Peak(s):  Mt. of the Holy Cross  -  14,005 feet
Holy Cross Ridge  -  13,831 feet
PT 13,248  -  13,248 feet
Notch Mtn  -  13,237 feet
Date Posted:  07/15/2013
Modified:  07/16/2013
Date Climbed:   07/13/2013
Author:  DanielL
 Holy Cross: The Beautiful Halo Ridge  

Mount of the Holy Cross: Halo Ridge from Halfmoon Pass

Difficulty: Class 3
Round-trip Distance: 13 miles
Elevation Gain: 5400'

The Halo Ridge route on Mt. of the Holy Cross is a fantastic route that circles around the mountain, passing by the Notch Mountain Shelter which was built in 1924, as well as providing beautiful views of the Cross Couloir and Bowl of Tears. Since our route ascended the Halo Ridge from Halfmoon Pass and came down the standard North Ridge, we got to see the mountain from all angles!

The Gore Range

Approaching Halfmoon Pass

From Halfmoon Pass, we located an evident, although much less traveled, trail that winds around to the east side of Notch Mountain and works its way up to the ridge.

Gaining the ridge on Notch Mtn

First view of Holy Cross

We crested the ridge and scrambled up to the summit of Notch Mtn. From there, we got the full, classic view of the Cross Couloir (despite being somewhat melted out):


Our next obstacle was the notch itself. While this was the crux of our climb, the difficulty, we found, could be kept to Class 3 by traversing to the right and locating cairns and trail segments that traverse beneath the ridge.

The notch

Scrambling down to the notch

Our route around the ridge

A cool lake in the valley

Eventually, we crested the ridge and there, below us, was the shelter!




The next peak to be climbed was PT 13,248', which is a short Class 2 scramble from the shelter.


Looking back at Notch Mtn and the shelter

After PT 13,248', the ridge got rockier and our pace slowed down a bit as we scrambled and rock-hopped to the next point in the ridge (not a thirteener):


As we traversed, the Bowl of Tears came into view:

Holy Cross and the Bowl of Tears

Looking back at the traverse so far

Scrambling back up to the ridge

Soon, we topped out and saw the final stretch to Centennial 13er Holy Cross Ridge (13,831'), our last obstacle before Holy Cross!

Approaching HCR

Bowl of Tears

Looking back at Notch Mtn

Climbing up to HCR

Tuhare Lakes to the south

On top of HCR, all that was left was a Class 2 traverse:

Holy Cross - not far now!

HCR from near the summit

Summit benchmark - success!

As we relaxed on the summit, admiring the long ridge that we had conquered, the clouds quickly gathered and, realizing that we were 6 miles from the car, we took off down the standard North Ridge, figuring that it would be faster than descending the way we came.

Back down the North Ridge

Colorful stream to the east

The rain started falling as we got back to treeline. Now, all we had to do was grind out just about 1000' vertical back over Halfmoon Pass, completing the 360-degree loop, and hike down to the car. The re-climb over the pass really wasn't bad, and the great views of Holy Cross made it more enjoyable.

Back up Halfmoon Pass...

Parting shot of the Mt. of the Holy Cross

One thing we all wished that we had was bug spray, as the mosquitoes were quite bad, so if you're planning to climb Holy Cross soon, don't forget to bring bug spray!

Over the pass we went, and soon we were back at the trailhead! What a great day on a beautiful, classic route.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions

Beautiful pictures!
07/15/2013 14:55
Looks like a great day, congrats on completing Holy Cross!


07/15/2013 21:37
I did Halo ridge route last fall and loved it. It's a beast in one day but well worth the effort. Well done!

James Scott

Great day!
07/16/2013 00:27
I did this last year, minus the trek over Notch Mt- we took the lower trail up to the shelter. May have to return one day and do it your way. You're not lying about mosquitoes- makes it tough when you are exhausted and simply must stop to rest, but the second you stop they gather in swarm and attack. Choose your poison.
Glad you enjoyed the day!


Lot of work
07/16/2013 06:12
It's evident that you put a lot of work into this excellent trip report. Thanks for the report and great photos. Looks like a great time!


Just hiked it!
07/22/2013 16:10
thank you for the great report, i went up yesterday and completed holy cross via the halo ridge and your report was a huge help, one hell of a LONG ass day!

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