Mt. Columbia  
Condition Updates  
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2021-04-12, By: Eagle Eye
Info: Yesterday 4/11 I summited Mt Columbia starting 1.5 miles from the N. Cottonwood TH. Made use of recent ski tracks and in the morning cold only used micro spikes until switching to snowshoes at the first big opening -around 11k feet. Snowshoed to tree line. I didn't see any travelled fork going to Mt Columbia off the main trail so I continued on the Horn Fork trail and then backtracked down toward the route. Left snowshoes there and switched to micro spikes for the rest of the way up. I used the new traverse trail low on the west shoulder to start with, then mostly avoided snowfields & connected with other switchbacks higher to reach the summit ridge. Lots of snow along the summit ridge but still easily travelled. I didn't see anyone on Mt Columbia's SE ridge or on Mt Harvard. I will attach two pictures very soon. Mike Via 
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Route: Southeast Ridge
Posted On: 2021-04-03, By: NatDog
Info: Trail was mostly dry up until the second switchback on the CT. We put on snowshoes near 10,500' and kept them on until 12,100'. The snow was typically supportive in the morning. After that there were several snowfields on the ridge. These could usually be avoided but when crossed the postholing wasn't too bad. The only real snowfield that was unavoidable was the last 100' or so to the summit. The descent from 12,000' to 10,000' was the most treacherous of the day, as expected. Postholing was up to the hips while wearing snowshoes. It was a beautiful day, albeit warm. Saw one other party of two ascending the final section of ridge as we were descending. 
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Route: Southeast Ridge
Posted On: 2021-03-20, By: NatDog
Info: I did not summit today but here is my report of the conditions up to near tree line. I parked a mile below the trailhead but I did see two Subarus that made it all the way up to Harvard Lakes TH. Snow was patchy up the switchbacks and I didn't need my snowshoes until just after exiting the CT up onto the ridge, near 10,000'. The snow from here to tree line was deep, and it appears no one had been up this way since last week's storm. I tried to stay just to the right of the ridge center, but the snow on this side was deeper than staying directly on the ridge crest, which was my preferred route whenever fallen trees and branches allowed. The deepest snow was between ~10,500' and ~11,300'. This section took way more time and energy than I had anticipated. I reached close to tree line hoping to see that I would be able to stash my snowshoes and power my way up the rest of the way, but the snow cover up the ridge to Pt. 12042 looked pretty dense to me so I decided to call it here and come back another day. Photos are in order from where I turned around to the start of the CT at the main TH. 
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Route: Southeast Ridge
Posted On: 2021-03-07, By: mountainlion
Info: Great winter day on Columbia with low to medium wind. We parked about half a mile shy of the CT trailhead. The trench off of the CT is pretty well defined now, although includes a little bushwhacking. The ridge is endless, but the views from the top are quite amazing. We brought flotation, didn't use it, stashed it around treeline. Wore spikes pretty much the whole way. Afternoon melting snow brought postholing on the way back, even at the trench. Logged 13 miles 5500 gain, took us ~12 hours RT 
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Route: Southeast Ridge
Posted On: 2021-02-28, By: graberz
Info: What a beautiful day on Columbia. We made it .6 miles from trailhead and used a pull off with one other 4x4 there. The road was packed down with Tire Tracks to just slightly beyond our parking spot in the morning, but there were fresh tire tracks past the trailhead by the time we made it down. There is now a pretty solid trench in. Spots of ice early on the switch backs, snow shoes were used at some point making our way through the Forrest up to tree line. We just used spikes from tree line to summit. Probably About 9-10 people summited today. It took us 11 hours round trip, re breaking trail In the morning, breaks and many layer changes. Logged: 5300 ft 12.5 miles 
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Route: Southeast Ridge
Posted On: 2021-02-21, By: RobLowe
Info: Chaffee 365 packed down. CO trail visible former trench. Leaving CO trail to gain SE ridge no former trench. Wore flotation from 9,200' to 11,700'. Travel is quick once you gain the ridge. 
