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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2015-06-28||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Decided to go for the LONG southeast ridge on Columbia, instead of dealing with the mud fest on the trail from N. Cottonwood into the basin. The lower part of the ridge in the forest is easy to follow and trail segments are well cairned. Mosquitos were hell though. No snow to deal at all, the few patches along the higher parts of the ridge can be completely avoided. My advice, check the weather and plan accordingly because you are up high for a long time and getting caught up there in a lightning storm would be bad news! Some dark clouds came in around 11 and I booked it from summit to treeline along the ridge in under an hour.
|2015-06-20||Route: West ridge
Info: Trail is clear next to a roaring N Cottonwood Creek for about 2miles before the trail is wet from snow melt and covered with patches of drifted snow well packed down by hikers. Once above treeline the tail hits the scree slopes and is clear until the summit ridge where the eastern slopes are snowy and the rest is clear rock. Columbia is very manageable in these conditions but Harvard would be an obnoxious trek through deep melting snow and a trail converted to a stream by the snow melt.
|2015-06-18||Route: West Slopes
Info: Just did Mt. Columbia! Road clear all the way. Within the first 15-30 minutes of hiking you begin to see patches of snow. Early on the creek has covered the trail but you can get around. After the lake turnoff there starts to be more snow and we used snowshoes for quite a bit. There are patches of trail so it‘s easy to find your way. Once you get to the basin, the open areas are clear but the trails that lead to the west slopes of Columbia are covered in snow and so we took a route up the snow field to get to where we know the trail should be. At the first ridge we stashed our snow shoes (fyi, the marmots enjoyed the straps on the poles!). The gully up is 80% clear of snow, a few places to cross. Didn‘t find the trail at all until we made it to the top of the shoulder. Lots of mud/rock slide where I think the trail was supposed to be. Still a good amount of snow on the top that you have to traverse across but the summit is attainable without equipment (snowshoes, micro spikes, etc.) Going down we used the snowshoes again and there was significant melting throughout the day causing the trail in many places to be a creek. Lots and lots of water!
|2015-06-15||Route: West Slopes
Info: Hiked in to about 11,500 feet on Sunday 6/14/15 and set up camp--last dry camping spot. Some snow on the hike to this point, snow shoes not needed. Snow is melting fast. Frost came over night, but with us leaving camp around 7am, we needed snow shows right away. Going up to gully was wet and still post holed with snow shoes on. Once we got over the ride where the real accent begins it was dry. Ditched the snow shoes here. Still snow at summit.
|2015-06-05||Route: West Slopes
Info: Climbed Mt. Columbia this morning via the West Slopes and the lack of a hard freeze made this a slog. There is a lot of snow on the trail below treeline. I postholed a bit in the morning (left the TH at 3:30) and finally gave in and put on snowshoes about halfway between the TH and treeline. There was evidence of recent slides on the west slopes, but enough of the slope was melted out that you could avoid avy danger even without a hard freeze. Posted a picture of the west slope - didn‘t get any others since a storm rolled in just as I reached the summit ridge. The ridge still holds a lot of snow and I used crampons (microspikes would have been sufficient). By late morning the snow in the trees was pretty sloppy - I postholed a few times even though I was wearing snowshoes. Without a hard freeze snowshoes are a necessity unless you love to posthole. It will be a while before the snow in the trees melts out. Didn‘t get a good look at Harvard or the traverse due to the storm, but based on the amount of snow on Columbia‘s ridge I‘d guess the traverse is still holding a good deal of snow.
|2015-06-04||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: good conditions after solid freeze on 6/3/15 and an early start from camp at 12,000. Complete snow cover above 12,500 made for a fast trip with no rock scrambling. No flotation needed early in the day, but micro-spikes essential all the way to the summit. Wish I would have brought my axe for a couple sections near 12,800 which were a bit hair-raising in the a.m. Still solid at the summit at 0930, the descent got a bit post-holey about 11:00 below 13,000, but I never took my snowshoes off my pack. Numerous small avalanches on all aspects verifies report of 6/2.
|2015-06-02||Route: Southwest Couloir
Info: Approach is intermittent snow, not skinnable until probably 2.5 miles in, and even then its "interesting" . Unsupportive even at 6am, without a hard freeze i don‘t see that changing. The couloir itself is in pretty ugly shape at the bottom...a point release cut loose about 1/2 way up and turned into a pretty decent sized slide, so there is a ton of debris/rocks and even some frozen mud. Above that conditions are great, very smooth snow. Continuous snow to the summit from the top of the couloir. On the way down, be careful of the mini gullies skiers right...we were able to get a lot of wet snow to release around them. Be careful out there, until we get a good melt freeze cycle there is plenty of avalanche hazard.
|2015-05-30||Route: Harvard/Columbia traverse
Info: Snow covered the upper basin all of Mt. Harvard. Lower South Ridge of Columbia had rock exposed.
|2015-05-26||Route: Southwest Couloir
Info: Lots of snow, including the summit ridge. SW gully/couloir is in fine shape, well consolidated. Approach: well tracked the first 2 miles, then any tracks disappeared. We were able to generally stay on summer route, but with snowdrifts it‘s not always obvious. Snow was getting really soft/unsupportive by 12-1pm.
|2015-04-25||Route: West Slopes
Info: Made it up to the turn off where you start ascending the west slopes. I ran out of motivation to go any further...5 miles of breaking trail to summit Columbia wasn‘t worth it. It was difficult route finding through parts of the forest due to the big snow storm last weekend and no tracks to follow. It‘ll be much easier for you if my tracks are still there...sorry about any meandering...i did end up always finding the way when i got off route. Plenty of snow covering the west slopes and the southwest couloir. I imagine the west slopes will be good for a week or two and the couloir for much longer. Also, the bears are out. Saw fresh tracks on the road.
