Mt. Harvard is the third highest peak in Colorado and only one of the three that rise above 14,400 feet. It is the fourth highest in the lower 48 states. It is situated 11 miles northwest of Buena Vista and is not easily visible from roads or highways. It hides its mass well. Harvard is often climbed in combination with its neighbor, Mount Columbia. Some choose to do the combination in one long day. Be prepared, it is not a slam dunk. The ridge between the two is 2.2 miles and requires substantial elevation gain and loss. The route for Harvard is 13.5 miles. This group will not be leading the double on this trip though if you would like to attempt it you certainly are welcome.
Last year we attempted to do this double 14er and were thwarted because of weather, downed trees, post holing in the snow etc. This year we are attempting to do just Harvard and 3 weeks later than last year attempt.
Elevation: 14,420 / 14,073 feet
Mileage: 13.5 miles
Vertical Gain: 5,900 feet
So the current thought is to head up on Saturday night and people can either camp out or stay in nearby Buena Vista. A cool little town. We'll make our way out 1st thing Sunday morning (thinking Cottonwood Trailhead around 5am). Ideally some can hike in Saturday night to the treeline, get that 4 miles and 1500 elevation gain out of the way and camp along the trail. All reports of Harvard are beautiful. We'll hit the Summit, a quick toast and some pictures atop. The hike on Harvard is class 1 and 2. On this gentle hike down it is reported that we may find the opportunity to glissade down for a bit. So also bring pants suitable for such activity.
Afterwards we'll regroup in Buena Vista for dinner.
For all folks carpooling and heading up Saturday. We will meet at the I-70/Morrison exit Park and Ride – Woolly Mammoth lot section BB to be specific (across from the Conoco station) at 4:00 PM. Caravan leaves promptly at 4:30 PM. We are expecting about 3 hour drive time. So we can head up camp or stay in hotel and be asleep early for a 5am summit attempt.
Directions to trailhead.....Take exit 260 for CO-470 E toward Colo Springs. Merge onto CO-470. Take the exit onto US-285 S towardFairplay. Turn right onto Arizona St/Co Rd 313. Continue onto S Court St. Turn left onto E Main St
Turn west on County Road (CR) 350 (Crossman Ave.) near the center of Buena Vista. This road is less than 1/2 mile north of the stoplight in the center of town. Continue on CR 350 for 2 miles and turn right onto CR 361. After almost 1 mile, turn left onto CR 365 (dirt). Continue on this road for over 5 miles to the trailhead at the end of the road. Turn right into the wooded parking area which loops around counter-clockwise. The trail starts on the west side of the parking area.
When you get to Buena Vista there are three diffferent options for you to take.
1) Hike in approx. 4 miles and set camp there.
2) Car Camp at the trailhead and start the hike in at 5am
3) Stay in a hotel in Buena Vista and be at trail head for 5am hike.
Directions: Start at the North Cottonwood Trailhead at 9,80 feet and cross to the south side of North Cottonwood Creek on a good bridge. Follow the North Cottonwood Trail (FT1449) 1.5 miles west to a trail junction at 10,360ft [masked]* [masked]*), just after the trail returns to the creeks north side. Turn northwest (right) onto the Horn Fork Trail (FT 1449) to Horn Fork Basin and Bear Lake. Follow the Horn Fork Trail 2.2 miles northwest then north into Horn Fork Basin to reach treeline at 11,600ft[masked]* -[masked]*). There are several good campsites just below the treeline. You can see Harvard to the north at the head of the basin, and Columbia's steep west slopes are above you to the east.
We will depart from this campsite below the treeline at 6:30am.
Once I arrive at the trailhead, I will evaluate whether I will be hiking in the 4 miles and setting up camp or staying at the trailhead. Weather and conditions will be the determining factor. My cell is[masked]
Expect and be prepared for up to an 8 hour day and a change in weather patterns.
Mountaineering in Colorado can be very dangerous and many people have died on the 14ers. Weather, terrain and other people can put you in a situation where your knowledge and experience will be vital. If you are new to these peaks, I urge you to pick up a book on mountaineering safety and make sure your basic navigation skills (map+compass, not only GPS) are up-to-par and you can rely on them in a tough situation.
Just because a crowd of people can march to the summit of Quandary Peak on a summer Saturday, it doesn’t mean that they are all safe. Altitude sickness, dehydration, and fast-building storms are the most common problems.
Please be in shape and self sufficient.
Although this is a group activity you are responsible for yourself and your pooch.