Mt. Harvard  
Condition Updates  
 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2020-10-18, By: salmanalsaif
Info: Winds mostly above treeline and stronger near the summits. Had a few gusts that shoved me aside, but overall not a big problem as it was relatively warm (worse parts are in the shade). Up to Harvard and coming down from Columbia the trail is dry. However the traverse is mixed. I brought spikes but didn't use them because the snowy parts mostly felt like you just punch through them, no sure if spikes can help there. I tried to avoid the snow as much as possible, and it mostly worked. At the beginning of the traverse, I just skipped the first snow and went straight down. Next section after that was short so just walked it (one of the few where spikes can help). The next major snowy area, near the rabbit (~1 mile from Columbia), I totally screwed that up. In trying to avoid the snow ended up in extremely dangerous/unstable terrain, and still had to traverse a few snow fields. Near the Columbia summit, that snow field wasn't an issue. Avoided it as much as possible until the end, then I traversed about 30 ft on all fours. Basically, it's still very doable, just exercise good judgment. My errors ended up making it a 17 mile, 12 hr trek (and lots of scrambling, which I'm ok with). 
 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2020-10-18, By: Kody Aigner
Info: Straight up summer conditions. Plenty of water flowing from the trailhead to the stream that you have to cross 4 or so miles in, but that last one may be frozen in the morning. 
 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2020-10-08, By: mtgoatmike
Info: The forest section has multiple stream and creek crossings that are flowing. The trail above treeline is completely dry. 
 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2020-10-05, By: scrambling
Info: An update on the road to the trailhead. Good news!! The perpendicular gully washout across the road that may have presented a clearance problem for some vehicles has been filled in and smoothed out with base material and fist-sized aggregate. The same material application and grading has been applied to several other rough and rocky patches in the first half of the road (up to the Colorado Trail parking area). The last half of the road (which is not as steep) was and remains in good shape. Thus the entire road is now (IMO) quite easily traversed by a low-clearance, sedan-type vehicle. In fact, although I would not recommend it, a Mini Cooper could probably make it up to the Harvard-Columbia trailhead without much problem. Bottom line, this is a significant improvement. In other road news, the Aspen leaves are now definitely past their peak, but still quite pleasing to the eye for, probably, another week or two at least. 
 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2020-10-02, By: hockypck13
Info: Summer conditions to Harvard. The traverse has a little bit of snow but you do not need flotation or traction at all whatsoever. MAYBE a single trekking pole but honestly you can avoid the snow or just walk over it just fine with a good hard kick. Columbia is summer conditions as well! 
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Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2020-09-24, By: gretchhhh
Info: Trail is in summer conditions. Traction was not necessary for Harvard but there was lingering snow on the traverse to Columbia 
 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2020-09-22, By: ncxhjhgvbi
Info: Just wanted to add a bit of info on the traverse. I got about 100 yards down the ridge from Harvard and turned around. Conditions may be better further along, but up top there was a lot of uncondolidated sugar snow and I punched through a few times up to my knee between large boulders. Certainly one can stay on only rocks for awhile, but it would definitely add to the tediousness of an already tedious route. There were other steps in the snow, so it would seem it has been done before. I just didn't want to risk punching through and breaking an ankle up there...and a chicken fried steak from Jan's was calling my name... 
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Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2020-09-23, By: Alan Ellis
Info: Trail up Harvard is dry and clear. 
 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2020-09-22, By: Alan Ellis
Info: Trail up Harvard is dry and clear. 
 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2020-09-20, By: kristin_palumbo
Info: Fantastic day! Summer conditions. There are a couple of insignificant patches of snow along the route. Fall colors were coming in. I did not traverse to Columbia but for anyone looking for info on the traverse, from what I saw, traction would be necessary. Happy hiking! 
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Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2020-09-21, By: smchasta
Info: Route was pretty smooth. Some snow at the base near North Cottonwood trailhead and the trails are wet. Above treeline a little bit of snow but easy to manage without gear. 
 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2020-09-12, By: jessrest1208
Info: The trail up until the Basin has been boot packed and is solid snow/soft ice in the morning. Deep pockets of snow off the trail on the shoulder, but trail is visible—some post holing. Possible without microspikes but they make the trip easier. Snow is melting quickly and the entire trail down was a giant stream/mud-slush puddle. 
