Halo Ridge on Holy Cross, Water, Acclimatization, Forest Spookiness in the Dark

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mountainrev
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Re: Halo Ridge on Holy Cross, Water, Acclimatization, Forest Spookiness in the Dark

Post by mountainrev »

I did it counterclockwise (standard up/Halo down), and would not recommend that for the reasons others have mentioned. The talus hopping at 13,000' after summiting seems endless. I had my usual 3 liter Camelbak and ran out well before reaching Notch Mountain on the way back.
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Re: Halo Ridge on Holy Cross, Water, Acclimatization, Forest Spookiness in the Dark

Post by MtnHub »

MountainMetaphor wrote: Wed Sep 22, 2021 8:45 pm
kkinzli wrote: Wed Sep 22, 2021 7:22 pm I just did this loop yesterday and agree that the best way to do it is to do Halo ridge first. I carried 4 liters without refilling and ran out at the top of Half Moon Pass on the way back.
It's just that going that way leaves a 1,000-ft elevation gain at a point in the trek when I know I'll feel like 10 ft of gain is 10 ft too many. For that reason I'm actually surprised so many recommend Halo first rather than North Ridge first. Is it really that much better?

Also, how long did the whole trek take you? I seem to average about a mile/hour, give or take, on these 14er routes.
I agree with kkinzli -- you climb the 'extra' 1000' gain either way you go, it's just the clockwise route of going up Halo first and Standard down leaves it more at the end of your hike, but you are on good established trail at that point. I really didn't think it was that bad going up to the Pass. But climbing up through all the talus reaching the shelter the other way is a more dangerous part and that's when you're really getting tired.

Looking back on my reports, I would plan on a good 10-12 hr day for the entire loop. It is a long and exhausting trek, but oh, so worth it!
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Re: Halo Ridge on Holy Cross, Water, Acclimatization, Forest Spookiness in the Dark

Post by Barnold41 »

A friend and I did standard first and ended with Notch, and would recommend this if you're in decent shape. We both agreed we'd rather not have to go back up Cross Creek towards the end of the day, and I honestly didn't feel that the rock hopping was that bad on the ridge. I tend to do a lot of rock hopping most days out so my perspective could be a bit skewed.

I had a 3L full and ran out at the Notch shelter, but I also had my Sawyer mini as a backup and ended up having a few sips at the bottom of the Notch trail. There isn't any water between Cross Creek and the little creek near the Notch/Fall Creek intersection.

Definitely make sure you have spent some time at altitude before you go. We encountered someone who had driven from Kansas the night before and was feeling the altitude on the ridge.

We did it in around 8 hours but were moving rather quickly with few stops.
Last edited by Barnold41 on Thu Sep 23, 2021 10:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Halo Ridge on Holy Cross, Water, Acclimatization, Forest Spookiness in the Dark

Post by Chicago Transplant »

I usually do it Standard up and Halo down. The elevation gain on the exit is broken up that way into smaller 300+ foot chunks at a time, plus it occurs more in the middle of your hike and not at the end. The drawback is that terrain is rougher until you get to the shelter. Then its all downhill on good trail from there. Most people who get lost on Holy Cross usually get lost descending it, so going up HC and down Halo avoids that. Though it seems the trail is better now and not as many people get lost these days.

I can see the benefits of having the Halfmoon Trail on the way out be easy on your legs than all the talus hopping the other way, but in reality the mileage on the talus hop is basically in the middle of the hike either way, where the Halfmoon reclimb is far closer to the end of the hike. You will be going up hill with 2.5 miles left in your hike. If you do Standard first and Halo out, you are going downhill the last 5 miles.

My time is probably quicker than most, it takes me about 8 hours to do the loop. I usually carry 3L of water. There are more water options exiting from Notch as well if you were to run out.
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Re: Halo Ridge on Holy Cross, Water, Acclimatization, Forest Spookiness in the Dark

Post by MountainMetaphor »

Great responses in this thread; thanks. Is sounds like there's a good argument for going either way--either starting with Halo Ridge, or ending with it. I think I'm going to start with North Ridge so that I can assess my energy at the summit. If I feel like I have the juice for two miles of boulder-hopping, I'll continue on Halo Ridge, but this way if I'm tired or it takes me longer to summit than I'd planned or I'm just not feeling it I can go back the way I came.

I saw a thread in these forums that said Halo Ridge isn't as challenging as the Harvard-Columbia standard traverse (not the ridge traverse, which is Class 4, I believe)...and Harvard-Columbia was my first day ever on a 14er! Reading that made me feel more confident about not getting in over my head on Halo. Would you all agree that Harvard-Columbia's traverse is more challenging?

Interesting that everyone's water seems to run out at the shelter when doing the route counter-clockwise! And Half Moon Pass for clockwise. Based on this I'm going to bring 4 liters and my Sawyer mini so I can quickly replenish if needed coming down the Notch Mtn. Trail.

