9000+ ft total vertical gain
Mt. of the Holy Cross: 14,005ft Rank: 51
From Tigiwon Rd continue onto halfmoon trailhead, once you reach the pass you will drop roughly 1000ft into the valley of the east river. There are many campsites available with good places to camp. From there continue on the the north ridge trail, a fairly easy, well maintained trail that will take you to the summit. Halo Ridge loops around counter clockwise to the other side of the valley. There is no trail along this path and you will encounter hands-on scrambling. Reaching the beautiful Notch Mountain Shelter should be the highlight of the trip, with a beautiful view of Holy Cross that you can actually see from inside. From there you can just follow the very visible Notch Mountain Trail back to the parking lot.
We started late July 15th, around noon. From the beginning there was a serious mosquito problem that plagued us till we got above tree line the second day, not even the monsoonal rains could stop them. The first day was fairly easy, a gentle continuous climb to the top of half moon pass. Once we reached the pass we could see some incoming weather from the northeast, and when we saw the lightning we knew we couldn't wait around and enjoy the views. The rain/hail hit, me and mike dawned our rain gear (mike's was a bit ridiculous) and continued on. About 3/5ths the way down the west side of the pass we found a large natural shelter right off the trail and waited out the remainder of the storm. The campsites were well marked and had plenty of clear, flat areas to put several tents. We set up camp and settled down for the night. That night was near constant thunderstorms, rain and a bit of hail. I had trouble sleeping and worried about the bear bag with all our food in it not being waterproof, and more troubling, my less than waterproof rain coat containing my camera and cell phone in it which I was ironically trying to dry off. But I was too comfortable and too lazy to go outside and fix it.
The next day, with our alarm set to 4:00 am we woke up to find it was still raining and happily hit the snooze button and finally got up at 5:00. I found my daypack which we had used as the bear bag to be soaked, luckily our food was fine and so was my camera and cell phone. We cooked some strange tasting Mountain House breakfast skillet thing, hydrated up and headed out at 5:45. As far as 14ers go, the north ridge hike was simple and easy even though it looks pretty dramatic on the way up. The trail was well maintained and the gradient was nothing crazy. Once at the summit though, everything changed. Now there was no more trail, you couldn't really get lost, but until you get to the Notch Mountain Shelter you'll mostly be rock hopping. There were three peaks we crossed over on Halo Ridge: 13,831ft, 13,373ft and 13,248ft. Notch Mountain Shelter was the highlight of the trip, a beautifully rustic building with the most incredible view of Holy Cross you can get.
Now I have some explaining to do, originally our plan, once we got to the shelter, was to go off trail (if you could really call it a trail) to the bottom of the valley and follow the river back. But when we saw what options we had to do that, we realized it would be much to dangerous and time consuming to be worth it. So we tried to continue over notch mountain and back north to Half Moon pass. Unfortunately we failed to realize that "the Notch" which the mountain had been named was (without the proper gear) impassible. We therefore made the decision to follow the trail back to the parking lot. Once there we were pretty tired and decided to go ultra light in order to backtrack to get back to our campsite and pack it up. I only brought a water bottle, no layers, no raingear no food. All I had on was a t-shirt and shorts. We made it up to the pass pretty quickly but like yesterday we saw an incoming storm. It was getting cold and windy as the rain started to fall. I pushed myself into a run, remembering the shelter a few miles ahead. We were soaked once we found the shelter and immediately took off my wet shirt and warmed up pretty fast. Once the rain had died down we hurried back to camp, sloppily put all our camp stuff away and GTFO. It was nearing night as we reached the pass again. Turning on our headlamps we headed back down the wet trail, dizzy with exhaustion and damp with the light drizzle that was still upon us. After what seemed like too long we made it back just as the rain picked up again. We threw our wet stuff in the back, and fell into the car. It was 9:00 pm.