Conquering Mt. Harvard

Sometimes, you don’t have to leave your backyard for adventures. Sometimes, they’re only an hour or two away, just waiting for you.

And that’s good news for us couchsetters.

In June, I was lucky enough to have one such adventure. Three friends and I did a weekend of backpacking and hiking in the Collegiate Peaks of Colorado.

Our mission: to climb to the tippy-top of Mt. Harvard, elevation 14,423 feet above sea level.

According to Wikipedia, it is the third highest mountain in Colorado, and the fourth highest mountain in the continental United States. For three of us, it would not only be our first fourteener, but our first mountain, period.

Did I mention that I’m afraid of heights?

We spent the first day backpacking in, acclimating and setting up camp. We found a great spot near treeline. The view was EPIC.

Our view from camp. freaking. gorgeous.

camping in the sunshine

Day two was our day to attempt the summit. So we woke up bright and early, and started on our trek.


The going was slow. And the higher we got, the slower we went. But the weather was beautiful, and despite our apparent lack of physical fitness, we were all really confident that we would make it to the top.

Confident and ready to tackle Harvard!

At some point in the middle of morning, when the trail became less of a trail and more of a steep scramble over tundra and rocks, I looked behind me and saw this:

mountains on mountains on mountains

At which point my stomach did a couple of somersaults. And I remembered, I don’t like heights. Like at all. But as Churchill would say, Keep Calm and Carry On. So what did I do?

I kept calm, and I carried on.

Until we were about to summit.

Because you don’t just walk up to the top of Harvard. You climb. Over very large, very scary, very high rocks.

It looks something like this:

The summit.

Not only did my stomach somersault, it did a roundoff backhandspring back tuck roundoff full twisting layout.

Lucky for me, I was climbing with three pretty amazing friends. While Robin and I tried not to freak out about the wind and height, respectively, our other two friends, Ari and Kersten, kept calm heads and patiently got us all to the top, safely.

Where we enjoyed a victory Snickers….

and took in the view.

All in all, a pretty fantastic weekend.

Walking back to camp, Abbey Road-style.

Conquered my first fourteener, faced my fear of heights, and spent the weekend in the Colorado mountains with three really great friends.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to get back to Colorado for some more backyard adventures this year!!!

I’ll just leave you with this 🙂


P.S. Many of these pics were taken by my friend Kersten, who did a FANTASTIC job documenting the trip. It’s really no wonder she’s a journalism student.


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