Mt. of the Holy Cross
Trail head start - sign in for
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
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 slope from tree line
I am now glad I did exit my warm
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
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
Half Moon Trail Head on Tigiwon Road– 10,320 ft – Yes
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.
Updated trailhead info available here
There is a forest service campground right at the trail
head or you can just sleep in your vehicle. The forest
service campground is called Half Moon campground with 7 sites, first come,
first serve for $15/night.
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.