Mt Columbia Standard Route Guide

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

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

Mt Columbia Fast Facts

Mt Columbia Mountain Standard Route Guide

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 Standard Route Guide. If you think I forgot something, leave a comment below with your thoughts.

Mt Columbia Standard Route Guide

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.


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About the Author: Alex Derr

Alex Derr is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver Colorado. He is working to climb Colorado’s highest 100 peaks, and the 20 tallest peaks in California. He created The Next Summit to share advice, stories, history & reflections from the Colorado Rockies & Sierra Nevada. When not climbing, he is managing the Communications strategy at Visible Network Labs.