Peak(s):  Mt. of the Holy Cross  -  14,005 feet
Date Posted:  07/12/2010
Date Climbed:   07/10/2010
Author:  toekramp

 Mt. of the Holy Cross - Halo Ridge  

Having completed a few of the easier 14ers this summer, I decided to up the ante a bit and try for something more difficult. I decided on the Halo Ridge route based off a few of the trip reports, as it sounded far more scenic. I really didn't know what I was signing up for...

We left Denver around 4pm and arrived to the Fall Creek Trail around 6:00pm. We decided to hike in a few miles and set up camp off of Notch Mountain Trail.

We were all set up and ready for some food by 8:30pm. Weather was terrific and we hit the sack around 11pm.

The alarm went off @ 3:30am and I was excited to get the day going. We enjoyed a quick breakfast of oatmeal and coffee and headed out around 4am.

The beginning of the hike was very easy. Lots of switchbacks and we were closing in on Notch Mountain Shelter right as the sun was coming over the horizon.

The weather was cooperating and we reached Notch Mountain Shelter right around 6am. We finally got a view of the peaks we'd have to summit to reach Holy Cross. It looked a bit daunting compared to my last hike of Bierstadt

The next four hours were exhausting to say the least. I have never seen so many boulders in my life. I made the mistake of wearing shoes that had no ankle support. Do not make this mistake on this route. It is literally nothing but bouldering from the time you reach Notch Mountain until you the summit... not to mention the return.

Since we had set up camp off of Notch Mountain Trail, we didn't want to return via the Standard Route, but one of our guys was having knee issues and did not think he could handle all three 13ers again on the trip back. So we made a decision, albeit, a poor one. We decided to head back towards PT 13831, but circumvent it and drop down toward the Tuhare Lakes.

This quickly became a class 3 route, with us scrambling for footholds and very slowly navigating down toward the valley. Many of the rocks were extremely loose and made it very challenging to keep upright.

As if that wasn't enough, the weather decided to turn on us on about hour 8 of our hike. Still in the valley, but finally near the lakes, the sky opened up with lightening and hail. We quickly took shelter under some large boulders and passed the time eating some food and re hydrating. We had grossly underestimated the amount of bouldering we would still have to do while make our way down and past the lakes. When we finally got to some actual grass we had been bouldering for 8 straight hours. Exhausting to say the least.

A few long hours later we were finally back at the campsite. Still needing to pack up our stuff and make the 2+ mile trek back to the car, we were all business and did it in record time. At the end of the day, we had hiked for over 15 hours and covered 15+ miles. It was one of the most physically and mentally draining things I have ever done. Now that we are all safe and back at home I can smile upon it. I may catch some flack for taking that route down into the valley, but I just want to make people aware about how difficult that path is. It looks far much easier from above.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

07/13/2010 02:25
We saw you guys just as we were about to cross the snowfield to the summit from Halo Ridge....there were 3 of us. I‘m sorry to hear your descent was so tough. We took North Ridge back down, and had one in our group get lost for over an hour. We weren‘t without our problems either.

I‘m totally with you in the ”daunting” feeling upon reaching the shelter. It was intimidating to see that distance yet to go.

Glad you made it back safely. Took us a total of 13:26 to get back to the trailhead.


Notch Mt Shelter
07/14/2010 04:58
Thank you for posting the report. I am planning on going the Halo route myself in a couple of weeks. My plan is to hike up to the shelter the night before and spend the night in either a tent or the shelter itself if it is open. Were you able to go in it? Thanks, ChrisM


07/14/2010 17:16
jfrenzen - glad to see you made it across that snowfield hopefully none of you postholed at the end of it! Ya i‘m jealous you got to take the standard route back.

chrism - the shelter is closed right now, so you would not be able to utilize that. we stopped right before the meadow at the bottom so we would have a source of water. after the meadow there is none.


07/21/2010 20:27
Congrats on the summit. We are heading out there in a couple weeks. Halo Ridge ascent; North Ridge descent over a couple of days.

Question is; do you have a suggestion for a good camp spot going up the Halo Ridge trail, as a good stop point before summiting the next day? Thanks.


RE: Camping
05/04/2011 18:54
linzforester: There was a great spot about 2.5 miles from the TH. From 14ers Routes ”At about the 2 1/4 mile mark there is a small clearing and the signed junction with the Notch Mountain Trail Photo #3. Take a right here and begin to ascend the Notch Mountain Trail back to the north and west. ” So right after that you'll hit two or three switch backs and it will begin to level out again. You'll go about 100 yards on the trail and down to your right will be a decent sized clearing where it's flat and looks as if someone has built a fire pit before. It worked out great for us! Good luck!

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