Mount Columbia

columbia Mount Columbia

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  • Altitude: 14, 073 feet
  • Location: Sawatch Range
  • Rank: 35th highest
  • Trail Length: 10 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 4,100 feet
  • Summited August 2nd, 2010


I severely underestimated Mount Columbia because it was not as high, or as long a hike as Mount Massive. Perhaps it was just not my best day, but Columbia remains the hardest climb I've done thus far. It is only five miles to the summit, but for the first three miles the trail is mostly flat with a couple of hills. Therefore, in the last two miles, above treeline, we gained 4,000 feet of elevation. Typically, we gain about 1,000 feet per mile and that is plenty difficult. 2,000 feet per mile made for an extremely steep and challenging trail. The trail also contained lots of loose rock and gravel that made it even harder to get footing. No matter how difficult the trail has been or how tired I am, there always seems to be a point on every mountain I've climbed where I suddenly get hit with "summit fever" as my mom calls it. It usually hits when I am less than a mile from the top and become more determined than ever to reach the summit. I think this onset of "fever" is also sparked by growing thunderclouds and my desire to get below treeline before the storm hits! So even though that 2 mile stretch on Columbia was one of the most physically challenging things I've ever done, the fever hit me, and I practically scampered the last bit and waited at the summit for the rest of my family. Because a storm was coming we didn't stay long at the summit. The descent was physically easier, but definitely more painful. The steep trail killed my knees and we all slid on our bottoms several times because it was too steep to walk.

columbia summit

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