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 Peak(s):  Maroon Peak  -  14,156 feet
 Post Date:  08/11/2009
 Date Climbed:   08/09/2009
 Posted By:  bergsteigen

 Secret Password to Maroon Peak: Left   

Maroon Peak
Co-conspirators: Keith (KeithK), Scott (edlins), Donna
Wind Rescue Party: Craig (cheeseburglar), Amanda, Anne
Overall Mileage: ~12.5 (a little extra to go left up ridge than standard route)
Elevation Gain: ~4,800'
Start: 3am
Ridge: 7:30am, Leave ridge: 8:45am
Summit: 10:26am
Camp: ~4:20pm

Day 1: Last Supper, Password & What goes Bump in the night:

When someone calls our scrumptious lunch and beers at the Dam Brewery, the Last Supper, you realize they might be nervous about what we were going to attempt that weekend. I never really planned to tackle the Bells Traverse, but after Capitol, why not? The Mt Wilson – El Diente traverse is now a favorite of mine, so maybe this would be similar? We could always decide on the summit of Maroon Peak that we didn't want to do it. No loss.

After a pleasant ride up to the overnight parking TH, we gear up for the short backpack to Crater Lake. Taking all of our gear out of the trunk of a Honda Accord is reminiscent of the how many clowns in the tiny car skit.

Happy smiling faces everywhere:

Photo Credit: Keith

Some TH beer, and we were off! It was probably 0.75 miles in that I realized eating such a big lunch, and then having some more banana bread for desert was not a good idea. Stomach cramps started, and I slowed to a crawl. Ouch! Of course, at this point we passed some other backpackers who said there were 2 campsites open, but 2 groups in front of us… hmmm. Déjà vu from last week! Oh well, we have Scott in our group. Mush Scott, mush! Race ahead and capture a campsite!

Walking amongst the tourists:
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Da Bells
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We managed to get a campsite, though sloping, without trouble. There should be enough room for all the tents… depending on who else shows up. We were wondering when Craig and/or Gabe's group would show up. So Scott broke out the absinthe and we chatted and waited. Every headlamp coming up the trail looked like a possibility. Soon there was a group with 3 headlamps. Keith goes down to see. What's the password? Craig answers TGC!

So here comes Craig and 2 other gals up the trail to the campsite, with a partially finished 6-pack in his hand. Wow, hiking with a 6-pack… I guess, easy access? Too bad he dropped one on arrival, and the punctures sprayed beer everywhere. But thanks to Scott's lightning quick cat-like response of jumping on the can, the beer was saved! Apparently Craig and Co waited in a bar drinking tequila, until the park checkpoint along the road was empty. $7 tequila shot, or $10 entrance/parking fee. Hmmmmm….

Whoever was in the other campsite next to us, sorry! The noise level was pretty high for awhile, as we talked about when we were going to start in the morning, as well as getting info on the secret to the nasty slope up to the ridge on Maroon. Repeated mentions of "Go Left" came up frequently, and sometimes out of context. Or was it the absinthe hitting the brain?

Having some fun:

Photo Credit: Craig

Eventually we settled down and went into our tents to rest and maybe sleep. Well some of us settled. Others were heard for a long while…

Nearing 1:30am I hear quite the commotion going on. It seems a porcupine was in camp, and was about to attack Scott in his bivy. Waking up to quills in the face must have been a shock! Not sure who was more surprised. The porcupine crashed through the underbrush to get away from the fright of its life. But it must not have been that scary, as it circled our camp for a while.

Day 2: Go Left! – WIND, Spectacular Scramble up the Peak & Descent from Hell:

3am came quickly, especially after all the nights excitements.

Dueling pre-3am camera action!

