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 Peak(s):  Mt. Columbia  -  14,073 feet
 Post Date:  06/13/2005 Modified: 03/26/2006
 Date Climbed:   06/13/2005
 Posted By:  doumall

 Three Elk Creek, 6-13-05   

Solo summit of Columbia via Three Elk Creek TH. Left Boulder around 5:15, reached the trailhead shortly before 8am. The trailhead is accessible (slowly) with a 2WD sedan. Took me an hour to reach tree line, where the fun began. I was expecting to use Roachs East Ridge route, but the ridge was being abused by 50 mph winds (at least)! I was frightened and worried I would obtain my second ever failed 14er summit attempt. I just sat and watched the wind behavior for a while, and decided to use one of the several couloirs reaching to Columbias East slopes from the upper Three Elk Creek basin. It seemed to be in an area of disorganized wind gusts, so I made a go at it. On my hike up into the upper basin, I was engulfed by several wind tornados which erased all visibility and packed me and my equipment with snow. They were really neat to watch though. I got out my crampons and ascended a moderate couloir (middle of pic):
Image

The wind forced me to stop every 30 secs or so to dodge an incoming gust. For a while I was getting pelted with scree! Yowzeres I would have turned around if I didn't have a balaclava. The crampons were most useful on the upper East slopes, which were ice covered grass and talus. The final pitch was a snow field in a high wind channel. The gusts knocked me to all fours several times before I gave up and crawled to the summit. Several areas near the summit had significant wind load and made me think avalanche. I took some quick photos and began making my way down. I saw a female moose, the first moose I have ever seen in Colorado, and I have lived here my whole life! 10 miles, 4400. 4 hours up, 2 down. Long day with the wind in my face the entire ascent, but its always worth it



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