July 05, 2006

Dad and Holy Cross

Last Thursday I drove to the airport to pick up Dad. He'd never been to Colorado before, so it was fun to tour him around for a few days. We did some of the standard things like the Coors Brewery Tour (Coors Tourey), Rocky Mountain National Park, and hiking in Chataqua Park. We also drove to Longmont to do some beer tasting at the Left Hand Brewery. Dad found this particularly exciting because he is left handed. Turns out the brewery is named after Chief Niwot, a local indian chief back in the day who happened to be left handed.

Argueably the best part of his visit was when the two of us hiked in to the base of Mt. of the Holy Cross in the Holy Cross Wilderness a few miles south of Vail. We hiked a few miles into camp on Friday. The plan had been for me to take off early on Saturday morning and attempt the Holy Cross Couloir route on the east side of the mountain. Meanwhile, Dad would attempt the standard Northridge route which is a vicious steep hike. All went as planned. I started at 4:20 am from 10,700 feet and navigated my way to the base of the coulour at 12,800 by 6:45. When I entered the couloir, the snow was a bit soft, but bad enough to warrent turning around. After exiting the top of the coulour at 8:30, I took about 10 steps to the summit at 14,005 feet. The Holy Cross Coulour is part of a somewhat famous formation as snow fills the coulour as well as a horizontal bench 2/3 of the way up the coulour, forming an obvious cross. There's a hut on a nearby mountain where people would pilgramage to veiw the cross that God had put there for them.

I returned to the tent at 10:40 to find Dad already back and resting. He had made it up to around 12,500 feet where he got some spectacular views before turning around. I think the Mt. of the Holy Cross is my new favorite 14er in Colorado. It is composed of more solid granite than all of it's nearby relatives, giving it a much more rugged look. Even when there's no snow, it doesn't look like a dirt pile.

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