Mt. Harvard - South Face
Climbing mountains is dangerous! Please read the Mountaineering Safety Page and make sure you have a map+compass and can use them effectively. A GPS or cell phone can be very helpful with navigation but you should still be able to use a map+compass in case your device stops working.
(WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. Even the "easy" 14ers (Quandary, Sherman, Grays & Torreys) can be deadly in winter.
|Difficulty:||Class 2, Moderate Snow|
Ski: Advanced, D6 / R3 / III
|Trailhead:||N. Cottonwood Creek|
|Total Gain:||4,600 feet|
|RT Length:||14.00 miles|
|USGS Quad.:||Mount Harvard|
|County Sheriff:||Chaffee: 719-539-2596
|National Forest:||San Isabel|
|Wilderness Area:||Collegiate Peaks|
Turn west on County Road (CR) 350 (Crossman Ave.) near the center of Buena Vista. This road is less than 1/2 mile north of the stoplight in the center of town. Continue on CR 350 for 2 miles and turn right onto CR 361. After almost 1 mile, turn left onto CR 365 (dirt). Continue on this road for over 5 miles to the trailhead at the end of the road. Turn right into the wooded parking area which loops around counter-clockwise. The trail starts on the west side of the parking area.
This is a winter/spring snow route and NOT recommended as a summer hiking route. From the trailhead, follow Harvard Route #1 to reach Horn Fork Basin - Photo #1. Photo #2 shows the difference between this route and the standard, summer route. Since this is a snow route, you're likely to be ascending a snow-covered basin - simply hike north up along the right side of the basin. Near 12,100' (Photo #3) pass a small hill on its right side to reach the junction between the standard Harvard route and this route.
Turn slightly right (northeast) and continue along the left (west) side of the drainage coming down from Harvard's south face. Instead of ascending the center of the drainage, it's easier to stay a bit up on the left side. Above 12,400' angle left (northwest) to see Harvard's south face - Photo #4. Once you reach 12,800', the south face is in full view - Photo #5. Photo #6 looks back on the drainage. From the upper end of the basin/drainage, take some time to study the south face and the location of the summit - Photo #7. This route ascends the gully on the right side of Photo #7. It's easy to identify the gully because of rock outcroppings on its right side and a gendarme about half way up. Photo #8 is another look.
Hike north to the base of the gully and begin climbing - Photo #9 and Photo #10. The steepness starts out in the mid 20 degrees and has a maximum angle of approx. 39 degrees, near 13,700'. Continue (Photo #11 and Photo #12) to 13,500' where the gendarme will be off to your right - Photo #13. Depending on snow coverage, there may be some rocky sections in the middle of the gully. Pick your line and continue higher - Photo #14, Photo #15, Photo #16 and Photo #17. Near 14,000' (Photo #18) the gully begins to widen out and the summit is up to your left. Below 14,200', angle left (Photo #19 and Photo #20) and crest the left side of the upper gully to see the summit area - Photo #21.
The actual summit is on the far left end of the ridge and, depending on snow coverage, there are several ways to reach the top. Hike west/northwest across an upper snowfield to reach the difficulties below the summit ridge - Photo #22. Pick your own line or continue left all the way to the point where the summer hiking route ascends the final summit block - Photo #23 and Photo #24. Climb up through the rocks to reach the top. Photo #25 looks down on the upper snowfield and the top of the south face. Photo #26 looks east along the summit ridge. If you are descending the same route, remember to turn left in the upper snow field to reach the top of the correct gully.
Again, this route should only be done with snow and is not recommended as a summer hiking route. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the Wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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