| 14ers Jihad Week - S-N Maroon Bells traverse
Date: Friday, August 11, 2006
TH: Maroon Lake
Woke up at the Wildwood Lodge in Snowmass Village at 0200 and was on trail at Maroon Lake at 0300, as planned. I had recently hiked the first part of this trail for Pyramid Peak, so the first part of the trail was familiar.
Bill's route description is dead on. I had no trouble finding the important junctions for the south ridge route. The West Maroon Creek Trail junction is located at about 10,100 at N39deg 05m20.1s, W106deg 57m57.9s. The turnoff to begin climbing up to the South Ridge is at about 10,460 at N39deg 03m57.6s, W106deg 58m17.9s.
When you begin to climb up to the ridge it is a real slog - about 2,800 feet vertical to the ridge at 13,250. I made the ridge at about 0650.
A view of Maroon Peak from the ridge notch at 13,250:
(Suggestion for climbers - do not eat Chipotle for lunch and Pizza for dinner before climbing. I pooped SIX times above 11,500 and three of those times were above 13,000!!!!)
A view of Snowmass and Capitol from North Maroon:
From the ridge the route to the summit of Maroon Peak is fairly straightforward. Follow Bill's photos and the abundant cairns. However, be aware that there are several cairned variations in the gullies. Just refer to Bill's photos to ensure that you target the correct ledges to attain.
I consider myself pretty competent at helping/spotting my friends through challenging class 3 sections of routes. However, the traverse between the Bells has several vertical upclimbs that would be difficult to help on. These upclimbs do not "lean inward" at any angle. The upclimbs are in narrow areas with limited foot and handholds for a spotter. Anyone attempting the traverse should be comfortable in assessing/choosing a line and in evaluating hand and footholds for their own ascent. I would have found it difficult to coach someone up the upclimbs. There would not be room for me to "shadow" a companion up the vertical sections.
I summited Maroon Peak at about 0815. After signing the register and eating an apple I began the traverse at 0836.
A view of N. Maroon from the north side of Maroon Peak's summit:
The descent to the saddle between Maroon Peak and N. Maroon will be quite easy for proficient scramblers. I found no significant exposure or challenging moves. However, my route description for the traverse was very vague. Something along the lines of "stay on the ridge or drop slightly to the west when necessary." I found this to be sufficient.
Much of the traverse is cairned. When you run out of cairns, start looking up! The two or three upclimbs were located by just plain running out of horizontal options. And, indeed, as I had heard, there were several overhanging class 4 upclimb maneuvers required.
While on the traverse I was able to remove and pack out several items of litter from our wilderness area - four webbing slings, three rappel rings and a carabiner.
Some trash left behind by unethical wilderness users:
I arrived on the summit of N. Maroon at 0936. The traverse took only one hour.
A view of Maroon Peak from North Maroon:
Not having ascended North Maroon via its normal route, I had difficulty finding the way down. Although I asked some hikers on the top for a brief route description, I eventually made a wrong choice in an excessively cairned area. Although thre ARE cairns marking the way down, I found several intersections with cairns going in two dirrections. I ended up following a trail and cairns to a boulderfield from which I could find no continuing trail. So I bushwacked through heavy brush all the way through the woods to come out on the trail north of Crater Lake. The bushwack must have cost me 30 minutes.
The roundtrip route was about 11.5 miles and 5,450‘ of total gain.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):