, 11:30 we lost all visibility. 12 we got the summit with a glorious view of nothing. It SNOWED THE REST OF THE DAY! It was lightly sticking at about 13,500K and above, However, it was sticking at Tennessee Pass at 5. The snow route described by Bill‘s route description is what we descended. We had a mud scree mix for about half of the coliour. However, we were able to glissade for around 1000 ft. The route below treeline from the snow route was a bit of bush whack, but it was much more efficient than the ridiculous amount of tree fall on the standard trail. We avoided all of our problems of the morning except for the fact the fog made seeing 15 yards ahead very difficult. The snow was really coming down by the time we left. It should be unlikely that much accumulation occurs very far below near North Cottonwood TH, however, with the rate of precipitation and the lack of wind thereof, there could be a couple inches above and just below treeline. Rcizzle   2012-05-11  0       
2012-05-05  West Slopes  First 2 miles to the trail junction between Columbia and Harvard are not bad, just a few downed trees and snow patches most of which can be avoided. Then the next mile and a half is rough, lots of knee deep soft snow, and lots of downed trees over the trail. We did it without snow shoes, and Im not sure how much better things would have been with them. Above the treeline the snow is mostly clear and things were dry. And coming down Harvard we found a couple of nice spots to glissade. Im thinking it might be another month before the rest of that snow melts out in the trees though. zxbraves   2012-05-08 4     Edit Delete 
2012-04-21  West Slopes  N Cottonwood Creek trailhead is dry and accessible by any vehicle. The trail thru the trees is snow - microspikes not necessary. Trail above tree line is pretty dry except for the final summit ridge however on the ridge you can still avoid 90% or more of the snow by staying just to the left of the ridge. We did not use snowshoes on the way down, but wished we had them as we postholed up to our thighs for 3 miles or more back to the TH. Justin9   2012-04-22  0     Edit Delete 
2012-04-20  Southeast Ridge  Mount Columbia Southeast Ridge: The Harvard Lakes TH is accessible to any vehicle. The departure point is easy to miss. There are two cairns on the left side of the Colorado Trail, the second one marks the trail. There are several cairns marking the way up the ridge. You can avoid the pockets of snow by staying just below the ridge to the left (south). Once above treeline the ridge is mostly clear, and any deep snow is avoidable. There is snow on the ridge towards the summit, most is avoidable. Great day overall! We didn‘t use any microspikes, gators, or snowshoes. Microspikes and gators could be useful towards the top but aren‘t necessary. dehrlich101   2012-04-20 4     Edit Delete 
2012-04-16  Southeast Ridge  Road clear and dry to Harvard Lakes trailhead. There are still some small pockets of snow along the ridge just below treeline that could be avoided easily. Took microspikes but didn‘t need them. 14klimb   2012-04-17 2  1    Edit Delete 
2012-03-30  SE Ridge  Haravard Lake TH accessible by any vehicle. CO trail clear to ridge. On SE ridge we needed snowshoes in a few places. Easier to avoid the snow on the S side of the ridge. No snowshoes or spikes required above treeline. 10.5 hrs round trip. PedroCO   2012-03-31  0  3      
2012-03-17  East Ridge  Climbingbiz and I were able to drive to within 0.4 miles of the 3 Elk Creek TH. From there we followed a pretty well defined ski track to about 11,400ish. We put on our snowshoes at about 10,000 feet and they were absolutely necessary. I did not take an ice axe or microspikes and did not regret it. The first picture is where we ditched our snowshoes at 12,000. The second one is taken looking along the East Ridge itself, at one of the (spirit-sapping) false summits. There certainly are patches of snow up high, some fairly extensive, but its possible to navigate around them. Coming down, I was able to walk across them easily - just the right consistency (time and temperature dependent, Im sure). For me, it was a about an 11-hour day. Im guessing that Climbingbiz probably did the round trip in about 8-9. mcormier   2012-03-18 3  10 1    
2012-03-11  3 Elk  With 2wd the last .8 miles of the road to the 3 Elk TH was not passable, which made my day a 12 mile close to a 12 mile day instead of a 10 mile day. Minimal snow to the 3 Elk turn off but after the next mile the snow got much deeper. No human tracks to follow but luckily there was an elk track to follow, where the snow was a little less loose than what was outside the elk track. Seems the elk knew where he was going because the track lead almost to treeline. After treeline there was windblown snow and tundra along Columbia‘s east ridge, and tons of false summits. It took me 4.5 hours to the summit. During the early morning ascent, the snow between 11500 and 12000 was frozen, but it got pretty soft on the way down and I probably should have stayed further north on the ridge to decrease the avalanche danger. Down safely though. janetlightburn   2012-03-14  0  3      
2012-02-11  SE ridge  Driveable to Harvard Lakes TH with SUV and some luck - deep snow. Trench is back in to treeline; snow depth varies from bare ground to 32". Snowshoes not needed once you get above the big hill at treeline. The ridge was mostly dry. Most of the snow on the ridge was crusty and supported weight. No evidence of any avy danger; the only questionable slope was the one at treeline and it didnt exhibit any signs of instability. Yikes   2012-02-12  0  3      
2011-10-09  East Ridge  Very quiet day with near perfect conditions. Three Elk Trail has little snow (1-3 inches) until just below treeline. There is a well tracked trail regardless, so no troubles there. Climbing the headwall was pretty straightforward until just below the ridge. In the gully I climbed, there was at most 18" in the deepest parts, but nice and firm snow. The ridge is pretty windswept, but several areas are holding snow making boulder-hopping a little more precarious. Image 1 = Meadow looking at route; Image 2 = Gully view; Image 3= East Ridge from summit; Image 4 = Horn Fork Basin from summit (note Bear Lake) bhaydin   2011-10-10 4  4      
2011-09-24  Southeast Ridge  Hiked Columbia SE Ridge on Sat. 9/24. Only two short patches of snow along the route. Nice route if you like solitude. Not a good route to do on a windy day as you will be above treeline for 4-5 hours. sad2   2011-09-24  0     Edit Delete 
2011-09-05  West Slopes  We hiked this route on Sept. 2. The trail conditions up the gulch and on the shoulder were very poor. Erosion, loose rock and soil made the ascent very difficult. I would check out another route which might be preferable to this one. carolyndeluca   2011-09-05 1     Edit Delete 
2011-08-11  Southeast Ridge  No snow what so ever - dry through the forest along the lower ridge - this is a long, long, up, up route but worth it. there are no climb times for this route but took me 7 hrs. 40 minutes which includes 20 minutes at top. Read the information on staying low to eliminate elevation gain/loss but be careful and don‘t drop to low, especially on way back. stlhngntuf   2011-08-11  0     Edit Delete 
2011-07-19  West Slopes  Route is snow free except for one small patch at the base of the slope that can easily be crossed (or circumvented)with no postholing or traction devices required. The slope has a great deal of loose rock and dirt so the climb can be a challenge and the descent is really exciting! mrschaible   2011-07-20  0     Edit Delete 

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