Mount Harvard and Mount Columbia: Part 2

–With all the wedding and trip posts, I never got our 14er summits finished. But, I’m not leaving them undone. If you want to refresh your memory, here is Part 1. I’ll be sharing some Christmas pictures later, but for now, here’s Colorado!–

Team A (Joseph, John, Anna, Jesse, and Mary) saw wonderful progress and made Harvard’s summit at 7:20 local time. Pretty amazing! They enjoyed a cold and windy but beautiful summit. The clouds and sunrise made for a dramatic light show that morning.

This doesn't look so hard, but actually they had to climb a rock that required you to hold on, and if you let go, well, you don't want to go there!

This doesn’t look so hard because the picture doesn’t show the exposure to the right, but just below the summit they had to scramble a rock which proved to be one of the more interesting places of the climb.

Way to go, y'all!
Way to go, y’all!



After consulting the weather and deciding it didn’t look prohibitive, they decided to start the traverse.

IMG_7896They were one member short as John decided to head back and do some work in town. On John’s way off the summit, he made a new friend (check the picture).

Talk about a selfie! I guess the goat got the memo too.
Talk about a selfie! I guess the goat was pretty pleased too.

Meanwhile, Team B (Dad, Mom, and I) began the steep trek up one of Columbia’s slopes. It did look daunting, but we knew that step by step, we’d make progress. As we climbed, a young lady caught up to us, and we enjoyed talking. Then, she went ahead. She disappeared after awhile, which meant our path wound around the mountainside. Due to the loose rock (also known as scree), it made the climb unpleasant. I knew if it wasn’t pleasant going up, it wouldn’t be pleasant going down. But that part didn’t have to be faced at the moment. As we climbed higher, the wind grew stronger.



Back to Team A. They were attempting to accomplish what is considered a rigorous mountaineer experience.

Here you see the traverse to Columbia. Yes, it’s that far off.

They followed the cairns and light trail which generally stayed to the right of the ridge. They then crossed to the left of the ridge and descended into the basin to avoid a section of the ridge that was practically impassable.


After they started descending towards the basin, route-finding became significantly more difficult. Cairns disappeared and there was certainly no semblance of a trail to follow. When they started traversing below the ridge, the terrain became rough and they found themselves scrambling across fields of boulders the size of cars.

In many ways the back side of ridge was a bit of a box as there was no easy way to continue descending into the valley, and the best way out was over Mt. Columbia (which wasn’t visible). This element, and the fact that thunderstorms were likely coming that afternoon as evidenced by the clouds starting to develop, made the lack of navigation quite disconcerting. They prayed and asked for the Lord’s wisdom as they pressed on. It was a stretching time for them, as it was an uncomfortable feeling not knowing for sure if they were on the right route.

This is the basic they descended into to avoid the ridge.
This is the basic route they descended into to avoid the ridge.
Here Columbia’s summit is easily visible before they descended into the basin. Notice how far off it still is?

After perhaps a 1/2 hour of scrambling and pushing on, they started coming across an (very) occasional cairn, which was an answer to prayer.

I’ll finish up with Part 3 sharing the summit stories.


“I sought the LORD, and he heard me,
and delivered me from all my fears.”
Psalms 34:4

5 thoughts on “Mount Harvard and Mount Columbia: Part 2”

  1. Thanks for sharing! Am reminded of the hymn:

    “I’m pressing on the upward way,
    New heights I’m gaining every day;
    Still praying as I onward bound,
    “Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

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