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El Diente or Holy Cross Winter

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El Diente or Holy Cross Winter

Postby Dmk9869 » Wed Dec 05, 2012 11:38 pm

Anyone on here have experience with El Diente or Holy Cross in the winter? Have a group of 3 novice's coming to CO dec 20/21 looking to do one of these. We are trying to hire someone with experience to guide us up.
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Re: El Diente or Holy Cross Winter

Postby SarahThompson » Thu Dec 06, 2012 2:16 am

El Diente is one of the more difficult and dangerous 14ers in the winter. It took me 2 attempts to summit. Avoid it unless you have plenty of winter mountaineering experience, technical skills, and solid avy knowledge.

Holy Cross is a looooong slog in winter because the road is closed (7-8 miles to summer TH). Need basic avy knowledge as the standard route does cross a bad slope in at least one spot. This area can often be worked around safely if you know what you're doing. In normal winter conditions plan on at least 2 nights out.

Seems like there are lots of better options for novices. I wouldn't suggest either of these. Tackle one of the easier ones w/out a guide perhaps?
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Re: El Diente or Holy Cross Winter

Postby Kiefer » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:40 am

What Sarah said.
Novices on El Diente in winter...BAD IDEA. Any good guide worth his salt isn't going to take novices up that mountain in winter. Liability would be astronomical. High technical commitment/high physical commitment.
Holy Cross...you'll prolly have them end up HATING the mountains afterwards IF you're successful at all. Low technical commitment/very high physical commitment

Like Sarah said, there's a TON of other easier peaks to cut your teeth on that doesn't require a trip to Elbert, Quandary or Sherman if you want to keep the difficulty more in the moderate range.
Scott has a good page HERE that you should take a look at. Still has some gaps that needs filling in but good beta none-the-less.
Would be interested to hear what you decide to settle on.
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Re: El Diente or Holy Cross Winter

Postby Scott » Thu Dec 06, 2012 2:11 pm

As mentioned, Holy Cross is a strenuous one. Here is a story about our first attempt (which was with people who had impressive climbing resumes including on the highest peaks on earth):

http://www.summitpost.org/mount-of-the- ... mpt/170788

I doubt that any guide is going to take you up El Diente unless it doesn't snow much between now and then.

Also, your post seems to indicate that you have only two days? Unless you are an very strong climber, planning on two days isn't really realistic for those peaks in full winter conditions.

Because Holy Cross isn't that technical, it probably could be done by a novices with strong leadership/guides, but you should plan more than two days for novices. Even for strong and in shape novice climbers, I wouldn't recommend it without winter experience or a guide because if you stay on route the route can be fairly safe, but getting off route will lead to trouble quick.

It is snowing now, but so far there is hardly any snow in the mountains, so I guess if that continues, it may be theoretically possible to climb those peaks in non-winter conditions by then.
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Re: El Diente or Holy Cross Winter

Postby Dmk9869 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:36 pm

As far as which peak to choose we have been going of a page of yours Scott http://www.summitpost.org/colorado-14er ... ter/337648 . What winter peak would you guys recommend that is fun, challengeing, and not just a typical mellow hike? Assuming the climbers are all novices but in absolute top physical fitness shape.
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Re: El Diente or Holy Cross Winter

Postby Clark_Griswold » Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:05 am

A lot of this depends on snow conditions. Last December and January, I met failure on several Colorado peaks, except for a pretty easy Trico Peak down by Ouray and Silverton, just west of Red Mountain Pass on US 550. Then I tired of winter and started doing stuff in the desert, which I much prefer. Snow was thin, it melted off places, and then there is the ever present football player rapist. I mean avalanche danger, which thwarted me. From what I learned, early winter from now to Maybe late February or March, is considered ridge season because the snow is fluffy and unconsolidated, and the winter solstice sucks for day length. I would stick with short approaches in daylight and low 4000 meter peaks. High elevation can be worse in winter, and you may find cold, dry, and windy air really suck your strength.

Personally, coming from out of town and down low, I would stick with 6 hour peaks and try to enjoy rather than conquer. http://www.summitpost.org/buffalo-mountain/153075 if there is no avalanche danger.
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