Mt Harvard (South Slopes Route)

So I have been toying with this idea of summiting 30 14ers before I turn 30 this November.  What better time to start this challenge than the last day of a long holiday weekend?  After a Friday and Saturday full of fireworks, beer and soccer I was ready to get the 14er season started!  I packed up my car and left Denver around 6:00 p.m, made it to the trail head just a little after 8:00 p.m., Set my alarm for 2:45 a.m and made myself as comfortable as one can get in a Subaru Impreza.  The night was filled with tossing, turning and very little sleep, I will definitely be sleeping in a tent during the rest my 14er adventures.  Around 2:30 a.m. I gave up trying to sleep, threw on my pack and headlamp and hit the trail.

I decided on following the South Slopes route as I Originally planned on bagging Harvard and traversing across to Columbia, but that did not happen due to getting a tad bit lost on my way up Harvard.

Mt. Harvard
The best part about starting a 14er hike at 2:30 is the peace and quite.

A little after I broke tree line I quickly lost the trail.  This turned my nice trail hike into a bushwhacking through willows, post holing through snow, and scrambling over boulders type of adventure.  I could see head lamps off in the distance, so I knew I was least going the right direction (I just happened to not pick the path of least resistance).  My route involved following the East side of Horn Fork Basin, which was basically right below the traverse over to Columbia (Doh!).

Mt Columbia
A look back on Mt. Columbia from the North end of Horn Fork Basin.  “She will be mine.  Oh yes, she will be mine.”

Once I reached the north end of the basin I eyeballed a cairn off in the distance, this was a very welcome sight because it meant I was a almost back on the trail!  I joined back up with the trail just as it started switching back up to the final ridge before the summit.  This was probably one one of the easier summits I have done, It was short and sweet, no false summit after false summit.  I was welcomed by 2 noisy mountain goats when I reached the top of the ridge, I spent a few minutes being entertained by them running, sliding, and hopping their way down a gully full of lose rocks.  After laughing at the goats I made the final push to the summit.
totes ma goats
You’ve goat to be kidding me!
I even managed to run a good chunk of the downhill back to the car. One day I will have the quads to run more of the uphill!

After taking full advantage of the unbelievably calm conditions on the summit I started my trek back to the car.  I took a short nom nom nom break at Bear Lake and then continued on my way.  Over all it was a good day, with 14.9 miles round trip and roughly 7 hours on the mountain.  Hopefully the next 29 go a little more smoothly as far as staying on the trail!

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