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Route: Southeast Ridge
Posted On: 2021-02-12, By: Will_E
Info: Summitted Columbia today. Temps were reasonable, 30° to start, 14° at summit, but wind was pretty nuts, particularly on descent. I parked at the start of the National Forest boundary, about a mile from the Colorado trail. Looked like a few vehicles ventured further down the road with mixed results. Its an easy walk from that parking area. I used snowshoes from where you leave the Colorado trail, I could make out faint sections of a former trench, but by the time I came down, much of my trench was gone, it was really windy today. Past treeline I ditched snowshoes, didn't need any traction from there to summit, its mostly windblown. 
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Route: Southeast Ridge
Posted On: 2021-02-01, By: drop_bear
Info: Was able to make it just under a mile from the trailhead. Road and CT is well packed. Booted up to where the trench for the SE ridge splits off. Snowshoes from there till treeline (it looked like someone tried to boot up the trench with limited success). Trench was in for 60%, I kept losing it where the wind blown snow covered it up, but it was a big help when I could find it. Thanks to everyone that helped establish the trench! Ridge above treeline was almost completely dry, a nice tundra walk. Where the ridge turns north and gets a bit skinnier, you have to deal with snow and rock, but it was no issue. 
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Route: Southeast Ridge
Posted On: 2021-01-22, By: HikesInGeologicTime
Info: We used faint traces of the old, filled-in trench as a guideline to establish a new one up to treeline - hope someone makes use of it before it gets completely filled in again. Above treeline, the ridge has occasional patches of snow, but not consistent or deep enough to warrant traction and/or flotation. NOAA seriously underestimated the amount of wind and patchy blowing snow on the upper part of the ridge yesterday, which made traversing it interesting, but there is nothing technically difficult about this route if you stick to the path of least resistance. Still made for a very long day thanks to the trenching and all the ups and downs along the ridge. One of our group lost a pair of sunglasses with a leather nosepiece on the summit ridge; please PM me if found. 
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Route: Southeast Ridge
Posted On: 2021-01-12, By: Cide
Info: CT to ridge start has minimal snow that can be booted up. Two of us broke a trench up the ridge and added on to another trench that joined the route near tree line. We did not go past 12.3k before turning back. Our trench starts just a ways down from the true ridge turnoff but it gets onto the ridge and tries to be centered. Use it while you can! 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-12-23, By: angry
Info: Big ups to Vimana Aircraft and Conor for agreeing to do this with a most promising forecast of 65mph winds and -40 windchill. Columbia looks dry from afar, but alas it is not. We broke trail to tree line, opting to avoid the ridge route due to high winds and instead did a variation of the West Slope by ascending a line between the SW col and Horn Fork Basin avoiding suspect snowfield. Did not use flotation or traction. Snow varies from 6 inches to knee deep. We intersected the West Slope trail around ~12K, which was wind scoured in some sections and snow covered in others all way to summit. Full value day. 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-12-08, By: Squirrellysquirrel
Info: Started out in spikes for an icy, yet well-established trail from N Cottonwood TH to junction point where West Slope for Columbia branches off, and then it's a bit chunky monkey/moderate post holing to the tree line; brought my snowshoes, chose not to use the entire trek due to laziness, probably would expedite and flatten this portion of the trail considerably. Talus field and bottom 2/3rds of shoulder trail is a mix of windblown and sugar snow, upper 1/3 of the new trail has a few snow fields that consisted of persistent hard and then soft slab (afternoon) on top of unconsolidated snow, ranging from a few inches to knee deep in spots. I didn't trust the snow fields at the top at all and made a B-line to the West Corridor route and ascended climber's right along the boulder cluster (see photo 4). Rock hopped to summit and, on the way back, decided to use parts of the “old” West Slope to avoid the suspect snow fields back to the lower 2/3rds of the new CFI trail, which looks excellently constructed btw. Boots and poles from summit back to TH. Multiple bighorn sheep and mountain goat sightings, too! Used spikes, gaiters, poles, and ice axe for safety up top. Recon: West Corridor route looks super dry from treeline to nearly the top where it flattens out for remainder of 1/2 mile to summit, nobody has attempted this route from the main trail to date. French glen looks windblown and doable. Combination route to Harvard looks clear and windblown with some snow patches, looks good if you want to do a multi snow day trip or in a single day to test your endurance. 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-11-09, By: Midwestlungs
