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 Peak(s):  Mt. of the Holy Cross  -  14,005 feet
Holy Cross Ridge  -  13,831 feet
 Post Date:  09/11/2010
 Date Climbed:   09/05/2010
 Posted By:  mikemalick

 Holy Cross - North Ridge up, Halo Ridge down   

Overview
============
Depart Half Moon TH on Half Moon Pass/North Ridge Route: 5:50 AM
Arrive Half Moon Pass: 6:35 AM
Mt Holy Cross summit: 9:20 AM
Depart summit on Halo Ridge Route: 10 AM
Arrive Point 13,831': 10:42 AM
Arrive Notch Mountain Shelter: 1:20 PM
Arrive back at TH: 3:38PM
Total Time: 9 hours 48 mins
Elevation gain: 5,176'
=============

Hi all. First trip report for me.

Drove from Westminster, CO to the Half Moon TH the evening of 9/4 for my first attempt at Mount of the Holy Cross. The only other Sawatch 14ers I've done previously were Belford and Oxford last year. Anyway, 3 hours later I was at the trailhead at around 10 PM. The place was packed! Didn't even think about the fact it was Labor Day weekend so lots of folks taking advantage of the holiday weekend. The parking area was completely packed so I ended up parking along the side of the road. Heard lots of laughter coming through the dark from some camp areas. Sounded like quite the festive time!

Here's my GPS track of the hike. Started at the top-right side and worked my way around in a counter-clockwise direction.

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And here is that route again along with the profile:

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Here is a shot at the top of Half Moon Pass as the sun was getting ready to peak its head over the mountains. Saw some folks eagerly awaiting the sunrise with the perfect spot to take a pic of those first rays. Knowing I had a long day ahead, I decided to not hang around.

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Here was my first good view of Mount of the Holy Cross taken on the way down from Half Moon Pass.

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During my descent from Half Moon Pass towards East Cross Creek, I snapped this photo which I think ended up being my favorite from the whole trip. Mount of the Holy Cross and the north ridge.

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This pic came courtesy of the North Ridge heading up towards the summit. Notch Mountain top center. Can't imagine why they call it Notch Mountain! Lake Patricia lower left. Half Moon Pass just off pic center left. Lake Patricia is at 11,398'. Later in the day while along the Halo Ridge I came across a couple guys heading in a clockwise direction that came up and over Notch Mountain. Said it was fun so may have to try that route in the future.

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Made the summit 3 1/2 hours later after starting. This pic shows Vail centered about 14 miles to north east of summit with Gore Range in the distance.

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Looking across from summit to the Notch Mountain Shelter center-left on ridgeline. Will be there in a few hours.

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Summit of Mount of the Holy Cross looking across to part of ridgeline that makes up Halo Ridge descent route. Bowl of Tears @ 12,001' seen below the route.

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After spending over 30 minutes at the summit (it was a very windy day, but the summit was actually the least windy part...go figure so I enjoyed the stay for a while), here is Point 13,831' on Halo Ridge Route looking back to summit of Mount of the Holy Cross.

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Here's a shot from Point 13,831' looking down to Tuhare Lakes (12,365' and 12,090') to south of Halo Ridge Route. These lakes were quite picturesque and the picture cannot do them justice. At times they were brilliant emerald/turquoise and other times almost blinding while shimmering in the sunlight.

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Stopped and talked to quite a few groups along the Halo Ridge route. All of they were heading in the other direction. Did I miss something??? I took the counter-clockwise approach so as to not have to ascend Half Moon Pass on the tail end of the trip. However, when all was said and done, perhaps going clockwise would have been easier on the legs. Sure there were paths to take that skirted all the mini-summits along Halo Ridge, but I decided before heading out that I wanted to hit all those high points. With that in mind, doing those early on coupled with all the ups and downs those required may have been easier earlier in the day with fresh legs.

Finally made it over to the summit's opposite side next to Notch Mountain Shelter at 1:20PM. Here is a view looking back at Holy Cross from that point unfortunately without any namesake snow in the couloirs.

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Notch Mountain shelter around 13,060'. First-come, first-serve basis if you want to stay in it. Makes a good lightning shelter.

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As you can see from this shot, you can get quite a nice fire going in a fireplace this big! There were benches lining most of the walls in here..

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Met two couples in the shelter. One of the couples was out on a 5-day backpacking trip along with their 10-month old dog Lucy shown here.

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Made it back to my car 9 hours, 48 minutes after my start. It was a long day. Of course it didn't help matters that I them had a 3 hour drive back home right after that. Tired legs tend to cramp up when stuffed in a car for that long!

All in all a very enjoyable trip. As mentioned before, if I did this hike again, I would probably give clockwise direction a shot. Again you don't have to hit all the high points on Halo Ridge, but in my opinion hitting those makes for the most direct route. Not much scree, but there was lots of talus and boulder hopping. Also watch out for lots of "teeter totter" rocks on some of the Halo Ridge 13ers. Maybe it was due to my tired legs at the point, but those almost got me a few times. Some of them looked so large and wedged in so well that I was surprised they had those "surprises" waiting for me.

Moving one Sawatch mountain to the south on 9/13...Mount Massive. Enjoy everyone!



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
MtnHub


excellent!     2010-09-11 15:50:09
This is one of my favorite loop hikes, and I'd love to go back and do it again! I've done it both ways, but I prefer going the reverse (clockwise) as that way you see MHC at breaking dawn from the hut. But love your dawn shot from Half Moon too! Can't go wrong either way! Such a gorgeous place!! Thanks for posting!


mikemalick



MtnHub     2010-09-11 21:05:29
Hey MtnHub. I was all set to go clockwise until I read the Halo Ridge route writeup here on 14ers that mentioned Halo Ridge made a good descent route in order to avoid Half Moon Pass on the final leg. What you said about MHC at breaking dawn/sunrise was very high on my reasoning list! Never having been there before, the logic/reasoning of the 14ers writeup sounded good to me so I switched my plan. Oh well. That'll just ”force” me to visit again to try the other direction!



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