7 February 2013 Summit #47 Mt. Columbia
Start at 5 AM. Clear, starry night. As we make our way to the ridgeline, predawn glow arrives.
My climbing partner, Natalie changes from micro-spikes to snowshoes. I decided to wait before donning the snowshoes (which I greatly dislike...)
Sunrise around 6:45 AM. Snow remains firm enough that I don't need snowshoes.
Fortunately, several other hikers made attempts in the days before us, so there is an already established trench. This makes the climb incredibly easier. We are "trench poaching".
Natalie, aka The Mad Russian!
Good Morning, Mt. Columbia.
Looking over to Mt. Yale, which I made summit in June of 2010, my 5th 14er summit at the time.
It takes a lot of work to look this bad in the morning.
The Trench (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
Picture of me coming up to the treeline. (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
Into deeper snow. (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
I sit down and have some breakfast, with the Buffalo Peaks (12ers) beyond across the Arkansas River Valley. You can already tell it's perfect weather conditions. No wind. Comfortable temp. (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
Into a burnt out area on the ridgeline, with Mt. Yale beyond. (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
This was the loosest snow section, and I began postholing. Within a few steps of this photo, I put on the snowshoes.
This is miserable! (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
Virgin snow with the Buffalo Peaks beyond. (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
Very unique setting. (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
Looking back down along the ridgeline. (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
Mt. Yale. (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
I am already beginning to slow. (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
You can tell this spot gets windy...
Natalie behind me...the only time all day...
Looking over to Mt. Princeton.
Mt. Yale. As you can tell, we are above treeline now.
Mt. Columbia in the distance. However, you cannot yet see the summit. It's actually about a mile beyond this furthest high point in this photo.
Back looking towards the Buffalo Peaks
Natalie ahead of me.
I look like a freak, but I am warm.
Me. (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
Further up. Surprisingly little snow.
Pondering what pain and suffering lies ahead. (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
Nice shot of Yale. (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
Great show of the ridgeline forward. (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
I have officially coined a term that applies to me when climbing: Recreational Suffering. (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
Up the first of almost a dozen ridgeline ripples... tiring and long...
I slog it up. (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
Slowly... (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
Taking a break. By now, it's quite evident this will be an epic long day...
Looking back on the progress I've made thus far. About 3.5 hours into the climb.
What lies ahead. (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
Looking over across the large drainage bowl to some snowfilled couloirs.
Looking back on the ridgeline.
We've come a long ways...but still a long way to go...
The southern Sawatch
Mt. Columbia reveals itself. (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
From here, you get a discouraging idea of how long we still have to climb... (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
Beginning the right turn to the North and the final stretch of Mt. Columbia. You can finally see the summit.
At the treeline, I told Natalie to go ahead. I didn't want to hold her up, nor did I want to tire myself trying to keep up. All was safe, as we were within sight of each other most of the way. This is her looking back at me.
A snow cornice around the bowl. (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
Looking back. (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
That's me! (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
Looking to the SouthWest down the large couloir that denotes another way up. We chose NOT to do this climb, however. It's steep and snowy.
"2,000 Feet of Yuck". This area to the right of the couloir is the scree field that represents the standard route up to the summit. It's a notoriously loose and miserable slog that I'm glad I don't have to do. We chose the SE Ridge route to avoid having to climb this scree crud.
That opening is a distinct area that I remember resting in last summer while hiking into Horn Fork Basin on our climb of Mt. Harvard.
Making the turn. (Photo Courtesy Natalie Moran)
The remaining climb.
Mt. Harvard. 14er Summit #41 that I completed last summer with Ryan O'Connor. https://picasaweb.google.com/semitrueskerm/1285Harvard
GoPRO attached. Videos at: https://picasaweb.google.com/semitrueskerm/1327MtColumbiaGoPRO
The final pitch. (Photo courtesy Natalie Moran)
Summit is within reach.
Victory! 1:40 PM on February 7, 2013. #47!
The summit of Mt. Columbia. Perfect day. No wind. Very tiring and long ascent.
Looking SouthEast. This is a great shot of the very longSE Ridgeline that we just climbed.
A eastern arm of Mt. Columbia.
Looking North. The best shot I took of the Mt. Harvard to Mt. Columbia Traverse.
Horn Fork Basin, and the area I climbed up last summer. Very avy prone in the winter.
The Horn Fork Basin
Taking a break on the summit. DCIM\100GOPRO
The Sawatch Mountains under a blanket of snow.
Now several hours down looking West as the sun begins to lower.
About 4 PM looking back at what I accomplished.
The route still remaining to descend.
The City of Buena Vista
Looking South at the Sawatch during late afternoon light.
Still nice day, as shadows are getting longer.
Nice little bowl area
Back into the burn zone. (Photo courtesy Natalie Moran)
Our deep snow area. (Photo courtesy Natalie Moran)
Alpen glow. One of my favorite shots of the day.
Sunset. 5:40 PM.
What a view.
From sunrise to sunset...
Sunset colors bounce off the distant Mosquito Mountains.
Another fantastic shot of the burn area under Alpenglow.
Victory! 8:07 PM. 15 Hours. The longest day climb I've ever done. I am wiped out.
My car...still with crap in it from the hike a day later...