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End to Columbia scree fest?

Colorado 14er peak questions and conditions should be posted here. 14er Trip Reports
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End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby Rarefied » Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:46 am

Yesterday’s BV paper had an article that said the Forest Service is considering re-routing the standard route on Columbia. As part of the process, the Salida Ranger District is soliciting comments on the proposal (specifically, to Brett Beasley at bbeasley AT fs.fed.us or 719-530-3953.)

Key points from the article are:
-- It would address/stop the substantial erosion that has taken place
-- Work would start in 2014 and is projected to take two seasons to complete
-- The peak would remain accessible during construction
-- The old route up to the ridge would eventually be closed
-- The new route would be just to the south of the existing one
(between Routes 2 & 6 here on Bill’s site)
-- It would have many switchbacks and would be 2.96 miles vs. the current 2.32 miles
(FS figures that appear to be from the turn-off in Horn Fork Basin)
-- TH registrations show about 4000 users in 2009 but the FS figures the usage is higher
given that not all climbers register

A map was included with the article but it didn’t scan in well enough to be worthy of posting. Hopefully my description is adequate.


R

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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby jsdratm » Fri Mar 15, 2013 12:16 pm

It is good to see this moving forward. I am planning to do Columbia via the more scenic southeast ridge route this summer since the standard route looks so unappealing.

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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby Tory Wells » Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:14 pm

The east ridge of Columbia from the Three Elk TH is an excellent route--Roach has nothing but great things to say about it. However, if you've been in the area, it's obvious why it probably will never be popular: too much private property in the area. But for anyone looking for a great way up Columbia without the scree nightmare that exists now....the east ridge is the way to go.
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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby Wish I lived in CO » Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:34 pm

Good, haven't done Columbia yet. Guess I'll wait till they complete it.
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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby jdorje » Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:50 pm

Alternate routes will always be good alternatives, but it's important that there be a sustainable and safe primary route for the ever-increasing masses. Sadly, switchbacks are the only way to make this possible. So...it's always good to see progress.

I'm curious why it's the forest service taking the initiative (and presumably the bill) this time? To what degree does CFI normally work with/through the forest service?
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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby MountainHiker » Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:59 pm

I’m really beginning to feel like an old fart. I remember Bierstadt before the boardwalk, La Plata before the steps, Grays and Torreys before the bridge, Yale up Denny Gulch, Elbert before the new parking lot. I’m sure I forgot a few. So many routes have evolved with the trail building of the last couple decades. This is without getting into recent reroutes like Silver Pick Basin.
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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby DaveLanders » Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:59 pm

jdorje wrote:Alternate routes will always be good alternatives, but it's important that there be a sustainable and safe primary route for the ever-increasing masses. Sadly, switchbacks are the only way to make this possible. So...it's always good to see progress.

I'm curious why it's the forest service taking the initiative (and presumably the bill) this time? To what degree does CFI normally work with/through the forest service?

CFI always has to go through the Forest Service for work done on Forest Service land. It is possible that CFI will wind up building this new trail, with Forest Service funding support.

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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby rijaca » Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:08 pm

MountainHiker wrote:I’m really beginning to feel like an old fart. I remember Bierstadt before the boardwalk, La Plata before the steps, Grays and Torreys before the bridge, Yale up Denny Gulch, Elbert before the new parking lot. I’m sure I forgot a few. So many routes have evolved with the trail building of the last couple decades. This is without getting into recent reroutes like Silver Pick Basin.


Yep. How about the NW couloir route for Crestone Peak?

Even before my time, the SW ridge was once the 'standard' route for Little Bear (when access from the south wasn't restricted).
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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:13 pm

While the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI) does have trail "Hot Shot" crews who work on ~25 peaks a year, major trail reconstruction projects are set by the USFS and then work is done by the CFI and volunteer groups working under the direction of CFI trail crews. Usually, there are about three large projects going on each summer. Columbia is just one of the projects in the queue right now and I'm glad it's worked it's way up the list.

There's a 14ers liaison who works for the USFS and coordinates the prioritization of 14er trail projects. Projects must be detailed by the local USFS ranger district and put out to the public for discussion, etc.

Since 1995, CFI has built/restored trails on about half of the 14ers and I invite you to check out their site (www.14ers.org) if you're interested in learning more about these large, 14er trail projects.
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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby Rarefied » Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:22 pm

No mention of CFI in the article but I suspect it is just as Bill & Dave state. One minor correction: The actual quote is that it will take a minimum of two years to finish the work -- I previously had phrased it as if it would be right at the two year mark. Finally, I would have posted a link to the article but I am not finding it on the paper's site for some reason.

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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:32 pm

The Forest Service initiates these projects but CFI knows it's coming as we (I'm on the CFI board of directors) have board meetings which include the appropriate USFS planners. It's normal that CFI wouldn't be mentioned because right now the USFS has a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process to complete, which includes a public review period. Once the NEPA process is complete, the project will hopefully be approved and CFI will likely be brought in to run the project.

I'm pretty happy this one is moving forward.

I found this article on the USFS site: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/psicc/news-events/?cid=STELPRDB5412021
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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby MountainHiker » Fri Mar 15, 2013 4:45 pm

rijaca wrote:Yep. How about the NW couloir route for Crestone Peak?

That’s the way I did it the first time. The next time we went up the NW Couloir and down the Red Couloir. Which brings up doing Kit Carson via Columbia – then Kat Carson. Challenger being a fourteener was still a new discussion.

I certainly won’t miss the scree fest of the Columbia standard route.
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