Peak(s):  Mt. of the Holy Cross  -  14,005 feet
Date Posted:  08/08/2013
Date Climbed:   08/01/2013
Author:  Rick Canter
 Mt. of the Holy Cross - Half Moon Pass  

Mt. of the Holy Cross, 14005'

7th and final TR of "Colorado 2013"

I had come to Colorado this summer hoping to reach the summits of Holy Cross, Evans and Massive, which would leave me with mountains much farther south and west to complete the 14ers. After some challenges, I had to scratch Massive off completely...2014 perhaps. I also wanted to finish my mini-Tahosa Valley Meeker and South Twin Sister, but I also left this year without an attempt on Mt. Lady Washington and Storm Peak, another effort for 2014 perhaps.

Holy Cross, it is known, is a serious day in the mountains. With over a mile of gain and loss, including the mental challenge of reclimbing Half Moon Pass on the way out, Holy Cross was going to be my final serious effort in 2013.

I arrived at the Tigiwon Road trailhead at 3 am, a little later than I wanted to. I was surprised to see about 6 cars already parked here, but some folks had apparently hiked in to camp the night before, or used the Halo Ridge route. I was alone hiking up and over Half Moon Pass in the dark and relieved to be going downhill. I was across East Cross Creek in the dim light with the sun dawning over Mt. Jackson as I gained elevation toward timberline on the Holy Cross massif. Some smaller groups caught me in the early morning. By now, the legs had grown worn from a week of hiking and I was taking my time up to timberline. I had a great view of the Gore Range and its many mini-peaks at sunrise.

The pika greeted me as I pressed forward. This year, my iPhone has come in handy to share photos with folks back home, sometimes in real time, also to check my elevation, or location. While it is a handy device, I did my best not to let it interrupt my experience, but to enhance it. Besides, I need to keep the power on the cellphone in case it is needed in an emergency.

I was surprised to see I was "only" at 13190' when I felt that the summit was close at hand, so clearly, an altimeter is a handy tool to have, even if it just keeps optimism at bay. I was able to send a photo from this location back home in real time.

I munched on Gu and Powerbars, some Twizzlers and M & M's, along with the water-and-Gatorade mix. Better acclimated after 10 days, I felt confident going up the hill, but with worn legs.

Past the couloirs and then the hard left where the trail ends and a bunch of Class 2 talus is all that is in between me and the summit. I had stayed within shouting range of the groups that had passed me, although one stronger group was attempting Holy Cross Ridge. I had had ideas of reaching Holy Cross Ridge, but there were clouds in the sky again, and there was some doubt about a dry traverse. I opted just to try for Holy Cross, and after the required scrambling, the summit was mine, uh, actually ours. I shared the summit with about 6 other hikers, including a friendly dog, who shared my summit pic with me.

Holy Cross became my 30th Fourteener.

I tried to make a call, but had bad reception. I took a photo of the benchmark, took photos around and had my summit pic taken with the smiling dog.

This is a wonderfully remote area; a large and unspoiled landscape. The stars at night were stunning. The views by daylight just as rewarding.

The clouds were coming in and, in some locations, spotty rain could be seen. I noticed on Doppler radar that there was a probable storm to hit the area around 2 pm, as weather was coming in from Gunnison and Grand Junction. I decided to head down with some expedience. I warned folks coming up to keep an eye to the sky, as the skies were mostly cloudy now.

There was a brief sprinkle near timberline, otherwise I was granted a dry passage back to Tigiwon Road, the hotel, and eventually Maryland.

As I grunted up the hill from East Cross Creek toward Half Moon Pass, I simply reminded myself that this hill is just a little higher and longer than my old favorite at home, South Mountain. If I can get over South Mountain, I can get over this. I do and I did.

While this is a very demanding day, I am usually slower and tire much faster on loose rock. Most of this route is on solid rock, not tippy at all. This helped me as I worked over the 12 miles and 5600' of elevation gain and loss.

I met the CFI crew near Half Moon Pass and thanked them for their work. As an Appalachian Trail maintainer, I hold a high regard for those who work the trails as I do back east. CFI does magnificent work and their work continued on this route on August 2.

I still had two miles downhill to go. Also, this is the time where I start to slow down a bit, recognizing that my week of hiking the high peaks is over. I do not want it to end. It was then that I met Brad, from Illinois. It may have taken 60-odd miles to meet Brad, but our conversation made the final hike back to the trailhead a breeze. Brad had just started his quest to reach the 14ers and as a kindred flatlander, with flatlander issues, I had a chance to mentor him a bit. We exchanged information at the trailhead.

Epilogue. My agenda for August 2 was flexible. It was a lovely morning but I had to check out of the hotel and also prepare the perfect day-pack if I were hiking again on this getaway day. I had to be at the Denver airport by 4 pm.

At the last minute, I opted out of another hike, and instead, drove to familiar haunts and entirely new scenery in Middle and North Parks, and through Poudre Canyon.

"Colorado 2013" included 26,796' of gain, a new record for one of my tours. Because I bailed at Summit Lake, I only had about 23,500' of loss. 68 miles of hiking.

I expect to return in 2014 for more adventures. Mt. Lady Washington, Storm Peak and Mt. Massive are already penciled in.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Nice report!
08/08/2013 16:49
I'm planning on doing this one for my Colorado finale, too. What was your RT time?


08/08/2013 17:26
We are doing next week. What time were you back at Tigiwon road, same as above, what was your round trip time


You met Tockelstein?
08/08/2013 18:45
I met a Brad from Illinois in Breck and we did Quandary in Jan, I wonder if it's the same guy?

Holy Cross is a great finish, glad you didn't get lost up there! I almost did that one time!

Congrats on your finale of CO 2013!

Great trip for a Flatlander!

Rick Canter

hike time
08/08/2013 19:29
Round trip time was 12 hours...essentially 3 am to 3 pm. The acclimated locals make it up faster, also, I have the tourist eyes, take time to photo-document and be in touch with the homies which slows me down.

My ”pure hike” time was probably 10 1/2 hours, and acclimated locals should be faster than that if they stay focused.

Give yourself 35-50 minutes to get up Tigiwon Road. The Half Moon Pass TH is straight ahead, the Notch Mtn/Halo Ridge TH is to the left.


08/09/2013 01:14
Rick it was great meeting you...yep same guy Beau!

I'm going to have to start doing ”tours”

I didn't realize you did all those climbs during the present trip...impressive!

That dog totally photobombed you.


Thought that was you
08/09/2013 15:26
How many Brad's from Ill can there be, plus I remember you saying something about Beaver Creek and Holy Cross is not too far from BC. Congrats on your 6th!

Apologies Rick for the drift!

What are the odds of 2 people meeting on a trail that I hiked with in the past from outside of CO?

Rick Canter

08/10/2013 02:22
Well Tockelstein, I have been photobombed by worse. A bald head, for instance. I like dogs, especially summit dogs.

I wish we had global expectations for summit pics, ”please take a photo of more than me, how about the mountains behind me?, etc. If there is no scenery, you might as well take my pic in the mall”...

Jeff Valliere

08/10/2013 20:18
Great job Rick, you certainly make the most of your short time in Colorado!

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2017®, 14ers Inc.