| Holy Cross...A most Scenic Adventure.
Mt of the Holy Cross(14005)
July 5, 2008
Route: North Ridge, North Ridge Descent
Round Trip: 12 miles, 8 hours 50 Minutes
Elevation Gain: 5625 ft.
Hikers: KirkT -Solo Hike
After having to change my plans because of hiking partners, I decided to plan my weekend around the last few peaks closer to Denver. Holy Cross was my last Sawatch 14'er to climb. I have always heard that it is the most scenic of all the Sawatch 14er's. After hiking it, I would certainly have to agree. My plans were to hike Holy Cross on Saturday and drive to Apsen Sunday to climb Pyramid Peak.
I arrived at the trailhead Friday evening around 8 pm and set up my car for my overnite stay. I set my alarm for 3:45 anticipating a 4:30 start. After my usual 3-4 snoozes I finally got geared up ate breakfast and hit the trail at 4:40. The first part of the hike went fairly quick as I was at the top of Half-Moon pass in 50 minutes. I greatly hated the thought of hiking down into the valley and making this climb back out. That's pretty much everything you read is hiking out of Half-Moon Pass. It's depressing having to hike another 970ft out of that valley after a long day. After reaching the top of the pass I finally was able to catch my first views of Holy Cross. It was an incredible site. It was very obvious to me as others have stated, this was definitely one of the most scenic hikes I have been on. One thing.... the freaking mosquitos are incredible in this area. I would stop for about 10-15 seconds to catch my breath and would literally be swarmed by 10-20 mosquitos. Considering I was carrying no insect repellent.....I hated stopping and they were one of the reasons I did not stop very often. In other words.... they were the reason for my hiking pace. They would disappear around 11K ft. however.
There was very little snow through the pass. Occasionally a small snow drift to cross, but nothing requiring any kind of snow gear. There was a few snow fields up on the ridge towards the summit cone. These as well could be easily skirted if you wanted. The weather was beautiful. It was cloudy in the morning but that quickly burned off and lead to clear skies. There was literally no wind, in fact, it was almost hot. I hiked all day in a light weight short sleeved shirt. I arrived at the summit at 9:20, for a time of 4hrs 40 minutes. Because of the weather, I stayed on the summit for 40 minutes before starting back down. The views were incredible and weather was superb.
I started back down around 10:00. I had only seen 5 hikers all morning but could see a small congo line forming up the ridge below. I think I counted close to 30 hikers coming up on my hike down and out. The clouds were beginning to form as I was exiting the the creek area, and a distant rumble of thunder could be heard. I'm sure several of those hikers did not summit as they were definitely not moving at the pace they should of been. It never pays to start late this time of year.. "My personal advice is to always start by 5am... minimum." It's freaking hard to get going sometimes but you definitely benefit from it later in the day. The hike back up from the pass as expected was long but not quite as bad as I thought it would of been. I took a few last pictures of the Cross before exiting back down into the forest. I arrived back at the trailhead at 1:30 for a total time of 8 hours and 50 minutes including 40 minutes on the summit. It was a great day to get out and finish the Sawatch 14er's for me. Thank you Sawatch for some great first and lasting memories.
I ate some lunch and headed for Aspen for the second part of my weekend climb....Pyramid awaited and I knew it would not be so easy to conquer.
Early morning sunrise with virga seen in the distance.
Very first view of Holy Cross.
Summit Cone of Holy Cross.
Random Snowfields up around 12k
Elk Range.. Snowmass, Capitol, Bells and my goal for Sunday, Pyramid.
Shot across summit to the East towards Grays and Torreys.
Elk Range 14er's.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):