Couloir Recon Mission

This was almost one of those cases where I bit off more than I could chew.  I thought I’d be nice to finish off the summer with a leisurely 14er last weekend and decided that Mt. of the Holy Cross sounded appealing.  I really hadn’t decided what route to take until I got to the trailhead at 7:30AM and parked closer to the Halo Ridge trail, that was good enough for me.  I hadn’t anticipated that the ridge keeps you hiking above 13,000’ for 4 hours before finally reaching the summit only after having topped out on 2 ranked 13ers.  I really shouldn’t be complaining though, the views from the ridge never got old as you looked down to alpine lakes on either side and kept the goal in sight. 

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Halo Ridge as seen from near the Notch Mountain Shelter with the Bowl of Tears below

The trail winds through the forest and then switchbacks up to Notch Mountain where the nicest shelter I’ve ever seen sits in view of the Cross Couloir.  The fireplace in that thing is bigger than my couch at home.  It’ll also hopefully be the spot I aim to bivy when we aim to ski the cross next spring.

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Some cool rock formations before getting above tree line

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This little guy followed me up the trail for a bit

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Looking east from near the top of Notch Mountain (left), the Cross looking huge (right)

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Looking south to some alpine lakes just above treeline

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Pika!  Think this little guy has learned ‘Thunderbolt’ yet?

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Munchin away at the bottom of the valley. Thank you telephoto.

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Bowl of Tears Couloir?  Looks like it’d be pretty sweet with some snow.

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Tuhare lakes looking nice and green

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Another sweet looking couloir with some big walls. Name anyone?

There are so many good drop ins that could be skied along this ridge its ridiculous.  Why does no one operate a heli business out here?  The boulder hopping got a bit old after hour 3 traversing the ridge but it paid off in the end when I reached the top and had panoramic views of half the state. 

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Dropping in to the Cross Couloir.  Doesn’t look like its fully in right now…

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View looking back up at the day’s objective and the descent down the north ridge.

I’m almost glad I tackled this route solo simply because it took so much longer than I expected that I would of felt bad dragging someone else the whole way.  That being said, it was an awesome hike and a good reconnaissance mission for next spring.

-Tyler Grubb