Mt. Columbia  
Condition Updates  
Route: Harvard and Columbia Traverse
Posted On: 2022-06-25, By: Skimo95
Info: Backside of traverse is still holding some consolidated snow. Route from Harvard to Oxford/Belford is summer conditions. Started at N Cottonwood Creek, dropping into Pine, and descending Missouri Gulch 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2022-06-21, By: brchristensen
Info: Road to trailhead is in great condition, 2WD. No snow worth mentioning. Typical spring conditions with occasional mud and small streams. Easily bypassed, trail 99% dry. Some downed trees before the Harvard / Columbia split, fairly easy to step over or bypass. Overly friendly marmot on the trail, watch your snacks! The high winds made the ridge miserable, definitely one to avoid on higher wind days. 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2022-06-14, By: subalpine_style
Info: Little bits of snow in the trees, completely dry above about 11.6, summer conditions. 
Route: Southwest Couloir
Posted On: 2022-05-31, By: ChossyChimayo
Info: Active wind loading of new snow resulted in variable depths throughout the couloir, 0 - 10 inches deep. Excellent powder skiing for late May. Trail is dry to about a quarter mile before leaving the summer trail. Southwest couloir is mostly in, albeit the choke at very beginning, a rocky section shortly afterward, and final 100 feet or so. The rocky section can be avoided by descending further skiers right. I opted to boot the entire couloir given freezing overnight and morning temps; did not use crampons but they would have been helpful. The ridge to summit is mostly snow-covered. Unsurprisingly, wind loaded snow did not bond to the existing crust, resulting in an unstable upper layer in the deepest sections. Not likely to cause a large-scale avalanche, but certainly enough to take you off your feet in consequential terrain. That being said, the southwest couloir will corn up real nice and make for a worthy ski over the next week. 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2022-05-31, By: hannah422
Info: Patchy snow to ~11,000 ft Snowline ~11,000 ft - once above treeline areas of no snow, but major postholing from 13-14,000 ft if don't boulder hop. Supportive snow in morning, when coming down ~10am snow very soft. Melting fast. 
Route: Southeast Ridge
Posted On: 2022-05-02, By: abbycatMonty
Info: Did Columbia via SE Ridge on Saturday. The road to Harvard Lakes TH was dry and easy to get to. There was patchy snow from about 10K to treeline. Snow was holding up well on both the ascent and decent and I never used my snowshoes. I found microspikes to be helpful on some of the snowfields, but certainly not required. Above treeline was pretty dry and very avoidable snowfields. Totally perfect, sunny (nearly) windless day with the hike all to ourselves! 
Route: Southeast Ridge
Posted On: 2022-04-04, By: Will_E
Info: Summitted Columbia yesterday via the SE ridge. In the morning I only used snowshoes at the top of treeline from 11,500' to 12,000' or so. Ridge was well scoured, I didn't need traction at all. On the way down it started snowing just before I reached treeline, I left snowshoes on almost all the way to the Colorado trail. Not much for views, but the wind was also not terribly bad on the ridge as it usually is. I parked about a mile from the Harvard lakes trailhead, had a nice campsite there so just walked to the TH, but the road was pretty well melted out most of the way until right before the TH where there was a big chunk of rutted ice. 
Route: Southeast Ridge
Posted On: 2022-03-02, By: the_hare
Info: Made an attempt on the SE ridge but turned back due to unstable snow conditions. Road was tire-tracked past the Colorado trail TH and the trail was boot packed up to the ridge. A pre-storm trench was still visible for some ways up the ridge, but I ended up going my own way up after windblown snow completely covered it. Snow quality was great in the morning, everything was still frozen and my snowshoes weren't sinking down too much especially in more open stretches on the ridge. Snow was a bit mushier under thick tree cover around 11.2k so I traversed over to a south-facing low-angle open area on the ridge. The snow was very firm here as I made my way up to the boulder pile at 11,420. I continued on towards the rocky point at 11,600. Up until this point I had noticed some sort of cracks forming near the tops of small sloping features on the ridge like little bumps and rollovers. It looked as if maybe the surface slab crust upon the feature's face was trying to slide down a little after yesterday's afternoon heat. The snow was still frozen solid in the morning as I passed them by though so I didn't think too much of it. As I neared the 11,600 point just before noon I noticed another one of those cracks across the snow apron I was crossing and felt the whole thing shift down. The surface crust layer was only a couple to a few inches thick and it slid about an inch and a half. I carefully tread above me to a safe flat area under some trees to assess the situation. I figured there would be more snow areas like this ahead and I did not want to see how these conditions would look after several more hours in the heat after a summit descent. That open south-facing area of the ridge had some particularly deep & wide cracks formed between steppes of snow and I definitely wanted to be off that before conditions deteriorated further in the heat. I couldn't make it any further up the deep & loose snow apron up to the point anyway so I turned back. The surface crust on a small bump on the flat area between the 11,600 & 11,420 points also slid under me a bit. I stuck close within thick clusters of aspen & pine on the way down and crossed flat portions of open areas when I had to. Didn't experience any further issues on the ridge, the snow was mushy now but it was stable at least. Looking back now those small slab slides weren't super threatening in themselves at that time but i could definitely see them becoming a bigger problem later in the day. The ridge itself is under 30 degrees overall but some of these microfeatures that held these sliding slabs were either unnoticeable or unavoidable on the way up. Might be more stable for a sunrise summit or just after this sweltering pre-spring is over. 
