Mt. Harvard
Colorado 14er
14,420 feet, 4395 meter
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Mount HArvard in the back of the Horn Fork BasinI arrived in Buena Vista around midnight and found my room at the Super 8. A short five hours later, I was up and getting ready to drive to the trail head for my climb of Mount Harvard, the 3rd highest 14'er in Colorado.

I have climbed it twice as of 2012. This report is from my first climb in 2005.

The 4 wheel drive road was extremely rough as I passed the Harvard Lakes Trailhead. At roads end I reached the North Cottonwood Trailhead at 9,880 feet which leads to Mounts Harvard and Columbia via the Horn Fork Basin.

There were about ten other cars in the parking lot so I knew I was not going to be alone on this climb. I let the car about 7:00AM on Saturday, June 25 2005. The trails starts of on a gentle slope following the North Cottonwood CreekSunrise over Mount Columbia

wet trail on the way to Harvard
2005 was a good snow year in the Rockies so there was still a fair amount on the trails and in the shady spots. The trail was wet and had standing or running water in many places. The long and high ridge connecting Harvard to Columbia stood out to my right as I cleared treeline round 11,600'. The sun just overtaking Columbia's summit, warmed things up quite a bit at 8:15.

The Horn Fork Basin is a large expanse of scrub and boulders. The trails meanders through the basin to the foot of Harvard. The final leg requires class 3 rock scrambling. There were many patches of knee deep snow blocking the route but enough climbers had gone before me that a mushy trail was easy to follow.

Once on the summit, a friendly marmot enjoyed licking the salty waste belt of my pack but refused to be touched as he scurried away whenever I reached for him. The clouds were starting to move in and I began to rethink my plan to make the traverse to Mount Columbia. It was 11:30 and the ridge was 2.5 miles. So that meant I would be exposed to wind, rain/snow and perhaps lightening for at least two hours. An easy decision for me. However, three Ridge line from Harvard to Columbiaclimbers left for the ridge just as I arrived at Harvard's summit.

view from Harvard summit

I took a video of the ridge (left) and one from the summit (right).

It took a little more than half the time to return to the car. All in all an 8 hour day: 4.5 up and 3.5 down. 4540 vertical feet for climb.

I liked Harvard. The approach was very peaceful and scenic especially when I entered the Basin. The climb up Harvard's south face was challenging with all the boulder scrambling but not too difficult. And the view from the summit of the other Collegiate peaks was superb.