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Peak(s):  Mt. of the Holy Cross  -  14,007 feet
Date Posted:  07/08/2010
Date Climbed:   07/03/2010
Author:  bergsteigen
 I can see clearly now...   

Mt of the Holy Cross

Hikers: Darrin (kansas) and me
Route: North Ridge: Standard
Mileage: 11.5
Elevation Gain: 5.6K'
Start: ~4:45am

There are good reasons to repeat a peak or trail. One is bad weather. The first time I hiked Holy Cross, I backpacked in, at night, in the rain. The next day it was cloudy. The only view I got of the peak, came in the afternoon as I was backpacking out over Half Moon Pass. A decade ago, I vowed I would come back. I dislike summits in the clouds.

The night before, the weather was showing signs of being cloudy. Some rain was predicted. I certainly didn't want to have to come back a third time, on the same route! But as we awoke early on Saturday morning, to the hustle of a very busy and crowded holiday weekend trailhead parking lot, the weather looked passable. There were clouds, but they were higher and not continuous.

As we made our way up Half Moon Pass, the sunrise treated us to a spectacular view of the Gore Range.



Sunrise through the clouds over the Gore Range

Turning the corner on Half Moon Pass, I get my first real good view of our objective for the day. It was fun to watch the sunrise change the way the peak looked. Darrin had to bite his tongue on all the frequent stops. At least on this trail, most of the scenic views happen early and late, with a lot of slogging up a steep slope inbetween.

Dawn pano from Half Moon Pass

First light on summit



Some flowers on the lower slopes break up the monotony of the rocks. The trail up the ridge is quite good in spots, but then disappears with a boulder crossing. Quite a bit of scouting for the next trail segment, as we make our way up the ridge. The higher we get, the better views of the rugged north face.

morning glow on the flowers

The rocky north face

Just a bit of snow on the ridge

Flowers along the trail

View from the notch

Upon reaching the summit, we are presented with a mass of humanity. More people than I remember from last time I was here. But with the big weekend, the extra traffic was expected. We met a few people from various parts of the country. We managed to find a semi quiet part of the summit to snack and take a few photos.

Party on the Summit

Gore Range Pano


The descent, re-ascent of Half Moon Pass and descent to trailhead go fairly quickly is the hot sun. Of course, we have a BBQ waiting with burgers, brats and poblano peppers... so why delay?

Some other peaks in the region

Our state flower

Mmmmm BBQ

Only downside to the day: We get a call from a climbing partner for the next day, that Castle Creek Rd is closed due to bear activity! The call came after we had effectively smoked ourselves and truck in yummy BBQ smells. Not wanting to deal with the "what-ifs" or becoming bear meat-sicles, we decide on something a bit out of our way for the next days' hike: San Luis...

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Holy Day!
7/8/2010 8:45pm
Beautiful day y‘all had! Fantastic photos! Appreciate the write-up - all solid beta as looking to do this in the coming weeks.

Thanks for posting!


Great pics!
7/8/2010 9:13pm
Love those early morning ‘first light on summit‘ shots...

Beautiful Day..
7/8/2010 9:25pm
Did you catch the rainbow on the descent into cross creek? Something about alpenglow and a rainbow in the same setting was quite odd. Great pictures as always.

The Cross
7/9/2010 3:11pm
I was planning on climbing MHC in late July or early Aug via the shelter and Halo Ridge. Is the cross still visible or does it melt away? When is the last time you can see it on a climb, generally? Great pics and writeup. Thanks, Chris M

A beautiful area
7/9/2010 8:45pm
Glad I went back to ‘see‘ it again!

Derek - Must have missed the rainbow... darn! You were about a half hour ahead of us, at least.

ChrisM - Late July is starting to be a little late to see the full cross. Just judging by a few other TR‘s, it does melt out mostly in August.

Wow !
7/9/2010 9:12pm
Your first picture is gorgeous !

Nice alternative...
7/11/2010 5:44am
...when the bears scare the rangers off in Ashcroft. : )

Seriously, I love that entire HCW area. I‘ve been up the standard route more than once, but never the Halo - Thinking about Le Grand Tour de Holy Cross this summer - east drainage, over Halo, summit, drop into west drainage, flyfish a couple days, make it a long loop hike.

Loved the shot of the Columbine!

Holy Cross
8/20/2010 1:11am
Great Pics and TR! Love all the wildflowers. We are thinking of hiking this in 2 weeks...I will definitely miss the cross; maybe I should save this hike for later when I can actually catch a glimpse of it and hike a different peak in 2 weeks. Any suggestions?

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