If you’re climbing Mount Harvard and/or Mount Columbia, Horn Fork Basin is a perfect launching pad.
Located directly beneath both 14,000 foot peaks, there are direct routes up each, as well as a traverse between the two if you have the ability. Plenty of dispersed camping, a great rushing stream for water, and gorgeous views of all of the peaks around the basin.
September is the perfect time for this hike, with the fall colors in full swing and the aspens really starting to pop out.
The hike into the basin is simple and straightforward, with a great trail. Sneakers or hikers like the Salomon X Ultra 4 that I love love love are perfect for the trek in, although I wore my trusty Lowa Renegades (7th pair!) since I prefer a lot more ankle support and structure for rock hopping.
After climbing Mount Princeton, I met up with Greg from 14ers.com in Buena Vista, and we took his Jeep Wrangler up the crappy Forest Service road to the North Cottonwood Creek Trailhead. I had come up here last weekend when climbing Mount Yale and it really beats up your car, so very nice to have a climbing buddy with a lifted Jeep!
It’s a little unnerving climbing with somebody new, all of my 14ers have been solo since my buddy SuperDave’s eyesight issues took him out of the climbing scene after our Culebra climb and Colette got wise to 14ers after our lightning strike while climbing Handies.
It’s almost like a first date – will I be the weak link? Will he be a liability? How’s the physical fitness? How are the mountain skills? So many things to think about – we will see how tomorrow goes.
We ended up with a little later start than planned, but since the well-maintained trail in to the main dispersed camping area is only 3.6 miles and 1,600ft of elevation it’s a easy and beautiful walk through the woods.
Greg and I both give two huge thumbs up for Horn Fork Basin, this would make an excellent backpack even if you weren’t planning on bagging any peaks. I will definitely return here for a future midweek backpack in the fall to enjoy the solitude and the changing colors.
Now for an early bedtime and an 0400 wake-up call for the Harvard Columbia Traverse tomorrow.
Ready To Go
All Lit Up
Horn Fork Basin Google Earth
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