Climbing high in the Colorado Rockies
Story and photos by Kim Fenske
Whitney Peak is a prominent mountain lying east of Holy Cross Ridge in the Holy Cross Wilderness Area. At 13,271 feet, Whitney Peak dominates the northern skyline of the old mining community of Holy Cross City. A hike to the summit of Whitney Peak and a return to the trailhead is seventeen miles.
Fifty miles from Copper Mountain, Fancy Creek Trailhead is a point of access to many features east of Holy Cross Ridge. Ascending in a long series of switchbacks from approximately 10,000 feet to 11,540 feet, Fancy Creek Trail follows the Fancy Creek watershed to Fancy Lake. From Fancy Lake the trail passes northeast through a dense fir and spruce forest to an open meadow below Mudhall Lakes. Then, the trail continues through Holy Cross City to the Hunky Dory Trailhead.
Across wetlands filled with diverse wildflowers, Hunk Dory Trail continues north to Seven Sisters Lakes, near the tree-line at 12,000 feet. Yellow-bellied marmots call alarms as hikers pass on the climb to Fall Creek Pass, at 12,580 feet.
Passing bunches of sky pilot and old-man-of-the-mountain in the tundra patches among fields of boulders, no path exists on the ridge rising to the rocky summit of Whitney Peak. Beautiful views of distant mountains on the horizon in every direction greet the hiker persistent enough to summit the promontory. Mount of the Holy Cross and Notch Mountain are north of the Seven Sisters, with the spectacular appearance of the Gore Range and Fall Creek watershed to the northeast.
Kim Fenske is a former wilderness ranger, firefighter who has hiked thousands of miles in the Colorado mountains. He has served on the board of directors of Friends of the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area.
Fenske has authored several hiking books filled with hundreds of photographs of Colorado wildlife, wildflowers, and scenery. His books are enjoyed by thousands of outdoor enthusiasts. His current electronic book titles are published on Amazon for Kindle, as well as Barnes and Noble for Nook. Search for these titles: “Greatest Hikes in Central Colorado,” “Holy Cross Wilderness Area,” and “Eagles Nest Wilderness Area.”
Filed under: Colorado, daily photoblog, hiking, photography, public lands, recreation, Summit County Colorado Tagged: | Colorado, hiking, Holy Cross Wilderness, Kim Fenske, Summit County Colorado, Whitney Peak