Two more questions (thanks!): 1.) Sounds like the talus on Halo Ridge is pretty stable throughout? I find when there's a lot of shifting talus it slows me down but I can scramble pretty quickly when it's stable. I actually love talus :) And 2.) When you're scrambling over talus, do you use your poles if it's not steep enough where you need your hands for climbing? I just started using poles--I used to think they weren't for me but now I swear by them--and I hate the sound they make on talus, plus they don't grip on rock, and in the past I've always just used my hands when needed for stability. Curious how others feel about poles when you're on a long stretch of talus.

Thanks! Especially because I'll be solo I like to know what I'm getting into as much as possible! Appreciate the responses very much.
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Re: Halo Ridge on Holy Cross, Water, Acclimatization, Forest Spookiness in the Dark

Post by MountainMetaphor »

Chicago Transplant wrote: Thu Sep 23, 2021 9:30 am I usually do it Standard up and Halo down. The elevation gain on the exit is broken up that way into smaller 300+ foot chunks at a time, plus it occurs more in the middle of your hike and not at the end. The drawback is that terrain is rougher until you get to the shelter. Then its all downhill on good trail from there. Most people who get lost on Holy Cross usually get lost descending it, so going up HC and down Halo avoids that. Though it seems the trail is better now and not as many people get lost these days.

I can see the benefits of having the Halfmoon Trail on the way out be easy on your legs than all the talus hopping the other way, but in reality the mileage on the talus hop is basically in the middle of the hike either way, where the Halfmoon reclimb is far closer to the end of the hike. You will be going up hill with 2.5 miles left in your hike. If you do Standard first and Halo out, you are going downhill the last 5 miles.

My time is probably quicker than most, it takes me about 8 hours to do the loop. I usually carry 3L of water. There are more water options exiting from Notch as well if you were to run out.
Thanks--and thanks for your excellent route description for the Halo Ridge! You are most definitely faster than me and probably faster than many or most. I'm estimating it will take me 12 hours.
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Re: Halo Ridge on Holy Cross, Water, Acclimatization, Forest Spookiness in the Dark

Post by MountainMetaphor »

Pika wrote: Thu Sep 23, 2021 7:58 am I love starting out in the dark and hike through spooky stuff. It keeps my adrenalin flowing and somehow I end up doing better time without even realizing it. :-D I fight spookyness with noise. I click my hiking poles periodically; I sing to myself and just letting anything know around me that I am there. I do not stop much and start looking around in the headlight. Unless I wanna start seeing things that are not there. I don`t think the trail is any spookier than usual. And most of the time, I always run into people on the trail. Have fun!
Ha--I do the same! Click my poles, have full conversations with myself out loud, carry a whistle, sing.... I feel better about doing North Ridge in the dark. I think I was mostly worried also about any weirdos who might be at those campsites on the other side of the creek crossing. I carry bear spray and love that the release for the pump glows in the dark! As long as I keep moving, as you say, I can usually manage to keep my vivid imagination in check ;)
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Re: Halo Ridge on Holy Cross, Water, Acclimatization, Forest Spookiness in the Dark

Post by mountainrev »

MountainMetaphor wrote: Thu Sep 23, 2021 10:07 am
Two more questions (thanks!): 1.) Sounds like the talus on Halo Ridge is pretty stable throughout? I find when there's a lot of shifting talus it slows me down but I can scramble pretty quickly when it's stable. I actually love talus :) And 2.) When you're scrambling over talus, do you use your poles if it's not steep enough where you need your hands for climbing? I just started using poles--I used to think they weren't for me but now I swear by them--and I hate the sound they make on talus, plus they don't grip on rock, and in the past I've always just used my hands when needed for stability. Curious how others feel about poles when you're on a long stretch of talus.

Thanks! Especially because I'll be solo I like to know what I'm getting into as much as possible! Appreciate the responses very much.
To question #1: I found the talus shifted a lot. It's been a while--maybe ten years, but I recall that as being one of the main reasons I ended up hating this route. I was tired, thirsty, and ready to get back to a solid trail and some water for my filter bottle, but the talus was nasty, and the boulders moved a lot when using them for hand holds. I think I'd have hated it much less, and maybe even enjoyed it, if I had fresh legs and plenty of water when going over Halo Ridge.
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Re: Halo Ridge on Holy Cross, Water, Acclimatization, Forest Spookiness in the Dark

Post by Barnold41 »

I put poles away for the ridge but I feel like that is a personal call.

Rock was mostly stable when we did it last summer.
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Re: Halo Ridge on Holy Cross, Water, Acclimatization, Forest Spookiness in the Dark

Post by MtnHub »

MountainMetaphor wrote: Thu Sep 23, 2021 10:14 am
Chicago Transplant wrote: Thu Sep 23, 2021 9:30 am I usually do it Standard up and Halo down. The elevation gain on the exit is broken up that way into smaller 300+ foot chunks at a time, plus it occurs more in the middle of your hike and not at the end. The drawback is that terrain is rougher until you get to the shelter. Then its all downhill on good trail from there. Most people who get lost on Holy Cross usually get lost descending it, so going up HC and down Halo avoids that. Though it seems the trail is better now and not as many people get lost these days.

