| Maroon Peak - last 14er
I got out of Chicago Basin on Monday where I had finished peaks 51, 52, and 53. Maroon Peak would be #54 and the final. I spent the day Tuesday bumming around Ouray and then driving to Aspen. I took 133 instead of the highway, much nicer drive! After carrying a pack into and out of Chicago Basin, my knees couldn't take carrying an overnight pack up into a basin again. So I decided to sleep in my truck and start early. Since the full moon was only two nights ago, I figured I'd have plenty of light, as long as the moon wasn't hidden behind clouds again! I got started at 2:45 am. The moon was out and I didn't need my head lamp except to double check the signs and make sure I was going the right way. Even though I've been up this trail grunches of times, I didn't want to screw up. It would just be my luck to make a stupid mistake and screw up my last 14er! I made it to the turnoff after the bent tree at about 4:15. I ran into a guy (Ed) who was also planning to climb the peak. He had to be over 60, I can only hope I can still climb peaks like Maroon when I'm that old! Way to go Ed! Turns out the moon wasn't bright enough to really take good pics. I was hoping I could get Pyramid silhoutted. It was in the right position but too far above the peak, so I would have had to be at higher elevation. Just goes to show, even though you can plan, one little detail can screw things up. Oh well. This is the only decent shot of the moon before sunrise I was able to get.
Moon over the south ridge of Maroon Peak
After trying so hard to make sure I didn't screw up on the trail, I ended up losing my helmet at about 13,200, right below the ridge. I had stopped to take sunrise pics. I undid one buckle on my pack and my helmet and hat went flying down a gully. I obviously didn't attach it to my pack the way I usually do. So now I was faced with doing Maroon Peak without a helmet or turning around. Fortunately it was Wednesday, so it looked like myself and Ed would be the only ones on the peak that day, so I decided to push it. I know I should have turned around, but it was a calculated risk that turned out to be ok. I will never make the mistake of hastily attaching my helmet again! And if anyone finds a 'Life is Good' hat in the gully right below the point you gain the ridge on Maroon Peak, let me know. It's been through a lot with me, I would love to get it back. It's dark green (with the little backpacker guy), so I couldn't find it, but I did find my bright blue helmet. Although I will have to buy another because it sure took a beating falling down about 1000 feet!
After my helmet fiasco, I did get some pics of the sunrise.
Pyramid Peak in the sunrise from right below the south ridge or Maroon Peak
Looking west from the route up to Maroon, the moon is still out. I just love the contrast of the blue sky, red rocks, green vegetation, and the shadow of Maroon Peak to boot! The Maroon Formation is so appropriately named.
I got to the ridge at 6:55 and headed for the top. The trail was easy enough to follow. I made sure to make mental notes of each entrance and exit of the gulleys. There are cairns EVERYWHERE. So you need to be sure of what you are comfortable with, and on the way down, which way YOU came up to make sure you don't get in no-mans land. It was a fun route, findng it was harder than any of the moves. I got to the top at 8:10, so 1 hour 15 minutes from hitting the ridge, not bad time. But I can definitely see where people with less experience on Class 3 stuff would take longer.
North Maroon from Maroon Peak. Three people summited just after I got up Maroon.
Snowmass and Capitol.
Down the ridge from Maroon showing the traverse, awesome looking route. I'm going to have to come back and do that sometime, but gotta find a partner! Going solo all the time has it's disadvantages.
I stayed on the top until 9:05. I called bunches of people to share that I had completed the 14ers. I couldn't believe I got coverage up there! Took lots of pics and even a video. I wanted to make sure I had good ways to remember summiting my 54th. The weather was freakin awesome, no worries from the clouds. This was a nice change from the weather in Chicago Basin a few days ago.
I ran into Ed just below the top. He was still working his way up, slow but strong. I gotta give it to that guy, I think it's great he can still get out and do long, challenging peaks like Maroon. Doing easy peaks is one thing, but Maroon is far from easy! The length of the hike is bad enough.
I stopped a lot on the way down to just sit and look around and enjoy the scenery. The weather was great, so I was in no hurry. I really wanted to take the time to enjoy this peak. Longs is still my favorite, but I think Maroon might be second.
Maroon with Snowmass and Capitol just peaking out to the left. The sky was so perfect blue it was amazing.
Pyramid Peak from just above the downclimb from the ridge.
After dropping down off the ridge, I spent some time trying to find my hat and helmet. Found the helmet but the hat is still out there. Dang. Stopped a lot on the way back to take pics with wildflowers. These seemed a little stressed compared to the ones in Chicago Basin. I don't think these have seen rain in the past few days, and the trail was bone dry, so they could use some. It started to sprinkle on my way out, so hopefully they perked up a bit.
Looking up to the south ridge of Maroon Peak
Cool looking towers of the Maroon Formation from Maroon Lake with wildflowers in bloom
After taking my time to get down, and taking a nap at Crater Lake (I woke up at 2:15 afterall) I got back to the trailhead at 2:45. The drive back to Denver was filled with memories of other climbs. I think the best part of climbing is the people I've run into. And for the majority of people, we didn't even exchange names. In most social situations, stating your name is the usual way to start a conversation. We don't need that, we have the peaks and the simple fact of climbing together as the start of MANY conversations! So, thanks to all the pleasant people I've run into on the trail. Although I typically hike alone, I've truely enjoyed talking to many people on climbs and peaks. As I sit here writing this the day after I finished the 14ers, I'm looking forward to meeting more people on hikes and climbs, redoing my favorites, doing new routes, and continuing to work on the 13ers!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):