Peak(s):  Mt. of the Holy Cross  -  14,005 feet
Date Posted:  06/30/2008
Date Climbed:   06/28/2008
Author:  Ascent88
 Mt. Holy Cross via Cross Couloir  

Wanting to do a "Classic" climb this spring I did lots of shopping around and decided that the best one to attempt would be an ascent of the cross couloir on Mt. Holy Cross. Did Some research before I left and found out that the road was closed to the trailhead ~7miles below the start of the trail. My solution to this problem was to take an extra day off work to accommodate for the distance... little did I know that this trip was going to become an "Epic Journey". Anyways, I got to the gate on Tigiwon road around 0630, geared up and started the hike to the trailhead. The road was completely snow free as I arrived at the Tigiwon house. Looked around and all was locked up.
After I got to the Tigiwon house I continued up the road another couple miles to the trailhead. By this time my GPS had already logged ~8 miles. At ~1000 I began my descent up to halfmoon pass.
Once on the top I stashed my snowshoes and kept going below notch mountain. While walking along this ridge, I stumbled upon 3 climbers who were coincidentally also trying the cross couloir this weekend. So the four of us, a newly created climbing team took off down the ridge toward East Cross Creek crossing and were treated to our first glimpses of Mt. Holy Cross.
We kept descending down to the crossing and arrived at the site around 1200. We ate some food, and continued accross the creek to begin the ascent toward Lake Patricia and eventually Bowl of Tears. The way from the crossing up can be tricky however, and route finding is critical. We found it was best to stay to the right of the gully and slowly but steadily climb. If you get too far to the left you can get cliffed out pretty easily. Persevere up the gully and you will eventually arrive at Bowl of Tears. There is a lot of swampy terrain up there and I think that later in the spring with more snowmelt this area near 11500' might become a quagmire. Anyways we finally arrived at bowl of tears around 1730.
Here we set up a camp(12008'), filetered some water out of E. Cross Creek... Thanks Vince, ate some food and called it a night around 2030. Had a great night under the stars and woke up around 0430 and left camp at 0530 for an early assault on the couloir. To find the entrance to the couloir we just climbed up the snow to the most prominent ridge from Bowl of Tears and voila the entrance was right there.
We began the ascent of this somewhat steep couloir no later than 0630.
We climbed the couloir for the next hour and a half and all of us had arrived on the summit no later than 0830. Great morning so far.
We all hung out on the summit for about an hour and after that my comrades left for a snowboard descent down the couloir and I headed down via the north ridge. After a long morning/afternoon of climbing I finally pulled into my intended second night campsite on top of halfmoon pass at about 1630. By now I was pretty tired, so I boiled some water from a snowbank for my egress the following morning had some dinner and went to bed. The next morning I awoke to an amazing sunrise and a smashed PB&J. Packed up and began hiking out.

I got to my car around 1000 after cutting some distance off the road by shaving some swithchbacks. De-geared and headed off to Vail for some Huevos Rancheros and then home to Denver for some much needed R&R. All in all this trip was phenominal, and if you have the ability and fortitude for a long(34mi) but rewarding trip this is a must!
PS... The forest service opened the road sometime saturday, and thanks Pete, Vince, and Ty you guys really added to the journey.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Snow Conditions
02/05/2011 00:22
What was the snow quality in the couloir when you did this? Any ice? I was planning on doing this in a week and a half, so I'm very interested.


07/01/2008 19:37
Congratulations! Could you tell if the standard route was manageable without snowshoes, crampons or ice axe?


melting pretty fast!
11/30/2010 17:28
We saw your tracks the next day -- believe it or not, your boot track was almost indiscernable, and the snowboard tracks looked a week old.

acsmith -- the conditions were great, solid spring snow, not icy yet.

GoHigher -- you shouldn't need any extra snow gear. I'd recommend boots (plus gaiters) rather than trail runners, because there are a few longish (but compact) snowfields you have to cross after Half Moon Pass.


08/14/2008 00:41
Great TR! And I thought I had a long way to climb out last week! I‘d really like to return to Holy Cross and do the couloir sometime next year! Thanks for the great info!

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