Peak(s):  Mt. of the Holy Cross  -  14,005 feet
Date Posted:  03/19/2012
Modified:  03/29/2012
Date Climbed:   03/17/2012
Author:  Summit Lounger
Additional Members:   Mickeys Grenade, I Man, LynnKH, wooderson, Dancesatmoonrise, Crestoner, robco, kimo, globreal, Joe W, d_baker, Papillon, sgladbach

 Closing out winter on a high  

The first photo of Mt. of the Holy Cross by William Henry Jackson 1869

Peak: Mt. of the Holy Cross

Date:March 16,17,18

Route: North Ridge from winter closure on Tigiwon Rd.

Length: 28 miles

Elevation Gain: approximately 8,015

Climbers: Britt, Darin (and some of Dale), Dave & Emily (with dogs Kiefer & Shep), Greg, Jean, Jeff, Jim, Joe, Ken, Kevin & Sarah, Kimo, Lynn, Matt, Rob, Steve, Terri H

The painting that spurred the "spell of the place" by Thomas Moran 1873
The painting was first exhibited in New York to high praise from the public and the critics. It then spent years touring the major cities of the United States and Europe before being purchased by wealthy Irish/Canadian doctor who hung it in his Manitou Springs, Colorado mansion. The mansion caught fire in 1886 but the painting was saved by being cut from its frame, rolled up, and passed out of the burning building through a window. From there the painting passed through a number of hands until today it resides in the collection of the Museum of the American West, part of the Autry National Center in Los Angeles, California.

The idea to finish out winter with an ascent of Holy Cross was hatched on the slopes of Little Bear last January. People generally liked the idea, so I sent out some PMs and set a date. What are the chances that some folks could get Friday off, snow and weather conditions would cooperate, and there would still be interest in 2 months? There were a lot of variables that had to align just right. I am glad they did.


We set a time of 9am to meet at the trailhead. Some folks spent the night at the trailhead and headed up the road at 5:30. We thought we would have plenty of time to hike up the road, set up camp and break trail down to East Cross creek. We had no idea we were about to be schooled on the process by a few of the "more experienced climbers" on the trip.


We started up the road that is groomed by Nova adventures. Being passed by 20 2 stroke, smoke belching snowmobiles was not exactly the highlight of the trip, but a necessary evil. The road was packed enough that we did not need flotation until the summer trailhead. I don't think they were out parading earlier for the "experienced climbers....." Other groups started around 11am and 4 pm. The Tigiwon community house was locked. There is now a yurt owned by Nova that was open, had water on a stove, chairs and tables, and cups, tea, and hot chocolate. We stopped in for a rest.

Hmmm nice glasses

The first of our group got to camp 300 feet below Half Moon pass around 2:30 with the intention of helping break trail to East Cross Creek only to find out that the "experienced climbers" (ken, Steve, Terri Horvath) left 1 hour ago to tackle the job. Schooled again. We started to stomp and dig out tent platforms for the night. Most camped near Half Moon Pass. Some camped down lower before the slopes got steeper towards the pass. It was great to meet some new faces. Everyone went about melting snow, eating dinner, and prepping for the 5am start.

We awoke at 4:30, pulled the boots and water out of the sleeping bag, got the gaiters out from between the thermarest and foam pad, ate some poptarts, drank a liter of water, turned on the beacon, and were on the trench by 5. Joe and I got to East Cross cr. at 6:10 and began breaking trail. It was still dark, so we broke trail for 15 minutes following some faint ski tracks hoping they were heading in the right direction, and not to cross couloir. We decided to wait for it to get a little lighter out to get our bearings and wait for the group. We were on the right track so we continued on to treeline.

Taken on the way down

We stashed our snowshoes at treeline, and continued up the ridge. The weather was great. Temperatures in the low 30s, winds 5-15mph.


On to the summit. Dave(Crestoner),
Emily and the dogs turned around at about 13,200. The first of our group summited at 10:30, the last at 12:00.