Route: Southeast Ridge
Posted On: 2021-12-08, By: malsillars
Info: Spent a good bit of time the last few months clearing downfall on the SE Ridge route. There is a bit more to go after 2022 melt-out, but the trail can be hiked to the breakout without climbing over trees. 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2021-11-30, By: zahkopunk
Info: Road to the North Cottonwood Creek TH is perfectly clear. Trail started out spotty w/ snow and ice. About 1.5 miles in it finally was pretty permanent for a while. The snow and ice cleared considerably once getting to the east side of the spur that the switchbacks go over when headed to the approach ridge. The approach ridge was also spotty all the way to the summit so I was able to stay up on the rocks for the most part. I did test some of the larger drifts and my leg went a little over knee deep before stopping. Best to stay to the rocks right now. I felt no traction or flotation was needed today, as I was able to keep to shallow snow, rocks, or dirt to get around the few really icy spots. I do imagine that some would rather get traction on as they might find more confident steps with them. I had mine but just wasn't compelled to use them just yet. 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2021-11-22, By: bethany420
Info: great conditions today! did the whole thing without spikes but we put them on halfway back down to be safe and go faster. snow below treeline but it was packed down no problem. some sections above treeline had snow but it wasn't an issue, like it was not covering the whole trail or not very deep. u dont even need gaiters. the only sketchy spot was right at the very top where u go down the false summit to get to the summit. snow between the rocks seemed a little deep so we had to be careful and stay on the boulders. we were the only one on the mountain which was nice. one sketchy spot on the dirt road that needs higher clearance/4x4 but the rest of the road was nice 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2021-11-20, By: Wentzl
Info: Breezy day on Columbia. Lots of packed snow and ice on the lower trail, but plenty of sticks and rocks to walk on so no spikes needed. Absolutely no need for an axe, no snow at all up high. Saw one other car in the N Cottonwood Trailhead and footprints heading up Harvard, but no other people on the mountain. 
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Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2021-11-07, By: bangerth
Info: Thin snow for 50% of the trail in the forest and on the lower half of the ascent of the slope, and on most of the upper half of the slope. Winter boots were helpful but none of us used microspikes. Winter is definitely here -- howling winds on the ridge and on the summit. 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2021-10-30, By: RWSchaffer
Info: The Columbia trail was covered by thin snow where it leaves the Harvard trail (photo 1) but rapidly leaves the trees for south facing slopes that were almost entirely melted out (photo 2). Aside from a few eight inch postholes, almost all of the minimal remaining snow was at most ankle deep. The summit ridge was fairly clear as well (photo 3). I carried but did not use spikes. 
Route: West 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. Thank you CFI for the switchback and trail improvements. The morning temperature was 30 degrees at treeline. The summit was 43 degrees. No wind noted. Clear weather and sunshine throughout the day. 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2021-09-27, By: pejapor
Info: Perfect summer conditions to the top. The trail is a dream up to around 13,000. Thank you to every organization and person that put in that massive amount of hard work on that trail. It's almost worth an out and back hike to 13,000 alone just to enjoy such a perfect trail. After 13,000, it's the usual steep 14er braided loose rock and gravel. On the ridge, clear and easy to the top. 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2021-09-07, By: Harlan U
Info: Climbed Columbia on the 5th with a friend of mine. The road to the trailhead was better than I remember, but there was a single spot with some pretty intimidating ruts. We made it over in a 4WD Nissan Murano. Several cars parked just below this obstacle, but doing so would likely add 4-6 miles to your round trip. The parking lot is large, but was mostly full. Only a few people chose to ascend from the trailhead, most parties choosing to backpack in. There are lots of great camping spots near the Harvard-Columbia trail split off. The trail from the parking lot to the split off is in good shape, but is pretty difficult to backpack. Somehow this ~3 mile segment seems twice as long going back down. The fork between Harvard and Columbia is now marked with a sign, and the route is very clear. A great CFI trail ascends about halfway up Columbia, but later turns into a unpleasant, poorly defined Class 2 climb around 12,500 feet. Just before the summit ridge, there is a particularly difficult section of trail that I would rate as Class 2+ or Class 3. Using handholds was necessary ascending this. The summit ridge itself is pretty mild compared to the rest of the climb. On the ridge, the route is very poorly defined. Try to stay to the very top of the ridge for the best trail. The final small gully just before the top requires some boulder-hopping. Conditions at the summit were great, with virtually no wind. The weather on our trip was perfect, but don't let clear skies deceive you. On an ascent of Harvard in 2020, the skies were completely clear for the whole climb, but there was a surprise thunderstorm later in the afternoon. This climb is certainly more difficult than many of the "easy" 14ers, such as Bierstadt, Handies, Elbert, Etc. 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2021-08-15, By: RogerHiker
Info: Great weather. Saw maybe two or three dozen people on the trail to Mt. Mt. Columbia. The Colorado Fourteeners Initiative has done an amazing job of building a new trail. I can't imagine what it would have been like to hike before the new trail. One guy I saw - who hiked it 18 years ago - described it as the worst of the Fourteeners. That said, the roughly mile or so after the new trail ends - before you hit the ridge - remains sand and scree. Difficult but far from impossible going up that section. Poles were essential for me in getting down without slipping. Awesome views from the top. 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2021-07-08, By: kalestew
Info: Summer conditions with one easily avoidable & small snowfield on the ridge. New & improved trail has very well made switchbacks 
Route: West Slopes
Posted On: 2021-07-04, By: courtneyeggers
Info: Great day yesterday! We started at 0340 and had a few snowflakes in the air and a bit of fresh snow on the trail. Trail had some soggy spots -nothing too bad, just a few surprise spots; especially in the dark. Also be aware of the numerous horse droppings on the way- also hard to spot in the dark! The newly constructed trail is amazing- and you will really appreciate it after you leave that part. Still some snowfields above 13,000, but nothing that can't easily be avoided. Decent scramble to the top and more false summits than I care for- but a great day! 

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