| Halo Ridge from Halfmoon
Mountains: Mount of the Holy Cross (14,005'), Holy Cross Ridge (13,831'), Pt. 13,373, Pt. 13,248'
Route: Started at Halfmoon TH (10,320') and climbed the North Ridge to summit, ascended all high points on the Halo Ridge and descended the Fall Creek trail.
Elevation Gain - 5700' (approx)
Roundtrip Mileage - 15 miles (approx)
Roundtrip Time ¬ 11 hours, includes 1:15 on the summits and 30 minutes at the shelter
I drove out of Boulder on Friday night for another brutal weekend in the mountains. I was planning an alpine start as usual because of the length of time I would have to spend above timberline to complete my planned route. I reached the trailhead at about 11PM and found at least 75 cars parked there… this crowd was in addition to the 30 odd cars that were parked along the dirt road. We were going to have to fight it out for the already scarce 14er air. I set the alarm for 2:30 and woke up a half hour later. I was on the trail at 3:30AM after a quick breakfast of two mushy bananas.
I got to the top of the pass (11,650') by 4:15AM and saw another group of headlamps behind me. I descended to East Cross Creek and reached the campsites in the dark. The trail is pretty easy to stick to under headlamps until the point where I went straight past the rock bridge on a reasonable trail that headed straight and over another poorly formed rock bridge. The actual bridge is immediately after where the trail starts to bear left slightly. It was too dark for pictures to illustrate this. There's a maze of trails down in the forest going to campsites and I bungled around under flickering headlamps amidst swarms of mosquitoes and managed to find the right trail in the end. Bring some bug spray along if you think of camping down here. The group of headlamps/voices that followed me since the parking lot disappeared all of a sudden as I started hiking up the ridge.
First light hit when I was up on the ridge, at 5:30AM. I am on a never ending quest for a picture of the perfect sunrise, if you find it, let me know.
I was above timberline by 5:50AM, here's looking back down at the trail. It's cairned out reasonably well.
I didn't really see a lot of people going up the mountain and I was surprised. I did see 5 people descending though. I stopped to chat… they seemed to have camped by East Cross Creek. This may be a good idea if you don't plan to climb Halo Ridge. The trail up the North ridge is intermittent, interspersed with boulders
Here's looking back down over the ridge from just above the top of Angelica Couloir.
The hiking turns into mildly tiresome boulder hopping from cairn to cairn beyond this point. I summitted at 8:15AM and was the only person on summit for about 30 minutes. 4:45 to summit. I then heard people behind me and they appeared to be the group of voices that were behind me earlier. They had lost their way in the maze and had taken some hybrid route that they weren't able to describe, except that they said class 3 and ridge and miserable and scree. Here's looking back down at the ridge from the summit
A ton of people started summiting one by one. A family of four from Tennessee on their yearly outing, a Bulgarian climber from Leadville who'd summitted in 2:48 and several others. I ate a huge pastrami sandwich and started heading down Halo Ridge at 9:20AM, full of energy and doodoo. I love how sweet sandwiches don't freeze solid on summer climbs. Here's a picture of Pt. 13,831' taken on my way off Holy Cross.
I summitted Pt. 13,831' at 9:53AM and spent a while there… there weren't quite as many folks who'd signed that summit register. Here's looking at the HC summit from Pt. 13,831' (Holy Cross Ridge)
Here's looking down Halo ridge from Pt. 13,831'
Here's looking down at the Tuhare lakes
There's some Class 2+ boulder hopping to get down to the grassy saddle leading to the next high point on the ridge
I summitted Pt. 13,373' at around 11:00AM and ate some trail mix. There are some nice views of the bowl of tears from here…
I started down the ridge towards the next point. This section looks harder than it actually is when you're climbing Halo ridge from the HC side
This is looking back at Pt. 13,373' from the ridge past the difficulties.
Here's looking at the ridge over to Pt. 13,248'
I summitted Pt. 13,248' at noon, got some more pictures of HC
The last section of the hike to the shelter was pretty straight forward although I was having enough of the sun, spiders and cobwebs. I reached the shelter at about 12:40PM. It's a really nice shelter and I would definitely want to crash up here if I ever do this route again.
I started descending down the Fall Creek trail at 1:10PM. This trail is so much better than the standard route since it obviates the annoying 970' elevation gain during the worst part of the hiker's day. I highly recommend it.
I was back at the parking lot by 2:30PM for a round trip time of 11 hours even. Here's a small sample of what the hoard rode in on.
HC wilderness is a great place overall and fit in well with my plans for a Tour de Massive on Sunday. It was a great day… lots of friendly tourists, plenty of wild space and enough air for everybody. You will need a lot of water and sunscreen on this hike. It gets hot up on the ridge. Get an early start and don't attempt the ridge if clouds are building. The escape routes are loaded with scree.