Peak(s):  Columbia Point  -  13,980 feet
Date Posted:  09/24/2015
Date Climbed:   09/12/2015
Author:  Bill Stafford
 Columbia Point - East Ridge   

13.25 miles round trip, 3400 feet of gain

I left Denver on Friday afternoon about 1:40 pm, headed toward Colorado Springs, through Florence, Westcliffe, and on to the upper 4WD South Crestone Trailhead at 9900 ft. (A 3-1/2 hour drive.) I last drove this 10 years ago, when the upper trailhead was at 11,060 feet - now 9,900 feet. That's about 2-1/2 miles more hiking (5 miles round-trip), albeit on a gently rising grade of jeep road.

I started Saturday morning at 5:10am, hiked to old "upper" trailhead, took the right-hand turn at the sign to "South Colony Upper Lake". The CFI trail rises to the northwest from the lakes, and is a work of art. At the saddle on Humboldt's west ridge, one heads west along a rough ridge toward the Bear's Playground. This ridge was very time-consuming, both coming and going - it added a lot of time to my day. Generally, stay to the top or north side of the ridge. I skirted the south flanks of Obstruction Peak, climbed the steep grassy slopes to the false and then onto the real summit of Columbia Point, arriving at 11:30am. The weather was mostly blue-sky, 50degF, no breeze - perfect. One other person (David-something from New Hampshire) arrived about 5 minutes after I had. And I spotted a few folks to the west on the 14'er Challenger Point.

On the hike back, I ran out of water at the east end of the Bear's Playground. I had fortunately brought my filter, and was able to refill at lower South Colony Lake - but had gone about 2-1/2 hours without water. The hike back from the lake was uneventful, but beautiful (It had been early-morning dark on the way up, so the scenery was mostly new to me with the afternoon light.) I arrived back at the car at about 5:40pm, a 12-1/2 hour day. Good grief, I was exhausted, and my feet very sore. (Lesson learned - wear hiking boots on everything except short, Class 1 hikes. Trail-running shoes simply don't provide the stiffness and protection for long jaunts across talus fields and rough ridges.)

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