Peak(s):  Mt. of the Holy Cross  -  14,005 feet
Date Posted:  07/07/2019
Date Climbed:   07/06/2019
Author:  redheadontherocks
 Picture Perfect Day on the Cross - N. Ridge   

Mt of the Holy Cross was the finale of my whirl-wind 14er bender. It was my 4th peak in 3 days, and 6th of the week! (did Missouri & Huron last weekend). I've been having an absolute blast on my trip, camping in my FJ Cruiser, meeting people on the trail, and just having my usual fun : ) I was out in Castle & Conundrum yesterday and had actually thought of doing Snowmass today instead. Reports had warned about the river crossing and log jam. I thought that I would just bring my chacos and some shorts to wade across and would be fine. Reports from this week posted two incidents of groups having to turn around around 13,000-11,000 ft because the snow was too deep and post-holing was a nightmare. I hemmed and hawed for awhile, thinking that "Well, I'm sure I COULD make it..." But ultimately, Snowmass is a 22 mile round trip (I would have done it in one day, not backpack in), and the idea of getting shut down and just having a 16 mile hike with no summit sounded like a drag. And going to Holy Cross would put me closer to Denver and an easier drive home.

Tigiwon Road up from Minturn was just a fun 2WD dirt road. Beautiful rolling in just before sunset. There was a proper camp ground that looked awesome, not too busy either. But I just parked my FJ, got my stuff ready and got into bed pretty early. FYI: Still a little cell reception at the trailhead! I was even able to make some posts! lol

Quick Stats: RT mileage 11.33 miles, 5,625 vert ft gain, Made it to the summit in 2h55min, Down in 2h24min.

Usual alarm for 4:45am didnt go of...or after a few days of hiking and subpar sleep in a truck I accidentally turned it off when it went off. Lol. Woke up at 5:45am, hit the trail at 6:30am. I honestly was not worried at all. I am a speedy hiker, and I knew I would be down plenty early. There are two trail heads from this lot...make sure you start down the right one...the one that says "Holy Cross Wilderness". Duhhh....but I'm sure its been done. haha

Off to a good start. haha

Trail is in great shape. A few muddy spots on the way up. Book said 1.7 miles up to Half Moon Pass at 11,640ft. This is where the snowfields started to pop up. Just follow the other foot prints on a pretty obvious path. The trail pops up to let you know youre going the right way, and then gets covered by snow again. VERY typical 14er navigating right now. THEN its a nice DOWNHILL break from the climbing. This is the 970ft climb on the way out that make it a more "arduous" 14er. Most of the trail was dry on that side, did some brisk jogging down to speed up the miles. Some of it gets a little loose and steep. A good mental note of what needs to be climbed on the way out. You also get a gorgeous view of the peak on the hike down.

There she is!
Little loose and steep on way down.

I got to East Cross Creek in just under 3 miles. There was a group that had just gone across and recommended taking off the boots and wading across. There was a slippery looking log with water running over it, and I knew I would end up with my ass in the creek if I tried that. Some of the rocks are still a little slippery. Hiking poles help with balance. IT WAS PRETTY DERN COLD. Made me happy I didnt go to Snowmass with the hip-height river wade. This was almost up to my knees and plenty cold. lol

Yay a river crossing!
Log looks slippery....
Hold my boots, watch this

The initial part of the trail on the other side was nice and dry. There are a ton more campsites over here. These look way better than the ones on the other side of the river, which were in the shade and would have more mosquitoes near the water.

Dry trail
Not so dry trail...

Alot of "is this a trail or a river" happening.....

I started to ascend quickly and then started hitting some snow patches. Even early in the day it was already pretty soft. It was not that cold last night, so things didnt freeze as they have been. Mental note for lots of sinking into the snow later. Personally I dont mind it on the way back, just on the way out I like to avoid wet boots and socks.

Gota go through it...

You do kinda have to keep your head on a swivel for the trail through this area. There are still trees, and clearings that look like the trail, when the trail is blocked with snow. Look for boot prints and just be observant of your direction.

Making mental note that I need little boot gaiters.
Go left around first big snow field

Stay to the left side and you can skirt around some of the snow and pick up the trail on the ridge pretty easy.

Peak-A-Boo game with the trail!

When you get to tree line the trail appears to switch back up the slope. At this point you just hike straight up the snow patches and you keep crossing the trail until you get to a big clearing. The snow has melted on alot of this. Its all in the sun. You can tell ALOT of work has gone into this trail, with lots of rock steps built up, and huge rock carens to follow.

Well done trail crews. Lots of rock to be moved.

There is a descent snow field that you need to climb up. I debated putting on microspikes, but didnt. The snow was soft enough to just kick the boots in. If it had been more of a freeze last night spikes might have been a good idea.

