Mount of the Holy Cross
|Mount of the Holy Cross|
Mount of the Holy Cross, 2009
|Elevation||14,009 ft (4,270 m) NAVD 88|
|Prominence||2,111 ft (643 m)|
|Location||Eagle County, Colorado, U.S.|
|Topo map||USGS Mount of the Holy Cross|
|Easiest route||North ridge: hike/scramble (YDS Class 2)|
Mount of the Holy Cross is the northernmost 14,000-foot mountain in the Sawatch Range, part of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. It is located in the Holy Cross Wilderness near the ghost town of Holy Cross City and in Eagle County. It was named for the distinctive cross-shaped snowfield on the northeast face. Under USDA Forest Service administration, the mountain was proclaimed "Holy Cross National Monument" by Herbert Hoover on May 11, 1929. The monument was transferred to the National Park Service in 1933. In 1950, it was returned to the Forest Service and lost its National Monument status—the number of visitors to the mountain and the nearby "Pilgrim's Hut" had waned, and the expense of full-time staff could not be justified.
This mountain has been the subject of painters, photographers and even a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ("The Cross of Snow"). The first publicly available photograph was published in National Geographic magazine. Thomas Moran depicted the mountain in an oil painting, which now is part of the collection of the Museum of the American West, part of the Autry National Center in Los Angeles, California. It is still much photographed but it is not as well known today as it was in the past.
Nearby features include Bowl of Tears Lake, directly under the east face of the peak, Tuhare Lakes, in a cirque that lies south of a significant subpeak, and several other lakes. Notable locations within 35 mi (56 km) include the Dotsero volcano (near Interstate 70), Vail and Aspen. US 24 runs near the peak through Gilman.
The first recorded ascent of Holy Cross was in 1873, by F. V. Hayden and photographer W. H. Jackson during one of Hayden's geographical surveys. However, the peak may well have been ascended previously by miners or American Indians. The first winter ascent of the peak was made in 1943 by Russel Keene and Howard Freedman of the 10th Mountain Division, then stationed at Camp Hale.
Holy Cross can be climbed by at least four different routes, with the easiest and most common route being the North Ridge, which involves 5,000 feet (1,500 m) of vertical gain over 11.5 mi (18.5 km) and is rated YDS Class 2 for moderate scrambling. The Cross Couloir route forms the vertical portion of the famous cross feature, and provides an advanced snow climb or extreme ski descent.
Mount of the Holy Cross has a history of endangering the lives of many hikers. Primarily, the hikers who require rescue are unfamiliar with the risks of entering wilderness areas and do not bring adequate equipment and supplies to respond to emergency conditions. Although the summit on Mount of the Holy Cross is frequently reached on a long day hike, unprepared hikers are frequently stranded or lost due to changing environmental conditions and confusion regarding the surrounding landscape, especially on the descent of North Ridge. Thorough research and reasonable planning should prevent most tragedies.
Mount of the Holy cross is accessible from Tigiwon Road, south of Minturn, Colorado. The Half Moon Pass Trail is the standard route to the summit of Mount of the Holy Cross via the North Ridge. Following the Fall Creek Trail to an ascent of Notch Mountain Trail provides the best view of the Holy Cross snow feature from Notch Mountain Ridge.
- Outline of Colorado
- Index of Colorado-related articles
- Geology of the Rocky Mountains
- Mountain ranges of the world
- Mountain peaks of North America
- "Mt Holy Cross ET". NGS data sheet. U.S. National Geodetic Survey. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- "Mount of the Holy Cross, Colorado". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- "Holy Cross, Mount of the". SummitPost.org. http://www.summitpost.org/page/150470.
- Barry Mackintosh (1995). "Former National Park System Units: An Analysis". National Park Service.
- "Thomas Moran, Mountain of the Holy Cross". National Gallery of Art. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- Kevin Blake, 2008, Imagining Heaven and Earth at Mount of the Holy Cross, Colorado, Journal of Cultural Geography 25(1): 1-26.
- Louis W. Dawson II, Dawson's Guide to Colorado's Fourteeners: Volume I, The Northern Peaks, Blue Clover Press, 1994, ISBN 0-9628867-1-8, pp. 36–44.
- Kim Fenske. Hiking Colorado: Holy Cross Wilderness. ASIN B00DE51D36.