| Windy Day on North Ridge
- North Ridge, Class II
- 12 mi. 5,625 ft. elevation gain (Roach, 1999).
- Camped at East Cross Creek
- This is a beautiful, classic Sawatch mountain range hike. It makes a great overnight trip, but for a day trip the return elevation gain would increase the challenge; however, it is definitely a great hike whether one day or two.
Heading out Saturday afternoon from Boulder, Labor day weekend, we arrived at the Halfmoon trailhead at about 5:00 p.m., after about a three hour drive.
Ash and I headed up the steady climb to Halfmoon pass at 11,640 ft., where we were just ahead of the sunset.
We were disappointed to miss the sunset from the pass, but we continued quickly down nearly 1,000 feet to East Cross Creek, where we setup camp. (There are plenty of camp sites on each side of the creek.)
Together, we made quick work of camp, just before dark. No fires are permitted in this portion of White River National Forest, so we started up the MSR and had our favorite backpacking meal from Backpacker's Pantry - Chili Mac (even though I forgot the utensils).
Ash isn't a natural born peak bagger and was just along for company and to enjoy the morning relaxing by the creek, and settling into a good book. I set my alarm for 4:30 a.m., because I wanted to reach the summit with plenty of time to watch the sunrise. However, I wasn't prepared for the talus field near the top, which extinguished my summit sunrise attempt. It was dark, cold, extremely windy, and I kept losing the trail. Since it was pitch black, and the wind was about to knock me off the face of the mountain, I decided to leave my summit sunrise ambition for another peak and take cover behind a boulder to try to watch the sunrise and hopefully warm up a bit.
The talus field on a normal day would have been the same as any other peak, but with gale force winds, I was struggling to stand up, let alone hop from rock to rock in the dark. At some points I was afraid the wind was literally going to shred my rain jacket.
I made it to the summit, shortly after sunrise, and a couple reached it shortly before me. I snapped a quick pick and headed back down as quickly as I could.
I had a slight accident though, when the wind displaced me in the middle of my decent, I kissed a rock with my shin and it promptly smiled. Luckily I had my summit first aid kit in my pack. It had enough band-aids to patch it up before I reached camp and could patch it up properly. (The emergency room nurse gave me an A- on my field dressing.)
I returned to camp to find Ash reading a book and looking relaxed. Of course she thought my leg needed amputated, but after I cleaned it up it didn't look as bad. We packed up, put our heavy packs on and headed up the steep switchbacks to Halfmoon pass, then back down to the TH.
You can bask in your accomplishment because the view of Mount of the Holy Cross is in plain view the whole way back to Halfmoon pass.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):