Kick in

The route was fun and quick from here. It's all alot of big solid rocks, so even if you get off the "trail" you are still on solid rock. The path along the ridge is obvious and skirts along the snow.


The view of the face and the rocky ridgeline on the right are a great view for this part. I was starting to feel a little pooed from my trip and slammed down my cold brew coffee for the final push. Its kinda like Popeye and his can of GO TIME! : )

Hammer time...minus parachute pants (they chafe)

I know people ski the face of this and I couldn't imagine dropping into some of these couloirs!! Y'all be another kind of crazy yo...

Fo realz?

There are a TON of rock carens piled up the last .25 miles up the rock field. Lol. It was total zig zagging if you tried to follow them all. Just go up. Lots of solid rock. Dont stay too close to the edge on the left side.


YAY ANOTHER SUMMIT! Number 27 for my books. They all are amazing in there own ways. The view from the top was pretty spectacular. I could see Castle and Conundrum where I was yesterday. Also the Bells and Snowmass are clearly visible too. I cant believe we live in a place with this sheer quantity of massive peaks.


I was finally starting to feel a little fatigued and ready to be done. Scampered down the rocks and hit the trail back down.


When you get down to tree line and the trail switch backing in and out of the snow fields pay attention. Its tempting to just head straight down, but if you are not careful you could easily blow past the trail when it starts to head to the right. If you are going straight down and havnt seen the trail in awhile maybe reconsider where you are...

You have to deal with some post-holing and sinking into the snow a little bit. Pretty much mushy mashed potatoes on the way down. Just how it is. lol.


I got a pretty big second wind once I got past most of the snow and the trail is dry. Started jogging/bouncing down the trail about a miles to the river crossing....I also had another cold brew coffee I was PRETTY darn excited to crack at the bottom as my final energy boost for the 970 ft/ 1.4 mile climb up Half Moon Pass. Oh yeah, I planned that.

Rocking out with my socks out.

I just took my boots off and waded across in my socks that were already wet. OH, and for the first time ever, I ran out of water! I always carry a full 3L Osprey pack with me. I didnt feel like I had been drinking more, but I think the multiple day 14er bender was starting to take its tool. I ate and drank more than I normally do on the trail. SO, the water from the river looked crystal clear and i dipped my resevoir in and filled it up with a litre to get me back the last 3 miles. Anyone else do this? Might add some water purification tabs to my 14er emergency pack. I figured if I got massive diarreah I would at least be around a bathroom at that point.... hahaha. Happy to report that 24 hours later and no gastrointestinal distress.

There are a few steep sections to get up.

Coffee and cold water did the trick. I also brought a pair of shorts to change into (it was getting hot!) I blasted up the hill. Felt like a good break from the pounding of the downhill. It was a much better and sunny view of the summit than this morning. Had to stop and admire it.


A few more annoying snow banks that you have to cross as you get close to Half Moon Summit again.


But once you crest the top its nothing but sweet, beautiful, well defined trail for the last 1.7 miles down. At this point my M.O. is to crank up the tunes and run my ass down as fast as possible. I think "Walking on Sunshine" and "Gettin Jiggy With It" were the best songs that brought me down the home stretch!

Mmmmm Giardia water.....

And of course... that "I'm done" look....and still a smile.
I FREAKING LOVE THIS STUFF! Thanks for reading and putting up with my ridiculous pictures sometimes. It keeps my solo days and these reports interesting! If you have any more trail or route questions I am happy to answer them too!
xo -redheadontherocks


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

feel good fun energy!
07/07/2019 20:56
Your reports give that vibe...even all the selfies. I like your row of summit signs on your windshield, and I'm glad you're bringing them down with you. Keep it up!


Another one on the list
07/07/2019 21:12
It is said that the third time is the charm. My first two attempts at Holy Cross weren't successful summits, but both trips were outstanding in their own right. Thanks for the lively recap and photos.


Certainly like the happiness
07/07/2019 21:41
Good vibe overall and you are really getting after it!

Also agree with Darin, glad you brought the sighs back down. Well done!


07/08/2019 11:23
For water treatment that is more efficient than tablets, try to buy a Steripen as it is very convenient to carry and do not have to wait for tablets to work. It is my to go!I was there the same day you were and saw you running down as I was volunteering for CFI and talking to a couple from Chicago on my way down. I purified water from the creek twice and it was fresh and tasty as ever!.
Happy Trails!


07/10/2019 11:35
I second the steripen comment! It's worth the investment, especially now that they're rechargeable!


You Rock Woman!!
08/09/2019 18:09
Thanks for the TR - ðŸ‘ðŸ‘ðŸ˰

A Star is Born
08/23/2019 23:56
You should host a cable adventure show. Love your energy and excellent descriptions. Very helpful.

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