Summit pictures of all on top:

Joe (Joe W)

Greg (Summit lounger)

Steve (Sgladbach)

Ken Nolan

Kevin (Papillon)

Sarah (Wooderson)

Britt (Globreal)

Jim (Dancesatmoonrise)

Jean Aschenbrenner

Kimo (Kimo)

Darin (d_baker)


Terri Horvath

Jeff (Mickeys Grenade)

Lynn (Lynnkh)

Rob (Robco)

Matt (Iman86)

Motley Crew

The Bells and Pyramid

Capital and Snowmass

Steve and Brit made the traverse over to point 13,831 (Holy Cross Ridge), to continue their centennial quest. Matt did it later in the day. Point 13,831 is in the foreground, point 13,768 (bicentennial) in the background with the steep N face.

I had to live up to my stage name and stayed on top for 3 hours. We all mad it down without incident. It was a great day for all. The ascent back up to Half Moon pass was not enjoyed by many, especially since it was baking in the sun and felt like 65 degrees outside. Many were down to a single layer on the ascent.

Picture of our descent from Half Moon pass to East Cross Cr. taken on our way back. The red line was our approximate route.

2 people hiked out that afternoon to the trailhead, while most hung out in camp rehydrating. There was talk of a fire, but no one wanted to be the firemaster, and there were no volunteers to go collect firewood while sinking up to their waist in snow.

The trek out on the road was all that was left now.

It was a great trip shared by many. I'm hoping for another next year.


I apologize in advance for any names, avatars, or details I messed up on. Please send me a message (summit lounger), and I will happily fix them. Please feel free to upload any photos that you would like to the comment section below.

Best food: Chips and Guacamole (2nd beer)

Best quote: Darin, if your b_ _ _ was not so big, you would not be ruining our trench we just broke!!!! Reply: It's better than twigs on sticks.

Disclaimer: No children were hurt during the writing of this report. My daughter got to watch Curious George 7 times today. Please don't tell my wife, or she will make me go to a Lyle Lovett concert with her before I can climb again.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

03/19/2012 21:52
Looks Epic! And nice touch to add all the historic pics!


Kick Ass
03/19/2012 21:53
Congrats to everyone!!! Looks like an awesome time

I Man

Fantastic Winter Finale
06/20/2012 13:38
Thanks for writing this one up Greg. It was great to see you again and in such a wonderful place. You really do lounge on summits. It was a privilege to share this trip with so many big names. She sure lived up to her reputation of being remote and hard in winter. Congratulations to everyone for getting Holy Cross in winter and for all your pursuits this season.


03/19/2012 22:12
It's great to see so many happy faces.


Veritable ”Who's Who” of
03/19/2012 22:45
That was an excellent trip report (with the exception of seeing Papillon sitting like that in his ”underwear” ... how did that frickin' shot get past the website censors?!?!) Hob-nobbin' with some pretty awesome company there, my friends. The closest I've ever been to Ken and Jean has been signing registers on peaks they've already climbed. Mr. SummitLounger, I really enjoy the individual summit photos. Nice indeedy. 8) And, Modus at the trailhead. Thanks for posting. Happy trails!


Great Group!!
03/19/2012 22:43
Excellent pictures. This is inspiring. Thanks for the sharing. Congrats to everyone.


Great report
03/20/2012 00:10
But does Kimo know that you posted his picture? What a group and what an excellent day... or two. Nice that even you can get schooled! Thanks for the report.


Awesome Job!
03/20/2012 00:11
Great job everyone! Way to end the winter climbing season!


Well done!
03/20/2012 00:15
Looks like a very enjoyable weekend. Really enjoyed the historical perspective.


03/20/2012 00:55
Fine report, Greg. Loved the historical aspect, the photos, the ”cast of characters,” the sense of camaraderie evoked by your writing.
The HC wilderness is wonderful, and being on the peak with everyone in winter made it especially enjoyable.

