We set off on the standard route from N. Cottonwood Creek to start hiking up Harvard and Columbia early on Saturday morning. We completed all the river crossings in the dark without any problem. There is a large bridge, a small bridge, and a few tree bridges that are pretty solid and easy to cross. The trail through the trees was snowpacked and we reached treeline at about the same time the sun was rising. The peaks were snowcapped and breathtakingly beautiful.
Looking back down the trail from above treeline
As we followed the stream above treeline, the snow drifts got a little deeper and made for some potholing that continued all the way to the summit of Harvard. We stopped on the way to make a little snowman cairn. The snow was pretty fluffy and difficult to pack together.
Our snowman cairn before the final push up Harvard
We made it to the summit of Harvard and stopped for some lunch. The next picture looks at Columbia from the summit.
Looking at Columbia from the summit of Harvard
We set off for Columbia along Harvard's summit ridge until dropping down the gully through the snow. After several hours of trudging through the snow, we made it to the summit of Columbia. We didn't stay long, since we still had a little less than six miles to go to get back to the trailhead. Coming down through the scree was not much fun, but we were able to glissade/sled once we reached some snow about 500 feet from the Columbia ridgeline. The hike through the trees took a long time, since we were all pretty tired after such a long day. It seemed much longer on the way down!
We made it safely back to the trailhead after sunset. This is a gorgeous hike, but I would not recommend doing both Harvard and Columbia once the snow starts to fall. With 6,100 feet of elevation gain and 15 miles, it is a long combo under summer conditions. We were all pretty exhausted once we made it to the cars, but overall, it was another amazing and challenging hike in the high country.