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Mount of the Holy Cross - Alternate Route [Hunky Dory TH]

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Mount of the Holy Cross - Alternate Route [Hunky Dory TH]

Postby shaunster_co » Sat Jul 02, 2011 11:17 pm

I thought I would post a basic route for Mt of the Holy Cross due to the Tigiwon Road closure. This is just basic information for now. I have the GPS data, photos, and so on if anyone needs more info on this route, but I will be in the San Juans until July 14th, so I will not be able to post it until after that.

DIRECTIONS:
Take Exit 171 off I-70 for Minturn and Hwy 24. Proceed 12 miles on Hwy 24 to Homestake Road #703. Turn right and Proceed 9 mi on unpaved road, proceeed PAST FS759 [Large sign - 4x4 Road to HC City – do not even think of taking a stock 4x4 up this road!] Go on past the campground and take the next right. Follow this good gravel road 2 miles till it comes to a T. Turn right past the trailhead parking (Missouri & Fancy Pass Trailheads). The first quarter mile of this road is a bit rough, but can be negotiated easily in 4WD or AWD, I think I saw a Subaru on this road at one point. You will notice an aqueduct to the side of the road as you go up, continue 1.0 mi. till the road splits. Take the right trail and go 0.7 mi.

As of November 2010 The bridge that crosses this creek [French Creek] was washed out, however, you could easily drive through on the side at the time (6-12 inches deep gravel bed). This time of year however that may not be the case. The area before the bridge is wide enough for several vehicles to park if the stream crossing is not negotiable.

You will cross the stream (either by vehicle or foot) and you will come to a wide area at about .2 miles that looks like a parking lot. Park here. Two trails lead out of the parking area, the one to the left (the better looking one) ends after a short distance. Take the right trail. After a very short distance, it joins into the 4x4 road coming up from Homestake Rd (FS759). From here, it is approx. 1.5 mi. to Holy Cross City up the trail.

At about the 1.5 mi. point, the trail splits with a meadow to the front of you, and the road continues at a hairpin turn (up) to Holy Cross City. Several signs say "No Snowmobiles" roughly 8-feet-high triangular frames which mark the Hunky Dory Trailhead. You will leave the road and continue on this trail.This will lead you to Hunky Dory Lake, then past to the Seven Sister Lake Chain and eventually over Fall Creek Pass.

After Hunky Dory Lake the path begins gradually gaining altitude as it continues following French Creek upward toward Fall Creek Pass. After another 0.9 mile and 500 feet of elevation gain you will come to the first of the Seven Sisters Lakes. The trail passes near five of the lakes on its way up to the pass, with two others being higher up against the base of the cliffs. Once you reach the top of Fancy Pass, the trail descends through a broad, flat alpine meadow. You will continue roughly .3 miles to a trail junction to Tuhare Lakes. Follow this primitive trail until you reach the granite. From here there will be scrambling and considerable elevation gain on the RIGHT side of the stream. You should be on the North side of Lower Tuhare and continue up to the upper lake. Once about half way along the upper lake you will be able to route find up the talus up to Cross Ridge. Mount of the Holy Cross is not visible from the upper lake, but will come in to view as you crest the ridge. There are a few different routes you could likely take to reach cross ridge, however, I chose the route that Chicago Transplant posted known as ‘the bailout route’.
http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/uphoto.php?pic=u197p51_070829185905.jpg&cpgm=routeuphotos&route=holy3 (With good reason if you are traversing the Halo Ridge Route you are above 13,000 for four miles, hence, a ‘bailout’ to [somewhat] lower ground in the event weather should roll in).

Once at the crest of Cross Ridge you will continue over PT13831 and on to Mt of the Holy Cross (you can use the posted Halo Ridge Ridge route from this point) – you are basically joining this route at PT13831.

I know I am preaching the choir, but I will say it anyway - If you choose this route it is critical to know and understand the current weather, and terrain. You do not want to be caught on Cross Ridge during an approaching storm. The talus can range from small boulders to boulders larger than a vehicle. Most are stable, but some are not – particularly along this ‘bailout route’. Be vigilant of the cornices above you as you approach the ridge. It is easier to route-find going up than it is coming back. Be very careful descending this leg of the route - YOU CAN VERY EASILY FIND YOURSELF IN CLASS 5 TERRAIN.

