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Halo Ridge Dogs?

Colorado 14er peak questions and conditions should be posted here. 14er Trip Reports
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Halo Ridge Dogs?

Postby GIS_Dave » Wed Jun 10, 2009 3:31 pm

for those that have ascended Holy Cross via Halo Ridge, could a border collie make it up that way? by looking at Bill's pictures of it, it seems questionable.

the great oudoors is ours to enjoy, not destroy.

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Re: Halo Ridge Dogs?

Postby billygco » Wed Jun 10, 2009 4:19 pm

Hello Dave -

I have taken my dog (elkhound-shepherd mix) on about ten 14ers in the past few years, and the Halo Route is definitely NOT for dogs. The lack of water and exposure is one thing, but ther sharp edges and balance moves required above 13K feet are too much for dogs' delicate paws. As a rule, I generally do not take my dog on any 14ers that are more difficult than II+. Even the Half Moon Trail with the large scree field and boulders have proven to be too much for dogs. When I was on Vail Mountain Rescue, we had to save bring down one dog from the Notch Shelter after the owners abandoned them before heading to the Halo Route.

Some other hikers may have taken their dogs on the Halo Route and made it, but I think it would be difficult. Enjoy the hike!

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Re: Halo Ridge Dogs?

Postby mrburns » Wed Jun 10, 2009 4:46 pm

I agree with billygco. I am sure someone will chime in and say that their dog has done it, but I would not recommend it. Lots of scrambling up and down boulders and sharp rocks that seems like it would be pretty difficult for a dog.
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Re: Halo Ridge Dogs?

Postby gatorchick » Wed Jun 10, 2009 8:19 pm

My dog has done ten or twelve 14ers. The only time I ever felt bad taking her up a mountain was when we were about 3/4s of the way across Halo Ridge and her feet were getting raw. She's never had any trouble on other 14ers - she is SUPER athletic and SUPER agile - but Halo Ridge was too much for her. She's done equally long routes but all that scrambling on those really sharp rocks did a number on her feet. We have Ruffwear booties for her - they work great to protect the feet but when she is rock hopping I like to leave them off of her because she gets better traction on the rocks barefoot. About 3/4 of the way across the ridge we realized that we NEEDED to put her booties on or we would be carrying her down. Had we been able to turn around at that point we would have but by then it would have taken longer to go back across the ridge than to go to the summit and go down the standard route. She was a trooper but obviously uncomfortable and I felt AWFUL.

Dogs can definitely DO Halo Ridge - but I will NOT take a dog up there again. (FWIW I don't think she would have had any trouble with the standard route)

It is a great route - have fun! (just leave the pooch at home! :))

"In her heart she knows that sometimes a dog can be as good as any man ..." - widespread panic (slightly edited)

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Re: Halo Ridge Dogs?

Postby billygco » Wed Jun 10, 2009 9:16 pm

Gatorchick -

Glad to hear your dog can make most of the trips! I have taken my dog on many 14ers as I said earlier, but I always worry that on Class III+ that the moves and sharp edges would be too much. My dog is very athletic and agile as well, weighing only about 45 lbs. and loves the alpine environment. I have seen other dogs on some routes where they have had the trouble you described above. Certain areas like Lavender Col on Sneffels and the Halo Route present the sharp edges that are so dangerous for dogs.

What other class III routes have you and your dog ascended? Also, I tried the doggy booties on my dog but she hates them, so that may make a difference on the more difficult routes.


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Re: Halo Ridge Dogs?

Postby MtnHermit » Thu Jun 11, 2009 8:37 am

Not entirely sure just what "Halo Ridge" is but if it is the cirque route from the Notch Mtn rock hut to Holy Cross, then I've done it with my dog.

He's a Siberian - border collie mix with incredible climbing skills but is afraid of heights. The only problem he had was a bit of thin ridge early in the trip with minor cliffs. I usually allow him to figure out his own route and almost never try to lift him. It was ~2005 so too long ago to remember details. Otherwise the route was typical Sawatch, metamorphic rock ridges, and a long day.

The most memorable event was a sunshine lightning strike as we crossed the 13,900' HP. I felt a "fly" in my ear and then the crack. After wards, my dog who's chased mountain lions and bears, was between my legs . . . afraid of thunder.

If a dog gets enough rock exercise then their pads are a non-issue. However, if the dog is only a weekend warrior with soft city pads, they are easily cut or can develop blisters.

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Re: Halo Ridge Dogs?

Postby Mel McKinney » Thu Jun 11, 2009 9:46 am

billygco wrote:When I was on Vail Mountain Rescue, we had to save bring down one dog from the Notch Shelter after the owners abandoned them before heading to the Halo Route.

Would this be the Border Collie or Collie Mix that I've heard stories about? Thank you for helping that dog (Cacique).

Vail Mountain Rescue prints a helpful "tips on hiking Holy Cross" brochure. VMR highly suggests not bringing dogs. I'll second (or third) the suggestion of protecting your dog's paws. I know dogs that climbed MHC with booties and did great (on the standard, Half Moon Pass, route).
Mountains cast spells on me - Why, because of the way Earth-heaps lie, should I be Chocked by joy mysteriously; stilled or drunken-gay? Why should a brown hill trail Tug at my feet to go? Why should a boggy swale Tune my heart to a nameless tale Mountain marshes know?
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Re: Halo Ridge Dogs?

Postby GIS_Dave » Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:07 am

thanks for the 411! we will scratch that route, and possibly trip and look somewhere else. up and down the standard route is still an option for us though.
the great oudoors is ours to enjoy, not destroy.

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Re: Halo Ridge Dogs?

Postby Wish I lived in CO » Thu Jun 11, 2009 11:21 am

Two pics typical of what you would find on the north ridge (std route) above tree line. There is a decent defined trail below treeline, but basically talus hopping above:
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Halo Ridge: there are some areas of relief, but much talus hopping:
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Beautiful Hike !!!
I look up to the mountains - does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! Psalm 121:1-2

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Re: Halo Ridge Dogs?

Postby Inky6900 » Thu Jun 11, 2009 12:36 pm

I climbed that route with my dog, Sawyer, back in 2003. It's a long day and a lot of up and down. I don't know that it is too hard for dogs or even unsafe for them.....but the length of the climb and time above treeline is a concern. Sawyer always wore shoes on our climbs and I remember that he lost several shoes on the terrain that day. In fact, I believe he lost a full set of four. I always carried spares for him but the terrain was rough as hell on that climb. Also, I think it was a 14 hour day for us back then. He was beat, I was beat and we slept in our vehicle overnight before driving home the next morning.

I remember saying to myself on the trip back to the vehicle that I never expected to feel like "hell" on a "holy" mountain.
With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

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