I am humbled to have been a part of such an incredible crew. Thank you, guys and gals.

I'll try to add some photos in a few days or perhaps do a brief second report, though Greg, you pretty well covered it. Very nice indeed.

Mickeys Grenade

Thank You
03/20/2012 01:41
I want to thank all of the wonderful people that made this possible. There is no way I would have made the summit without all of the hard work the trail breakers put in. Even with a trench to follow, this trip was extremely difficult for me. I appreciate the opportunity to be included in such an experienced group of climbers. Great job on the trip report Greg


Congrats, all!
03/20/2012 02:08
Looks like a fun and memorable weekend!
Great TR - nice mugs!


03/20/2012 02:55
I was thinking about you guys while in Florida on a ”Business” trip. Looks like a great time. What a great group.


what to say?
03/20/2012 03:08
Greg, thanks for writing this up! And thanks for putting our team together back in January!
Who would have thought that MHC would see this many people in March though?!

It was nice to meet some new people too! Mickeys Grenade (Jeff), you have my respect for carrying the load.

Big, big, thanks to Ken, Jean, Steve, & Terri for ”schooling” us on how it's done effectively, and for your fantastic leadership. The four of you exemplify what it takes to be a mountaineer with your modesty, kindness, leadership, etc., etc., etc.....
thank you!

Thanks to my friends for your support and respect on the summit while I let my brother's ashes fly with the wind....

And here's a couple more pictures from our summit day:

Kimo & Terri on the final push to the summit

Terri coming up the NE ridge


03/20/2012 03:15
Cool pics, especially the last one!! You carry a wide angle lens or is it just a good crop??


nice job!
03/20/2012 03:18
talk about the A-team. where's all the pictures of swimming in deep snow?


03/20/2012 03:39
Looks like an awesome trip for everyone! Bummed I missed out on this. Well done!


@ TheOtherIndian
03/20/2012 03:43
The last photo is two frames stitched. My camera can take anywhere from 2 frames up to I think 6 frames for panos. the photo of Britt, someone is pulling the ”wool over their eyes”. I wonder who that is?

Here's one more picture of Holy Cross Ridge, with either Gladbach or Britt standing on it...


Glad to see this trip worked out for everyone
03/20/2012 04:17
but was the picture of Kevin in his skivies really called for?


With gratitude
03/20/2012 05:47
We owe our gratitude to Jean, Ken, Steve, and Terri for laying the perfect track down to the creek on Friday. It was key to our success on Saturday morning in the dark. Thank you.

As for the strong and the fast at the front of the team who broke trail and put in a solid route from the creek to treeline on Saturday morning - your selfless effort was tremendous. Thank you.

This was my most remarkable achievement in four years of seeking high places. It's an adventure I will never forget, overflowing with good times and suffering, laughs and new lessons learned. The reward is the experience of sharing time with a diverse team of mountaineers who came together for the weekend to accomplish something great.

Ken and Jean move toward Mount of the Holy Cross.

Similar to Darin's pic but who can't get enough of the Gore? Terri walks the line along a rugged Gore Range horizon.

Our reward.

Summit Lounger earns his namesake.

Terri and Darin cloud surf.

And Barry, I was absolutely horrified when I heard of Greg's mugshot plan. But it turned out really good. Thanks for writing it up, Greg!


summit together today, walk together forever...
03/20/2012 06:41
The bare-legged approach.

Ken and Jean.

Team Thunder (It was great to see Steve-O again).

Kimo and Big D.

8 miles to go.

I want a hamburger no a cheeseburger. I want a hot dog. I want potato chips...

@Presto and Floyd - I may have stripped in the yurt, but Britt hoofed the entire road in his skivvies.

@Mickey - I agree completely. It was 11.5 hours tent-to-tent for most of us. I would've laughed if you told me that before the trip.

