| Halo Ascent - Standard Descent
Net-net, this is one Tough Trek. Be prepared.
My son, Austin, wanted to summit a 14er while here for the summer from the college and USAF. We happened to be in Vail the prior weekend and viewed the cross from there. He kept asking me to pick one that I might not do by myself (or just with the hound, AreToo) and I suggested this one. Little did we know how challenging Holy Cross and Halo Ridge can be!
Car camped at the trailhead overnight. Hit the trail at 4 a.m. Our trip to the Forest Service building on the ridge was uneventful, but we did enjoy the various stages of a glorious sunrise over the Vail ridge (and whatever else is over there) on the way up. This is a great trail, easy to follow, not particularly strenuous.
The views on this route are spectacular, prompting Austin to say that if you can only hike one 14er, this is the trip to take. So far, having only bagged 7, I'd have to agree. However, it is not a "walk in the park". We reached the ridge hut at just before 7:30. There was one group of 3 men ahead of us who were just leaving the hut when we got there. We would later pass them along the last saddle. I only offer this to give you an idea of our pace.
It took us FIVE hours to get to the summit from the hut going around Halo Ridge. We took few breaks, and we are both in good physical shape. We were particularly fortunate that the weather held for the entire day. It would be very easy to ascend or descend via Halo Ridge and end up caught out in the open. There is an occasional rock overhang which would provide some shelter, but personally I wouldn't want to chance it.
The route description, at the end, calls this a Difficult Class 2. It certainly is. The hiker needs to be prepared for a long trip.
We summited just before 1 p.m. After spending an hour on the peak, we decided to descend via the standard route. This was not near as difficult as the ascent, we only needed to boulder hop for about an hour and a half on our way down. The descent was at times a bit discouraging as after we completed the 1000' ascent to the final pass it was still an interminable mile and a half to the parking lot.
In any event, be forewarned. This is a long strenuous hike and an early start is essential in order to avoid any potential weather problems.
The cadet captuing a moment of the sunrise.
The infamous Notch from the east side.
The hut at 7:15a
And the cross as viewed from near the hut.
Looking back at the notch and cabin from the last saddle (I think)
And me on the summit, missing the hound, at the medallion. (By the way, very glad I didn't bring him, don't think he'd have made it.)
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):