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Mount of the Holy Cross

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A photograph of Mount of the Holy Cross, taken in 1887 by photographer William Henry Jackson.
Mount of the Holy Cross

“There is a mountain in the distant West / That, sun-defying, in its deep ravines / Displays a cross of snow upon its side.” Those lines come from a sonnet by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called “Cross of Snow.” This tribute to his late wife was partly inspired by a Colorado fourteener: Mount of the Holy Cross near Minturn.

A favorite peak of painters, photographers and inspiration-seekers, Mount of the Holy Cross is named for a cross-shaped snowfield on its northeast face. But it is not as “sun defying” as Longfellow implied. A Colorado summer eventually does melt the snow down a steep, narrow rut into a sapphire-colored lake – it’s called the Bowl of Tears, another poetically inspired feature of the landscape.

Hiking straight up Mount of the Holy Cross can be arduous. One guide puts it this way: before the snow melts, bring a helmet, ice axe, crampons and plenty of rope; after snowmelt: Climbing is “Not recommended.”

About Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards are snapshots of our colorful state in sound. They give brief insights into our people and places, our flora and fauna, and our past and present, from every corner of Colorado.