Peak(s):  Mt. of the Holy Cross  -  14,005 feet
Date Posted:  09/30/2017
Date Climbed:   09/20/2017
Author:  petal53run
 Perfect fall day on Holy Cross-North ridge   

My window at work frames Mt Evans and its north and south neighbors. You could say I'm lucky for a regular view of Colorado's mountains, but I've developed a bad habit of daydreaming. The good thing is I've planned many a climbing trip. Another weekend rolled around and the forecast said rain/snow again. The window for ‚summer‚Ě climbing was rapidly closing and I've not been up yet. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy with my choices this year as the first part of summer was training to bicycle RAGBRI with my sailor son, who took leave from the Navy to spend time with Mom. I wholeheartedly embrace those moments.

By mid-August, I had recovered. I could manage my training, but could not control the weather or my days off either. So seeing that crystal blue skies were predicted for the weekdays, I creatively made Wednesday, September 20 my day off. I couldn't stand at work, so please don't tell them I stood on a mountain top.

Car packed by noon, off work at 10pm, in bed by 11, driving west on I70 at 4am, I turned into the dark on Tiqwon road in the VW Tiquan. It's the end result from the diesel buyback so had to try it out on the forest access dirt road. It did great and I had a fun drive up and down.

I reached the trailhead during sunrise, energized my lungs with pure air, packed up and hit the trail in 36 degree temperatures. Life was good. I'd rather be swallowed up by whispering trees at daybreak than boisterous traffic. The first section of the maintained dirt and rocky trail seemed almost effortless as I was fueled by excitement and hyperactiveness. I was thankful I opted to wear an additional clothing layer as the canopy of pines needles kept the upward climb colder and still cold when beginning the 1000 foot drop. Then up again to break from the trees into scrub growth, rocks and a blue sky before descending on switchbacks toward the campground. One worn trail leads to the Cross Creek crossing, but worrying if I missed a turn or misread the map, I heard rushing waters. It's an easy crossing. Every time I decide which rock to put my foot on when picking a path, I wonder if erosion carried it from the top. I stopped to refuel and patted myself on the back while resting up for the next section. After passing all the camping posts via a fairly flat dirt trail, I turned left and one direction was in front of me: straight UP.

It was literally a foot by foot strategy to the packed talus. The climb was slow, steady, peaceful and peppered with darting field mice and late blooming purple flowers. I used the occasional switchbacks to savor the surroundings and nibble on peanut butter sandwiches and homemade trail mix. The treeline mark was sweet: in front of me was Holy Cross. It's even more amazing close up; I couldn't wait to set foot on it. The exposure zone was full of the Swatch range as it stretched south. About one mile from the peak, a descending climber shared his success and encouraged, ‚You're almost there,‚Ě which translated to, ‚It's another rigorous hour.‚Ě The trail began ‚leveling off‚Ě and the talus was flattened into a mosaic line that lead into the twisty cairn zone: tall ones, wide ones and fancy ones. Whoever builds these hardy things creates some amazing structures. However, the class 2 trail becomes indistinguishable in the big rocks section so I picked my way toward the voices (about a dozen climbers that day) and eventually summited. What a spectacular view! I not only conquered the northern 14er in the Swatch range, but could nostalgically look toward other peaks I have climbed. It was a biting wind, so I looked for the marker, took pics and hydrated. Going down, 2 trails are visible at the saddle. The right one dead ends at a cliff and the left trail leads you back to the talus path. Have to stay alert, even when cruising downhill.

Time wasn't the priority, so my ascent and descent times were about the same because using the pole lessens the impact on my knees and slows my pace. Besides, this was a ‚vacation day.‚Ě I was maximizing every free breath and minute. The temperatures warmed enough to shed a layer of clothing. Along the way, I met a couple people going up so I encouraged their dream, too. With Holy Cross out of sight, the goal took a 180 degree turn. Sometimes when climbing, I wonder how much further it is to the top, but going down, I wonder how much further it is to the car.

In sum, I hiked a long, but scenic 12 miles. Loosing 1000 feet sounded discouraging, but the changing inclines breakup the one directional repetition. I could have been home for dinner. Instead, I celebrated at a convenience store with a quart of TruMoo and bag of potato chips. I did drive back while the sun was gloriously shining to marvel at the peak fall colors of the aspen. Would I do this again? Absolutely. The best days off are the ones you can't describe to your co-workers.



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Comments or Questions
outdoor50rock
good one
10/03/2017 20:24
Thank you for the upbeat report and sense of humor


MtnHub

Congratulations ...
10/07/2017 20:33
... on reaching one of my favorite mountains! A worthy day's effort indeed!


Mtnman200

Holy Cross...
10/09/2017 14:13
...is a workout! Good job persevering and getting to the summit (and back)



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