Photo Credit: Scott


Photo Credit: Keith


Photo Credit: Keith

A starry night with the Bells:

Photo Credit: Scott

We quickly packed up, donned our headlamps and took off down the trail. The approach to the base of the slope was just enough warm-up to prepare us for the gnarly calf-burn to come. The moon aided our ascent with its pale light. With Craig's "Go Left" echoing in our heads, we look for where we need to turn off the regular trail. The ridge above us looks concave and nasty loose with boulders. Scott diligently takes us left and we eventually find the alternate trail that goes way left and ascends a much nicer ridge rib to the upper ridge proper (map at end).

Hiking up hill of death, or affectionately called the approach from hell. Your choice!

Photo Credit: Scott

It's getting lighter...
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Sun rising:
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Photo Credit: Scott

Soon after heading left, the wind picks up. We put on more clothing and head higher. The wind gets stronger. We hide out hands in our pockets and under pack straps. The wind gets intense, and almost knocks the ladies in the group down. We don't want to stop moving, our hands are frozen and the rest of us will sure follow. Hypothermia is on our minds now. Scary traverses are not in the forefront of the thoughts. The sun is rising, but it's not warming us much.

Sunrise kissing the neighboring peaks
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A look over to Maroon from ascent
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The rest of the ascent to go...
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Some vertical distortion... looking down

Photo Credit: Scott

At the top of the ridge, we hunker down behind some rocks that act as a semi wind break. We end up wearing all our clothing and gear. Still the wind is howling and flowing though us, making us less than comfortable. Gusts reach a sustained ~30mph and we hold onto our gear and duck our heads. We don't want to head down, but we also don't want to follow the ridge over to the peak. Us light ladies don't want to be blown off the mountain! We're stuck for the time being in a wind loop. Is it getting better… nope. More wind, stronger wind. Dying down again… Then more gusts. Aaarrrrgh!!! Very naughty wind!

Hunkering down on the top of the ridge:

Photo Credit: Keith

Maroon in the mornin:
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Snowmass and Capitol:
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We are watching the slope for any signs of Craig and his group. After ~1hr they arrive to save the climb! Hooray!!! Or maybe the wind was just less at that point. It seems they were the motivation we needed to continue on, and brave the wind. Once we were off the windy ridge, and onto the face of Maroon, the wind was fairly light and very manageable. The super fun incredible class 3 scramble in on!

Braving the wind on the ridge:

Photo Credit: Keith

Along the face:

Photo Credit: Keith

Craig leads us up the first series of fun obstacles, chimneys! Yay!
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Me enjoying the chimney action:

Photo Credit: Keith

Traversing ledges:
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Traversing over to the gullies, we meet up with another group. If you can spot the cairns with the bright pink flags, route finding is pretty easy. Though the gullies are loose rock traps. We found the edges much easier to ascend. There at least, is solid rock to hold onto. Not sure which gully we went up, either #1, #2 or was is #3… some 'look' better than others. All are loose.

Gully Action:
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Photo Credit: Keith


Photo Credit: Scott


Photo Credit: Scott

Once past the gullies it's just ledge traversing to go.
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Some route finding:


We found a really fun class 4 pitch that had me excited to run up it. I was more than happy to show Keith how to ascend it. Nothing exposed, so a nice fun, slightly off-route climbing to spice it up.

Almost there...

Photo Credit: Scott

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We zig-zagged up to the summit to be surrounded by the happy faces of our ever expanding group!

Last one up is a rotten egg!

Photo Credit: Scott

Looking over at the traverse and North Maroon looks inviting though tough. The group of 4 of us is less than enthused and a bit tired. We don't know if we can keep up with Craig's group. So to not slow things down, we decide to go back the way we came. Thoughts of descending the loose, steep slope are weighing in our minds, but the traverse sounds worse at this point. Besides, I'll be back in a few weeks to climb Pyramid, so I can easily tag N. Maroon on to that trip

Snowmass and Capitol:
Image

Pyramid:
Image

North Maroon:
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Relaxin' on da summit:
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The motley crue:

Photo Credit: Scott

Donna made friends with the group of 2 and headed off with them. Scott, Keith and I assimilated Mike into our group to make sure everyone got down the mountain safely, and knew of the secret long-cut. We watched Mike ascend the nasty slope in front of us this morning, so we didn't want to have him repeat that.

