Peak(s):  Mt. of the Holy Cross  -  14,005 feet
Date Posted:  01/24/2010
Modified:  10/09/2014
Date Climbed:   07/25/2008
Author:  MtnHub

 A Poetic Climb: Mt. Holy Cross via Halo Ridge/North Ridge Loop  

A Poetic Climb: Mt. Holy Cross via Halo Ridge/North Ridge Loop
July 25, 2008

Halfmoon Trailhead (elevation: 10,320')
Mt. of the Holy Cross (elevation: 14,005')
Elevation Gain: 5,420'
Round-trip Length: 13 miles

Climbers: MtnHub and Wish I Lived In CO
Starting Time: 0320
Return Time: 1505

Yeah, I know this is over a year old, and I'm finally getting around to reporting on it. But when I did the climb, I didn't have my new computer and as a result, didn't have the capabilities to do one then. I recently wrote a poem about this climb that I also include below. It really only started out as a writing exercise, but Chicago Transplant suggested it might be a unique way to incorporate into a trip report, so I thought I'd give it a try:

At predawn dark we started on our hike,
Our Cyclops-beams enlightening the way.
The Fall Creek Trail led us through an array
Of dense, dark trees and underbrush alike.
Then branching west, the trail rose sharp, but wide
In switchbacks up the giant mountain's side.

Despite the day not yet showing its face,
At reaching tree line we could finally see
The Notch's gash and outlined ridge clearly.
But still we climbed with a more gradual pace
Until at last we reached the famed high hut
Of rocks and stones from which the mount was cut.

Looking up at the Notch from the east trail:

The Notch Mt. stone shelter with Pt. 13,248' in the background:

By then the sun had just begun to dawn,
Shining golden light across the vale.
Mount of the Holy Cross in all detail
Shown bright as if a spotlight was thereon.
The holy mountain crossed itself anew
And blessed us with this royal, sacred view!

Mt. of the Holy Cross at dawn from the Notch shelter:

We tarried there reluctant to take leave,
The sight was mesmerizing to me now.
I silently vowed to return somehow
If time would give so generous a reprieve.
But then with daylight gathering its strength
We gathered up our gear and packs at length.

Our eyes now focused on the rocky rim
Of Halo Ridge, which circumvents the Bowl.
It's high and rugged route made progress slow,
Consuming all the power from each limb.
Though, struggling up each minor peak we climbed
The view from each was even more sublime!

The Halo Ridge leading up to Pt. 13,373':

Wish I Lived In CO on the Halo Ridge (lower right):

The Tuhare Lake region from the Halo Ridge on our left:

The Bowl of Tears on our right:

Looking back along the Ridge (hut on the left):

Mt of the Holy Cross from Pt 13,831':

The last grunt up the SW side of Holy Cross from the saddle:

Upon the last ascent I found that I
Still had reserves of energy to spare
Despite the thinning of the ambient air;
My goal at last was finally drawing nigh!
To stand upon a summit in the skies
Is probably the ultimate of highs!

Summit shot:

We celebrated with a drink and snack
While taking in three hundred sixty views.
The mountain-scape in all its various hues
Are simply too amazing to keep track!
The tiny cabin also could be seen
Where earlier that morning we had been.

The Notch Mt. shelter and the beginning of the Halo Ridge:

The last portion of the Halo Ridge up the rugged Pt. 13,831' (and the great beyond…):

When finally we had to bid adieu
The mighty mountain's jeweled, rock-studded crown,
We donned our packs again and started down
The steep and scattered talus. Then onto
The long and sloping shoulder edged with snow,
Until at last we reached the trees below.

The long, sloping north shoulder from the summit:

The same shot from the summit base:

Looking back up to MHC summit from the same place:

Another look across the basin at Notch Mt. (and the shelter) from the north shoulder:

The northern, steeper section of the shoulder, looking down into the Cross Creek region:

The classic shot of MHC from the trail up to Half Moon Pass:

I struggled on the last one thousand feet
Up Half Moon Pass. But then, we both could coast
The last few miles back to the trailhead post
Anticipating a full meal to eat!
By end of day we were like walking dead
But in our souls the spirit was well-fed!

DH - January 2010

"Coasting" down the last part of Half Moon Trail:

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

You‘re a poet and didn‘t even realize
06/02/2011 14:57
Wonderful report to read. I can‘t wait to do this one. Your pictures are informative as well as beautiful.

Lines I particularly enjoyed:
”To stand upon a summit in the skies
Is probably the ultimate of highs!”
”By end of day we were like walking dead
But in our souls the spirit was well-fed!”

Thanks again for posting. This will be particularly motivating to my wife who doesn‘t want me to do MHC without her.


Thanks, Johnson!
07/02/2011 03:16
Thanks for the kind remarks, johnson! I really appreciate them. Just didn‘t want it to sound too trite or ”soupy.” But I thought it came out fairly well in accurately describing my experience there.

I will be out there the 3rd week in July again, and if Tigiwon is still open, I will seriously consider doing it again. I‘d prefer to have a partner along, so if you and your wife would be planning it then and wouldn‘t mind having another person along, please let me know!

Happy climbing! MtnHub


01/25/2010 02:38
Enjoyed the poetry. Not at all soupy or sappy!
I, too, enjoyed the same lines bjohnson17 identified.
Beautiful place - Great pics!

Climb on!


01/25/2010 04:18
Thanks for your comments too, sunny1! (And thanks also for your identifying that flower I saw doing Uncompahgre this summer!)

I just noticed and read your trip report on Yale, too! Super! That climb is also a favorite of mine. But you should consider doing it as a loop from Avalanche sometime! Also a fabulous hike!


Great Pictures
01/25/2010 14:46
Excellent trip report. Great weather. Sometimes the pictures do more justice than the words but, I liked the poetry too

Chicago Transplant

Glad you did it!
01/25/2010 15:23
Glad you decided to post this, its a great unique way to express your trip! Its always nice to hear how people felt on the trip instead of just a conditions report, thanks for sharing!


Thanks again!
11/30/2010 17:28
Thanks again for all your past encouragement and help, Chicago! It really didn't occur to me to actually put it into a report until you mentioned it. And I was a little hesitant because it was so dated.


The best adventures...
01/26/2010 02:26
...are a catalyst for creativity. For the lucky among us it just happens. Your poem is a nice touch. Those aren‘t easy to write. Your photos convince me that Halo Ridge is the route I‘ll use for my first attempt at Holy Cross Mountain. And July looks like a really nice time to try it.


Great post!
01/26/2010 05:22
I predict your last two lines will become classics on this site, and who knows, maybe far beyond. I look forward to reciting them at some ”walking dead” point this summer!


Awesome post and pics
02/21/2010 22:11
Thankyou so much for sharing your hike to MHC. My mom painted MHC on a mountain outing with some friends. Her painting is so awesome to look at every day; and now having read your post, I truly believe that I need to add MHC to my ”hopes” of climbs for my summer. I so understand the term ”walking dead”. But what a high, heh??

James Scott

deja vu
06/28/2012 03:08
Went back and found yours of the same climb- our pictures seem to have been taken from the same place. Enjoyed your poetry a great deal as well! To include the Notch Mt summit and entire ridge line would make it complete. Someday...

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