Thursday, August 9, 2007

Day 5: 7/29/07: Mount Harvard/Mount Columbia: 14,420/14,073


16 miles

Standard Route – N Cottonwood Creek + low traverse across Frenchman Creek Basin

Company: solo

Wildlife: pika, marmots

4375 feet

Start: 5:30 am

Summit: 9:15 am/1:15 pm

Stop: 4:30 pm


Clear/cool – 6:00 am

Sunny/warm – 7:00 am

Epic! Length, weather, view, trail conditions. Parts of the day even fell into the category of level 2 fun (not fun now but fun to talk about later). The traverse linking Harvard and Columbia is, quite appropriately described by others, a long haul. While Harvard is a delight, Columbia was frightful (not in a risky, scary way… but more in a not the most picturesque, fun trail kind of way). Loose, steep, lengthy. While those associated with the Ivy League may argue their merits, Harvard seems to outshine Columbia even here in the Collegiates! As luck would have it, I leap-frogged up Harvard with a group of 3 Wisconsin-cum-Denverites who also would attempt the traverse below the ridge. Together we did, but not without ample rest breaks, Vitamin I intakes, GPS checks, unnecessary down climbing and elevation loss, etc. When we finally reached Columbia, we were already ready to leave! Of course, we definitely deserved a momentary congratulatory summit break. After a slip and slid descent, the guys set off to their tent readily in view in the Horn Fork Basin while I looked forward to the relatively gentle 3 mile hike back to the trailhead and my gear stashed there. Upon descending the TH I accosted the only possible ride. 11 hours of hiking was finished with a hitch back down the “easy 4WD” road by a lovely couple in a rental Jeep. Upon reaching the crux (huge uneven ruts) we were forced to stop midhill by a white Saturn sedan high-centered and leaking oil. With room to pass, I was deposited at my vehicle ready to head back down to BV and on to Missouri Gulch.

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