(Last Updated On: February 26, 2015)
This is part of an ongoing series re-telling Brittany’s fourteener-skiing story. Look for the reports every Thursday, as part of a Throwback Thursday theme.
Mount Columbia was my fourteenth fourteener to ski. It was a slogging sort of day and I was joined by Fritz Sperry, Mark Cavaliero, and Joe Brannan. I never wrote a trip report for this peak in the past. So, here’s my recollection, to the best that I can remember.
Mt. Columbia (14,073′)
I was having fun hitting up the peaks in the Sawatch Range. I decided to go for another. I called up Fritz and said, “Hey, what do you say we ski a fourteener this weekend?” I knew he couldn’t say no. I guess it was appropriate that we decided that we ski Columbia considering we checked out the trailhead location after our Princeton ski the previous year.
We met in Golden at 3 am and Fritz proceeded to break the law multiple times while driving. We picked up Mark as we cruised through Bailey, and we met Joe at the trailhead where he had spent the night. It was 6 am when we left the cars to start climbing on the Colorado Trail, but it was still dark.
A reminder of the benefits of waking up early…. Such a gorgeous sunrise!
We eventually got off the trail and began following a ridge.
We emerged out of the pines to an area of dead trees. What killed these trees? Perhaps drought?
As we rose above treeline, we saw the ridge we needed to follow before us. It was then that we realized we had a LONG ways to go.
And the ridge just kept going.
Wait, how far are we going?
Somehow, I still kept a smile on my face.
This ridge is supposedly only 6 miles long and under 5000′ vert. But, it felt a whole lot longer.
Finally, we neared the summit.
Getting ready at the summit.
We skied the east side of Mount Columbia to make our way down to the South Ramp, which was a few hundred feet lower.
We had to take off our skis to traverse across a dry part of the ridge to enter into the South Ramp. If it hadn’t been windy before, it definitely was now. The wind was so strong, it brought me to the ground a couple of times. I was happy as we entered the shelter of the South Ramp.
Sheltered from the wind with some nice sun, we found some good corn on the South Ramp. Me.
An interesting perspective of our line.
Once we exited the ramp, we still had a ways to go down the valley. There was plenty of snow to keep skiing for awhile, but here is where the conditions failed us. We found nothing but hollow, collapsible, manky snow. For miles. We only had 1000′ vert to get back to the car, but it took us over two hours.
Mark and Joe did most of the trailbreaking here. I was too small, and Fritz was too large. In this section, the going got good again. Funny how you never get pictures of the really bad parts 😉
And then we crossed the bridge, nearly done.
Despite the slog both in and out, we had some good skiing on Mount Columbia. Slogging, wind, mank and corn all thrown in the mix. Nevertheless, it was another fourteener checked off the list. I was already making a plan for # 15.
Like this report? See more of Brittany’s 14er skiing journey.