Peak(s):  Holy Cross Ridge  -  13,831 feet
Mt. of the Holy Cross  -  14,005 feet
Date Posted:  08/02/2015
Modified:  06/27/2017
Date Climbed:   08/01/2015
Author:  Jon Frohlich
 I didn't really like my ankle ligaments anyway....   

~10.5 miles, 3700 feet from camp at East Cross Creek
Start: 3:55am
Holy Cross Ridge summit: 6:50am
Holy Cross summit: 7:50am
Camp: 10:50am
Partner: Maya

Sometimes there is a bit of symmetry in the hiking world. In 2007 I climbed Holy Cross as my last Sawatch 14er. It ended up working out so that Holy Cross Ridge was the last Sawatch centennial I needed as well.

A few weeks before my first hike of Holy Cross I had rolled my right ankle pretty severely. I had kept hiking through the pain and didn't find out until after that weekend what I had really done. When I visited the doctor later the next week he used the word "severe" to describe my deltoid ligament sprain. He couldn't believe I'd still been hiking and backpacking on it. After Holy Cross I didn't hike again for a few months. That was the end of my season that year. So my ankles and Holy Cross already had some history before I headed out to try for Holy Cross Ridge this time around.


Holy Cross on the hike in

To give my SO some peace of mind since I was going solo I decided to just repeat the standard route like I did before so I'd have some company at least on the way down. I backpacked into East Cross Creek on Friday night and didn't have any trouble getting one of the campsites. I tried to go to sleep early but ended up tossing and turning and not sleeping well at all. It didn't help that Maya was unsettled too and kept moving around. I'd set the alarm for 4am but finally about 3:30am I gave up on sleep and decided to take advantage of the blue moon and just go for it. I packed up quickly and started heading up the trail by headlamp just before 4am. I ran into 2 other hikers in the dark and talked to them briefly but otherwise the trail was empty this early.

I felt good and had no issues heading up. The moon hanging over Holy Cross was gorgeous and we cruised up to almost 13,000 feet before the glow of sunrise started to the east. It was a beautiful morning. No wind and not even all that cold. I didn't really remember a lot of the details of this hike so it was fun to do it again.


Not my best photo ever


Early morning Holy Cross


Sun coming up


Sunrise pano from 13,500

As I neared 13,500 I started to contour around below Holy Cross and head towards the saddle with Holy Cross Ridge. Up to this point the talus hadn't been that bad. Near the saddle I rolled my left ankle for the first time. It wouldn't be the last.


Holy Cross Ridge from just above the saddle


Mount Jackson across the way

I found some trail segments on the way up Holy Cross Ridge but for the most part it was just meandering through the talus the rest of the way up. We hit the summit at about 6:50am and had a beautiful view of Tuhare Lakes down below. One of the most beautiful mornings I've had on a summit in a long time. Absolutely spectacular. It was a great feeling to finish off the Sawatch centennials on the summit next to where I'd finished the Sawatch 14ers.


Last stretch on HCR


Point 13,768 farther along the ridge


Tuhare Lakes


Looking down Halo Ridge


Holy Cross and Holy Cross Ridge shadow


Looking back at Holy Cross


Maya and I on Holy Cross Ridge

We spent about 15 minutes on the summit of HCR and then started heading back. I saw the first few people on Holy Cross and knew we were going to have more company starting soon. On the way back I rolled my left ankle a second time. It hurt more.


Holy Cross as we headed back across the saddle

Since the morning was beautiful and I felt good (except for that pesky left ankle) we headed up to the summit of Holy Cross. On the way up I talked to the two people I'd run into on the way up. They said that aside from a father and son the summit was empty. As we got near the summit I saw them leaving too and we topped out on the empty summit of Holy Cross at about 7:50am. Empty summit of a 14er on a Saturday? I knew it wouldn't last but it was still pretty cool to have it to ourselves. About 5 minutes later another group of 3 joined us so it didn't last long. It was really nice to repeat this one.


Pano from Holy Cross


Looking down at the standard route


East Cross Creek and Halfmoon Pass


This is what Maya thinks of summit photos

After about 20 minutes we started down. We talked to tons of people still heading up. Maya was very popular and numerous people stopped to ask me about her. I rolled my ankle at least 2 more times. It started to hurt quite a lot now. I might have shed a tear or it could have just been dust in my eye. Just for fun I rolled the right ankle too. The trail seemed determined that it was going to make this hike very similar to the first time around.


So that's what the trail looks like

I eventually made my way back to camp about 11am and packed up camp quickly. I didn't want to sit around and see if everything would tighten up and make the hike out worse.

Aside from the 1000 feet of uphill on the way out which is thoroughly awesome the hike out went without incident. My left ankle today is not happy though. I don't think I did any major damage so hopefully some rest will take care of it. I'm not really sure I'd want to do the Holy Cross trail a 3rd time though. My ankles may not survive the trip.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Comments or Questions
James Scott

"It hurt more."
08/02/2015 08:58
I like your matter–of–fact description!

People who hike in low top boots and cross trainers really amaze me. Both of my ankles are weak– one has chronic tendonitis– and I have to wear a brace all the time on one ankle, and I’m leaning towards a brace for the other, along with high top boots. People always complain about the pain in their knees on the way down. My knees are fine. My ankles are pretty much mush. So I can feel your pain– literally!

Great pictures. Love that mountain!

Brian Thomas

rolled ankles
08/03/2015 12:23
I do not like that part of this trip report. The dog summit pic is great!


3 to go, eh?
08/03/2015 13:37
Nice work, sir.

08/03/2015 14:23
morning pictures. Those sunrise pics are awesome. Sorry about the ankles though.

Jon Frohlich

08/04/2015 09:56
I’m going to have to go back to a brace for hikes like this or look into surgical options at some point. Being in pain from these hikes takes some of the fun out of it. Still an awesome day!


08/08/2015 07:05
Love the report, except the part about the ankles. Ouch!

   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.

© 2021®, 14ers Inc.