Trailhead: Half Moon
Elevation Gain: 3,282'
There comes a time every year when you have to switch from summer hiking and scrambling mode, to either snow hiking on easy, shorter trails and ridge routes or full on mountaineering. With the ridge traverse of Elbert over Bull Hill yesterday, I got the wintery ridge snow hiking full-filled. Today, I wanted something a little more spicy. With many of the easy 13ers in the area already hiked, and the few remaining a bit too much in the mixed climbing arena with the snow, I was looking for a compromise. I figured the ridge traverse between Notch Mountain and Pt 13,248 would nicely fit the bill with a competent partner. Thanks to Dillon and goingup TR's, I knew there was an easy option for the traverse, if needed. Not that I remembered the details, which is how I like to do things.
After a very enjoyable dinner around the gathering fire ring the night before, a Gentleman's start (or as my bc ski partner would say - liquor store start) would be in order. So at the sunny time of 10:40am, we were on the trail. The trail while snowy, wasn't enough to require gaiters. Microspikes could be useful for better traction, but my gear room ate mine, so poles were enough for me. After the below freezing wind chill of the day before, the warm temperatures of late morning had us down to base layers on the way up to the pass.
Trail up to Half Moon Pass, with the ridge to Notch in background
Mt Jackson looking inviting
After a short break at the pass, the work of the day was before us. Clambering up on large boulders with lots of snow was a bit nerve wracking, so we went slowly to be safe. It seemed to take forever! But at least the views of the Gores were great. As soon as we got higher on the ridge, we got our first views of Mt of the Holy Cross. Absolutely amazing!
Snowy boulders on way to Notch Mtn
Pano with Notch, Holy Cross and Jackson group
It seemed like it took forever to get to the summit of Notch Mtn, but the views were well worth the effort!
Pano from Notch Mtn
The cross couloir is starting to fill in
View from the edge of the summit ridge
Starting towards the notch
After a break, we started down the ridge to the notch. Wasn't quite sure what we'd find. We stuck to mostly the ridge proper, only dodging around some of the precariously perched boulders to the left or right as needed. Some fun scrambling with the snow.
Start of the scrambling on the ridge to the notch
Scramble right and left of ridge top as needed
Once beyond the initial ridge scrambling, it became apparent that we'd have to skirt the prominent ridge gendame to the west (right). Thankfully there always seemed to be a nice snowy ledge to traverse, as we made our way across and beyond the notch.
Remaining ridge after scramble section.
Start of traverse below prominent ridge gendarm on Notch Mtn side of notch
Lightly cairned ledge traverse
More snowy ledges
Beyond the notch, we found a nice gully to scramble up. The snow made some of the slabby rocks a bit more interesting and exciting. Above, we decided to take a harder option to get back up to the ridge for fun. I chose a solid class 4 route, while Matt found a low class 5 move or two.
Looking up scramble section on other side of notch
Looking back on snowy ledgy traverse
Scramble back to ridge top
zoom of class 4 section
Matt coming up a low class 5 section
Scrambling with a view
Once above the scramble section, the ridge goes back to class 2. On the way over to the next peak, we decide to check out the shelter. Surprisingly, we find it unlocked, so we go inside for a few minutes.
Ridge over to Pt 13,248
Future ski line...
Looking back over to Notch Mtn
Notch Mtn shelter
The view from inside the shelter
View from the porch
After a short talus hop, we were on the summit of Pt 13,248, soaking in the views. With the sun speeding to the west, we only spend a short time on the summit before heading down the trail and back to the trailhead. Saw one set of footprints going up and down. While there were lots of other cars at the trailhead, and footprints on the trail, we never saw anyone due to our late start and return.
Holy Cross from Pt 13,248
Ridge traverse from Notch
Sun is setting on the Gores
Sunset on the Grand Traverse