#58 Holy Cross (14,005'), A Tough Test, A Bushwack, and a Classic Finish.
Tue to Wed Sept 27-28.
After Mount Massive, I returned to Vail briefly to add some food to my pack, bring back the motorcycle, grab my mountain bike, and head back to the Tigiwon trailhead and a date with Holy Cross.
Time was running out, but the weather was exceptional, and the moment had finally arrived. I was on my last peak.
When I pulled into the closed gate and parked my Tahoe, the time was 2pm. I knew that in order to make it up the entire Tigiwon Road, hike to the summit of Holy Cross before sunset, I would have to put on an incredible performance. Because the closure of Tigiwon Road had basically prevented people from climbing Holy Cross all summer, I was banking on not seeing a soul up there. If something went wrong, there would be nobody to see it, and nobody to turn to. I didn't care, I kind of liked the situation. It was just me and the mountain now. The Indian summer day was nice and warm, and the fall colors were beautiful. Nothing else mattered now, it was time to finish this project once and for all and transcend greatness!
I was about to enter the finest 24 hours of this project. So many forces were stacked against me. I put on my pack and started pedaling up the Tigiwon road. Up past the first switchback I went.......gosh it was hard work!
About a mile up the road I came to the East Cross Creek Trailhead, which accesses Cross Creek, a very long glacial basin leading up to the Northern base of the Mount of the Holy Cross. Upon thinking a little bit more about how far it would be to get up to the peak, it actually made more sense to me to ditch my bike in the woods, and take the Cross Creek basin up to Holy Cross. With the time hovering just after 2pm, I had to go fast, but I felt like I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. (The video explains the situation below)
For the next two hours I entered a gorgeous glacial basin, full of aspen groves, small ponds, low lying bogs, and a Mountain that encouraged me to push on. By 430p, the mountain was clearly in view, the only problem was that escaping this idyllic basin was going to take a monumental bushwhack!
At 5pm I found a way to get across Cross Creek, and some serious power and determination pushed me up towards Holy Cross' Northeast ridge. There were many times I thought I'd never gain the ridge, or even get out of the woods, but these were my final two hours....I wouldn't be denied!
At 6pm I emerged onto the trail and gained timberline. Lots of Cairns mark the ridge up there, but why? I could see the summit and knew exactly where I was headed, the summit and the final Bivy were waiting for me. The skies were crystal clear, and it was all up to me now: make the summit before sunset and make history, or sit down and be denied....the former seemed like it was the best choice.
I climbed the final summitting ridge, came up over some boulders and saw the coveted summit. Though I was out of breath, I knew that I'd remember this moment forever, so I put it on film!
Soon after a little summit dance, I quickly got the tent up amidst the setting sun, and enjoyed the evening.
To do something that has never been done before is really special, yet I didn't quite know how to feel. All I can say is that it is so humbling, satisfying, fulfilling, a test of patience, and a huge sigh of relief!
So many people were counting on me during this project, and so many more decided to follow along. Thankyou isn't nearly enough, but right now it is the best I can do. This project is also proof that overcoming odds, staring death in the face, never giving up, and giving something everything you have which are real issues in life that we may all face.
I faced these problems mainly with the forces of nature, with adversity that comes with the dangers that waited to literally snuff the life out of me. Yet I am proof that nothing is impossible, everything can be gained, you just have to go out there and refuse to give in, refuse to surrender. Inspire yourself to be great.....that's what I did, and I had a lot of fun during the entire journey.
But the story doesn't end here. I had to get down in the morning! (I'm also going to try and climb Mount Everest next spring too, please donate to my cause...another story for another time).
I actually took my time coming down, the video below shows what I was up against.
I made it back to my bike and my truck by 1pm or so, all told, climbing Holy Cross was 5 hours up, a night on the summit, and 5 hours down.....roughly 22 miles round trip!