| Solo summit of Holy Cross
August 25, 2012
Mount of the Holy Cross - North Ridge (standard route, 11.5 miles)
Weather forecast: 40 – 60’s, scattered thunderstorms
Actual Weather: Not a cloud in the sky! Wind was non-existent, warmest I’ve been on top of a 14er
Start time: 4:45am
Summit time: 8:30am (left the summit at 9 am)
Time: Summit – 3 hours, 45 min. Descent – 3 hours
This is the 10th fourteener I’ve climbed for 14 14ers for Alzheimer’s in 2012.
I was a little worried, because the forecast was calling for scattered thunderstorms all night, with a couple hour window of clear skies, only to start storming again at 11am. Not the case at all!
I got off of work on Friday and left Boulder about 5:30pm and parked at the trailhead around 9pm. The road up to the trailhead was well maintained and easy to drive up (I have a Jeep Wrangler), but from the road conditions to the cars parked at the TH, it seemed that any two wheel drive car could make it, only a few spots where you’d have to maneuver a bit so you don’t bottom out.
When I get to the trailhead it looked like most of the camping spots were already taken. I wanted to hike in to the creek and camp there to trim off a little less than 2 miles from the hike, but because I got in late I didn’t feel like exploring in the dark to find a campsite. Good thing I took out the back seats of my Jeep! I woke up about 4:15am and hit the trail at 4:45. Temperature was low 40’s, but after about 20 minutes I was already stripping off layers.
The first 1.5 miles up to Half Moon Pass was a good warm up to get my legs going. After seeing pictures of Holy Cross at Half Moon Pass, I was contemplating starting later so I could see the whole mountain, but I figured I’d have to come back the way I came, so might as well start early! Here’s a photo of the summit at Half Moon Pass, needless to say it was a little too dark to get a sense of the awesomeness of this mountain!
I soon started the descent from Half Moon Pass, and man you really lose elevation down this trail. I could sense that I was peering over the edge of a long way down, but in the dark I had no idea how close I really was to the edge. Really fun!
I have to mention, normally I really enjoy taking photos of alpine flowers, but today seemed like a day to focus on fungus I’ve never seen so many different species of mushroom fruiting in one area like this, but it was incredible. I find them fascinating, and it really slowed me down while I was inspecting and taking photos. Here are a few that I found: (Photo , , , )
I caught up with a group of guys and their dogs (who both really wanted to help me cross the stream! Great dogs). It was great to hear the stream at the bottom of Half Moon Pass, but I couldn’t really see how gorgeous it was until the return trip. I used my water filter to re-up on some water, we’ll see if it cleaned the water well enough in a few days
Now started the real summit hike. About half an hour up from the stream, the sun started to come up. (Photo )
I really felt like this initial climb through the forest and up the ridge was the most exhausting part of the hike. Mt. of the Holy Cross kept on bobbing up and down over the ridge, like a buoy in the water. (Photo )
I had a friend following me the whole way up from treeline until the final push up the summit (Photo )
Once you gain the ridge, it’s smooth sailing for about 10 minutes. Great chance to let your legs re-energize. Before the final push up the summit I stopped to eat a sandwich and enjoy the view of the sun coming up over the mountains. Here’s a view of the ridge from the bottom of the final push. (photo )
I have to say, the final push looked steep and intimidating. But I thought it was relatively easy. It's good, easy scrambling, so you're using your arms to help move up. The trail was well maintained the whole way and I have to thank the Colorad 14ers Initiative for all of the hard work they do. The trail disappears a bit on the final push, just enough to make it some fun route finding, but not "disappeared" enough to get worried you're lost.
At 8:30am I summitted, and was alone at the top for about 15 minutes. (photo ) It was warm, no wind, and a little hazy from the fires out West, but I’ve never had such great condiditons on top of a 14er. Those were a great 15 minutes to just sit and reflect. Soon after me another guy joined me at the top. Great to meet you!
Photo of the ridge from the summit: (Photo )
After a while a man and woman joined me at the top. The man was from Virginia and was out here for a business trip. He asked his concierge about this hike and she said her plan was to climb Holy Cross the next day, so she brought him along. That’s incredible service, if you ask me!!
And finally, the whole point of these hikes. This is for you Grandma and Aunt Theresa, love you both! (Photo )
All in all, Mt. of the Holy Cross was a beautiful mountain, can’t wait to go back and camp at the creek, looked like a lot of awesome waterfalls and lakes that I want to explore!
Learn more about my adventures to raise Alzheimer’s Awareness at 1414ersforalz.org
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):