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Mount of the Holy Cross

By Ann Driggers

The waning Sturgeon Moon cast a silver gleem through the inky darkness, enough for us to hike out of the forest and up towards Half Moon Pass without headlamps. To the east, the teeth of the jagged Gore range sawed into the salmon glow cast by the rising sun while the bright orb of planet Venus dazzled in the dark sky.

Despite our bleary eyes and groggy minds the benefits of our alpine start were immediately apparent for there is no compare to watching the sun rise in the high mountains as ridges and peaks soar above. We continued our hike, now descending, back into the dark forest and the deep glaciated gorge of East Cross Creek. Twilight slowly loosened its grip and we caught glances of our ultimate goal - the Mount of the Holy Cross - looming far above, and other mountains across the valley such as Mount Jackson.

By the time the suns warming rays reached us we were above treeline on its north flank, Half Moon Pass off in the distance.

And the moon that had provided our early morning light now fading in the west.

Upon reaching the north ridge the rugged summit finally appears.

Being a Fourteener and probably the most well known in Colorado, we expected crowds. Pleasantly suprised, we found ourselves hiking alone, no doubt another benefit of the alpine start.

We were fortunate to spend 15 minutes on the summit before others showed.

Twyla celebrated her first Fourteener with a few yoga poses.

It was only 8:30 a.m. and not a cloud in the sky - a rarity for this heavy monsoon season we have had in Colorado.

Before leaving I peered down the Cross Couloir down which I hope to ski one winter. This is the couloir that gives the mountain it's name but devoid of snow the cross is not visible. 

The hike out was long and hot and it wasn't until we were almost back up to Half Moon Pass that we saw the peak in its entirety.

I usually avoid Fourteeners in the summer, preferring the solitude, a good snow climb and an exhilerating ski descent  one finds in winter months. I am happy that with Mount of the Holy Cross I decided to make an exception to my MO. It is a spectacular place and we had a spectacular day.



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