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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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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby nyker » Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:53 pm

What about via Frenchmans Creek? This is a nice alternative with some minor routefinding.

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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby jmanner » Sat Mar 16, 2013 1:10 pm

Best trail news in a long while! The standard route is my choice for worst scree field/ worst descent. :barf: Interesting side note my profile pic is on the summit of Columbia.
A man has got to know his limitations.-Dr. Jonathan Hemlock

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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby Tornadoman » Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:10 pm

I've been debating on whether I should try the scree route or an alternate, guess I'll just wait a few years and try this new trail.

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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby Tory Wells » Sat Mar 16, 2013 4:00 pm

Tornadoman wrote:I've been debating on whether I should try the scree route or an alternate, guess I'll just wait a few years and try this new trail.

However, in my opinion the alternate routes are and will be better. I've heard good things about the Frenchman Creek route and I can attest that the east ridge via the Three Elk TH is top notch.
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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby GeezerClimber » Sat Mar 16, 2013 4:10 pm

I have climbed it twice from Frenchmans creek along with Harvard. It is a scenic, uncrowded alternative. You will need a good 4WD to reach the TH or have a long hike. There is some scree on the route we used but not bad. No trail above timberline.

Dave

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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby Tornadoman » Sat Mar 16, 2013 4:32 pm

Tory Wells wrote:
Tornadoman wrote:I've been debating on whether I should try the scree route or an alternate, guess I'll just wait a few years and try this new trail.

However, in my opinion the alternate routes are and will be better. I've heard good things about the Frenchman Creek route and I can attest that the east ridge via the Three Elk TH is top notch.


Is a 4WD necessary for getting to the TH? I am planning to do the rest of the Sawatch as quick 3 day weekends coming from Kansas in a low clearance 2WD.

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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby GeezerClimber » Sat Mar 16, 2013 4:46 pm

Tornadoman wrote:
Tory Wells wrote:
Tornadoman wrote:I've been debating on whether I should try the scree route or an alternate, guess I'll just wait a few years and try this new trail.

However, in my opinion the alternate routes are and will be better. I've heard good things about the Frenchman Creek route and I can attest that the east ridge via the Three Elk TH is top notch.


Is a 4WD necessary for getting to the TH? I am planning to do the rest of the Sawatch as quick 3 day weekends coming from Kansas in a low clearance 2WD.


You have a choice of three routes from the east. 1. Use Harvard Lakes TH (also Colorado Trail) for the SE ridge. This is accessible in any vehicle. The 3 Elk TH for the east ridge is also accessible, is shorter than the SE ridge but starts lower. 3. Frenchmans Creek requires 4WD to get to the TH but you can stop lower though this adds a lot of distance to the hike. All 3 of these routes are a fair amount longer than the standard but more enjoyable if you are fit enough.

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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby planet54 » Sat Mar 16, 2013 5:08 pm

Who in the heck decided to dupe the masses and designate the scree fest route as the standard route? When I did Columbia in 1985 it didn't even occur to me to take that route. The East Ridge from the Harvard Lakes Trailhead seemed to me to be the obvious way to go.We started out early in the morning,stopped at the lakes,caught a few fish,found the Three Elk Trail that continues west of the CT,made our way to the East Ridge, summited,went back to the lakes,caught a couple more fish,and went home. Nothing more than a routine Sawatch climb.
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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby nyker » Sat Mar 16, 2013 5:26 pm

Tornadoman wrote:
Tory Wells wrote:
Tornadoman wrote:I've been debating on whether I should try the scree route or an alternate, guess I'll just wait a few years and try this new trail.

However, in my opinion the alternate routes are and will be better. I've heard good things about the Frenchman Creek route and I can attest that the east ridge via the Three Elk TH is top notch.


Is a 4WD necessary for getting to the TH? I am planning to do the rest of the Sawatch as quick 3 day weekends coming from Kansas in a low clearance 2WD.


We did both Harvard and Columbia from Frenchmans Creek, on two separate trips; Dawson lists the route to Harvard at 14 mi r/t from the "trailhead" but depending on the shape of the road, you will likely need a 4x4, or high clearance tough 2wd vehicle to get to the top; without running boards...so expect a round trip at or longer than 14 miles for each one assuming you will parking lower.

Once you get to the basin which is a stunning area (watch for bears), there was no trail to either peak, so you need to dead reckon and hope you are aiming for the correct peak, which could be a bit more challenging if low lying clouds obscure the summits, but makes for more fun climb. Get famililar with your map and compass at this point. On Columbia, many people climb the peak to the left first (accidentally thinking its the true summit, but the real summit is more to the southwest from this direction so you'll have to descend this first before ascending the final talus to the top;

When ascending towards Harvard, from the basin, go up the grassy knoll (angling NW) and then aim more right (North) - continuing straight will get you cliffed out in ugly terrain.

You can also do the traverse if you choose; but expect more sustained trickier terrain and do this early with a solid weather forecast.

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Re: End to Columbia scree fest?

Postby MountainHiker » Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:00 pm

planet54 wrote:Who in the heck decided to dupe the masses and designate the scree fest route as the standard route?

It certainly wasn’t based on what’s best for Columbia by itself. It’s just the way to return to the same trailhead as the standard Harvard route after doing the two of them together.
Red, Rugged, and Rotten: The Elk Range - Borneman & Lampert

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Ho Columbia scree fest?

Postby 14erFred » Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:09 pm

Nyker: You mentioned that one should "watch for bears" in the upper basin of Frenchman's Creek. Did you see bears there during your climb, or did you hear from others about bear activity in the upper basin? I'm hoping to camp above timberline in the upper basin this summer. Bear canisters may well be in order. :o
"Live as on a mountain." -- Marcus Aurelius

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Re: Ho Columbia scree fest?

Postby MountainHiker » Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:30 pm

14erFred wrote:Nyker: You mentioned that one should "watch for bears" in the upper basin of Frenchman's Creek. Did you see bears there during your climb, or did you hear from others about bear activity in the upper basin? I'm hoping to camp above timberline in the upper basin this summer. Bear canisters may well be in order. :o

We saw half of a baby deer next to the path along Three Elk Creek. We were guessing a mountain lion had the other half and was near by. We didn’t touch it. We didn’t want to trigger a possessive response from what ever was responsible. I suppose it could also have been a coyote.
Red, Rugged, and Rotten: The Elk Range - Borneman & Lampert

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