Summary: First wedding anniversary on Holy Cross. There isn't much to say about the route that hasn't already been said, but we did manage to summit at sunrise which offered some awesome pics! Overall we loved this great peak and beautiful place.
Note: Katie is a much better photographer than me; not to mention her camera is probably 6x more expensive than mine, lol. We decided to bring her big beast camera for this climb, and all the pics below were taken by her.
Report: For our anniversary, Katie and I decided to head up Holy Cross with the plan to camp at East Cross Creek, and then hit the summit at sunrise. Despite hearing many times how beautiful the Holy Cross wilderness was, I was expecting yet another standard Sawatch slog. I was dead wrong. The hike in was gorgeous. The Aspens are juuuust barely beginning to turn, which made it spectacular. Also, it was quite a bit different to start so late in the day-3:30 or so. I like it.
We made Half Moon Pass in an hour, and another hour down to the campsite-no sweat. The evening light offered some great colors and views in every direction. We were immediately struck by the ruggedness and beauty of the area. Truly a special place.
Reaching Half Moon Pass
Hiking along Half Moon Pass
First glimpse of Holy Cross
Beautiful now, give these Aspens a week or so and they will be downright spectacular.
Why we love Colorado...
...more of why we love Colorado
A quick camp, dinner, and then soon off to bed to get ready for the early morning. A quick note of thanks to the guys who helped out with water. I (very stupidly) bought the wrong propane for our stove and left the water purification tablets at home. Those guys were a big help; many thanks as you were a trip-saver!
Getting water before we realized we had no way to filter...-1
We awoke at 3:00 to a coooold and dark morning. Unbelievably, as soon as we got moving we passed another group headed up to also hit the sunrise. We were a bit bummed and shocked, but hey, what can you do? The slog through the trees was rough; all that dark with nothing to judge progress, ugh. This was soon forgotten as we hit the talus slope and had to intently focus on route finding. Luckily the massive cairns made it easy all the way to the top of the Angelica Coulior.
Early morning hiking in the dark
The sun coming on Holy Cross' North ridge
From the top of the Angelica Coulior
From the top of the talus, it is a quick final pitch up to the summit. The sun was coming up quick, and we were afraid we'd miss it, but luckily we hit the top literally 3-4 minutes before sunrise. Beautiful. Also frikkin cold. We were well prepared for it, but it was still really cold once we'd stopped moving and the wind picked up a bit.
Racing the sun on the final summit pitch
Made it just in time
Alpen glow over the Gore Range
Mandatory summit shot. So cold.
Looking down the Cross Coulior. Can't wait to get back on this next spring...
The hike back down was fun, especially since we could see it this time! Aside from a slight rockfall issue we couldn't get over how much we loved the views and ridge of Holy Cross. It easily became Katie's favorite well before we were finished.
Peering down into the Angelica Coulior
Isn't she cute?
Cool cairn shot
What a great face this peak has.
We took a quick rest at the tent before breaking down camp and heading out. It seems all you ever hear about Holy Cross is how long it is, but we were pleasantly surprised at how relaxed it was. Granted, it would indeed be a long single day, but we felt it was not bad at all in two. Going back over Half Moon pass was not nearly as awful as we were expecting, and from there it's a short drag to the cars.
All in all a great hike, a terrific peak, and an especially wonderful woman. Thanks for the amazing climb and the even better past year.