Starting the descent:

Photo Credit: Scott

Descending the gullies is like a death trap. We spread out a bit to lessen any rocks that might fall. It can't be completely avoided. Once while traversing over to the other side of the gully, a ginormous boulder starts to come loose just above me. I try to push on it, but it is slowly sliding… moving… crap, I can't hold it. It probably weighs more than me! Both Keith and Scott are out of the path of destruction, so I leap out of the way. The boulder and entourage slide down a few feet and stop. Phew! That was close! A bit lower I have to duck and cover into another large boulder as a rock goes flying past my head rather closely. Getting onto the traverse over to the ridge is a welcome sight.

Yay, we survived the gnarly gullies!

Photo Credit: Keith

Traversing back to ridge:

Photo Credit: Scott

Looking Back at the Gullies:
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Having some fun going down the awesome chimneys!

Photo Credit: Keith


Photo Credit: Scott


Photo Credit: Keith

Wow, clouds? Snowmass and Capitol:
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Maroon Peak towering over Snowmass and Capitol:
Image

Pyramid:
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Looking down valley to Maroon Lake:
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The descent off the ridge and down the slope is relentless. It seems to go on forever! At least as we go further down, the wind that was bad on the ridge (again!), is better, and the temperature is warming up. We can finally shed some layers! Down, down we go. A few of us take it too literally and go down to the ground on the nasty scree slope. It didn't seem so bad coming up in the dark, just a pain in the calves on the relentless steep slope. It may just be that climbing up in the dark, everything is hidden and you're still half asleep. Keith and I were whistling/singing "Always look on the bright side of life" on the descent, because no one expects the Spanish Inquisition! We could be over on the nasty rocky scree fest of the regular route, if we didn't know any better!

Steep, no? .....oooops hard to get a good frame of reference when you lean uphill!
Image

The slope of death...

Photo Credit: Keith


Photo Credit: Scott

Eventually it ends, and the knees cheer for flat ground! And there was much rejoicing. Woohoo! Now for the return to camp and a short backpack out…

We find Donna relaxing by the side of Crater Lake with the group of two guys. What, you haven't broken down camp yet? Ha! Some vitamin I and I'm feeling lots better.

Hiking out:
Image

The pack out of camp goes quickly, as motivation of possibly having some semi-cool beers awaits us in the trunk of the Honda. They were not hot, so even I could drink a Sierra Nevada. Then it's on to Beau Jo's pizza for some refueling before the long night drive home. Ugggg, do we have to go to work on Monday?

Map:

Credit: Scott



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions (5)
edlins


Nice!!     2009-08-11 18:24:15
Great compilation of our pics and well written! For anyone curious about the ascent route we took that avoided the scree/talus slope in Bill‘s route description, I‘ve posted the GPX at http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=308773. You can load that into your GPS and follow our every wrong turn. I also posted the entire track at http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=308311.


KeithK


We are the climbers that say ”eeek!”     2009-08-19 12:28:35
An unsurprisingly perfect TR, thank you for writing it! Very fun and spirited, just like the weekend as a whole. I can only hope that we can do it again very soon!

A couple more pics here...


Brian C


Good day to climb!     2010-08-23 08:48:42
Hey! Nice trip report! You summited on Sunday? If so, I think we snuck past you guys on the way up the ”hill of death”. It sure was windy up there, my camelback nozzle kept freezing up a little. Nice job.


doggler


You guys have     2009-08-11 22:30:58
been having too much fun. Much warmer up there today!


USAKeller


NICE!     2009-08-12 15:55:59
Awesome job to all of you! That route A) has a heinous approach and B) goes on and on and on. Well done and nice photos!



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