Info: A little late getting this out. Main reason for post is to point out that the West Slopes main route report is way wrong. If you follow the report, the split in the trail to take to Columbia should be about 3.1 miles in. It is actually closer to 3.8 miles where you will see a sign pointing to Harvard and Colombia. I spent 20 minutes twice heading down the trail thinking I'd missed the turnoff. Elevation of where you would think you'd turn off to Columbia is actually higher than the route report suggests by a couple hundred feet. Overall my trip was 12.6 miles not the 11.5 on the route report. Though about .2 extra was from me looking for the trail split. A couple that passed me near the trail split also were confused by the mileage...Great trip other than that with 50% dry trail and 50% packed snow/ice. Obviously that will have changed now 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-11-07, By: Bigpapa
Info: Snow and some ice at low elevation. Trail to the top clear and mostly dry above tree line with some small patches of snow above tree line. 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-11-06, By: Bigpapa
Info: Snow and some ice at low elevation. Trail to the top clear and mostly dry above tree line with some small patches of snow above tree line. 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-10-12, By: MountainManta1
Info: A light snowfall on 10/11/2020 covered portions of the trail. The route varies from bare, to covered by half an inch, to ankle deep. Only challenge was locating the right turns after the Columbia/Harvard junction which has new signage. I brought spikes but never put them on. I was the lone soul on the mountain this morning on a windy day. 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-10-08, By: mtgoatmike
Info: Trail thru the forest has multiple streams and creek crossings that are flowing. The trail itself is dry, except for a small patch of snow on the saddle between the false summit and true summit. 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-10-08, By: marcusmartin
Info: CR 365 to the North Cottonwood TH is completely smooth and any vehicle can make it without a problem. I arrived in my standard 4 Runner at 8:00 am and there were two cars in the lot. Picture 1 is the first sign ~1 mile, go right to "Harvard" for Mt. Columbia; Picture 2 is the new sign at ~3 miles, go right to Mt. Columbia. From ~11,500' to ~12,600' the new trail work of the CFI is truly outstanding - THANK YOU CFI!! See Pictures 3 - 6. From the shoulder ~12,700' to the ridge ~13,600' is very loose rock and dirt; it's pretty much vertical - tough section!. Poles are strongly recommended, esp. on the decent. See Pictures 7-10. Turn left at the top of the ridge for the 1/2 mile to the Summit. Trail is somewhat difficult to follow and very rocky on the final approach to the Summit. I was alone on the Summit for 1/2 hour. Saw 3 other hikers all day. Summer conditions; no snow. T-Shirt on the Summit. See Summit Pictures 11-14. 
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Route: West 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. 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-09-30, By: ncxhjhgvbi
Info: The trail is great and easily runnable on the way down - really appreciate all of the great work! It seems CFI has broken down most of camp but still have some gear left in the basin. They shuttled a number of horses (6-8 maybe?) up and down today to bring down the gear from camp. I would expect they have another day or two left, and they'll probably finish by the end of the week. I thought it was worth mentioning this for 2 reasons: 1) I had my dog with me and she had never seen a horse before. She was understandably a little freaked out, but on leash so it wasn't a big deal. The group also had a working dog with them that didn't take kindly to another dog being within 20 yards of his "flock". 2) There is quite a lot of manure on the trail up to the Columbia split. 
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