| Chuck and the Goat
FRI. JULY 26, 2013
Depart: Crater Lake (elev. 10,076 ft), Summit: 14,014 ft, RT Distance: 5.8 miles
Climbers: Pete (Wish I Lived in CO), Mark (Roald)
It seems that one particular peak stands out in each year's climbing trip. Without a doubt is was North Maroon this year. From the previous trip report, 2 days earlier we had left too late and failed to summit Pyramid. While managing to summit Maroon Peak the next day, the weather could have been better. Finally, the day for North Maroon had an excellent forecast, and the weather did not disappoint. This was very much a good thing, because I at least found North Maroon to be much more difficult than neigboring Maroon Peak to the South. Maroon Peak had some great fun scrambling at the top, and overall I was pretty relaxed about it. But North Maroon in contrast had me on edge for at least 3 or more points. Still, this was truly a rewarding climb that was the highlight of my short week in Colorado. Let's see how the climb shook out .........
Maroon Peak (L), North Maroon Peak (R) from next morning
Moon over Adjacent Flanks
Gorgeous Meadow with Summit Behind
Crossing the Rock Glacier
Up to this point thru the rock glacier, this had been a great hike. While still great, at this point things got more serious. Last year, a man had died somewhere in the area of the photo below. He was hiking solo and no one will ever really know, but one plausible outcome was that after climbing neighboring Maroon Peak to the south, completing a technically difficult class 5 traverse between the two peaks, and then downclimbing the more difficult parts of N. Maroon, maybe at the end of the long day he let down his guard and / or slipped on these easy, yet deceptively treacherous paths you see below. I was determined to excercise caution here.
Looking up the Lower Gulley
Pete Starting Up the Lower Gulley
At the start of the upper gulley, we had for a short time gotten sandwiched between a group of goats. This concerned me as goats are notorious for sending down rockfall. After just a short ways, they let us pass. Later their group would join us on the summit.
First Survey of the Upper Gulley
Up to this point, the two gulleys already had me on alert for rockfall and slips. But now, just below the notch, the class 3 / 4 climbing was about to begin. If I'm not mistaken, the route is class 3 except the chimney above, however some of the moves seemed about as difficult as anything I had yet encountered.
Mark Taking a Breather Just Below the Notch
Mark Traversing Down to the Notch (on the downclimb), Upper Gulley Below
At this point, we were nearing the ridge, above of which we knew we'd get a short breather in the climbing. Here Mark made a gutsy move. His greater scrambling skill and better shoes certainly had a lot to do with it. While challenging for him, he didn't seem overly worried about it. My turn next. I get to a spot a little below where Mark is in the photo. I'm considering going high where Mark went (not look good), going a lower way (not look good either), or getting the heck off that rock to look for something better or even go down if I have too. Meanwhile a goat is milling 6 feet below me, I'm not paying him much attention as I'm absorbed in my contemplation. All of a sudden, the goat leaps UP 6 feet to land about 3 feet behind me ! The goat now has my attention. He's got me pinned in if he wants me to move and I'm not gonna start a game of Billy Goat's gruff with him. Instead the goat casually traverses around a short ledge and up to 10 feet above me. In essence, the goat just showed me the way up. Sure enough, a comparitively much easier class 3 move or two and I'm up.
Mark on a Difficult Move
With that behind us, the class 4 chimney came up much sooner than expected. Basically we were standing directly in front of it before we realized it. Mark goes first. He struggles a little bit near the top, makes his move and basically not too much problem. I had been debating for months, "class 4 chimney, or chicken out to the class 3 by-pass". Why not try it. I get most of the way up without too much difficulty. For the final move out of the chimney, I'm not worried as I'm confident from this location I can downclimb. However I'm just not visualizing the last move. I'm there for a minute or two, someone catches up at the base of the chimney. All of a sudden, I'm sharing the chimney with this fellow. He's not rude, there's enough room, but this was not exactly how I'd planned it. I had been looking mostly to the left where Mark exited, the gentlemen scooted off to the right side up and over. Turns out there is an absolutely bomber handhold above your head on the flat part that would be difficult to see. Armed with that knowledge, it was quick work to get up. The gentlemen identified himself as "Chuck". Mark asked him, "How many times have you climbed N. Maroon?". "I really don't even know" he replied. Obviously he knew what he was doing. So between Chuck and the goat, I had some help getting over the toughest parts. Not to say I couldn't have summitted without their help, but it was what it was and made for some fun.
"Chuck" Below Pete in the Chimney
Pete Topping Out the Chimney
Mark Tearin' it Up in the Chimney
Summit Goat with Snowmass and Capitol in the Distance
Goat at Summit with Neighboring Pyramid Behind
Looking over to Maroon Peak
Summit Pano: Maroon and Crater Lakes, Pyramid Peak, Maroon Peak
Maroon and Crater Lakes from Below the Summit
On the down-climb, I wish I could I say I had down-climbed the chimney. I looked at it for a few minutes, but knowing about the by-pass I simply decided it'd be safer that way. While overall the climb went great, I think I need some practice on these class 4 moves. Anyway, here are a few pics of the by-pass. One report had said it was 100 feet to climbers right of the chimney, another said 100 yards. My estimate is about 200 feet. If you look it should be easy enough to find. It seemed there were a few extra cairns, so look for the best way. The moves are over big square boulder blocks.
Looking Down the 3rd Class By-Pass
Looking Up the 3rd Class By-Pass
Mark and Maroon Lake Behind
Passing Thru the High Meadow Again
Maroon Lake Mug (Pete)
Maroon Lake Mug (Mark)
As is becoming my habit in ending these reports - Thanks Mark for great company, thanks to "Chuck" (whoever you are), to the goat, and most all thank you God for another great and safe trip to the back-country!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):