Mount of the Holy Cross (Notch-Halo Ridge Loop)

elevation: 4,269 m.  height gain: 460 m. (from Holy Cross Ridge, includes climb up Half Moon Pass)
area: Minturn, Colorado, USA
map USGS 1:24,000 Mount of the Holy Cross,CO  39106D4

mount of the holy cross

Looking at Mount of the Holy Cross from Holy Cross Ridge.
Ascent:  -Halo Ridge  class 2
Descent:  -North Ridge  class 2

Hike: RT 14.5 (includes Notch Mountain and Holy Cross Ridge); 1.25 from Holy Cross Ridge. The Notch-Halo Ridge Loop offers some of the most stunning scenery around. This loop is definitely one of my favorite Colorado hikes and scrambles. By the time we reached the summit of this beautiful 14er, I surely felt like we had come a long way and climbed a fair bit. What really sets this trek apart is that it travels in a circle granting different views of the surrounding landscape and changing aspects of the main objective, Mount of the Holy Cross. This is a 20+ kilometer journey with substantial combined height gain (1,860 meters); it offers delightful scrambling, talus galore and easy going trail segments. This route is also quite committing as there is no sensible escape between the Notch Mountain Shelter and the summit, a stable forecast and stamina is a must! We broke down this trip in thirds: trailhead to the shelter, shelter to the summit and finally the descent. Although we took numerous short breaks along the way, we had longer breaks at the shelter and the summit; this worked out good. It was already getting late in the day when we reached the summit, we had been hiking for 10 hours. We took numerous pictures and took the time to soak in the view and the feat. The mild windless afternoon made our summit stay as comfortable as can be. Tim had made delicious chocolate cake, we devoured it with much appetite before considering the descent. Honestly, I could have stayed much longer but apparently, all good things must come to an end... Tim started to gather his things and pressed me to do the same, that man's all business at times! Soon thereafter, we started descending the normal route. The trail along the north ridge is easy to follow and dotted by cairns; it was a mindless hike down that allowed me to think back on today's highlights. Once arrived at valley bottom, we spotted the campground next to East Cross Creek; some hikers were camping there, we joked with them about having a free meal and a place to stay the night. Ha, no way we'd get out of the final daunting task of climbing back up to Half Moon Pass... I felt seriously depleted on this last climb and couldn't keep up with Tim. I've had to "dig deep" before,  I'm used to pushing through long hauls so I persevered. We reached the pass at dusk and got our headlights out; I knew I was home free, it was all downhill from here! We hiked down at a fast pace, in a hurry to reach the trailhead and camp. Sadly, we didn't spend the night at the campground; instead, we drove back to Leadville because Tim had to work the next day. Despite the haze of my tired state, I felt very pleased and satisfied with today's trip; I knew I would cherish these moments for a life time. I was very grateful that Tim had surprised me with such a delightful and outstanding outing.

the objective is within reach

The objective is within reach!

looking back

Looking back at Holy Cross Ridge, the highpoint on the Halo Ridge route.

point 13373 and the catwalk

Glancing back at Point 13373 (left of center) and the grassy "catwalk".

summit selfie

On the summit of Mount of the Holy Cross with my good friend Tim!

south-eastern view

South-eastern view towards another ranked 13er, Whitney Peak (right center).

notch mountain

Notch Mountain and The Notch are so far away.

view north and the descent ridge

View north with the descent ridge in sight.

tim gives this loop a thumbs up

Tim gives this loop a thumbs up.

benchmark at the top

A benchmark has been placed on the summit.

holy cross ridge to the south

Looking south over Holy Cross Ridge (Point 13831) and Point 13768.

north-eastern view

North-eastern view with The Notch again.

heading down

Heading down the normal route.

the north ridge

The North Ridge leads to East Cross Creek.

very good trail

The trail is well-troden and dotted with cairns.

bye bye summit

Bye bye summit...

last glimpse

Last glimpse of Mount of the Holy Cross.

auto-pilot mode

Tim is in auto-pilot mode; wait up!!!

still far from half moon pass

Still a long way before we re-gain Half Moon Pass at the base of the talus slopes on the right.

last sun rays

Last sun rays on Mount of the Holy Cross.

ascending back to the pass

Ascending 300 meters back to the pass, ouch....
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