Peak(s):  Mt. of the Holy Cross  -  14,005 feet
Holy Cross Ridge  -  13,831 feet
PT 13,248  -  13,248 feet
Date Posted:  07/16/2014
Date Climbed:   07/14/2014
Author:  jeffb79
 Holy Cross - Halo Ridge  

On somewhat of a last-minute trip idea, my friend Daron (along with his springer spaniel, Wilson) and I decided to tackle Holy Cross on a Sunday/Monday overnight trip. We decided that we wanted to do the Halo Ridge loop because of the views of the Cross Couloir. But because of the loop, we'd need to carry everything up to the summit with us, so we decided to go light, leaving the tent and the stove behind.

We left Colorado Springs around 2pm on Sunday, stopped to pick up sandwiches in Frisco, then continued on our way. We got to the trailhead around 5:30pm. Packed up our stuff and headed out on the trail around 6pm. The Fall Creek trail was nice and easy to follow, but the mosquitoes were terrible, especially around that time of the afternoon. It took about an hour to reach the junction for the Notch Mountain Trail.
Trail junction to Notch Mountain

From there, climbing the endless switchbacks, we topped out on Notch Mountain around 8:15, just in time for sunset. After snapping a few sunset pics, we met 2 others who were also spending the night there, ate a quick dinner and got ready for bed.
Switchbacks up to Notch Mountain

Sunset over Holy Cross

Our plan was to sleep outside, near the shelter, going in only if we needed to. But the weather couldn't have given us a better night for sleeping outside at 13,000ft. No wind and the temp never got below 40. It was perfect!
Sleeping under the stars at 13,000 ft

We woke up the next morning with the dawn, snapped a few pics of the sunrise, ate a quick breakfast and started off by 6:30.
Sunrise on Holy Cross

We quickly summited the first obstacle of the day. There was a small snowfield on the slope, which was still solid enough to walk on.
Snowfield on the ascent to PT 13,248

From the top of that first peak, we could see more of the route that lay before us.

It dropped farther down than I had expected. And as we hiked, there were a few spots that took some careful steps and careful maneuvering (though I probably could've taken a better path). When we got to the base of the second peak, it looked quite steep and loose. It turned out to be fairly simple and a quick climb to the top. After that, there's some nice tundra grass to hike on - a nice break from the boulders.

At the base of the third peak, it seemed like another easy climb. This peak turned out to be the hardest of the three ridge peaks. There were several false summits, and a few notches and gullies to climb around. We topped out on this peak just after 9:00. From here we had a great view of the remaining route to Holy Cross.
Remaining route to Holy Cross

From here, we down-climbed to the saddle at the base of Holy Cross, and climbed up to the summit, staying just to the left of the ridge crest. I summited around 10:15.
On the summit

Up to this point in the day, there really was no trail.

It was busy up on the summit. There were no less than 25 people up there. We stayed up there for about 30 minutes.
For our return trip, we followed the standard route. The trail was well-marked and easy to follow. I started to run out of water around tree-line, and thanks to 3 hikers I met at East Cross Creek, I was able to fill up for the rest of the hike. Thank you!! The ascent back over Half Moon Pass was killer! Since we hadn't hiked in that way, we didn't know how long the hike up the pass was. Definitely the most frustrating part of the day. But after we crested Half Moon Pass, it's an easy 1.5 mile hike back down to the trailhead. I arrived at about 2:30.
Looking back at Holy Cross from the slopes above East Cross Creek

It was most definitely a hard and long day, and very frustrating at times, it was well worth the effort.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions
Very timely report
07/16/2014 17:04
Thanks for the trip report, I'm headed in that area soon.
Looks like Wilson 'still can have fun'!


one of my favorite loops!
07/16/2014 18:38
Sunrise on Notch! Yes!! Best way to do this loop! Hope to repeat it again next month!

Snow on the Cross?
07/18/2014 05:00
Planning a trip to this summit, should I bring my splitboard is the question?

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