Mt Harvard & Mt Columbia

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WanderingJim
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Mt Harvard & Mt Columbia

Post by WanderingJim » Fri May 14, 2021 10:34 pm

I'm trying to decide on how to do Mt Harvard and Mt Columbia at the start of my Collegiate Loop in August.

I was thinking of the Frenchman Creek approach to do these two 14ers from the east slopes. I'd start from FRENCHMAN CREEK or WAPACE LIENHART trailheads (opinions on which would be best?).
From there I'd go down and camp along the creek somewhere. Then the next morning do a day hike to the two summits.

Alternately, starting from the North Cottonwood TH and going up Columbia's West Slope, traversing over to Harvard (which has the benefit of only doing that traverse once, instead of twice as I go back and forth to the summits from the middle). Then descend down the Harvard South Slope.

The later would save me a night of resupply, since I could even hike down and camp in Horn Fork Basin and do the summits in the morning from there. Then return to my Jeep and resupply (or spend the night down at the trailheads) and then hit the CT down towards Yale. Of course, it's like I'm not really doing Harvard and Columbia from the "CT" doing it that way (unless I park my Jeep near the CT :) ).

I'll complete the loop at one of those trailheads, since from resupplying at Twin Lakes I should be able to do that section in 2-3 days. That leaves big resupplies at Mt Princeton Springs and Monarch Pass. It'll be a long slog up the west side, but I think I can make it to Twin Lakes from Monarch Pass in 7 days or so since I won't have any side trips to 14ers to do during that part of the loop. I almost thought I should go counter-clockwise, but thought clockwise would be better for me.

Thoughts?
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Jorts
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Re: Mt Harvard & Mt Columbia

Post by Jorts » Sat May 15, 2021 7:01 am

Would you be able to map it out on caltopo? Really helps to visualize it and see any potential hiccups and cruxes.
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Re: Mt Harvard & Mt Columbia

Post by WanderingJim » Sat May 15, 2021 7:52 pm

How about Gaia?

Here's Columbia and Harvard via Frenchman Creek and East Ridges. I chose Wapaca-Lienhart TH because it is closer to the CT and saves some climbing on day one. I'm open to info and suggestions from those who have used the trailheads around Frenchman Creek.
https://www.gaiagps.com/map/?loc=13.5/- ... sterMeters

Here's the same two peaks via Cottonwood Creek and the South and West Ridges.
https://www.gaiagps.com/map/?loc=13.5/- ... sterMeters

The routes are from Gerry Roach's Colorado Fourteeners book.

While the Cottonwood approach is easier at first, since it has to transverse the same ridge line I'd have to navigate from Frenchman Creek, both routes have a mix of class 1 and 2 routes. Although having to re-do that ridge in both directions may piss me off when I do it. :)

I'd be leaving my Jeep wherever I end up starting and hope to make it back to it under my own power after doing the full loop.
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Re: Mt Harvard & Mt Columbia

Post by Jorts » Sun May 16, 2021 7:25 am

Those tracks wouldn't load for me. Seems like a fine route all the same. What are your concerns?
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Re: Mt Harvard & Mt Columbia

Post by WanderingJim » Sun May 16, 2021 9:02 am

Mostly I just wanted to hear from people with boots on the ground knowledge of the routes to know those routes are doable without any class 3-4 surprises. Frenchman route is shorter, but both would be done over two days. Cottonwood would have the benefit of resupplying at my Jeep after the climb, but I'm (fairly) confident I can do the Frenchman route, do Harvard, Columbia, Yale, and Princeton and get to Mt Princeton Hot Springs for resupply in 7 days.

And any trailhead info for the FRENCHMAN CREEK and WAPACE LIENHART trailheads would be useful. I have a Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, so unless the 4WD roads are very bad, I should be able to get to the trailheads.

Here are screenshots of the routes (note that the routes don't show the entire return path):
Image

Image
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Re: Mt Harvard & Mt Columbia

Post by 9patrickmurphy » Sun May 16, 2021 11:01 am

I would say it depends on your priorities. The Frenchman approach requires high-clearance 4WD, 4Lo definitely helps. Camping options are fantastics, I did this approach last 4th of July and had an idyllic campsite right next to the creek in a meadow at 11,600. The trail peters out up high, so it's more of a route-finding kind of route than Horn Fork, and I would say generally a rougher approach. But you'll see WAY fewer people in Frenchman, you might even have it all to yourself. We saw one other group on 4th of July weekend.

Horn Fork has a better trail, easier trailhead access, a lot more people around (could be a good thing if you like the safety factor of more people around).