I can see the benefits of having the Halfmoon Trail on the way out be easy on your legs than all the talus hopping the other way, but in reality the mileage on the talus hop is basically in the middle of the hike either way, where the Halfmoon reclimb is far closer to the end of the hike. You will be going up hill with 2.5 miles left in your hike. If you do Standard first and Halo out, you are going downhill the last 5 miles.

My time is probably quicker than most, it takes me about 8 hours to do the loop. I usually carry 3L of water. There are more water options exiting from Notch as well if you were to run out.
Thanks--and thanks for your excellent route description for the Halo Ridge! You are most definitely faster than me and probably faster than many or most. I'm estimating it will take me 12 hours.
Mike (ChiTransplant), you make some good arguments and possibly especially good points for the OP. But this is one route I tend to disagree with you. :lol: I do LOVE the clockwise way, and I think the sunrise view of MHC from the shelter is worth any disadvantages. But you (MountainMetaphor) may also be wise in your thoughts about testing yourself to reach the summit first from Halfmoon too and then evaluate your return.

I do think the talus on the Ridge is pretty stable for the most part. I love talus too. I also LOVE my poles! But on this stretch I think it is wise to put them away and save it for the trail after you would reach the shelter. I find my balance is much better with both hands free, and the poles can actually make you more unbalanced and get caught between rocks.

If you are doing this route soon -- ie: not in the very hot summer months -- I think your water supplies will hold out fine. Good luck! And please post a TR when you're back! :-D
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Re: Halo Ridge on Holy Cross, Water, Acclimatization, Forest Spookiness in the Dark

Post by Count40 »

Another one to chip in. The clockwise gang (Ridge first).
Pros:
-if concerned about stumbling in the dark on the way, back, stumbling around Notch would be much worse.
-nice views of sunrise from the Notch Ridge, and then later the lakes on each side all along
-easier trail on the way back down the standard route,
Cons (watered down):
-that uphill back up to the Half Moon Pass was not an issue at all
-as for the part about getting lost when going down the standard route it is just that stretch in the open above timberline where you cross from the huge ridgeline cairns to the trail in the woods. Eye the general bearing to that timberline "entry" while still high up on the ridge, and stick to it.

As for issues about the dark, you have about 12 hours from first light (about 6:30 or so) to about 7 pm (being on the east side of the pass when coming back).
That is sufficient. I am slow, and I did that hike lazy and with lots of stops, and it was still 12 hours. You will have plenty of nice views to soak in going up the Halo.
Here are the splits, if it gives you an idea, just move it all hour and a half forward. Lazy walk, pack about 40-45 pounds, five liters of water (had at least half left), temps around 35-45F.
start at 8:15, Half Moon Pass at 9:15, 12760 at 10:15, (North) Notch at 10:15, South Notch at 11:15, Shelter at 12:15, 13300 at 13:15, Holly Cross Ridge (13800) at 15:15, Holy Cross at 16:15, Creek crossing at 18:30, Half Moon Pass at 19:30, Car at 20:15
Trip report by Tallgrass was useful then.
As for 6000 vs 8000 feet, not much of an issue, if any at all. Not Leadville living, but both of these come to about the same.
Have fun.
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Re: Halo Ridge on Holy Cross, Water, Acclimatization, Forest Spookiness in the Dark

Post by mtn_hound »

Count40 wrote: Thu Sep 23, 2021 3:32 pm Another one to chip in. The clockwise gang (Ridge first).
Pros:
-if concerned about stumbling in the dark on the way, back, stumbling around Notch would be much worse.
-nice views of sunrise from the Notch Ridge, and then later the lakes on each side all along
-easier trail on the way back down the standard route,
Cons (watered down):
-that uphill back up to the Half Moon Pass was not an issue at all
-as for the part about getting lost when going down the standard route it is just that stretch in the open above timberline where you cross from the huge ridgeline cairns to the trail in the woods. Eye the general bearing to that timberline "entry" while still high up on the ridge, and stick to it.

As for issues about the dark, you have about 12 hours from first light (about 6:30 or so) to about 7 pm (being on the east side of the pass when coming back).
That is sufficient. I am slow, and I did that hike lazy and with lots of stops, and it was still 12 hours. You will have plenty of nice views to soak in going up the Halo.
Here are the splits, if it gives you an idea, just move it all hour and a half forward. Lazy walk, pack about 40-45 pounds, five liters of water (had at least half left), temps around 35-45F.
start at 8:15, Half Moon Pass at 9:15, 12760 at 10:15, (North) Notch at 10:15, South Notch at 11:15, Shelter at 12:15, 13300 at 13:15, Holly Cross Ridge (13800) at 15:15, Holy Cross at 16:15, Creek crossing at 18:30, Half Moon Pass at 19:30, Car at 20:15
Trip report by Tallgrass was useful then.
As for 6000 vs 8000 feet, not much of an issue, if any at all. Not Leadville living, but both of these come to about the same.
Have fun.
5 L of water weighs about 11 lbs (5 kg). What on earth else were you carrying that weighed another 30-35 lbs? Hauling a 40 lb pack up around that loop sounds brutal!
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