Help: Maroon or Crestone

Colorado 14er peak questions, condition requests and other info.
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Help: Maroon or Crestone

Postby Neil » Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:00 pm


On Saturday, I want to take advantage of this ongoing weather window by hiking a longer, harder peak. I've narrowed my choices to either Crestone Peak or S. Maroon Peak as a one-day hike. For those who have done either or both in a single day, which would you recommend and why? For me, Maroon is appealing because it has less milage and vert, but as a somewhat lazy man, the 2,800 feet of suck (as some call it) is not appealing. Crestone Peak is appealing because I know the route to at least Broken Hand Pass is reasonable (did the Needle earlier this summer) and I like how the increased vert gain is broken up by the trip down to the lake. Some background on me to inform your opinion: I hike 1,000-1,300 feet/hour (depending on that lazyness), and have summitted Little Bear, El Diente, Crestone Needle, and North Maroon (among others) in the last few months.

Anyway, any input you have either way, especially opinions as to why one is better than the other for a day hike, would be greatly apprecaited. Thanks!

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Re: Help: Maroon or Crestone

Postby MountainMedic » Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:18 pm

Neil, my man, I'd watch out with S. Maroon. Haven't done it yet myself, but with the sheer amount of terror on the Elks this season I would stay off them if I could climb. The lack of snow last winter means there was less water in the base under loose rocks, so much of the loose crap underneath talus fields is even more unstable than normal, rendering the Elks straight up treacherous. Since MonGoose and I took your lucky hat, I'd be careful.

Crestone Peak is wicked fun, but IMHO harder than the needle (looser rocks and much longer). That's a huge day trip, but certainly doable. Dunno if doing it from Cottonwood would make your life any easier. I'd get in touch with Jeff (SurfNTurf). He did the peak as a day trip a couple weeks ago.
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Re: Help: Maroon or Crestone

Postby ChrisinAZ » Thu Sep 20, 2012 11:10 pm

Having done both of these as day trips in the past few weeks:

Maroon is probably less of a physical effort overall, though it's still pretty heady. The colors may be pretty spectacular about now. Two tricks to making this climb far, far more enjoyable: bring trekking poles, and find the "non-standard" trail up the 2800' of suck. It's to climber's left of the main trail, follows a sort of ridge up to the main ridge crest (topping out just a few minutes' easy scramble from the normal top-out point) and is way less treacherous. Stash your poles at the main ridge. If you've done your research on the route from this point, you may find it to be surprisingly easy terrain for the Bells. In the lower pair of gullies, I'd recommend the second one. The last few hundred feet to the top are a bit more challenging, but the climb mostly feels like an easier, less scary version of N Maroon or Pyramid. I think it took around 5 hours to the summit.

Crestone Peak is a long haul, even from the upper trailhead, and you'll have to contend with reascending BHP at the end of the day. Getting up the pass from S Colony Lakes, as of a week ago, involved a few inches of snow; I'd bring microspikes if you have 'em, even if you never end up actually using them. The standard route is totally snow-free after the pass as of now. The gully indeed has some loose crap, and there are places with a lot of scree where you should stick to rocky ribs instead. The bit from the notch to the summit is somewhat challenging, at least as tricky as the last few hundred feet of Maroon. However, the views and conditions are probably at the best they'll be this entire summer season. Probably took around 6 hours to summit from the upper TH.

Really, you can't go wrong with either. Just bring a helmet, know your route, respect the peak, and go in good weather, and it should work out.
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Re: Help: Maroon or Crestone

Postby CRAIGO » Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:10 pm


I watched you kill it on N Maroon. You will have no problem on either mountain, but I would recommend S Maroon. South is more physically demanding but technically easier than N. The 2800' of suck has had trail improvements so all it takes is steady legs and some patience. I didn't think it was all that bad. I also found the scrambling and ledges to be really fun. You may also want to consider the fall colors. Not a lot of aspen trees near the Crestones, but should be amazing at the Bells.

Have fun whatever you climb. S Maroon was one of my favorites.
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Re: Help: Maroon or Crestone

Postby MtHurd » Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:26 pm

S. Maroon would be my choice. Mainly because of the colors. I think S. Maroon is probably more demanding than Crestone and has a lot more route finding, although I had the luxury of driving all the way up to the end of the road when it was still open for the Crestones. S. Maroon will be more dangerous if there is a thin layer of snow on the rocks.
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Re: Help: Maroon or Crestone

Postby nyker » Fri Sep 21, 2012 4:53 pm

Crestone Peak. Maybe b/c I just came back from the area and I am still feeling the rock!

Hard, long day, but probably safer than Maroon apples to apples, with less objective hazard as long as you are on route. Safe, however can mean lots of different things.
If you've done those others, than you'll be fine.

But...wait, you live in Denver - just do both! One Sat and one Sunday :-D
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Re: Help: Maroon or Crestone

Postby TravelingMatt » Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:16 pm

If it's the weekend I'd rather do Crestone. Fewer concerns with rockfall.

Also, Crestone doesn't cost $10, although this may be vitiated by differences in gas consumption.
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Re: Help: Maroon or Crestone

Postby 14erFred » Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:45 pm

I agree with Matt. The more stable rock on Crestone Peak makes for a safer, albeit longer, climb, compared to South Maroon.
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Re: Help: Maroon or Crestone

Postby Wentzl » Fri Sep 21, 2012 6:17 pm

IMO the more enjoyable day would be on Creston Peak. Climb the NW Couloir and descend the red gully on the S face. S Maroon does not give as good a circuit option and the 2800' of suck on S Maroon really does.

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