mount harvard - 14420' - south slopes class 2
This climb I did mainly for training but Mount Harvard was one of only two Sawatch 14ers I had left and since I didn't have a partner for that day, I decided to give it a go solo. I was already in Aspen so the drive wasn't so long. I set up camp at the trailhead and had it all to myself. After a very nice relaxing evening, I got an early start up the Cottonwood Creek Trail in the dark and made great time on the rough trail. Many, many trees were down covering the trail but I was still able to follow it. As I got closer to treeline, there was more snow to cross over until it became continuous the final 500 feet up to treeline. I actually lost the trail for a ways and when I broke out of the trees, I found myself navigating a big marshy area and bushwhacking through a bunch of willows trying to get onto bare ground and locate the trail. I realized I was too far to the right and had to force my way leftward through willows and deep marsh. After relocating the trail I ascended up mellow slopes to the head of the basin where I took a good break to eat. I had already done over 6 miles and still had a couple thousand feet to gain. I was feeling very good though and the final steeper ascent to the summit of Mount Harvard took about an hour. It was still before 9am when I arrived at the summit. The final scramble up was pretty simple but some rime ice on some of the slabs made it a little more interesting. I admired the views and looked back to the Columbia trip Matt and I had back in February. Since I noticed some low clouds to the west I didn't stay long on the summit and began descending. It warmed up very quickly though and when I got back into the basin it was downright hot. The sun was out the whole day though and the clouds I saw happened to be just minor. The long hike out was uneventful but I passed by some backpackers looking to try and summit that next day. I arrived back at the car a little after noon and was happy to have covered a 16 mile day hike in just over 6 hours.