 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2020-08-31, By: ellenmseb
Info: the columbia new trail is almost complete. Trail crew was there working. at the very top, it's loose dirt; I think they're planning to add some solid rocks at the top like at the bottom. I don't really understand why it's so emphasized that this is a "LONG DAY". it's exactly as long as its distance and elevation gain indicate, i.e. shorter than KC/challenger, wett/unc, or any of the great traverses when you consider time for scrambling on the traverses. There is no need to camp for H/C unless you want to. H-C traverse direction recommendation: currently, I would mildly recommend the normal direction, Harvard->Columbia; even though this site's recommendation is the opposite. Really, either way will work. Harvard->Columbia pros & cons - pro: allows you to ski down some loose dirt on columbia - pro: steeper descent, less-steep ascent - pro: slightly easier routefinding - pro: encounter fewer parties when you go the same direction as everyone. - con: Slightly later 2nd summit - con: The amazing view of yale is to your back when ascending Harvard. Cold & snowy day, which probably applies to all peaks in Colorado: - Painful hailstorm at 1pm. - Slippery rocks due to invisible ice and frozen moss in until ~9am. 
 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2020-08-29, By: coopereitel
Info: There is a new sign indicating the cutoff for Columbia off the trail (new as of the 25th of July the last time I was there). The traverse was really cool and definitely a harder class 2 depending on your route finding skills. Only saw 3 people going north on the traverse, one scouting Nolan's. The trail is bomber down Columbia so don't let that affect your planning that much. It said we were supposed to get rain in the aft but it came well before noon. Thankfully there was no thunder or lightning, I can't say the same for downrange. It looked like they got it good. Always have a backup plan. This is one I would do again. I started at 4:00, summitted Harvard at 7:20, Columbia at 10:20 after the traverse, then car at 1:30. 
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Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2020-08-15, By: adventurerunner
Info: Starting around 12000 ft (5 am), the wildfire haze and ash in the air started to become apparent. It only seemed to get worse as I approached the summit before sunrise. 30 minutes after sunrise (6:45 am), it still smelled as if a there was a campfire directly next to me on the summit. As I headed back to the trail head, the haze seemed to thin out around 12000 ft again (8 am). I couldn't tell if it's keeping at the higher elevations or if winds were blowing it in/out of the basin. You can smell it between treeline and the trail head at times. I'm not sure how long it'll stay, but those with lung issues better hold off for now. 
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Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2020-08-14, By: Roxandnate
Info: Did traverse with my two kids (13 and 15) and a friend (14). Outstanding weather and summer conditions. Pretty quiet - perhaps 6 other parties on trail to Harvard and we encountered no others doing traverse in our direction. 12 hours total with lots of stops for breaks and time at summit (no rush due to perfect weather). The traverse is slow going, as described but not a problem if you follow the description. Encountered one couple backtracking after they realized there was no trail! A note in response to earlier report that suggests waiting until the upper portion of Columbia is finished: We spoke to CFI crews on the way down and they said this is the last season of the project and there are no plans to improve the Columbia trail above 13,000'. Finally, I would definitely not want to attempt to drive to trailhead in a 2WD passenger car despite dry road. 
 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2020-07-30, By: jryor121
Info: Trail is pretty mud-prone for the first 5ish miles until getting up to the rock scramble once outside of the camping areas. Hiked it for the sunset, which was beautiful, until I had to do the traverse to Columbia in the complete dark. Overall, normal conditions, just beware of leftover mud from previous rains. 
 
Route: Mt Harvard/Mt Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2020-07-26, By: seayachter
Info: Full summer conditions on both peaks. Finished the route in monsoon by N Cottonwood Creek. Just under 7 hours moving time for the 16 miles plus a little time on both summits. It was cool bagging both of these in one go, but if you're considering this route, you must want and to be ready for a big mental/physical challenge. The route finding on the backside of the ridge connecting the peaks is slow going and takes longer than you think. These peaks are already difficult and great on their own. 
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Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2020-07-26, By: Carsonj20
Info: I don't know how you can say you can keep the final pitch to class two if you take plenty of time and still call the route low route finding. There are washouts everywhere along the way that look like trails very easy to get lost everyone we talked to lost the trail (including us). The whole part about you can keep it to class two is not true. The blocks are slick and the class three moves required were harder than anything I did on Kelso ridge the day before. A fall here would mess you up bad. It baffles me how this isn't easy class 3 between Lindsey and Kit carson 
 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2020-07-16, By: MtnBart01
Info: Trail good up to Harvard trail leading to Columbia easy to follow until getting to the actual traverse. I went too far around 13516' as what appeared to be the trail leading down was slick. I ended up where it appears most people go down which is much more than class 2. I had to cross a couple snow fields with my route, but it wasn't terrible. I got hailed on and a little rain by the rabbit, but no thinder until I got to the car. You will get tired of talus and scree and I would echo others comments in that the top of Columbia going down is about as bad as going down Bross if you do that combo clockwise. The wildflowers and the trail where maintenance was completed was a joy for tired legs. It took me about the same amount of time as doing the Barr Trail last month including the extra 3 miles from parking across town thinking the shuttle would be running. I took the advice of others and brought trekking crutches which was helpful, but it couldn't be that bad I did it in a pair of worn out Vibram Fivefingers. The road is not too bad except for a mile or two in which is rutted badly and was difficult to navigate in my commuter Hyundai AWD Tuscon. 
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