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 Peak(s):  Mt. of the Holy Cross  -  14,005 feet
Notch Mtn  -  13,237 feet
 Post Date:  08/17/2012
 Date Climbed:   08/14/2012
 Posted By:  Wentzl
 Holy Cross via Notch Mt.   

On the evening of August 13th the weather was a bit gloomy on the drive from Montrose to Minturn. It rained most of the way on I-70 and the forecast was 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms for the next day. So we were pleasantly suprised when we got about 7 miles up the Tigwon road and found the sky clearing and had a chance to set the tent up without wearing raingear. It was tricky getting a fire going, but once started we enjoyed a fine evening despite the chilly 45 degree night.

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In the morning we woke to clear skies with just a bit of haze. We packed for the worst, but as it turned out the day was perfect. Nothing but sunshine pleasant temperatures and a gentle breeze all day.

Our plan was to ascend Holy Cross over Notch Mountain and descend the standard North Ridge route. There are several reports on Halo Ridge, but not too much information about Notch Mountain so this report will interest those looking for more detail about that part of the trip.

There is an obvious and easy to follow trail that starts up the North Ridge of Notch Mountain from Half Moon Pass. A view looking up just after leaving Half Moon Pass.

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This trail turns sharply East and winds around on the East slopes of Notch for a good long way. I estimate that following this trail saved over an hour over what it would have taken to simply follow the ridge to the summit. This was not a simple use trail but one that obviously had been worked on some time in the past. When it starts to switchback up to regain the ridge it does look more like a use trail, but still not difficult to follow. It stays well below the ridge all the way until you can see the notch of Notch Mt. As you gain the ridge there is a gap which makes a nice window to frame Holy Cross.

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Gaining the summit of Notch Mt. is straightforward from this point. The view of Holy Cross from the top is one to linger over for a while.

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Surveying the route ahead it appeared as though there would be a fairly direct line up from the saddle between the two Notch Mountian summits. And in fact the line shown in the next photo went with difficulty at the top consisting of a couple of exposed moves in the difficult class 4 or easy class 5 range. This was by far the most fun part of the day.

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It is easy to get 3/4 of the way up this line. There is a somewhat committing step to the right and then a couple moves from a crouched position from an overhang. There are no surprises, what you see is what you get.

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A look back down always makes it look more difficult than it seems going up.

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From the saddle there were cairns marking the passage to the 3rd class route described in the Roach guide. This is one of the more confusing Roach descriptions and one would do well to disregard it entirely. The easier route is on the West side from the notch and is very obvious when you are there. Cairns mark most of the route. From the saddle traverse south on the West side of the ridge under the obvious cliff band until you can gain easy passage to the ridge top by turning back to the north up a grungy gully.

From the car to the shelter we took about 3 1/2 hours. We made a short stop to look at the shelter and pressed on with the ridge ahead. The rest of the hike on Halo Ridge has been well described elsewhere. The entire circuit took a little over 10 hours.

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Our summit pose.

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A finial look at the notch with a zoom lens from the summit of Holy Cross

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Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):


  • Comments or Questions (2)
sunny1


Thanks for posting!     2012-08-19 10:27:59
I'm planning on getting after Notch, the Halo Ridge and Mt of the HC this fall. Beautiful area. Thanks for the info!
Cheers


bethtrombone


Amazing route!     2012-08-20 22:58:04
Thanks for this post-- we used it on our Halo Ridge hike yesterday and really enjoyed that fun chimney!



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