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Ascent of Holy Cross Ridge on 2017-07-24

Climber: Jonathan Scislow

Others in Party:Elliot Matthews
Kristen Budahn
Bryan Budahn
Date:Monday, July 24, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Holy Cross Ridge
    Location:USA-Colorado
    Elevation:13831 ft / 4215 m

Ascent Trip Report

We originally planned to take the Halo Ridge on the Ascent, but missed the turn off in the dark and ended up ascending via the North Ridge instead. This route had a nearly 1000ft descent right near the start (which would mean an ascent right at the end of the hike if returning via the same route). The ascent was long, but not overly difficult. A long ascent with some Class 2, but nothing too challenging.

For descent, we opted for the Halo Ridge. The ridge line seemed like the better option because it was just a 2 mile ridge, we'd get to see the Notch Mountain Shelter and a good view of the Holy Cross Couloir for which the mountain gets its name, and we wouldn't have to deal with an ascent right at the end of the hike.

The Halo Ridge route was a mistake. I'm glad we did it because the view was amazing, there was enough snow to still make out the Holy Cross Couloir, and we got to see some overly curious marmots closer than I've ever seen them before (naughty little things trying to steal food from packs near the Notch Mountain Shelter).

The Halo Ridge was a much more difficult Class 2 route bordering on Class 3. It required some scrambling and was very slow going. That also meant a lot of time over 13k feet. Kristen had some concerning signs of AMS. More than just a headache, but starting to feel light headed and out of it. She's never had altitude problems before even over 19k feet so it was certainly unexpected. We were able to lead the route and keep an eye on her. Pacing was kept slow, but moving forward. This was a delicate balance between avoiding any mistakes, but still moving in case weather rolled in. Luckily the weather held and we made it safely over the three 13er sub-summits and to the Notch Mountain Shelter where we could finally breath a sigh of relief (and a lot more breaths of exhaustion.

It was nice to hang out by the Notch Mountain Shelter for some food, views of the Holy Cross Couloir, and those playful marmots.

From there, the route down was an easy Class 1.

In all, the day took just shy of 15 hours. Almost 2/3 of that time was spent on the Halo Ridge and in the descent. It was tremendously more challenging than the ascent via the North Ridge. We knew it would be a tough day, but definitely underestimated the challenge posed by the Halo Ridge.

It was a very tough, but beautiful mountain. I'm glad we did it, but was also very glad to be back down the mountain.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:331 ft / 101 m
    Elevation Loss:591 ft / 180 m
    Distance:0.8 mi / 1.3 km
    Grade/Class:Class 2+
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Skies Looked Concerning but Weather Held
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:331 ft / 101 m
    Distance:0.3 mi / 0.5 km
    Route:Halo Ridge
    Trailhead:Holy Cross Ridge  13500 ft / 4114 m
    Time Up:0 Days 0 Hours 40 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:591 ft / 180 m
    Distance:0.5 mi / 0.8 km
    Route:Halo Ridge
    Trailhead:Holy Cross Ridge 13831 + Point 13373 => Saddle  13240 ft / 4035 m
    Time Down:0 Days 1 Hours 11 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Mt of the Holy Cross - Orbital (2 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDate
1Mount of the Holy Cross2017-07-24 A
2Holy Cross Ridge2017-07-24 B
3Point 133732017-07-24 C
4Peak 132482017-07-24 D



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