World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Mount of the Holy Cross

Mount of the Holy Cross
Mount of the Holy Cross, 2009
Elevation 14,011 ft (4,271 m)[1][2]
Prominence 2,111 ft (643 m)[3]
Isolation 18.41 mi (29.63 km)[3]
Listing Colorado Fourteener
Colorado 4000 meter summits
Colorado range high points
Colorado county high points
Mount of the Holy Cross is located in Colorado
Mount of the Holy Cross
Location High point of Eagle County, Colorado, United States[3]
Range Sawatch Range[3]
Coordinates [1]
Topo map USGS 7.5' topographic map Mount of the Holy Cross, Colorado[4]
First ascent August 1873 James Gardner and W.H. Holmes[3]
Easiest route North ridge: hike/scramble (YDS Class 2)[5]

Mount of the Holy Cross is a high and prominent mountain summit in the northern Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The prominent 14,011-foot (4,271 m) fourteener is located in the Holy Cross Wilderness of White River National Forest, 6.6 miles (10.7 km) west-southwest (bearing 244°) of the Town of Red Cliff in Eagle County, Colorado, United States. The summit of Mount of the Holy Cross is the highest point in Eagle County and the northern Sawatch Range.[1][2][3][4]


  • Mountain 1
  • Historical names 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Mount of the Holy Cross was named for the distinctive cross-shaped snowfield on the northeast face.[6] Under USDA Forest Service administration, the mountain was proclaimed "Holy Cross National Monument" by Herbert Hoover on May 11, 1929. The monument was transferred to the National Park Service in 1933.[7] In 1950, it was returned to the Forest Service and lost its National Monument status—the number of visitors to the mountain and the nearby "Pilgrim's Hut" had waned, and the expense of full-time staff could not be justified.

This mountain has been the subject of painters, photographers and even a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ("The Cross of Snow"). The first publicly available photograph was published in National Geographic magazine. Thomas Moran depicted the mountain in an oil painting, which now is part of the collection of the Museum of the American West, part of the Autry National Center in Los Angeles, California.[8] It is still much photographed but it is not as well known today as it was in the past.[9]

Nearby features include Bowl of Tears Lake, directly under the east face of the peak, Tuhare Lakes, in a cirque that lies south of a significant subpeak, and several other lakes. Notable locations within 35 mi (56 km) include the Dotsero volcano (near Interstate 70), Vail and Aspen. US 24 runs near the peak through Gilman.

Photochrom print of Mount of the Holy Cross c. 1900. This image is a reversed view of the mountain compared to how it actually appears.

The first recorded ascent of Holy Cross was in 1873, by F. V. Hayden and photographer W. H. Jackson during one of Hayden's geographical surveys. However, the peak may well have been ascended previously by miners or American Indians.[10] The first winter ascent of the peak was made in 1943 by Russel Keene and Howard Freedman of the 10th Mountain Division, then stationed at Camp Hale.[10]

Holy Cross can be climbed by at least four different routes, with the easiest and most common route being the North Ridge, which involves 5,000 feet (1,500 m) of vertical gain over 11.5 mi (18.5 km) and is rated YDS Class 2 for moderate scrambling. The Cross Couloir route forms the vertical portion of the famous cross feature, and provides an advanced snow climb or extreme ski descent.[10]

Photo by William Henry Jackson ~ circa 1873

Mount of the Holy Cross has a history of endangering the lives of many hikers. Primarily, the hikers who require rescue are unfamiliar with the risks of entering wilderness areas and do not bring adequate equipment and supplies to respond to emergency conditions. Although the summit on Mount of the Holy Cross is frequently reached on a long day hike, unprepared hikers are frequently stranded or lost due to changing environmental conditions and confusion regarding the surrounding landscape, especially on the descent of North Ridge. Thorough research and reasonable planning should prevent most tragedies.

Mount of the Holy cross is accessible from Tigiwon Road, south of Minturn, Colorado. The Half Moon Pass Trail is the standard route to the summit of Mount of the Holy Cross via the North Ridge. Following the Fall Creek Trail to an ascent of Notch Mountain Trail provides the best view of the Holy Cross snow feature from Notch Mountain Ridge.[11]

Historical names

  • Mount Holy Cross
  • Mount of the Holy Cross – 1947 [4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "MT HOLY CROSS ET". NGS data sheet.   Note: The summit of Mount of the Holy Cross is +0.61 m (+2.0 ft) higher than NGS station MT HOLY CROSS ET.
  2. ^ a b The elevation of Mount of the Holy Cross includes an adjustment of +1.926 m (+6.32 ft) from NGVD 29 to NAVD 88.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Mount of the Holy Cross, Colorado". Retrieved October 21, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c "Mount of the Holy Cross".  
  5. ^ "Holy Cross, Mount of the". 
  6. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 159. 
  7. ^ Barry Mackintosh (1995). "Former National Park System Units: An Analysis". National Park Service. 
  8. ^ "Thomas Moran, Mountain of the Holy Cross". National Gallery of Art. Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  9. ^ Kevin Blake, 2008, Imagining Heaven and Earth at Mount of the Holy Cross, Colorado, Journal of Cultural Geography 25(1): 1-26.
  10. ^ a b c Louis W. Dawson II, Dawson's Guide to Colorado's Fourteeners: Volume I, The Northern Peaks, Blue Clover Press, 1994, ISBN 0-9628867-1-8, pp. 36–44.
  11. ^ Kim Fenske. Hiking Colorado: Holy Cross Wilderness.  

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.