I posted two Google Earth images that show the route (Green = Vehicle, Blue = hike). The upclose map shows the area that the aforementioned bridge had washed out last year.

Be safe. Hope this helps. Enjoy!
Attachments
BRIDGEOUT.jpg
Bridge out area close up
BRIDGEOUT.jpg (166.21 KiB) Viewed 2503 times
tuhares_hc.jpg
Basic route - Holy Cross City to Mt of the Holy Cross
tuhares_hc.jpg (130.31 KiB) Viewed 2507 times
Last edited by shaunster_co on Fri Jul 22, 2011 2:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Mount of the Holy Cross - Alternate Route [Hunky Dory TH]

Postby bohdi88 » Sun Jul 03, 2011 8:41 am

Thanks! I greatly appreciate the information since I have a stronge desired to complete Mount Holy Cross this year. Do you have any idea the RT miles for the route?
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Re: Mount of the Holy Cross - Alternate Route [Hunky Dory TH]

Postby shaunster_co » Sun Jul 03, 2011 9:57 am

Without my GPS data I can't say an exact number, but it falls between 7.5 - 8 miles each way. Just my opinion, but I think that going this route up the Sister Lake chain is amazing! I have the done standard route over Half Moon Pass, and the Halo Ridge from Fall Creek Trail - and this was by far my favorite route. Likewise, if you want a view of the face of Mt of the Holy Cross, you could opt to follow the posted route 'Halo Ridge Route' to the Notch Shelter after you summit. You would then follow the trail down where it joins Fall Creek Trail and take it back up the valley via Constantine Lake and back over Fall Creek Pass.

quick edit: I should add that if you do attempt the Halo Ridge route, it would probably be better to set up camp at Lake Constantine, and reduce your pack load to a day pack from there rather than going to Tuhare Lakes. Ideally, you would just leave from Lake Constantine the next morning [with less overnight gear] and you could either do the Lake Tuhare route, or Halo Ridge route. I would not attempt to go up the Tuhare Lakes with a heavy pack. Likewise, the Halo Ridge Route is pretty brutal on the knees, heavy pack not advised.

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Re: Mount of the Holy Cross - Alternate Route [Hunky Dory TH]

Postby CarpeDM » Sun Jul 03, 2011 7:53 pm

shaunster_co wrote:...Follow this good gravel road 2 miles till it comes to a T. Turn right past the trailhead parking (Missouri & Fancy Pass Trailheads). The first quarter mile of this road is a bit rough, but can be negotiated easily in 4WD or AWD, I think I saw a Subaru on this road at one point.


But did you see a Honda Fit? I would NOT advise it, and won't do it again myself, but yesterday I did get my Honda Fit above this point (with thevagabond acting as spotter). Followed the road up to where it switches back and noticed that the road essentially turned into a creek. I was very disheartened but knew I was beaten. Didn't even attempt Holy Cross. !!! DAMN YOU, TIGIWON ROAD CLOSURE !!! :cry:

Shaunster, thanks for the info.
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Re: Mount of the Holy Cross - Alternate Route [Hunky Dory TH]

Postby rijaca » Mon Jul 04, 2011 8:25 am

Garratt and Martin describe a route to UN 13,768' and HCR from Hunky Dory Lake. I don't recall anything above class 2, although I think we deviated from the route a bit.
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Re: Mount of the Holy Cross - Alternate Route [Hunky Dory TH]

Postby shaunster_co » Mon Jul 04, 2011 8:41 am

CarpeDM wrote: But did you see a Honda Fit? I would NOT advise it, and won't do it again myself, but yesterday I did get my Honda Fit above this point (with thevagabond acting as spotter). Followed the road up to where it switches back and noticed that the road essentially turned into a creek. I was very disheartened but knew I was beaten. Didn't even attempt Holy Cross. !!! DAMN YOU, TIGIWON ROAD CLOSURE !!! :cry:

Shaunster, thanks for the info.


