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#118 UN 13768

Range › Sawatch Range
Quadrangle › Mount of the Holy Cross
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 39° 26' 53.00", W 106° 29' 23.24" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

UN 13,768 is another high point along Holy Cross Ridge, south of the Mount of the Holy Cross 14er. Our suggested route utilizes the trail to Mount of the Holy Cross, then follows the ridge south, first passing over Holy Cross Ridge (13,831) before continuing on to UN 13,768. The two 13ers have therefore been sequenced together for what makes a very long day mileage and elevation wise. The Half Moon Pass trailhead can be reached by most passenger vehicles. It is probably easiest to complete this route by going to the summit of Mount of the Holy Cross rather than attempting to do a contouring traverse. 

UN 13,768 North Ridge Route

Class 2+
Peak Icon Peak Icon
XX-Long (Epic) Day // Take a Headlamp!
Climbed with Holy Cross Ridge
RT From Half Moon - Fall Creek: 15 mi / 6,345'
From Holy Cross Ridge: 1.00 mi / 390' (One-Way)
  • Trailhead
    • Half Moon - Fall Creek Trailhead

      Whether coming from the east or west on I-70, take the Minturn exit # 171 and head south on US24 to the town of Minturn. When the highway comes into town at the north end and makes a fairly sharp right turn, it's about 3.5 more miles south to the turnoff  on the right for the Tigiwon Road (FR707). The turnoff is just before the highway crosses Eagle Creek. If coming on US24 from Leadville, the turnoff is after the last switchback as you descend from Battle Mountain. After that switchback, the highway crosses the Eagle River and the turnoff will be almost immediately after that crossing on the left. 

      Once on the Tigiwon (on some maps labelled Tigwon) it's a long drive on a graded, gravel road that meanders through countless turns and switchbacks to the trailhead. There are beautiful stands of aspen and open meadows. Total distance is about 8.5 miles. About 6 miles in, there's a small campground that is not listed on the White River NF website, just beyond the Tigiwon Community Hut. Overall, the road can be somewhat rough, but most passenger vehicles should be able to make it to the TH. Cross-overs & standard SUV's would be a safer bet. This road may not be open until mid-June some time. Check the White River National Forest website for more info. Both the Half Moon trail and the Fall Creek trail take out from here. Be careful to correctly identify the trail you desire. There is a small, national forest campground on a spur road from the trailhead. 


      Camping

      There is a very small campground (Half Moon) at the trailhead area which was re-worked several years ago. There are only seven sites and a fee is charged. The campground is first-come, first-served. Some sources indicate a campground near the Tigiwon Community Hut. The White River NF makes no mention of it. Camping at the Tigiwon Hut is prohibited, but on Google Earth, you can see some primitive sites just up the road from there. Attempt to camp at your own risk. The Half Moon CG can be expected to be fully occupied on any summer weekend. Also, because the Half Moon Pass trail is the access to Mt. of the Holy Cross, and that summit is one of the more popular 14er destinations for Front Range peakbaggers, the limited trailhead parking fills immediately on weekends and later arrivals will find themselves having to park a substantial distance back down the road. 


      Campsite Locations

      Half Moon › N 39° 30' 04.16", W 106° 25' 54.90"
      10,315 ft. elevation
    Approach Map Photos
    • From Holy Cross Ridge

      The route for UN 13,831, aka: Holy Cross Ridge, utilizes the main North Ridge Route for Mount of the Holy Cross. In fact, it's just as easy to take the trail all the way to the summit of Mt. of the Holy Cross, then descend to make the traverse to HC Ridge, rather than attempting to contour below the summit of Mt. of the Holy Cross on the west flank over to the connecting saddle for HC Ridge. Because of abundant sources for Mt. of the Holy Cross, we will not go int great detail about trail to that summit. We have also sequenced HC Ridge with UN 13,768 so if adding both to your day, the overall mileage and time required will increase significantly. 

