Mount of the Holy Cross (14,005')
via Holy Cross Ridge (13,831')
Trip participants: Gina Pasquale, Steve Doorn, Norman Hunter, James Hunter, David Hunter, and Tasha (the climbing wolf dog).
If you're looking for an alternative route to avoid 14'er crowds up Mt. of the Holy Cross, this is a fine choice providing much solitude. Our route turned out to be a mini-marathon at 17 miles, and 6000' total elevation gain, but you could shorten it a bit.
We left LA at 12:30pm Friday. Headed over Tennessee Pass and turned onto Homestake Road. Our destination was Gold Park Campground, which was nearly full when we arrived. (You can find other campsites along Homestake Cr. if the campground is full.)
At 5:15am the next morning, we all piled into Norman's truck to head for the "trailhead". Unfortunately, I didn't study the map or route descriptions very well, so we headed up the first jeep road on the right, about 0.5 miles from the campground. Turned out to be a very difficult 4WD road, and we didn't get too far, parking the truck at 9400'. (I would recommend following the description in Garratt & Martin's book to get up to 10,300'.)
The trail (Holy Cross City/Fall Creek Trail) takes you up scenic alpine country full of lakes, waterfalls and rugged ridgelines. We decided to head for the east ridge of Unnamed 13,768', instead of the saddle south of that peak which is described in the guidebook. The upper basin was full of snow and our chosen route avoided some of the snow via a rocky ridge. Once on that summit, we followed the ridge north over to Holy Cross Ridge, then onto Mount of the Holy Cross. Walking along the ridge provided breathtaking views of the steep east faces, frozen high mountain lakes, and huge overhanging cornices, which we carefully avoided!
On the summit, we were greeted by a ranger who said that it only took him 4 hours to summit via Half Moon trail. I think he must have been running. The views of the northern Sawatch range were exceptional on this cloudless day. On the way back, we were able to skirt the 2 sub-peaks via their western slopes. We arrived at the saddle described in the guidebook for a fast glissade down to the snowy upper basin. We were careful to avoid the large cornices above, and glissaded down soft snow. After a bit of postholing in places, we were back at camp around 7:30pm. We were all bushed!! We headed back home on Sunday am, after a huge breakfast of farm fresh eggs and pancakes, cooked on the Coleman stove.