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04-20-2012, 02:52 PM #1
TR: In the white room on Mount of the Holy Cross
I'll start off with some stats the trip: 3 days, ~25 miles round trip, and a little under 6000' vertical gained. It was the most difficult trip I've ever done, by far. But it was definitely worth it for the knee deep powder in the cross couloir. I went with my non-mag buddy Matt from Breck. We took a different route than the usual Tigiwon Rd to Half Moon Pass method. We opted for taking the Cross Creek trail to the base of the north side of Holy Cross. This way we don't have to descend the 1000' vertical from half moon pass and climb back up it again after the summit and ski down. We ended up trading that for a slog on a decently overgrown trail and somewhat tough route finding up the first 1000 feet from Cross Creek.
Here is Holy Cross as seen from the summit of Peak 2 in the Ten Mile Range. This was taken in late June of 2011 and it shows the cross couloir in all it's glory.
Day 1 - Tuesday 4/17
Getting all our gear together at the trailhead. We had about 8 miles with 60 pound packs for day 1.
Here is Matt crossing Cross Creek about 2 miles in.
We put on skins for about a half mile of snow after the bridge.
Then it was back to rocks and dirt. We ended up boot packing most of the first day.
After about 3 miles we get our first view of our goal. It looked really far away.
This shows the condition of the Cross Creek trail pretty well.
We got to where we wanted to cross and set up camp, so Matt chucked his board across the creek.
And I followed suit. On the way back on the last day, I pulled a jong move and threw my ski right into the creek. Luckily, it was easy to retrieve.
We were lucky to find a place to cross without getting wet.
We set up camp near the bank and settled in for the night.
Day 2, Summit day
Our approximate route up from camp.
We got a relatively late start at 7 am, but our worry was going to be wind slabs and wind, not wet slides. We had to find a way up around a bunch of cliffs coming up from Cross Creek before we could put the skins on.
We were able to skin from around 10k to 13k. There was a skin track partially covered by the new snow for the way up through the trees. A lot of it was steep.
There was too much snow to put on crampons and boot up, so we sucked it up and skinned as best we could.
At this point we started to feel the elevation after a season of not doing much touring above treeline. I personally hadn't been in the alpine since December.
The summit doesn't look as far away as it did the day before, yet it is still huge.
We go to the final 600' before the summit and had to lose the skins and scramble up the scree in 40-50 mph winds. This was the worst part of the trip. Mentally and physically testing to get to the summit.
Holy shit, we made it.
I just fell down, completely beat.
Now for the good part. It popped blue just as we were ready to drop in.
And it was knee deep blower.
Hell yeah. It was worth the killer approach.
Our quads were dead, but we were still able to rip the pow.
Looking up at our tracks.
We took the skier's right exit and the apron was the punchiest snow I've ever skied. I was too tired to do proper jump turns, so it was tough working my way down.
Looking back up the cross.
There were a few spots to down climb.
Coming back across Lake Patricia, ready to be back at camp, but still had a ways to go.
It got dark a bit before we got to camp, so we did some fun skiing and down climbing with lights.
Day 3, let's get the fuck out of here
We woke up to an inch of new snow on the ground, giving us more snow to skin on the way back. We skinned about 3 miles on the way back. We had some obstacles, though.
It started dumping with about 2 miles to go, so we got back to the car soaked and cold to the bone.
It was a tough trip, but something I've wanted to ski since I moved to Vail and I look at Holy Cross every day on the mountain. Now I can always say that I did that.
04-20-2012, 02:55 PM #2
Way to get after itI need to go to Utah.
Yeah, Utah. It's wedged in between Wyoming and Nevada. You've seen pictures of it, right?
20 days skiing in 2009/2010 (15 Powder days)
18 days skiing in 2010/2011 (15 Powder days)
16 days skiing in 2011/2012 (2 cat days and 11 Powder day's)
18 days skiing in 2012/2013 (12 powder day's)
04-20-2012, 02:58 PM #3
wow....nice TR and way to get it in pow. This is on my list, as is the Angelica, but I'll wait for a deeper year. I hate the climb then drop to Cross Creek on the main trail too but I think it's the best way to get htis thing done. Good adventure, thanks for the TR.
04-20-2012, 03:59 PM #4
04-20-2012, 04:14 PM #5
Nicely done and quality writeup
04-20-2012, 06:28 PM #6The furthur we go, the stranger it gets...
04-21-2012, 12:25 AM #7
There's a way through the cliffs above the outlet of Lake Patricia, doable in low snow
(for the next time)
strong effort, tough routeo--/\
-/ .) ' \ go with respect, get to know your mountains
/' (. ' |'\
' ' .) ' ,'
04-21-2012, 01:05 AM #8
Impressive effort. I too look at that chute all winter. Great job and partner.
It's on my bucket list.
04-21-2012, 07:41 AM #9