Mt. Harvard  
Condition Updates  
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2022-07-23, By: Madeline1104
Info: Few patches of mud on the trail but otherwise dry. Several downed trees across the trail in the first 5 miles. Lots of mosquitos so bug spray recommended. 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2022-07-17, By: TheSpaceForce
Info: 7-16: We went Columbia - Harvard, and ended up with both summits to ourselves. All snow is avoidable, without crushing tundra, etc. Key note: Most people going in the Harvard - Columbia direction seem to be following an AllTrails route, which apparently says something very different about how to make the traverse than 14ers… recommend studying this route, and relying on your own route-finding skills. Don't follow people who may not know where they're going. 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2022-07-12, By: scott_s
Info: A few wet/mud spots below treeline, generally avoidable. Above treeline, standard routes on Harvard and Columbia are fully dry. Traverse has multiple snow fields, was able to avoid all except 2, needed probably 40 steps in snow total. I brought micro spikes but didn't put them on. What a slog through endless talus, route finding pretty challenging in sections. Thunder/lightning in the vicinity starting at 11:30am (not forecast), get an early start! 
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Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2022-06-20, By: dwoodward13
Info: Small patches of mud below treeline, not a big issue. More extended sections of mud near/at treeline as the trail winds thru willows. Was fairly supportive on Saturday and didn't get the feet wet with trailrunners. Many sections have rocks you can utilize. There is one remaining snow patch near 13.5' that is making a mess of things. Tons of trail braids and hard to even tell where the real trail is (or if this section has an established trail). Some using the braids that avoid the snow, and others going thru snow. Heavy consistent rain from Saturday evening thru Sunday morning. I would expect the mud to be worse given the amount of moisture. 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2022-06-15, By: Tim A
Info: Almost wore trail runners based on previous CR's, but on a hunch checked AllTrails and saw several reports of water on the trail and mud everywhere. Opted for higher-heel waterproof hiking boots and so glad I did. Mud several inches deep for long stretches and running water on the trail in numerous places. If you wear trail runners and are stepping off the trail in all these places to keep your feet dry (for probably a quarter of the 14 miles today), you are the part of the problem. A few significant snowfields bury the trail above 13K' and given their steepness and my lack of axe, I left the trail and followed use trails until I could link back up with the trail. I am part of the problem. A ton of erosion on the south slopes with dozens and dozens of use trails, and the trail from treeline to the base of the talus slope includes several feet of dead vegetation and growing mud on either side of the trail from being trod on. Quite sad to see the Bierstadt effect taking place further and further west. 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2022-06-13, By: samfarmer789
Info: Harvard & Columbia both basically in summer conditions. Some muddy patches and snow patches on the trail up Harvard. The traverse though, definitely need spikes, lots of snow back there. No postholing however! Able to hike up w the spikes. Hard to stay closer to the ridge so we ended up dropping down into the valley, then spiking up the snow fields till we could gain the Columbia ridge. Took a lot longer than we thought for a 2.75 mi traverse. 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2022-06-13, By: Adam_swain
Info: Beautiful day to summit Harvard. Plenty of people and dogs made it to the top. There was some snow on the approach trail that was really just kind of annoying, but it's melting. There was also some small snowfields to traverse on the last mile to the summit. They contributed to some wet socks and muddy boots. Some people said it was helpful to have spikes, but we didn't need them at all. Given another week from when we went, I feel like the snow should be more melted and even slushier. Much of the trail has turned into a confluence with the snowmelt streams, so expect to be walking in a bit of flowing water for a few miles before the talus to the summit. Overall great summit but I would recommend waterproof boots and a change of socks. 