Were you able to get across the creek [French Creek where I noted the bridge was out], or is the runoff too high? This is a pic from November when the bridge was out - the trail starts just beyond this point a few hundred yards down the road.

IMG_5646.jpg
IMG_5646.jpg (116.68 KiB) Viewed 2166 times


It's too bad USFS couldn't run a grader up this road since they have to close Tigiwon road for such a length of time, and perhaps make this a temporary trailhead. I tend to refrain from complaining to USFS unless I can offer a viable solution. I think this at least merits a phone call to them. It wouldn't take that much to run a grader up that road, put in at least a foot bridge over French Creek, and move or place a sign-in roster to this point. Especially since their press release indicates it would be hazardous to even bike up Tigiwon road (I guess that is to be expected for logging operations).

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Re: Mount of the Holy Cross - Alternate Route [Hunky Dory TH]

Postby CarpeDM » Mon Jul 04, 2011 1:22 pm

Shaunster,
No, I didn't see anything like that. Sounds like I didn't get that far. I don't have mileage or anything, but shortly after the rough patch, the road turned to the right - away from the aqueduct. It continued up for maybe a half mile. At that point, it switched back to the left (at this switchback there was also another turn-off to the right which had some kind of warning sign - maybe "Road damage ahead"). We headed up the left switchback, but quickly saw that one or two tenths of a mile ahead the road had been covered by snowmelt. I was already pretty nervous about having to go back down the rough patch, so just turned around. I'm sure any 4wd vehicle could've made it past that water - probably a lot of 2wd vehicles, too - especially with higher clearance and more power than my 117 horses.

Incidentally, the reason for no attempt on HC after having passed the rough patch was that we had picked a campsite several miles below (it very crowded up there) where thevagabond set up his tent. Then, we set out to scope the trailhead that evening with some sunlight. After having been up there once and encountering the water, I figured I'd just wait to see if I can get a better vehicle for another try.
"Skepticism is the first step towards truth." - Denis Diderot
"It is not what the man of science believes that distinguishes him, but how and why he believes it. His beliefs are tentative, not dogmatic; they are based on evidence, not on authority or intuition." - Bertrand Russell
"Tell people there's an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure." - George Carlin
"Some say they're goin' to a place called Glory And I ain't saying it ain't a fact. But I've heard that I'm on the road to Purgatory And I don't like the sound of that.
I believe in love and I live my life accordingly. But I choose to let the mystery be" - Iris Dement

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Re: Mount of the Holy Cross - Alternate Route [Hunky Dory TH]

Postby shaunster_co » Fri Jul 22, 2011 5:12 pm

Not sure if this helps clarify, but the map below comes from trail damage, HCC Route (http://www.traildamage.com/trails/index.php?id=11).

A larger version of this map is here:
http://www.traildamage.com/trails/holy_cross/maps/map_medium.gif

map_medium.jpg
map_medium.jpg (256.73 KiB) Viewed 1509 times


The route in red is the HCC Jeep road. The dashed black route is the route I am talking about. It cuts a considerable amount of time off rather than hiking the entire HCC road. As you can see on the map, the road crosses French Creek - right toward the end. This is the area the bridge is washed out. When the water levels are lower you can drive through the stream on the side (there is a bypass). Otherwise you can park before this washout and trailhead from there.

Hope that helps. I will be headed in there this week and will try to post some up to date photos.

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Re: Mount of the Holy Cross - Alternate Route [Hunky Dory TH]

Postby gsliva » Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:06 pm

As for running a blade up the road. Try emailing the local road and bridge department for the county. The Forest Service usually coordinates with the County Equipment anyway to maintain roads. Just an idea. I've had success talking with them as opposed to the much slower snail pace because of a "Washington" controlled budget USFS.

I think this is Eagle County. Try here: http://www.eaglecounty.us/Road/Contact_Information/
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Re: Mount of the Holy Cross - Alternate Route [Hunky Dory TH]

Postby ewright » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:35 am

Hi Shaunster, I would be interested in your gps data. I am planning on doing HC the first weekend of August, and would like to try your route. Thanks.


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