Got out of bed at 6 p.m. Left Colorado Springs at 8 p.m. Arrived at the trailhead around 11:45. Began hiking by midnight. The plan was to summit by 8 a.m.
The hike up towards crater lake was fast and uneventful. The trail was clear of snow until not too far from the lake. Then it was a mix of skinning and booting until crossing the Minnnehaha inlet to crater lake. Beyond the creek, it was all snow.
A hard freeze made for some efficient traveling. If memory serves me correctly, I made it to 11 000' by 2 a.m. Feeling like I was making good time and that I might summit too early, I decided to relax the already relaxed pace.
The climb through the garbage chute and then up the Cord was relatively easy climbing. A massive runnel down a fair portion of the Cord made for some interesting climbing, especially if you find yourself on the wrong side of it (Beta: the right side was the wrong side).
Almost at the top of the Cord, I began the traverse onto the east face. This is where I lost a LOT of time. Perhaps the slowed leisurely pace wasn't a great idea. The sun had risen above Pyramid to the east and started the warming process of Maroon's east face. The clock was ticking.
In the cord
Looking up the Cord, just below the traverse
The steepest part of my traverse was at the beginning where I measured a sustained stretch of 55 degrees. Most of the traverse was around 50 degrees. These measurements may vary depending on how high you are on the traverse (I can imagine different climbers getting different measurements).
Once on the East face the climbing was simple. Just straight up (and a little to the left). The snow was firm and smooth. The face was a consistent 50 degrees. Near the summit ridge the pitch steepened to 55 degrees.
N. Maroon from East face of Maroon
Slope of upper east face
I made the summit just after 9 a.m. and dropped in shortly after that.
unsightly but very cozy wind shelter on summit
I wonder why they call that mountain snowmass??? Maybe it was named after the guy who first climbed it...Mr. Snowmass
The east face, although steep, was nearly effortless skiing on the incredibly smooth nicely sofened corn.
Looking down the east face from just below summit on summit ridge
Looking down the east face
The more northerly facing traverse was more suncupped. Manageable, though.
After the traverse I took the fall line into the cord with a maximum sustained angle of 55 degrees. While descending this portion of the line, just before the slope mellowed, there was a very short (maybe 6 vert feet) steep section (60 degrees measured) which immediately mellowed to an estimated 45 degrees. The decrease in angle was very sudden and I thought this feature to be quite odd. It turns out that this feature was a snow covered randkluft. I discovered this as the snow broke away below my right (upper) ski. I managed to avoid falling into the abyss by holding on with my lower left ski and my right hand on the snow wall above. After negotiating this obstacle, I peared into its depths. It must have been a good 20 feet deep. Glad both skis didn't go through!
I had almost a thousand vert of decent corn skiing down the Cord.
Looking down the Cord
Then I got to runnel From there to the bottom of the cord, the skiing was all about negotiating the crappy conditions you would expect of an east facing, lower elevation slope. Out of the Cord, down through the garbage chute, and onto the lower apron, I had occasional nice stretches of fine corn skiing.
I have to admit i was a bit worn out by the time I got down. Inconsistent east facing snow really tires the legs. As worn as I was, the beauty of that valley on such a fine day made it impossible not to enjoy the hike out.
I wonder why that mountain was named after a bell??? Must have been named after the first guy who climbed it...Mr. Bell