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Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2022-06-11, By: Aphelion
Info: Trail is quite wet by the time you get past the turnoff to Columbia, with numerous snow patches. However, the snow is well-consolidated, and while some may want microspikes gaining the ridge, this is very close to being in full summer condition. Trail runners worked fine. 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2022-06-13, By: blantow
Info: Standard route up Harvard has snow down in the trees that is no factor, and one avoidable steep snow slope up higher that can be either climbed (was in good shape still) or avoided easily by going up a rock band. The standard route on Columbia is completely clear of snow except the aforementioned snow in the trees that is rather pleasant after a hot day. The actual traverse between peaks is in bad shape. The first half of the traverse is clear of mandatory snow fields (easy to avoid the couple small fields) until you hit the East ridge and drop down in elevation. Once you drop down the ridgeline the majority of the route back up to Columbia is snow covered. I hit it mid morning and the snow was absolutely rotten, unpredictable, and dangerous, even with appropriate traction it just was not conducive to traversing/climbing. At this point you're fairly far along the traverse so a retreat back to Harvard isn't a great option, staying high on the traverse instead of following the described route also looked like a bad option. Instead I opted to add a bunch of elevation and some additional mileage by dropping down even further and crossing the basin before heading back up the other side to a bench, I avoided 90% of the snow by doing so and was primarily on rocky ground, not on tundra or fragile terrain. The few short traverses I had to make on the snow were pretty awful though. I would recommend either waiting 2ish weeks before attempting this until the snow melts out more, or leave much earlier than I did as to hit the snow while still frozen/consolidated. 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2022-05-15, By: bsiegs
Info: Started from N. Cottonwood Creek at 6am - no issues getting to TH. From there to the base of Harvard is a mix of dirt and well-traveled snow. Starting up Harvard, there's several large snow fields that were already softening by the time I got there. I put on snowshoes and even used axe for a little bit until reaching the dry boulder areas higher up the mountain. Spent 20 mins on top and then started over to Columbia. The first part of the traverse went fast - dry conditions over to Pt 13516. However, after dropping down the east ridge of 13516, it's pretty much complete snow coverage all the way until rejoining Columbia's ridge for the final summit push. I was watching closely for wet-slide activity given the terrain and how warm it had gotten. It took a while but I was able to make it through OK. The return trail down to the basin from Columbia is buried by snow in certain spots, not a big deal but requires a last bit of mental energy towards the end of an already long day. Start: 6AM Harvard Summit: 11:20AM Columbia Summit: 3:30PM Finish: 7PM 
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Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2021-11-29, By: bdrevlow
Info: Road to the trailhead is clear. Light dusting of snow the last half mile or so to N Cottonwood Creek trailhead. Most of the route into the basin has a few inches of snow, but not enough where snowshoes would be helpful at any point along the route. There is an adequate boot pack within a mile of Harvard. From there to the top, less snow is present. Conditions along the traverse are much less ideal. A bit of hopping around to avoid snow until Point 13516 was fun and manageable. Once we descended to 12800 and approached the two large talus fields, conditions became very challenging. What is depicted as pictures 19-24 on the route description has 16+ inches of snow across the large fields, making for a very time consuming crossing. As we hopped across the fields, we had to clear snow without falling through the openings. There were large swaths within the fields that were completely covered and finding a way to locate and move between boulders was a true challenge. Once we came out of the talus fields, we had to move through unconsolidated uphill snow, knee-thigh deep in some spots. Once we approached the saddle and went up the ridge, it was smooth sailing up to Columbia and down the new trail. Summited Harvard in under 4 hours, the traverse was 5+ hours. 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2021-10-30, By: RWSchaffer
Info: Only a few inches of snow fell in the last storm cycle, and they were rapidly melting both below timberline and, especially, on the south facing slopes that hold this route. Alternating stretches of clear trail and tracked snow led to the base of Harvard, whose slopes held very little snow (photo 1). It was necessary to connect cairns and trail segments in a few places where snowfields hid the trail below summit (photo 2), but it was still possible and desirable to follow the summer trail almost all the way to the summit. There were a few knee deep postholes and some shin deep postholing, but most of the snow was only ankle deep. Spikes were useful for occasional patches of hard slab and icy stream crossings (photo 3). 
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Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2021-10-23, By: 14ercooper
Info: Pretty good conditions still. Lots of smaller snow patches on the route, and a few bigger ones. Didn't feel the need to put my spikes or gaiters on at any time, but my waterproof shoes were very much appreciated (non-waterproof shoes will get soaked). 
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Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2021-10-19, By: Athiel
Info: The road to the trailhead was clear of snow and in good conditions except one spot that a Crosstrek cleared. The actual trail was slushy and icy in the a.m. We used traction at the base of the final pushes. Snow was about ankle deep, gaiters would have been helpful. Trail runners will get wet FYI. Otherwise, it was a bluebird day with no wind. 
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2021-10-17, By: Gpacardella
Info: Road snow free to TH, except for shady areas that were dusted. About 1" of snow periodically on trail until Bear Lake junction above tree line. Where I put on spikes and gaiters, both of which were critical for me. Had to post-hole up main route to summit. 3 other guys were ahead of me but they attained the ridge/saddle earlier than the main route, so I had to break my own trail since I didn't follow them. They were the only other people I saw all day. The traverse was very difficult in the snow. People should refer to the traverse as a Moraine Field, not Talus slopes. Huge car-sized boulders that never end, surrounded by very dangerous snow surprises. Stepping in the snow was a gamble so I tried to only step on snow covered boulders. Very tedious but thankfully I eventually found the 3 guys footprints, and bloody hand prints. I hope their injury wasn't too bad but I followed the blood trail to the summit of Columbia and beyond. Thank you to those guys because the cairns are only 6" - 12" tall and I would have never found them before dark. Very sketchy hike in general and a bad decision for me to go solo. Be safe 
2
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2021-10-12, By: Mark Goldstein
Info: The road up and trailhead were all dry up to the summit. Several stream crossings noted. The morning temperature was 30 degrees at treeline. The summit was 43 degrees. No wind noted. Clear weather and sunshine throughout the day. 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2021-09-26, By: mncgray
Info: Excellent day on Harvard, first time on it but I would do a return trip on this one. All sun and no wind/smoke. Left TH 7:30a and returned 3:30p. Could have made it back quicker, however weather and folks on summit super nice so we hung out there for quite a while. 
