Holy Cross
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Mt. of the Holy Cross

Trail head start - sign in for wilderness permit

Popular trail head but where were these people on the trail?

After 1,000+ ft gain to Half Moon Pass you finally see Holy Cross descending the other side

Good trail through the East Cross Creek basin

Might be a problem earlier in the spring but not in August

On the North Ridge just past tree line with Holy Cross no where to be seen

Ahh, now she starts to come into view!

H'mm, I am looking a little pale on only a couple hours sleep plus too much salsa!

Approaching the final summit slope

Looking back on our basic route from the summit

The slope from tree line

I am now glad I did exit my warm sleeping bag

Finally back at Half Moon Pass only the downhill left

Mt. of the Holy Cross

Scramble: Class 2 – Steep Hiking

Altitude: 14,005 ft

Elevation Gain: 5,600 ft, 11.5 miles approx return

Start Time: 4am to 6am to be on your way down by noon and avoid potential lightning storms

Ascent Time: 4 1/2 – 5 1/2 Hours, approx 9-10 hours return with a bit of summit time

 

Highlights

This scramble is long but Holy Cross has a certain allure as you must climb over 1,000 ft from the trail head to Half Moon Pass before you get your first glimpse just pass the pass. Then you have to descend a 1,000 ft into the East Cross Creek basin to arrive at the North Ridge of Holy Cross. I liked how Holy Cross would begin to show its summit block as you hiked the long and definitely foreshortened North Ridge. See the pictures.

Getting There

Half Moon Trail Head on Tigiwon Road– 10,320 ft – Yes restrooms

From just west of Vail on Interstate 70 take exit 171 and head south on highway 24. Only a few miles south on highway 24 you pass through the town of Minturn and only approx 3 miles later you take a right hand turn onto Tigiwon road (gravel). The turn is just before the bridge that goes across the Eagle River. Follow Tigiwon road for about 8 miles as it switchbacks up the hill, the road is passable for 2wd vehicles if you take it easy. You can also approach from the south on highway 24 through Leadville. From Leadville to the turn onto Tigiwon road its approx 27 miles.

Camping

There is a forest service campground right at the trail head or you can just sleep in your vehicle.

Route Description

Follow the good trail through the forest to Half Moon Pass, Notch Mountain on your left. Descend from Half Moon Pass into the East Cross Creek Basin. There is a good trail across the basin (noting the creek crossing on logs) that takes you to the North ridge of Holy Cross. Be careful when you exit the tree line on the North Ridge to take note of the spot for your descent. For some reason many parties have descended to far left off the North Ridge and ended up lost in the West Cross creek drainage. It is best to stay on the right side of the ridge looking down on the East Cross Creek basin until you hit tree line. Then the trail should be obvious. Follow the giant cairns on the lower part of the ridge and that should be the correct trail.

Anyways, going up the North Ridge is straight forward but long and foreshortened. Once at the ridge high point there is a fairly long ridge walk to the final summit slope. Just pick you way as best you can up the large rocks on the summit slope as your destination is not to far, about 300 ft for the final summit slope.