Near-success on Mt. of the Holy Cross

Near-success on Mt. of the Holy Cross

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Oct 10, 2009
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling
Seasons Season: Fall

The best-laid plans of mice and men...

Now that the higher peaks had been covered for a few days, I decided the time was ripe for a snow climb. My intention was to reach Lake Patricia and from there choose either the Teardrop or Holy Cross couloir to summit.

With numerous sources reporting this to be a long-ish hike, I decided to give it 8 hours. I left Broomfield at 4 am, but delays on I-70 set me back an hour. After a suspension-devouring tour of the Tigiwon road, I reached Half Moon trailhead at 7:15 am.

Morning at Half Moon Pass

Suspect route-finding

I made good time and reached Beaver Pond shortly after 9. Then my route-finding abilities came into question (as if they ever weren't). After wandering around for awhile and wasting a good deal of energy, I believed I had located the correct path to Lake Patricia.

Mt. of the Holy Cross
Mt. of the Holy Cross

My next view of the mountain was bittersweet. Although I had clearly missed the lake, I was near enough the base of Angelica Couloir to warrant a try.

Mt. of the Holy Cross

Too soon for a snow climb?

At 10:30 I started towards the couloir. The initial rock-hopping was fun, but the further I went the deeper the snow grew.

Rock-hopping on Angelica Couloir

At 11 am I began slogging through waist-deep snow, which had not consolidated enough to provide any leverage in itself. At times I sunk so far I had to thrash around to make room for the next step.

Eventually I would just aim for the next visible rock in hopes the snow would be shallower there. Crampons and kick-stepping were of little use. Despite gaiters my waterproof boots filled with water.

Turning around was out of the question as it seemed I was closer to the top of the couloir than the valley below. Running out of water and daylight, I sought an intersection with the standard route on the ridge above.

Thus I deviated from Angelica Couloir, gaining the ridge near a wide cornice at 3 pm, 650 ft below the summit.

Post-holing on Angelica Couloir
Cornice on Mt. of the Holy Cross NE Ridge
Mt. of the Holy Cross

Incredible views and great weather, anyway

Relatively great. It was very cold and windy, but not too cloudy. Views from the ridge were jaw-dropping.

Looking East from Angelica Couloir
Mt. of the Holy Cross NE Ridge@#$% water on the lens

I started back posthaste and made the trailhead at 6:45 pm.


It was a long, painful day mostly because of bad route-finding and poor snow. A hike up the standard route would have been fantastic.

Angelica Couloir GPS Track
Angelica Couloir GPS Elevation Profile


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Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.