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 Peak(s):  Mt. of the Holy Cross  -  14,005 feet
 Post Date:  07/07/2006
 Date Climbed:   07/02/2006
 Posted By:  trailwerks

 Mt. of the holy Cross - Halo Ridge   

I spent the night before at the FS campground near the Tigiwon Community Center (actually an empty site on a holiday weekend). I left the Fall Creek trailhead around 4:30 am knowing it would be a long day during monsoon activity. The first several miles of the route are pretty gradual but the elevation gain increases once you reach the Notch Mountain trail. Fortunately, the scenic possibilities also increase as you make your way up the east face of Notch Mountain. Hitting the flower-flecked tundra at sunrise was spectacular.

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Hitting treeline as the sun sneaks over the horizon is always a special treat.

The trail up Nothc Mountain switchbacks enough that the grade never gets overly challegning. I arrived at the Notch Mountain shelter around 7:00 am. The view of MHC from the shelter is fantastic. The snow-filled cross was well defined and the basin between the shelter and the goal/summit is spectacular.

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This view of the namesake cross on MHC is only available to those want to log the extra miles on the Halo Ridge route.

I then began the looooong ridge traverse toward MHC. There is no trail, it is almost pure talus-hopping the entire way. Very slow going indeed.

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The views from Halo Ridge are spectacular along its entire length with the Tuhare Lakes the eye-catching feature to the south.

I finally intersected the standard route coming up from the north ridge and soon after, was on the relatively crowded summit around 10:00 am (Why was I 20 years older than everyone else up there?).

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If the Notch Mountain Shelter (left center on the ridgeline) looks a long ways away, it is not deceiving! Lots of talus between the shelter and the MHC summit.

After enjoying the spectacular views from the top, I dropped down the north ridge on the standard route. Or at least I tried. There are only short trail segments and they seemed to get scantier the further I descended. All of the previous talus walk had taken its toll and the descent is probably not as steep as it felt. I was actually relieved to hit Cross Creek and be able to climb back up the other side toward Half Moon Pass! I returned to the trailhead at 2:00 with #39 an indelible memory.

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The view of MHC from Cross Creek on the return side of the loop helps illustrate the distance and elevation gain that this hike requires.



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