I had attempted the Halo Ridge hike to Mt. of the Holy Cross a couple weeks back, but turned around when I wasn't feeling very well. The image of the ridge haunted me until Thursday when I decided to take the day off and complete the Halo Ridge traverse and descend the North Ridge route.
The weather was predicted to be perfect for the hike so I started just after 7am and quickly noticed that I felt way better than my previous attempt on this climb. It took me about 2.5 hrs to hike to the Notch Mountain shelter, directly east of Mt. of the Holy Cross.
View of Pt 13,248; Pt 13,373; and Holy Cross Ridge (13,381) as viewed from the Notch Mtn Shelter
Holy Cross Ridge and Mt. of the Holy Cross
After a quick snack break I continued on to Pt 13,248 and admired the view of the rest of the ridge. The descent off Pt 13,248 was pretty easy and when I reached the saddle I was amazed by the view down into the Bowl of Tears.
View looking down into the Bowl of Tears near the gendarmes before Pt 13,373
The exposure right on the edge was pretty good and the Bowl of Tears lake was very spectacular.
Bowl of Tears Lake
The scramble up to the next summit, Pt 13,373 was a little loose in spots, but not too tricky. You just don't want a large block to shift too much on you when you're hiking solo.
Pt 13,373 (crux section of scrambling)
View looking back at Pt 13,248 showing the large talus that is prevalent on the ridge.
Looking back toward Pt 13,248 and the Notch Mountain Shelter
I hit the summit of Pt 13,373 around 4hrs into the hike. The descent off this peak was a little trickier when you stay on the ridge top, but still not bad. I quickly reached the "Cat Walk" section of the ridge, where the ridge necks down to about 6ft wide.
Holy Cross Ridge summit (13,831ft)
The next summit, Holy Cross Ridge (13,831), has several false summits so it was a bummer each time you thought you were near the top, but you still had several more false summits to climb. I was definitely starting to feel the fatigue from all the boulder hopping on the ridgeline. The Holy Cross Ridge summit (13,831) was reached after 5hrs of hiking. According to my GPS, it was only supposed to be 0.15 miles over to Mt. of the Holy Cross, but it sure looked much further than that. As it turned out, it was just over 0.8 miles to reach the Holy Cross summit. That made the total distance from the Fall Creek trailhead to the summit 8.2 miles instead of the 7.5 miles in the 14ers.com beta. I noticed that Roach's book states it's 9.0 miles to the summit via Halo Ridge, so I think my GPS might not be completely in error. I reached the summit in just under 6hrs from the trailhead and took a well deserved snack break.
View of Notch Mountain Shelter from Holy Cross Summit
Summit self pic with Notch Mountain in background
The descent down the North Ridge wasn't too hard to find due to the number of people on that route. I was the only person on the Halo Ridge route and really enjoyed the solitude, but it was nice to chat with some of the Army guys I encountered on the summit. They provided good beta for the North Ridge descent off the peak and it took me about 2hrs to descend to East Cross Creek where I filled up my water bottle. The hike up and over Halfmoon Pass wasn't as bad as I thought it might be and I reached the trailhead 9.5hrs after starting. It was very long day 13.8 miles, but a great traverse of Mt. of the Holy Cross. I highly recommend it for hikers who are fit and enjoy easy scrambling.