Opinions about the HC traverse seem to vary wildly on here. My take is don't underestimate it. We did 13,374 and Harvard and wanted to continue to Columbia but Harvard kicked our asses. Granted we were tired from other summits a couple days before but the scrambling along Harvard's east ridge felt like it just wouldn't end and we couldn't imagine going Columbia too. 13,374 added mileage but very little gain and very little effort, maybe added an hour tops.

Hope this info helps.
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Re: Mt Harvard & Mt Columbia

Post by RussellB » Sun May 16, 2021 5:23 pm

I would agree with what 9patrickmurphy said, the Frenchman Creek trail becomes "primitive" just above treeline. Expect to bushwack for some time until the vegetation clears up near the scree and boulders. The hike up Harvard from there should be pretty straightforward. Returning back down the Frenchman creek drainage and traversing over to Columbia will be... a small sufferfest. The scree on the N side of Columbia was just plain miserable in my experience, but I don't think I took a good line. Another possibility is to hike up Harvard via Frenchman Creek, descend Horn Fork trail, stash your gear and food, and ascend the W slopes of Columbia with minimal weight (i.e. just snacks, water, and an extra layer). This would of course be longer and involve more vert, but you would avoid that heinous traverse and skip hauling all of your gear up Columbia. I've also heard a new trail has been established on the W slopes of Columbia, which avoids the old steep and gravelly trail.
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Re: Mt Harvard & Mt Columbia

Post by johnt » Sun May 16, 2021 7:09 pm

Another option - you could camp at Lienhart TH, then dayhike Harvard/Columbia back to your Jeep. From just a little North of where you hit the CT, you can follow the ridge all the way to Harvard. Traverse to Columbia (most people recommend going lower than you actually want to), then take Frenchman's Creek drainage back to the CT. Go North (and up) back to the Lienhart trail and back to the TH. Then start the actual loop the next day.

The Frenchy/Lien road is fairly rough. I've done in my stock 2003 Tacoma, but it takes quite a while.

It's a beautiful valley, as is Horn Fork. As far as views go, you can't go wrong.
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Re: Mt Harvard & Mt Columbia

Post by WanderingJim » Mon May 17, 2021 7:36 pm

RussellB wrote:
Sun May 16, 2021 5:23 pm
I've also heard a new trail has been established on the W slopes of Columbia, which avoids the old steep and gravelly trail.
Gaia shows a Mt Columbia West Slopes trail (shown in purple in my screenshot above).

They also show a Mount Columbia Southwest Coulior trail (dotted line below the purple track above).

Are one of those the new one? The route descriptions on this site show both and list the West Slopes as the "standard route".

At the moment, with all this good info from you all I'm thinking the Horn Fork Basin approach is the one I'll likely do. But still 3 months till mid-August to change my mind. :)

Should I worry about leaving my Jeep at one of the Cottonwood trailheads for 3 weeks?
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Re: Mt Harvard & Mt Columbia

Post by Jorts » Tue May 18, 2021 7:37 am

WanderingJim wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 7:36 pm
Gaia shows a Mt Columbia West Slopes trail (shown in purple in my screenshot above).

They also show a Mount Columbia Southwest Coulior trail (dotted line below the purple track above).

Are one of those the new one? The route descriptions on this site show both and list the West Slopes as the "standard route".
The west slopes used to be dreadful. They're in much better shape now. CFI has done and continues to do work on that trail. I had been looking for the SW approach while I was up there and didn't find it.

I have a photo of the newly restored trail from a run I took up there last year:
https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/triprepo ... trip=20287
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Re: Mt Harvard & Mt Columbia

Post by 9patrickmurphy » Tue May 18, 2021 8:23 am

The SW Couloir is just that: a couloir. It's a snow climb and there is no trail. Gaia is pretty silly sometimes with the routes they have on their base layer map, this being a good example of it. Somebody's going to see that dotted line on the map and think it's a shortcut or unknown trail and go up a stupid loose dried out gully in August. They should really stick to just plotting trails...
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Re: Mt Harvard & Mt Columbia

Post by CaptainSuburbia » Tue May 18, 2021 10:09 am

9patrickmurphy wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 8:23 am
The SW Couloir is just that: a couloir. It's a snow climb and there is no trail. Gaia is pretty silly sometimes with the routes they have on their base layer map, this being a good example of it. Somebody's going to see that dotted line on the map and think it's a shortcut or unknown trail and go up a stupid loose dried out gully in August. They should really stick to just plotting trails...
I saw that route on Gaia and went that way. It wasn't bad.
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