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Peak(s):  Mt. of the Holy Cross  -  14,005 feet
Post Date:  03/16/2009
Modified:  12/03/2009
Date Climbed:   03/14/2009
Posted By:  doumall

 Cross Couloir Winter Ski Descent   

8 mile (16 RT) Snowmobile Approach using Tigiwon Road
Climb to Halfmoon Pass, Descent to Cross Creek, Climb of North Ridge
Ski Descent of Cross Couloir and Cross Creek
5600 vert
11.5 miles
11.5 hours

Crew: JCWhite, doumall

Holy Cross has been skied in July from the summit, but not in POW. After Jordan chewed my ear a bit about getting it while it was good, I took the bait. The short drive and prospect for another winter teener were the frosting on the cake.

Holy Cross from the Gore:

Photo: iskibc 3-14-09

We unloaded the sleds at the gate and zipped up the groomer 8 miles to the summer trailhead. I would have felt like such a bad ass mountaineer walking up this road.

Photo: doumall

At the trailhead, we found light and dry. Some breaking was in store.

Photo: doumall

We quickly set track to Halfmoon Pass…


…where the Northern Sawatch came into view:

Photo: JCWhite

The traverse over toward Cross Creek involves an extended trip through the slide zone. Today the snow was behaving:

Photo: JCWhite

Photo: doumall

The goal came into view just past the open snowfield, which was still a long ways off:

Photo: doumall

After a trap crust ski down into Cross Creek we skinned up again and began the breaking toward the North Ridge. This area must have been heavily glaciated at some point; pillowed boulders and cliffs populate the landscape.

Photo: JCWhite

Once on the ridge, the plowing got serious, 12-18" of steep plowing. I actually felt like we earned our winter stripes on this one despite the unseasonable temps. At treeline, we finally felt like we were getting close.

Photo: doumall

Photo: JCWhite

We fiddled around trying to keep the skins on:

Photo: doumall

Eventually giving up the ghost on that thought, we switched to booting.

Photo: doumall

Back to skinning as the peak draws near:

Photos: doumall

And finally some talus hoping (kicking, screaming, yelling, cussing, coughing, pissing, burping, farting, lots of farting, etc..):

Photo: doumall

Had us to the summit; a snowy summit.

Photo: doumall

We ate lunch and I took a stroll over to the top of the Cross Couloir. Holy Cr… this was going to be good. There was no cornice, no sign of heavy loading, and no sign of baking. I tossed a large rock at the roll over and nothing but plop. The smiles grew:

Photo: Summit Boulder

We started our ski at 3:30pm.

Jordan dropping off the summit:

Photo: doumall

After ski cutting and jumping around for a bit, it was clear sloughing would be the snowpack demeanor. Smiles grew into perma-grins:

Photos: doumall

Jordan got firsts:

Photos: doumall

Check out that slough train!

Photo: doumall

The slough was tough to manage up top due to the limited territory for turns on skiers right and skiers left being a bit sun effected. We found a way to deal with it, he he:

Photos: JCWhite

Photos: doumall

Photos: JCWhite

We played leap frog a bit finding good safe zones in the couloir wall nooks. The only thing that could have made this better would have been better lighting. The pics are a bit dark as a consequence, but hey, it's a free show right?

Photo: JCWhite

Photo: doumall

Photos: JCWhite

Photos: doumall

Photos: JCWhite

We easily found the exit above the cliff.

Photo: JCWhite

Out on the rocky SE face…

Photo: doumall

…we found a mix of crust…

Photo: JCWhite

…and cream.

Photo: JCWhite

Our final turns were made into the sun on the Bowl of Tears…

Photo: JCWhite

Photo: doumall

…and then in powder conditions following Cross Creek:

Photo: JCWhite

An epic day with epic snow. The Couloir from below…

Photo: doumall

…and the sunset on the way out.

Photo: doumall

Jordan's TR can be found over on Teton:


  • Comments or Questions

Mmm, mmmm, good....     02/05/2011 00:22
Powder, sunset and short-sleeves! Way to go!


Sick!!!     03/16/2009 23:10
Great TR. How steep did it get?


Lift ticket???     03/16/2009 23:29
Do you really need a lift ticket to ski Holy Cross???

Nice pictures. I can‘t wait until I can get out again.


As soon as you finish your 14er ski goal,     11/30/2010 17:28
you're going to teach me to ski! I don't need t be able to ski the Cross Couloir. I'm tired of blisters and I just want to be able to ski the road back to my car with a full pack (and it would be nice if I could do it w/o breaking a leg.) On your ascent photos, how did you each manage to get so many photos with the other guy out front?

Good job to both,



Beautiful day!!     03/17/2009 01:45
Great climb and ski with another picture packed report. Great job.


delicious and nutritious...     11/30/2010 17:28
I can't stay upright in pow, but that still looks like a fairly tasty dish. Nice trip dudes.

Easy Rider

Nicely!     03/17/2009 04:19


Very nice     03/17/2009 04:28
great climb, ski, weather and TR


Steve...     03/17/2009 14:28
I think it is because we were both fluctuating in energy level at different times...I was feeling good, then Joe, then me, then Joe...It‘s just kind of how the day went.

Chicago Transplant

Now that is a ski day!     03/17/2009 16:51
Looks like this is the ski day you guys have been waiting for, great snow and weather conditions! Daytime temps later this week are going to start hitting the low 50‘s in town, seems the corn is on its way


Amazing!     07/13/2009 02:15
Photos and write up.
Looks like an awesome day - lots to enjoy here, even for the armchair reader!
(I have the broken leg Steve hopes to avoid...!)


Holy crap what a sweet ride!     03/17/2009 18:33
Well done, you two are prime time entertainment!
Have fun this spring.


bad ass mountaineer     03/18/2009 01:56
I would have felt like such a bad ass mountaineer walking up this road.”

thats good, I understand.

impressive photo‘s, and congrats on another winter 14er ski.


Nice job guys     03/18/2009 19:04
Looks like it was a beautiful day and some nice powder skiing. The Cross Couloir is one I really want to ski. Congrats on another winter summit and ski!


A question or two     03/20/2009 02:53
Great trip report. Thanks! Can you tell me, was the road up to the Trailhead all snow covered? Also, how tough would this climb have been with snowshoes and no skis considering the snow conditions? Thanks!


Thanks for all the comments!     03/20/2009 14:58
deckerrachi, the Tigiwon Road is used by a snowmobile outfitter and is groomed all the 8 miles to the trailhead. There are many spurs roads to navigate. The breaking with snowshoes would be tedious in places on the way to Halfmoon Pass as well as on the North Ridge prior to treeline.


Thanks     03/20/2009 22:13
Thanks Doumall. This helps.

MUni Rider

Excellent.     07/04/2009 08:42
My favorite 14er ski trip report to date.

Inspiration to get an AT skiing set-up for next year if I can afford it.

Thanks for posting.

(Now I know where Jcwhite‘s avatar is from.)


Inspirational....     02/19/2010 20:06
Pretty amazing trip, you guys!!

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