| "Miles from nowhere, guess I'll take my time"
Ever since I saw Jackson's photo of Holy Cross I knew it was a climb I wanted to do. The only problem was getting there. Never hearing a comment of "Lake Patricia approach was awesome, can't wait to do it again!" I started looking at other options. I also wanted to do Halo Ridge with snow, so the decision was made to try to link the two routes together.
I left the winter TH at 7:30 PM Friday to hike part-way up the road. I was welcomed to the area with a gorgeous sunset over the valley.
Sun setting Friday evening
After scaring up a few elk darkness set in. Still hiking at a brisk pace I came near some felled timber by the road. Immediately I heard a loud growl and I froze in my tracks. I pulled out my bear spray and began to yell "get out of here." I never saw the animal, but by the sounds of it clumsily running away I believe it was a bear. I also like to believe it was the sheer ferociousness of my voice that made the animal decide to turn tail, and since this was a solo trip that belief cannot be debated.
After yelling for a few more minutes I continued on to the Tigawon Cabin, bear spray in hand. Unfortunately the cabin was locked, but the porch looked like a great resting place for the night. I woke up to a great view of the Gore Range that I could not see the night before, sometimes the view at first light tells it will be a good day.
First views of the morning
After reaching Halfmoon TH I began to break trail on the Fall Creek Trail. It was surprisingly easy to follow, minus several downed trees.
Fall Creek Trail
After reaching the turnoff to Notch Mountain trail-finding was a different story. I consulted my map and just headed in a westerly direction, knowing the ridge would eventually come. Upon gaining the ridge I first saw several mountains and though "hmmm, that's funny, the Cross isn't very evident." After turning the corner the mountains kept looming higher and higher, and my jaw dropped lower and lower. Finally, Holy Cross came into view, dwarfing everything around it. It was a great feeling to finally see the mountain in-person.
After a quick lunch and the shelter I started the ridge full-pack with the plan of bivying in the perfect weather. The summit of Pt. 13,248 came fast, and the views got even better. I looked back at my tracks to the shelter and Cat Steven's Miles from Nowhere kept repeating in my head.
Views Halo Ridge with snow is absolutely breath-taking, and I had to remind myself to watch where I was going instead of scanning the views around me. Snowshoes still on, I reached Pt. 13,373 and took a break and soaked in the views.
Tired, but still feeling ok, I continued on to Pt. 13,831. Upon reaching the summit I signed the register and surprise, surprise, Steve Gladbach and Britt were the last people to sign it, in calender winter too. After stashing snowshoes rock-hopping was much welcomed. After several obvious false summits I found myself standing on top of Holy Cross with fantastic views and great weather. Not eating since lunch I was rather hungry and decided to try to cook a dehydrated meal on top, my JetBoil worked like a champ and my energy levels began to increase.
Rewarding summit view
It was 6 PM with moderate cloud-cover. The Cross had been in the shade a while so I decided to check the snow conditions and they seemed ok. I made fast work descending the Cross and dug a bivy spot in a rock-fall-free area after the exit point. Turning off my headlamp for the night the snow on the mountains intensified and I began to wonder if I was a little off my rocker for having the time of my life being alone and sleeping on the side of a mountain. Anyways, sleep came fast with Miles from Nowhere still on repeat in my head.
The next morning I woke up and knew the day would be tough. The Cross receives sunlight immediately in the morning so I wanted to make it up as soon as possible. The snow conditions were not great and I felt it was too soft for comfort. Nearing the top snow balls began to fall from the side rocks and it was time to boogie. In a few minutes I was back on the summit and tearing into breakfast.
The descent went by rather quickly and I was back at the shelter ahead of schedule. The descent was uneventful, but long. After reaching Halfmoon the road had dried considerably and it was easy to make good time.
This was one of the most fun trips I have been on in CO; the views were breath-taking and the isolation was welcomed. Upon reaching the car with an ear-to-ear smile I knew it was worth every ounce of effort.
Catchy closing pic
-Snowshoes were helpful all the way to Pt. 13,831 right now
-Notch Mountain Shelter is not locked
-Be mindful of cornices from Pt. 13,248 on
-Great bivy spot in the flat area between 13,373 and 13,831 (weather-pending of course)
-Hiking poles were one of the best pieces of gear I brought for this trip
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):