|2015-04-12||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: It feels like May up there. From Harvard Lakes trailhead to about 10,800 is 100% dry (some snow drifts in the woods, but you‘d have to seek them out). From 10,800 up to the summit ridge where you join the standard route, it‘s largely "choose your own adventure" -- you can spend 90% of your time on dirt/rock (as I did on the way up) or 90% on snow (as I did on the way down). The summit ridge is mostly snow. I did it in boots and poles, and never unlimbered my axe, spikes, or snowshoes. Except for wet snow and occasional postholing on the way down, this could be done in trail runners and microspikes.
|2015-03-07||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Snowy, considerably moreso than when people were climbing in February. Skiable if that floats your boat and you‘re really determined. As of today there is now a trench, however it veers pretty far north in the trees around 10k, which adds some mileage (that is from the group in front of mine, before they turned around). Snow was not transformed enough to be solid this morning, but mostly was this evening. Snowshoes recommended. Excellent animal tracks at present.
|2015-02-14||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Winter closure 1.25 miles from CT. Road walk was a mix of dirt and well packed snow. Well established trench from CT to treeline. Early on the ridge is mostly snow free, but there is a lot of snow for the last couple of miles to summit.
|2015-02-13||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Not sure if this will help anyone as the weather is about to change on Monday, but...The road to the winter closure barrier was fine, just a bit icy, slushy, or muddy depending on the hour. AWD or AWD probably a good idea to be sure. Parking here adds something like 2 to 2 1/2 miles to your total mileage from the normal trailhead. We (annamigl, DaveSwink, and me) reestablished a trench from where the SE Ridge route departs the Colorado Trail up through treeline. Sorry about the couple times we take you through some crappy bushes up by the rocky outcrops near treeline. You could try this trench in the frozen a.m. with spikes, but I‘d suggest you take snowshoes along to be sure. We took off our snowshoes above treeline past the dead tree zone and used spikes from there up and back. You‘ll cross lots of dry, open tundra, rocky sections, and random snowdrifts. The latter can be hard frozen, or ankle to knee deep depending on your route choice and what the wind has done. Monday‘s storm could change all of this, of course. (It‘s a looong hike--took us 13 hours total, including breaks. Kudos to those who summited in high winds last week--had to have been an epic.)
|2015-02-07||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Everyone knows it‘s windy. Beautiful day started just before 6am. The road is navigable but slushy up to the winter road closure. Gaiters definitely necessary as snowshoes will be on and off for the first two miles at least. Make sure you utilize basic route-finding skills shortly after you turn off the Colorado Trail; the trench has been blown over by wind and hidden for a good 1/4 of a mile at least (ie, head up the center of the ridge). What snow exists (with the exception of the couple inches that have fallen since) is totally transformed and turned into heavy mashed potatoes by midday. Do NOT try to skin, the snow coverage is too inconsistent. We turned around just above 12,000ft due to wind holding between 30 and 40mph and gusts in the 70s, but on a calm day this route will be a beautiful albeit long walk. Will upload pictures this evening.
|2015-01-31||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Snow moved into the area Friday night. Was still ongoing (barely) during first couple hours of the hike Saturday morning. Didn‘t use flotation or traction until after leaving Colorado Trail. There was a faint trench to follow, but that disappeared from time to time. I used spikes and snowshoes off and on for the remainder, but stashed my snowshoes around 12,000‘. Winds were actually pretty tame so the ridge had not been scoured. The new snow was loose and not supporting at all so footwork was "fun". Spikes were definitely helpful on the higher ridges due to how slippery the rock was as well as patches of rock-hard snow.
|2014-11-08||Route: West Slopes
Info: Beautiful day on Columbia! Below treeline the trail had patchy, 1-1.5 inches of snow, no need for traction or gaiters since there were very few icey spots. Above tree line there was very little snow going up to the ridge. A few spots on the ridge had up to a foot of snow, but we never put on gaiters, though they probably would have kept or get a bit drier! Saw some people with ice axes but never felt like we needed them. We had great weather all day and only had to put on extra layers to protect from the wind. Overall still awesome conditions up there. Glad we decided not to lug our snow shoes up the trail.
|2014-11-08||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Everything from prior report still holds true. It was a beautiful day, aside from being consistently windy along the ridge. My only rookie mistake was I left at 8 AM. To make matters worse, I had some mountain goats along one of the ridge points. I didn‘t want to startle them going up some false summits. I had to get my ice axe and spikes out to climb around while keeping a reasonable distance. Other than that, poles sufficed for the entire route.
|2014-11-06||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: No snow until near treeline, and from that point to 13,500‘, its mainly avoidable. The last mile to the summit (above 13,500‘) had snow that made the boulder hopping a bit annoying, but nothing that warranted gaiters. Honestly, probably could have gotten away with trail runners today. Beautiful warm day. Didn‘t even need a hat. --D
|2014-10-25||Route: West Slopes
Info: Hiked up the West Slopes of Columbia on Saturday. Absolutely gorgeous weather all day. The brutal slope leading to the ridge is basically snow free. There was nothing that posed an issue during that portion of the hike. When on the ridge, at 13,700‘, there is snow on 80% of the rest of the route to the summit. I did not use any traction on this part of the hike, as the snow was firm and I had no issues with walking on it. I camped at 11,100‘ in Horn Fork Basin and the campsite was clear of snow.