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Mount of the Holy Cross

At: Colorado, United States
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About: Mount of the Holy Cross is the northernmost fourteen thousand foot mountain in the Sawatch Range, part of the Rocky Mountains in the US state of Colorado. It is located in the Holy Cross Wilderness near Holy Cross City (a ghost town) and in Eagle County. It was named for the distinctive cross-shaped snowfield on the northeast face. 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. 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 fulltime staff could not be justified. This mountain has been much celebrated in the past by painters and photographers. The first known publicly available photograph was published in National Geographic magazine. Thomas Moran depicted the mountain in a well-known 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. It is still much photographed but it is not as well known today as it was in the past. 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 miles include the Dotsero Volcano (near Interstate 70), Vail and Aspen. US 24 runs near the peak through Gilman. 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 Native Americans. Holy Cross can be climbed by at least four different routes, with the easiest and most common route being the North Ridge, which involves 5000 feet of vertical gain over 11.5 miles 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.


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