| North Maroon - North Face Ski
This is a cross-post from my thread on TGR, but I thought I'd put it here for people to enjoy!
*BEEP* *BEEP* *BEEP*
My alarm goes off at 2:45AM and I roll over to turn it off. I didn't get much sleep last night just thinking about the adventure that was ahead of us. At the time though I didn't know that this would be my most intense and scariest day in the mountains yet...
I packed up the car and picked up OSki at 3:30AM. After our triple summit tour two days ago, we were psyched to climb and ski the very aesthetic and difficult north face of North Maroon. We quickly started heading up Maroon Creek Road to get an early start on the hike, but "car problems" delayed us about an hour and we didn't start hiking in until 5:00AM.
Gearing up at the car:
Continuing up Maroon Creek Road on foot to the trailhead:
OSki knows the access code to the Maroon Bells:
Our first view of North Maroon just after sunrise. We still had a ways to go before reaching the base:
Finally getting close:
Because of our late start and 6-8" of new snow that fell overnight, we didn't get to the base of the north face until close to 9:00AM. We were worried about the morning sun baking the face and affecting the snowpack as we climbed and skied over huge cliffs. Cloudy skies and the fact that the mountain was surrounded in low clouds for most of the morning helped alleviate some fears, and as we started the bootpack up the first couloir we found that the new snow had bonded well to the old snow layer on the north-facing slope. As noontime approached and the clouds cleared, the sun really started hitting the south-facing slopes across the valley hard. We heard and saw a couple of loud slides coming off these slopes as we were nearing the summit. Luckily by that time, our aspect was in the shade.
The new snow that fell overnight made bootpacking progress slow, delaying our summit even longer. OSki breaking trail:
SkiNowWorkLater coming out of a gully:
OSki with Maroon Lake way below in the valley:
SNWL a little higher up:
Some of the climbing got pretty steep. OSki:
We had been flirting with cloud cover all morning. Most of the day the clouds stayed above us which protected us from the sun. Once we got to about 250ft. below the summit, the whole mountain got socked in, so didn't exactly have great summit views to enjoy. We finally summited at 1:00PM; a couple of hours later than we had planned.
SNWL on the summit:
OSki on the summit. Check out the killer views:
A quick lunch on top, and then right back down the way we came up. OSki dropping in from the summit:
SNWL dropping in:
This is where things started getting really scary. On the first open slope from the summit, OSki put in a ski cut and the whole 8" of new snow let go and slid. We heard the avalanche slide as it flew over cliffs and landed on the next slope with a BOOM, picking up snow and then over the next cliff all the way down to the valley below. At this point our skiing turned into zig-zag ski cutting, getting the top layer to slide and then skiing on the safer bed surface. We continued like this for the top 1,000 feet of the face, until finally the snow became a lot more stable further down. I was completely gripped for that whole top 1,000 feet of "skiing".
Looking straight down the north face:
OSki catching more air through a tight chute:
Finally down to the exit couloir and into the valley! SNWL:
After getting off the face, OSki commented "Usually after doing lines like that I'm super psyched. Right now I'm just relieved." I couldn't agree with him more.