My friend Shari Post had recommended this trip last year, but we ran short on time, so we decided to do it over the 4th of July weekend. The hike starts near Vail (Minturn, actually) and requires you to gain about 1400 feet over Half Moon Pass, and then drop 1000 feet down into the valley. Since that's a lot of effort on top of a 4000 foot elevation gain, we decided to camp for two nights in the valley.
Saturday, we hiked in over the pass about 4.5 miles. We set up camp and experienced the most mosquitos we'd ever seen. Brad started to make a game of it, counting his kills. Once he hit 100 (in about 30 minutes) he stopped counting.
Sunday, we ascended the peak. Despite the fact that the summit was just over 2.5 miles from camp, it was probably the most difficult peak I've done. We gained about 3,200 feet in those 2.5 miles, scrambling over large boulders and snow fields. Our descent was made a little better by sliding down some of the snowfields.
Monday, we trekked back out over the pass, bidding a strong farewell to our mosquito friends.
I should probably mention that this mountain is called Mount of the Holy Cross because it has a couloir on the front of it (which we were never able to see on our trail) which strongly resembles a cross. This was made famous by William H. Jackson in the 19th Century, as he photographed the mountain from Notch Mountain (directly across), which was widely published. Click here to see the photo
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