@Future climbers - Somebody ”ass-bombed” the privy at the summer TH. Approach that structure with caution, especially considering the rising temps. I'd bet money it was a client of Nova Guides.


Good Stuff
03/20/2012 13:40
Congrats to all involved! Holy Cross in winter is a special place to visit, even more so with a great group of partners. I know many of you had been wanting to do this trip for a long time, glad it worked out this year for everyone. Cheers!


Congratulations folks!
03/20/2012 13:45
WOW! What a classic trek with such a distinguished crew! And it's nice to see the faces of some of the more shy members. Thanks for posting, Greg!


Awesome trip!
03/20/2012 13:46
Thanks Greg for the great write-up. And most of all, thanks to all of you for your graciousness and kindness. It was awesome to meet you all and share the trail with you. I'll definitely remember this trip as one of my favorites and one I'm most proud of. Matt and Rob, thanks for being strong, loyal, and fun partners. You guys are the best.


A fine winter finale
03/20/2012 15:06
I'd like to echo Darin and Kimo's sentiments and express my gratitude to Ken, Jean, Steve & Terri for putting in an incredible amount of trench work that helped the rest of the group succeed. The strength and dedication of these people is inspiring and humbling. The same goes for the team that broke trail to treeline on summit day.

I'm still amazed that all the forces aligned to make this trip happen after weeks of planning. It was an incredible experience I'll never forget.

Greg, you nailed this write-up. Well done. Looking forward to many more adventures with you and the rest of the ”crew”.

@Presto: We not only had Modus at the TH, but some Deviants hitched a ride up to camp as well. 8)


TOGETHER we made it happen
03/21/2012 03:33
I was super impressed by all the people climbing Holy Cross on Sat. Amazing that 16 people summitted on one winter day! But for me, the teamwork and friendship were the best part! People encouraging others or waiting on top for hours to welcome late arrivals. People getting up earlier than normal (for them!) to share in trail breaking. Sharing winter camping skills and learning new skills. Old and young, experienced and less-experienced, all together. I am very glad to have made so many new friends!


That's a lot of snowshoes...
03/21/2012 03:54
Bummed I had to miss this one. Thanks for the invite guys... looks like an awesome time. I absolutely love these huge 14erer gatherings.

Brian C

PT 13,768
03/21/2012 15:02
Has that face been climbed?

Nice work by all! I really liked how this report was put together. Thanks for posting.

Summit Lounger

I will remember this one for a long time
03/21/2012 15:16
Thanks to everyone for sharing their pictures.

Presto & Floyd- re Papillon's pic in his skivies. He sent me the pic to post. It was even taken by Wooderson. I felt the pressure to post it, or get locked in the summer TH privy by some invisible force when I visit next time with my brother.

Johnson- I did not know about Kimo and pics, only Joe W. I figured I would go as far as taking Kimo down in the snow and wrestling for the right to post or not post his picture while the crowd around us cheered us on with cowbells.

Yikes- I decided not to post the swimming pics of everyone with their tongues hanging out, instead opting for summit mug shots when people are happy. Maybe next time.


Thanks for breaking a trench to the pass
03/21/2012 17:41
Aha, so NOW I understand why my buddy & I saw 7 - count 'em, 7! - tents on the trail from the Half Moon trailhead to the pass on Saturday. We skied up from the bottom with a 6:10am start and summitted Notch Mtn at 4:15pm. Had a quick chat with Dave & Emily at the pass on their way out; saw folks descending the N ridge once we got on the Notch Mtn ridge. The ski down from the pass back to the road was ”Mr Toad's Wild Ride” trying to avoid the rotten & warm snow. It was a wonderful day to get out and enjoy the wilderness on St Pat's day, esp. with a guy with the last name of O'Brien. Congrats gang for the summit!


03/21/2012 18:24
Wow~ Many big names on this trip. I really wish I can be with any of these great members this year. Thanks for sharing trip report.

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