      From the trailhead, be sure and take the trail for Mt. of the Holy Cross which will cross over Half Moon Pass. Do not take the Fall Creek trail. 1.7 miles of hiking a fairly gentle gradient will bring you to the pass, starting out in forest and moving into more open meadows with abundant wildflowers. From the pass, continue generally west on the trail 1.4 miles dropping down to East Cross Creek. After crossing the creek, the trail continues west for a short while, then turns south to begin gaining the Holy Cross north ridge. The trail eventually leaves the trees and for the remainder of the hike, passes through mostly talus and boulder-sized talus to reach the summit. It's another 2.6 miles to the summit of Mt. of the Holy Cross. You could perhaps, skip the summit and try to contour about 300 feet below to the south, over to the saddle at 13,500 feet, but navigating your way across the mighty boulders with no trail becomes a tiresome task. Save your energy for more important things. 

      From the summit of Mt. of the Holy Cross, walk SW down the ridge. Things become a little more gentle at 13,680 ft. The rock is not so bad and you feel like you can make better progress. It stays fairly reasonable down to the saddle. As you ascend from the saddle to HC Ridge (13,831), the terrain reverts back to more of what there is while approaching the summit of Holy Cross. It's just another tedious scramble of large boulders, etc. Total time for the traverse for us was 45 minutes. The summit is small and rocky. From the summit, make a decision as to how much more abuse you want to put up with. Continuing on to UN 13,768 will be similar conditions. 

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    Peak Icon Route Maps Photos

    Route Info UN 13,768 North Ridge

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 1994

    UN 13,768 is sequenced with Holy Cross Ridge (13,831) for an extra long dayhike with a lot of elevation gain. One way mileage and elevation gain are measured from the summit of Holy Cross Ridge. Round-trip mileagfe and elevation gain assume completion of the sequence and going over the summit of Mount of the Holy Cross. 

    From the summit of Holy Cross Ridge (13,831), continue following the ridge south for another mile to UN 13,768. You will lose about 450 in elevation to the saddle. The descent off HC Ridge went smoothly for us, but it is almost all entirely on broken rock and boulder-talus. The climb back up to UN 13,768 is not difficult, but consists entirely of the same boulder-talus. There is no rest for the wicked on this one. Though the elevation loss and gain is not significant or very steep, it is tedious because of the rock conditions. 

    Any possible sense of release when reaching this second summit (or third if you climbed Holy Cross), is squelched by the thought of having to retrace your route back over HC Ridge and Holy Cross itself. It will be more than tempting to do a contouring traverse to avoid the upclimb. Contouring on the west side below HC Ridge will take you over very large and not very stable boulders. Concentration is required for every step. The contouring traverse below Holy Cross is similar with very large boulders to manage. It will take even longer than the previous contour, before you reconnect with the Holy Cross north ridge trail. Then remember, you have an uphill section of hiking once you cross east Cross Creek to get back to Half Moon Pass. Ugh! 

    Another tempting possibility for a return route is to drop to the east somewhere. On GE, it appears that the least problematic return this way would be to walk along the ridge south from UN 13,768 to the next saddle and then drop east into a glacial cirque with some of the "Seven Sisters Lakes." Ice axe may prove handy in making the descent. There is an upper lake at 12,750 ft. and the next one down is about 12,300 ft. From the second lake you will need to hike back uphill to the east to connect with the Fall Creek Trail that will take you north over Fall Creek Pass and back to the Half Moon/Fall Creek TH for a total mileage once you connect with the trail of almost seven miles. We have not actually attempted this return route, so choose your poison. 

    A useful hint: One way to tackle the two ridge summits would be to turn this into an overnight, backpack trip. Pack in from the trailhead over Half Moon Pass and down into East Cross Creek. Camp in the vicinity of the creek overnight the first day. Do the climbs the next day and then pack back out. This may help a little, but we will also warn, when we did this in late June of 1994, we encountered the worst mosquitoes we have ever experienced in Colorado. Tim grew up on the swampy Texas Gulf Coast and says he's never experienced a worse barrage of ravenous mosquitoes! 


    Additional BETA

    Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
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