Peak(s):  Mt. of the Holy Cross  -  14,005 feet
Date Posted:  04/08/2019
Date Climbed:   04/07/2019
Author:  Powder_Moose
Additional Members:   GladeWolf
 Cross Couloir   

Yesterday Andrew and I skied a long standing objective - Cross Couloir on Holy Cross! Given our plan to approach to Half Moon Pass on Saturday and ski Sunday, the weather looked really good - a cloudy approach day and just enough new snow projected overnight to keep things in the Goldilocks Zone between a safe spring surface and a soft, clean slate. We were going to ski Holy Cross in pow!

The long gradual Tigiwon road approach

Starting at about 2p, we spent 2.5 hours or so working our way up Tigiwon Rd. After briefly considering how nice it would be to relax and camp in the trailhead parking lot, we continued the remaining mile and 1000' to just below Half Moon Pass.

Camp at Half Moon Pass

It had been snowing off and on all afternoon and we knew it would snow overnight - our biggest concern was that it would snow too much to make the couloir safe to ski. We woke up to cold temperatures and about 4" on our tent. The ideal scenario!

Sunrise over the Gores

It was going to be a spectacular day! We made good time down up the last bit Half Moon Pass and scored a high quality descent into the basin on the new snow. We got a little more good luck once down in the Cross Creek basin. We had figured that bushwhacking through the woods to attain the North Ridge was the part of the day we were most likely to screw up navigationally, and there through the new snow was the last vestiges of a killer skintrack (if you're reading this, thanks!).

Breaking into the open

We stayed more or less on the North Ridge the entire time once we broke out of the trees.


We did the entire route with skis on, including the summit cone. The best way to do it for us trying to stay on skis was to make a long upward traverse starting from the base of the cone all the way around to approach almost from the north, as if you were coming from Holy Cross Ridge.


Soon, we were at the summit! Holy Cross is such a top notch spot and we had crystal clear views looking over towards the Elks, Gores and rest of the Sawatch. Time to lock in for a summit descent of the cross in 6" of pow! We had brought harnesses and rope in case we needed to do a belayed ski cut, but ultimately felt it wasn't necessary.

First turns


The ski went really smoothly! Andrew and I both skied the whole line before stopping at the ramp and my fears of having so much fun that I would fly off the cliff at the end turned out to be unfounded!

Celebrating our exit!

We climbed up out of Half Moon Pass on tired legs, packed up camp, and skied the 9 miles back to our car. I could hardly think of better conditions and circumstances to tackle this one. Total 29 miles, 8000'. A perfect day.


1) We were very glad that we logged the extra mileage up to Half Moon Pass and spent the night there rather than the trailhead. It saved us a very important hour that we were glad to have on the summit day. We were also glad we did not lug our stuff down into the Cross Creek basin - it would have been of very limited value and would have made the slog back up over the pass much worse.

2) Overall the skiing itself felt less consequential than expected. If the line goes to 47 degrees, it does so only very briefly about 50' in. Unless the couloir is very iced up or something, the odds of sliding off the cliff before taking the exit are pretty low.

3) Visibility on the line is excellent and the exit ramp is very easy to spot.

4) On the exit ramp, we stayed too far skiers left initially and got cliffed out. Don't be afraid to exit further right and more directly towards the Bowl of Tears before finally cutting hard left down the obvious drainage.

5) We followed some other beta on the exit regarding climbing 80' or so and taking a hard left into the next small drainage before you arrive at Lake Patricia (heinous bushwhacking further on?). What I can say is this approach worked really well for us. We continued to take the most leftward drainage until we reached the bottom of the basin and reconnected with our skin track from early in the day.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions

04/08/2019 16:38
Way to go, looks perfect.


Fabulous video!
04/09/2019 06:22
Great conditions on a great line. Thanks for sharing.


04/09/2019 06:27
That thing is full! Great job


Looks Great
04/09/2019 12:11
Way to hit that one in primo condition! Such a classic


04/11/2019 08:58
Looks like you guys nailed the conditions and the exit from Bowl of Tears. Strong work.


you are welcome
04/14/2019 08:14
We put in that skin track on 4/1. Glad someone else got to use it!


04/20/2019 11:55
Do you recommend the approach you took? We plan a trip in May with 4 people.


aka Thunder Snow


Thanks all!
04/24/2019 08:16
@rangercarl awesome, hope you had a great ski

@abreibart definitely recommend the approach as we did it, assuming you mean approaching via the north ridge rather than booting up the couloir. As always, the rules about the benefits of booting up something you intend to ski would apply here, but overall the experience was so much nicer ascending primarily on skins or mellow ridgeline. You can see the rest of the line really well from the summit, so we didn't feel too uncomfortable dropping in having not climbed it. No clue what Tigiwon road will give you in May...probably mostly dirt with intermittent snow patches? That could potentially be one of the biggest challenges depending on when in May.

Very Cool
05/18/2019 04:34
Awesome vid. Thx for sharing.

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