Mt. Harvard  
Condition Updates  
 
Route: Via Frenchman Creek
Posted On: 2021-01-14, By: HikesInGeologicTime
Info: Used snowshoes on descent to reinforce trench to treeline. It is (was) possible to boot up with minimal postholing as long as we used poles to probe for the packed-down portion of the trail through the meadows, but it was rather narrow in places. Winds were fierce as we descended in the afternoon, however, so there may be a bit to a lot of drifting. It may be possible to keep the ridge from 14,000' to the summit to Class 3 with a lot of careful routefinding, but be prepared for some brief sections of Class 4 of you stay ridge direct and for lots of snow if you stick to the sides. We avoided a steep downclimb on rocks by kicking steps into a steep snowfield on the north side of the ridge (which I thought was fun, especially as my partner had already kicked the steps in for me), and another group had apparently done the same not far from our tracks. Be prepared for a long day and a lot of false summits if you take this route - this was by far my most challenging snowflake to date! 
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Route: Frenchman Creek
Posted On: 2021-01-04, By: PeakSixTD
Info: Gate is closed about half a mile up the road from 24 making the summit a hefty 19 mile trip. There is currently a fantastic trench to treeline. It had been tracked before we lead a group of 5 through. It is now a super highway. There is some signs of natural slide activity in the basin above treeline. Steer clear of any questionable slopes. Basin is heavily windblown so there are several options to gain the ridge without subjecting yourself to much avy danger. Snow on the ridge is poor quality. We had to go up and over the rock towers to gain the summit. This was a bit tricky, but manageable with good route finding skills. 
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Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2020-12-27, By: angry
Info: Trench was still in for first couple miles. Beyond that, it was wind blown. Commenced trail breaking in snowshoes to ~13,500. Stashed em and booted up last 900 feet to summit. On descent, my tracks were wind blown all the way to tree line. With incoming storm, suspect any tracks above tree line nonexistent and below tree line, perhaps first couple miles will remain depending on snow totals. I would also suspect that one would no longer be able to make it all the way to N. Cottonwood Creek. 
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Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2020-12-26, By: jscully205
Info: Trench to tree line helped immensely trudging up in the early a.m Thanks! I reinforced with it a good skin track and some day recreational folks really stomped it in to the second bridge. Stayed on top of snow through Horn Fork and cached skis below first ridge. Found snow mostly unsupportive from the 13k plateau to summit. A ton of trap-doors, post holing, and playing hop scotch on rocks. Wouldn't be a bad idea to keep your snowshoes on the entire way. 
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Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2020-12-23, By: Eagle Eye
Info: I went up Mt Harvard yesterday. There were recent ski and boot tracks up until the bridge ~1.4 miles in. From there on up I needed snowshoes and the trail through the woods could often barely be detected in drifts. Edit/Question: Does anyone know when the (new-looking) sign got put up for the Mt Columbia trail fork off of this trail? The trail fork place had been the subject of talk & confusion for years. For low impact reasons that was a great idea, since there had ended up being MANY forks. 
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Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2020-12-05, By: bmcqueen
Info: Thanks to AustinV, there is a nice trench to the summit. Thanks Austin and nice to meet you up there! Snowshoes were necessary from about tree line to the ridge. 
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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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