| Closing out winter on a high
The first photo of Mt. of the Holy Cross by William Henry Jackson 1869
Peak: Mt. of the Holy Cross
Route: North Ridge from winter closure on Tigiwon Rd.
Length: 28 miles
Elevation Gain: approximately 8,015
Climbers: Britt, Darin (and some of Dale), Dave & Emily (with dogs Kiefer & Shep), Greg, Jean, Jeff, Jim, Joe, Ken, Kevin & Sarah, Kimo, Lynn, Matt, Rob, Steve, Terri H
The painting that spurred the "spell of the place" by Thomas Moran 1873
The painting was first exhibited in New York to high praise from the public and the critics. It then spent years touring the major cities of the United States and Europe before being purchased by wealthy Irish/Canadian doctor who hung it in his Manitou Springs, Colorado mansion. The mansion caught fire in 1886 but the painting was saved by being cut from its frame, rolled up, and passed out of the burning building through a window. From there the painting passed through a number of hands until today it resides in the collection of the Museum of the American West, part of the Autry National Center in Los Angeles, California.
The idea to finish out winter with an ascent of Holy Cross was hatched on the slopes of Little Bear last January. People generally liked the idea, so I sent out some PMs and set a date. What are the chances that some folks could get Friday off, snow and weather conditions would cooperate, and there would still be interest in 2 months? There were a lot of variables that had to align just right. I am glad they did.
We set a time of 9am to meet at the trailhead. Some folks spent the night at the trailhead and headed up the road at 5:30. We thought we would have plenty of time to hike up the road, set up camp and break trail down to East Cross creek. We had no idea we were about to be schooled on the process by a few of the "more experienced climbers" on the trip.
We started up the road that is groomed by Nova adventures. Being passed by 20 2 stroke, smoke belching snowmobiles was not exactly the highlight of the trip, but a necessary evil. The road was packed enough that we did not need flotation until the summer trailhead. I don't think they were out parading earlier for the "experienced climbers....." Other groups started around 11am and 4 pm. The Tigiwon community house was locked. There is now a yurt owned by Nova that was open, had water on a stove, chairs and tables, and cups, tea, and hot chocolate. We stopped in for a rest.
Hmmm nice glasses
The first of our group got to camp 300 feet below Half Moon pass around 2:30 with the intention of helping break trail to East Cross Creek only to find out that the "experienced climbers" (ken, Steve, Terri Horvath) left 1 hour ago to tackle the job. Schooled again. We started to stomp and dig out tent platforms for the night. Most camped near Half Moon Pass. Some camped down lower before the slopes got steeper towards the pass. It was great to meet some new faces. Everyone went about melting snow, eating dinner, and prepping for the 5am start.
We awoke at 4:30, pulled the boots and water out of the sleeping bag, got the gaiters out from between the thermarest and foam pad, ate some poptarts, drank a liter of water, turned on the beacon, and were on the trench by 5. Joe and I got to East Cross cr. at 6:10 and began breaking trail. It was still dark, so we broke trail for 15 minutes following some faint ski tracks hoping they were heading in the right direction, and not to cross couloir. We decided to wait for it to get a little lighter out to get our bearings and wait for the group. We were on the right track so we continued on to treeline.
Taken on the way down
We stashed our snowshoes at treeline, and continued up the ridge. The weather was great. Temperatures in the low 30s, winds 5-15mph.
On to the summit. Dave(Crestoner),
Emily and the dogs turned around at about 13,200. The first of our group summited at 10:30, the last at 12:00.
Summit pictures of all on top:
Joe (Joe W)
Greg (Summit lounger)
Jeff (Mickeys Grenade)
The Bells and Pyramid
Capital and Snowmass
Steve and Brit made the traverse over to point 13,831 (Holy Cross Ridge), to continue their centennial quest. Matt did it later in the day. Point 13,831 is in the foreground, point 13,768 (bicentennial) in the background with the steep N face.
I had to live up to my stage name and stayed on top for 3 hours. We all mad it down without incident. It was a great day for all. The ascent back up to Half Moon pass was not enjoyed by many, especially since it was baking in the sun and felt like 65 degrees outside. Many were down to a single layer on the ascent.
Picture of our descent from Half Moon pass to East Cross Cr. taken on our way back. The red line was our approximate route.
2 people hiked out that afternoon to the trailhead, while most hung out in camp rehydrating. There was talk of a fire, but no one wanted to be the firemaster, and there were no volunteers to go collect firewood while sinking up to their waist in snow.
The trek out on the road was all that was left now.
It was a great trip shared by many. I'm hoping for another next year.
I apologize in advance for any names, avatars, or details I messed up on. Please send me a message (summit lounger), and I will happily fix them. Please feel free to upload any photos that you would like to the comment section below.
Best food: Chips and Guacamole (2nd beer)
Best quote: Darin, if your b_ _ _ was not so big, you would not be ruining our trench we just broke!!!! Reply: It's better than twigs on sticks.
Disclaimer: No children were hurt during the writing of this report. My daughter got to watch Curious George 7 times today. Please don't tell my wife, or she will make me go to a Lyle Lovett concert with her before I can climb again.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):