Mount Holy Cross

Date to Climb: June 21, 2009

Date Climbed: July 07,2009

Elevation: 14,005

Range: Sawatch

Latitude: 39.46680, Longitude: -106.48160

Route: North Ridge ll, Class 2

Round-Trip Mileage: 11.5

Pre-Climb Comments

We were going to do Holy Cross on June 21, but decided to delay it for a few weeks. We are now familiar with the road and camping. The climb is supposed to be tough. We are excited to try it.

Post-Climb Comments

The guidebooks warned us about how hard this climb was. It was not a typical summit hike since it required hiking up and over Half Moon Pass before losing all that elevation to reach the base of the mountain. Furthermore, we knew we had to climb it again - returning back over Half Moon Pass was going to hurt, we packed accordingly.

To offset the climbing effort we decided to pack more food and the water filter. Amy normally eats gels all during the hike, but I generally do not eat unless we rest. At each rest I tried to eat.

With great weather we had an early morning start. Hiking by those beams of light again, we topped Half Moon Pass in the dark. We were headed down the other side before the sun was high enough to help.

As we walked down toward East Cross Creek, we tried to pick out Holy Cross. There was a non-definitive debate over which mountain was the one. Then, suddenly, Holy Cross appeared. It was bigger and closer than we expected. Immediately we knew that Holy Cross was a special mountain.

Mount Holy Cross

Mount Holy Cross

Crossing the creek was a bit challenging as the logs on which we walked seemed to teeter with each step, but we quickly passed that obstacle and began the climb. It was steep. Basically we had to climb 3,500 feet in a mile and a half. The trail had little room for flat.

tree line on Mount Holy Cross

Tree line on Holy Cross

At tree line we met up with Jon, Laura, and Nick. Everyone was climbing well and continued at their own speed. Nick, the speed demon, made quick work of the slope and soon was on top. We were slower navigating our way through the endless talus (large rocks and boulders), but joined him in a little while. On top we took pictures, ate, and were off on our descent.

North ridge of Holy Cross

North Ridge of Holy Cross

We spoke with Jon and Laura on the way down and left them knowing they would have no trouble summiting. After we left them our thoughts were on the impending slope we had to climb to return over Half Moon Pass. All the information we had read about the obstructing climb was that it was hard and we were prepared for the worst. It was still morning when we started up the switchbacks. Taking advantage of the shady conditions we kept an even pace until we topped the hill. Yes, it was hard at the end of the hike, but not as hard as expected - maybe we were just better mentally prepared.

Before reaching the crest of the trail going over the pass, we met a couple who were standing in the trail taking pictures of something out of our view. As we approached the woman said, ’get your camera, it's a marmot!’ We laughed and told her there were plenty of marmots on the mountain. We were happy they were able to see their first marmot, and also told them about the small pika. It is funny how some joys of being outdoors become common place. Seeing your first marmot (or finding your first pair of boots that were eaten by a marmot), identifying a wildflower, or spotting a bird all bring a sense of discovery to the part of our souls that long for the call of the wild.

Holy Cross was a fun, hard hike. It made our top five peaks that we had climbed so far that summer.

Mount Holy Cross - July 07, 2009 summit check