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Climb a Fourteener: Mt. of the Holy Cross

Minturn, Colorado


Added by Corinne White

This is an awesome fourteener for the person who's bored of the easy, touristy ones (looking at you, Grays and Torrey's) but isn't ready for a super technical climb with ropes. Views are classic Colorado: a sea of high peaks and alpine lakes.Duration: 8-12 hours. This climb can also be made into an overnight--there are campsites about halfway up. It took me 9 hours, and that was with no breaks over 10 minutes and no lunch.11.5 miles, 5600 vertical feet climb

You'll start at 11,000 feet and start climbing quickly through forest on a well-defined trail. After an hour or two of uphill, you'll hit a flat section that gives you great views of the peak you're about to climb.

Soon after, you'll start descending Halfmoon Pass. That's right, descending. There's 1000 feet of downhill on the ascent to the summit. This descent may feel great on your way in, but let me tell you: after you summit and are climbing back down, and then have to climb UP this 1000 feet...it's very mentally and physically challenging. Prepare yourself. I felt like a million bucks at the summit but then when I hit this climb on the way back, was struggling. It was by far the most challenging aspect of the fourteener.

Anyway, after the descent you'll start to climb again. The trail at this point gets to be less defined and more rocky talus and boulders (but is well-marked by cairns). This section is why the peak is rated as intermediate; though you don't need ropes, the boulder hopping can get a little hairy, and is certainly not for the faint of heart.

Once you've reached the summit, cheers! Incredible views for miles of the surrounding Vail Valley and beyond. You can even see the top of Maroon Bells.

Local Tip: The trailhead is only minutes away from the town of Minturn and ten minutes away from Vail Village. Grab a burrito at Sticky Fingers, an awesome little joint in Minturn, then drive to Vail Village for some beers (The George and Shakedown Street are my personal favorites).

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Rock Climbing
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
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