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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|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.
|2014-10-23||Route: East Ridge
Info: Trail is dry up to 13k on ridge. From there, snow increases from patchy to widespread and unavoidable. I had spikes but didn‘t need them. Some minor postholing (shin deep) in some of the drifts but most of the snow was wind blown and packed. Snow was getting soft in the afternoon.
|2014-10-18||Route: West Slopes
Info: Didn‘t climb it. These pics are from the Harvard standard route. Thought I‘d post these as it could be a good time to climb that miserable route on Columbia? Not enough to slide, but enough snow to kick some steps on the nasty scree gully ... to the ridge, which is dry. With spikes, poles and just enough snow on the descent, it could be way better than when I did it a few summers ago, when it was a horrendous mix of marbles and golf balls on steep dirt.
|2014-10-11||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Climbed the long Southeast Ridge of Columbia yesterday. There‘s quite a bit of snow up there! The first stretch along the Colorado trail and up the beginning of the ridge was dry. As the route climbed higher up the ridge through the trees, the snow got gradually deeper, but no more than a few inches until treeline at 11,500‘ or so. Above treeline, there was continually deeper and deeper snow until we put on gaiters and felt the significant effort of postholing and breaking trail. Up high on the route, there is more scrambling and the conditions were loose snow covering slick rocks, causing a lot of slips and falls. There were a few difficult Class 2 sections on the ridge crest we maybe could have avoided, but it would have required extra time traversing below the ridge crest on big, snow-covered rocks. I‘ve attached a few iPhone pics. This is a very long ridge with many ups and downs - the upper section of the ridge traverses a long distance at high elevation before finally reaching the summit. Bring lots of food and water.
|2014-10-05||Route: Southeast Ridge
Info: Southeast Ridge was a great alternate route which follows the ridge from 10,000 ft to the summit. Route was fairly snow free. Where there was snow, it was not an issue. No traction needed.