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Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2021-08-15, By: cvbuffs
Info: Hit Harvard and Columbia on Saturday, August 14 via the traverse route going from Harvard to Columbia. Trail up to Harvard is in great shape with multiple water sources along the way. Backpacked in 3.5 miles the night before and setup camp in a little open field about .3 miles from the Harvard/Columbia trail split. After summiting Harvard my climbing partner and I determined that the weather was good and we had enough water (2.5 liters each) to give it a shot. Route starts simple enough as you scramble off the summit and start making your way toward the ridgeline between the two peaks. You eventually pick up an easy to follow trail for the next 30 minutes before coming to the to the far southern ridge of Harvard. From there it is choose your own adventure down. We probably stayed on the ridge a little longer than the description states but the rocks/terrain was pretty solid heading down towards the gully. It had taken us about an hour until this point. We also heard a spring flowing and took the time to top off our water which was for the best given how long the remaining route would take. Rather than go as low into the gully as described, we followed the spring down and then stayed a bit higher aiming towards grassy area where the boulder field starts. After scrambling a bit to get in position right under the rabbit ears we headed straight up. Rocks we big and solid and I would classify this section as difficult class 2 until you reach the area above 13k described in the route summary. From there we followed the grass and some noticeable cairns until we reached the north ridgeline of Columbia; it had taken us around 2.5 hours until this point. Unfortunately the weather had started to take a turn and a large dark cloud had settled over the Columbia summit. Knowing there isn't a bailout on this route, we made the decision to traverse back off the ridge and around the grassy area towards the east ridge of Columbia with the idea that we could stay lower than the summit and link up with the standard trail down the west slope. About halfway up the east ridge the weather blew out and left us with a nice weather window to summit. This detour probably added an extra hour and another 400-500ft in elevation but in hindsight it was certainly the safest decision if the weather had not improved. There wasn't much of a trail on the east slope but plenty easy to pick a few points and scramble over solid talus fields until finally reaching the summit. In totally it took us 3:45 to make it from Harvard to Columbia, but I would be willing to bet we would have summited in around 2:45-3 hours without our detour due to the weather. From the top back down to our camp took 1:15. Most of the recent trip reports call out the top portion of Columbia still be loose and pretty treacherous which I would attest to. Not as bad as Challenger's north slope, but pretty slow going to make sure you have good footing for about 30-40 minutes until reaching the restored trail made by the CFI, which sounds like a huge improvement from year's past. Couple of notes on the traverse: - Make sure you have plenty of water and know the weather is going to be good. There are no bailouts on this route so once you commit to heading down the south ridge of Harvard you pretty much have to finish. The water source on the south slope of Harvard was great and allowed us to top off; we would have made it back down Columbia without it but would have likely been dry not far off the top of the second peak. - Boulder fields are super solid. Might seem like a bit of a grind but I found this section to be a nice change of pace and allows you to get creative in your routes. You can also take very direct lines and gain a lot of elevation quickly. - Noticed a couple of dogs going up Harvard, which I don't think I would recommend. While Harvard ins't very technical, the last section to the top is not dog friendly and there was a gentleman that needed help getting his dog up/down. Also pretty frustrating to see a number of dog poop bags left along the trail, as well as unbagged poop. Should be pretty self explanatory with the LNT mentality, but super frustrating to see people not take care of the trails even if it just means sweeping your pets poop off the trail if you've run out of bags. - In the event you do need to bailout after committing, once getting on top fo the boulder field neat 13k stick to the left to go up the east ridge of Columbia. Still high, but keeps you from needing to go over the summit and you should be able to cross over to the standard route down, or in a real pinch head down the SE ridge to get out of trouble. If you do want to do both peaks and aren't sure of your fitness or the weather, I would recommend heading down Harvard and summiting Columbia via the standard route. More water supply options and easier to turn back if bad weather hits or you hit a wall. 
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Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2021-08-06, By: amitchell
Info: I climbed from Columbia to Harvard 8/5/2021. There is a lot of loose rock, especially on the gully just North of the low point. For that reason, I would recommend bringing a helmet, even if climbing solo. Even though the route is said to be class 2, I found myself making a lot of class 3 moves (using my arms to support myself while scrambling). I think the only reason this isn't actually a class 3 route is because of the lack of exposure. I found that there was no point on the route where falling or slipping would have resulted in death (maybe just some really bad injuries). 
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Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2021-08-05, By: marcusmartin
Info: Arrived at the North Cottonwood Creek TH at 4:45 am. The lot was pretty full of cars but we did find an open spot to park. Several muddy spots between the TH and the cut off to Columbia from the recent rains. But you can largely avoid them. They should be dried out in the next few days. All the stream crossings were fine. Shorts and t-shirts on the summit. No wind. Warm. Beautiful. 
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