Mt. Columbia  
Condition Updates  
 
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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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-09-22, By: scrambling
Info: The Road: It's not that bad. Early on there is a fairly deep, perpendicular ditch/swale that cannot be avoided and could be a problem for a vehicle with low clearance. After that, there are some rough, rocky patches that cannot be avoided (but aren't too bad) and numerous potholes that can be avoided. There are also several lengthy stretches where the road is in pretty good shape. Dust is minimal. Also, the aspens are turning and will probably be at their peak over the next week or two. It's a pretty drive, especially right now. The Trail: From the trailhead at 9,600' to the end of the CFI improvements at 12,900' it is a beautiful, Class 1 trail that is 99% dry. The next 600 vertical feet of scree is annoying and slippery, but dry. Although not easy, a use trail through this section is easy to follow. There is some snow on the relatively long summit ridge, but it is either avoidable or easily traversed. The Photos: #1, ditch/swale in the road. #2, CFI improved trail above 11,600. #3, scree/use trail above 12,900 #4, summit ridge 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-09-21, By: kcslivka
Info: The trail seems to be improving as more distance and sunshine are gained from the early September storm. Very little mud or snow on the mild ascent toward Horn Fork Basin--all the snow is in the pictures attached, as well as photos of the general trail shape, which is very good. Some snow at the final approach to the summit, but it can be avoided and was well packed through when I climbed. As others mentioned, an excellent new trail, primarily switchbacks and steps, through most of the route once it cuts off from the main trail up the basin. There's about a mile, between miles 5 and 6 by my tracker, of steep-n'-slide above the current end of the new CFI trail work. I'd recommend a pole or two to help with the descent back through this section. Though I didn't take it, the route between Harvard and Columbia looks very good--a general photo is attached. With the new trail, my GPS counted a 13.1-mile round trip and 4,250 feet of elevation gain. Not sure how accurate these devices are, but I'd guess it's in the ball park. I consider myself a medium-fast climber, and it took me 6.5 hours from trailhead to trailhead. Thank you to CFI and its network of volunteers and sponsors for doing the hard work that allows the rest of us to better enjoy our public lands! 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-09-18, By: sigepnader
Info: Muddy at the beginning before bridges. Snow on ridge before summit but can be avoided. The new trail..AMAZING. 
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Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2020-09-21, By: smchasta
Info: Traverse is absolutely terrible right now. Snow covering the talus field and very unstable. Turns into boulder hopping and the snow is not stable enough to step onto the unknown. Plan 4 hours for the traverse if you absolutely want to do it. Alternatively, you can travel down the grass below the traverse and up the ridge above the usual approach with limited snow. I'd go this way instead of the talus field right now. 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-09-02, By: Melinda27
Info: Wow! I cannot imagine what the route was like up Columbia before CFI made the amazing trail. Reading other reports before I hiked, I worried a little about the near top section that others had said was steep. It wasn't as bad as I imagined. After a light dusting of snow which melted for my trip down, it made the dirt a little tacky which was helpful. This is quite an impressive mountain. Once you get off the Horn Fork Basin trail it is up up up so be mentally ready! But the trail the CFI made is incredible. Also be ready on your descent, once you get back to the main trail, it is a deceivingly long return to the car which is a testament to the trail up that really packs HUGE elevation gain in a short bit. Spectacular views of Yale and Harvard and nearby lakes. Some of the others were obscured by thick clouds. The road to the TH was indeed rougher than I remembered from 2018 but made it in a Subaru Outback. This mountain will be near and dear to my heart as I waited two years to do it! Enjoy this beast with it's rewarding views! 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-08-25, By: Mzapo
Info: Trail is in great condition up until the loose dirt encountered about 2/3rds the way up to the ridge, but just requires a bit of hard work and patience to make it past there. I got to the trailhead in a dodge charger without bottoming so it is doable, just ensure you are vigilant over the big rut others have mentioned and go over the rocks others have built up in it. Overall, a long gradual trek through the forest, followed by a short but steep climb up to the ridge, then a scramble to the summit 0.50 miles or so past the ridge. Gorgeous hike and thank you to CFI for working hard to make the adventure amazing! 
 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-08-25, By: swesleyc7
Info: Conditions are fair... the nearby CO fires are making the atmosphere noticeably hazy. I'm not sure how good the air quality is, but I did feel my sinuses were more dry and I sneezed a bit. Side note: is the CMC revising the standard route? I noticed the GPS route we walked on the well-laid trail is different from that of the "west slope" route shown on the topo map. 
 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2020-08-15, By: SmoothTurns
Info: Road to TH really does require good clearance right now (at least a Subaru, but preferably Tacoma/Xterra/4Runner type). Folks at the trailhead in sedans have to be messing up their vehicles. Hike was fantastic. Really can't understate how well done the "new" West Slopes are up to about 13k feet. It's steep and loose above 13k. Luckily it wasn't crowded on the trail considering it was a Saturday. People were definitely sending loose rocks down the hill. Smoke wasn't too bad. A little haze early, and actually pretty clear after 10am. From the summit the smoke looked REALLY bad to the North. 
 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2020-08-10, By: Been_Jammin
Info: Fact(s): Summer conditions Opinion(s): This is not a good route for the doggo. My doggo is a beast on the trail and I'm glad I didn't bring him. Yes it is class 2, but there is a lot of movement through talus on undefined trail/route which just isn't dog friendly. I felt bad for some of the furry friends I saw yesterday. 
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