Postcard: Mount of the Holy Cross

Mount of the Holy Cross, just southwest of Minturn, Colorado, is one of the most famous mountains in the west. It is also a royal beeatch to access before the summer solstice, at which point a 9-mile, potholed dirt road to the trailhead opens to vehicles. A friend, Brennan Lagasse, and I talked about skiing the couloir that plunges off the east face of the 14,005-foot peak and creates the vertical shaft of the holy cross, but our schedules meant we would have to attempt it two days before the road opened. We hitched trailers to mountain bikes and climbed 2,200 feet Wednesday night, then set out at dawn the next morning. Merciless foot travel up boulder fields, through dense willows, and across melting waterfalls made the couloir ascent feel like walking on a beach. After we skied, we scrambled up Notch Mountain to the east and reached a stone hut that stares back at the cross, fronted by the summer’s first wildflowers. I could have stayed up there looking at the peak until dark. (Click image to enlarge)

Photo by Devon O'Neil
Photo by Devon O’Neil