6,160' of gain
Notch Mountain (13,237')
Holy Cross Ridge (13,831')
Mt. of the Holy Cross (14,005')
Background - I had done a casual climb of Holy Cross with friends via the standard north ridge route a few years back and thought it was fine, but nothing special. I'd been looking for an excuse to come back and either do the Cross Couloir or Halo Ridge. Jake and I had been planning on two full days in the Elks, but a freak mudslide just west of town diverted us through Denver and we decided to swap out our first Elk climb for this one, which we had slated for later in the summer.
We pulled into a campsite at the trailhead just after dark, bunkered down, and were on the trail the next morning at 4:45. We decided to add in a little more spice, opting to go over 13,237' Notch Mountain from Half Moon Pass, whereas the normal Halo Ridge route starts out on a well-defined trail east of the ridge for a couple of miles before ascending to the semi-famous Notch Shelter midway through the ridge.
Notable facts about Notch Mountain. It may be the state capitol for spiders. Furthermore, the concentration of non-aquatic mosquitos on the north ridge of Notch Mountain is impressive. Those guys spawn from rocks.
|Looking east toward the Mosquito Range from Half Moon Pass|
Going over Notch Mountain took us a bit longer than we anticipated, and we didn't stumble upon the shelter until about 3 hours into our morning. I had heard it was a condemned shack these days. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this four-star alpine resort.
|With Point 13,248' in the background|
From Notch Shelter until the summit of Holy Cross, the views remained impressive while the footing became blockier and blockier. By the time we got the the summit of centennial peak Holy Cross Ridge, I was ready to be done. It was hot. Windless. I had a throbbing headache - something I don't get all that often at altitude. Unless I'm out of shape and coming from sea level. Hmmm.
|Bowl of Tears|
|sub-peak of Holy Cross Ridge|
|HC and the Bowl of Tears basin.|
Halo Ridge whooped me up pretty good, to the point where I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to rally for the Bells the next day. Jake and I stopped at the Glenwood Hot Springs to cool down while on our way that afternoon. Big surprise, there's a reason they're called HOT Springs. Maybe not the best choice for trying to cool down on a scorcher of an afternoon.