Saturday morning, 9:00am. Ready to take on the 8.2 miles of groomed road and then 2.5 more miles to the Halfmoon Pass.
Lots and lots of switchbacks on the Tigiwon Road meant for a long, low angle hike.
Oh, and the snowmobiles! It's a catch-22: they are noisy and obnoxious but without their traffic on the road, we'd be working twice as hard.
The sweet community house at about mile 6. It's a huge lodge available for rent and used by the snowmobile guides to warm the clients with hot chocolate by a huge fire.
They left the place unlocked so we took advantage. A short warm up break by the roaring fire. We did not drink any hot cocoa though.
Downhill for a short bit? Damn,
At the Halfmoon Pass “summer” trailhead and campground. 8.2 miles on the road to hear. Another 2.5 miles to go. But we lucked out--two skiers had hitched a ride with a snowmobile earlier in the morning and busted a nice skin track for us up to Halfmoon Pass.
Cynthia on snowshoes following up the ever-steepening hill.
Our first view of Point 12,702'. We'd go over that from Halfmoon Pass to Notch Mountain the next day. The windblown ridge was a welcome sight as it meant no avy danger up the slope.
Preparing the site for the mega light...
Packed and dug out for three...
Deployed. 2 pounds and shelter for three. Hard to go wrong.
Getting comfy in the 'mid
The next morning. Bill and Cynthia had matching sleeping bags.
Gearing up for our attempt to reach Mount of the Holy Cross. With high winds above treeline and wallowing sugar snow on the ridge, we weren't optimistic but we hauled all this shit in...let's use it!
Just seeing the sunrise from our camp at 11,600' made the hike in worth it.
Leaving camp at 8:10am. In retrospect, we should have left two hours earlier to give ourselves more time.
Nearing the end of the trees (and calm air) to enter the winds and blowing snow above.
A short distance up this slope, Cynthia decided it wasn't her day and headed back to camp to pack up, hike down and catch a ride with a snowmobiler back out. She spent the night in Minturn to meet us the next day at the trailhead.
In spots, the snow was fantastic and made for great step kicking. Yet, in many other spots, the snow was deep, soft and covering big boulders. It was slow going. Notch Mountain can be seen in the background.
On top of Point 12,703' with Mount of the Holy Cross in the background.
Fighting the winds on the ridge but it was cool--the view was amazing.
The classic Cross Couloir on MHC goes up the obvious line in the center of the peak straight to the summit. We'll head back in late spring for that one!
Self portrait on Notch Mountain, 13,237', 10:22am, 1/20/2008 with Mount of the Holy Cross in the background
For some reason this view over to the Notch Mountain shelter didn't look appealing. Moments later we'd be engulfed in a full-on white out of blowing snow as we wallowed in crotch deep snow trying to reach the notch. At that point we reconsidered--yes, we could push on and likely make the summit of MHC but it just wouldn't be fun. With our splitboards awaiting us back at camp and some fantastic powder snow around the Halfmoon Pass area, we headed back for some quality laps that afternoon.
The Notch Mountain Shelter can be seen across the way.
But, some more breath-taking views of Mount of the Holy Cross kept us distrated as we headed back.
Lovely cornice action. That sastrugi snow makes for fast hiking.
A look back at Notch Mountain on the left and MHC on the right.
Did I mention it was windy on the ridge? Ouchie momma!
Blowing snow illuminated by the sun.
So much more calm and inviting back at camp.
Skinning over towards some 11,700' point for some turns.
Bill making turns with Mount of the Holy Cross gracing the horizon.
Yes, backcountry snowboarders often carry poles. Bill shows us how it's done in awesome snow conditions--14“ of soft stuff on a solid base layer.
Bill takes us on a nice 700' vertical snowboard run down through the trees and wonderful snow.
I spotted a nice looking rock in the steepest slope we'd been riding.
We managed four laps on a nice 850' vertical slope. By the end of the day our skin track was super solid.
A nearly-full moon kept things nice and bright at night.
Good morning! Orange, purple and green clash. I'm sorry for looking so lame.
Beautiful sunrise on Monday morning. We'd pack up by 8:30am and get back to the trailhead by 11am. We skied most of the 8.2 mile road on our splitboards making for a fast descent.
Back at the Tigiwon road after snowboarding down through the trees from Halfmoon Pass. Good stuff!
Skiing on splitboards isn't super cool these days but it's effective.
Panoramic photo from our front door at sunset on Sunday night. It's hard to beat living like this!