Mt Columbia Route Guide | An Incredible 14er

One of the collegiate peaks, Mt Columbia, makes for a moderate day trip or an excellent overnight adventure. Its location near Mt Harvard lets you knock out two 14ers from a single base camp in the valley below, either over two days or as a single climb and traverse. The West slope is a steep but non-technical hike and scramble to the summit. Plan your trip and ascent with my Mt Columbia Route Guide.

New to 14ers? Check Out my 14er Beginners Guide Here to Get Started!

Mt Columbia Route Guide Fast Facts

Mt Columbia Route Guide - West Slopes

My Mt Columbia route guide begins at the trailhead. The Mt Columbia trail starts by sharing the trail up to Mt Harvard. Take a right off of the shared trail at a cairned junction near 11,500 feet which starts to take you towards the West Slopes of Mt Columbia.

Continue through the forest on a good trail, taking another right turn at a second junction in a large clearing towards. It’s also marked by a cairn. 

As you leave tree line, you can see much of the route to come ahead of you. Take a right and begin working your way through talus to follow the trail up the West Slopes. This is a lot of elevation gain very rapidly, so take your time so you don’t trip and fall on the rocks.

Once you are up the West Slopes, you can turn left to start climbing the ridge line up to the summit itself. While it seems close, you still have about 500 feet left to ascend to reach the top. Stick to the tail along the summit ridge. 

Nearing the summit crux of the climb around 13,800 feet, you can see the final 250 feet left to ascend. Pick your line, follow the cairns, and make your way up to the summit of Mt Columbia.

Once you make it to the top, enjoy your accomplishment! Make sure your head back to make it to tree line before afternoon thunderstorms become a hazard. I hope you enjoyed my Mt Columbia Route Guide. If you think I forgot something, leave a comment below with your thoughts.

It’s important to bring a solid topographic map along with you on your hike or climb to guide you on your way. Here’s a good topographic map of the Mt Columbia Route Guide to help you. I recommend downloading a digital copy on your phone and printing out a paper backup copy in case anything happens to your electronics along the way.

Mt Columbia Standard Route Guide

You should always check the weather forecast multiple times, from multiple sources, before you go on your trip to prepare properly. I recommend your use the below sources to check the weather along the Mt Columbia route guide.

Mountain Forecast Mt Columbia

NOAA Weather Forecast Mt Columbia

Hiking & climbing 14ers is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.

  1. Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
  2. Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
  3. Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
  4. Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
  5. Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
  6. Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.


Hiking, scrambling and climbing up Colorado’s high peaks are inherently high-risk, dangerous activities. There is a significant risk of injury or death, even with proper planning and experience. Those using my guide accept all risks associated with climbing 14ers and do not hold this website or any information they obtain from it liable for any accidents or injuries that occur while engaging in these activities on Colorado’s high peaks. It is each hiker or climber’s responsibility to research their route carefully, bring the ten essentials, and practice other safe practices, though even these precautions do not eliminate risk and danger. Visit these summits and use the Mt Columbia Route Guide at your own risk.