“Possibly the prettiest couloir in Colorado, and a bucket-list descent for any backcountry skier.”
— Jacob Winey
Type: Backcountry or Sidecountry
Check the status of Notch Mountain Road with the Forest Service. Certainly still skiable when the road is closed, just will likely involve an overnight.
Need to Know
The approach is a slog. If skied before the road is opened, then there's an extra eight miles and ~1,500' vertical to get to the summer trailhead. The approach is open to snowmobiles until May 1st, then it is closed to all motorized transport, so get hiking.
Cross Couloir is a massive chute down the east face of Mt. of the Holy Cross, making up the center of its namesake cross.
The couloir starts just southeast from the summit, but you can usually ski from the true summit. From the top of the couloir, you can clearly see the 1,200' down to the right-hand exit out to Bowl of Tears. This exit is probably the most common way to ski the couloir. Some people choose to ski the entire couloir which involves a couple short rappels.
Once you exit from the couloir, you have a beautiful, open, east face to ski down to the lake. Getting back to Half Moon Pass from the lake involves a minefield of route-finding with quite a few hidden gems.
Enjoy! And know that a successful descent earns you permanent bragging rights every time you catch a view of Holy Cross from Vail or Copper.
History & Background
Mt. of the Holy Cross was named a National Monument in 1929, until its National Monument status was removed in 1950 and it was returned to the National Forest Service.