| The goat that guards the entrance...
We arrived to the Maroon Lake Trailhead on Thursday afternoon. Loaded the heavy backpacks and started heading up towards Crater Lake. The plan was to do North Maroon on Friday and Pyramid on Saturday, so we decided to keep going up above Crater Lake (about a mile or so) just before the trail splits for Buckskin pass (on the right) and North Maroon (on the left). We found a nice campsite, the best thing is that it was not crowded (as compared to Crater Lake) and that fires are allowed. We always like having a fire at night time, to cook those hot-dogs and marshmallows and to keep warm! We were not the only ones on the campsite that night… some animals are really curious…
Our curious neighbour
We had a nice view of Pyramid peak from our campsite, the shadow on Pyramid is from North Maroon peak.
North Maroon shadows Pyramid
As you can see the weather couldn't be nicer, we heard that it had been raining a lot the day before. We were hoping for nice weather. However, when we woke up at 5.15am in the morning we noticed some snow flakes were falling on us! That early? There were really tiny, and the funny thing is that there were no clouds in the sky. We figure out the wind must have blown them towards that side of the mountain. Anyway, we started hiking around 6am. A couple of hikers passed us on the way up.
These were the clouds that must have brought the snow, now they were on their way to Aspen. But the sun was already shining on North Maroon, good sign.
Clouds heading to Aspen
The route was easy to follow at the beginning, but then across the boulder field it became more tricky. There were not many cairns pointing the way, and I don't know exactly why (even though we had read the route descriptions several times) we thought the entrance to the first gulley was just around the corner. So, we started going up about 11,800-11,900 (too high) and then realize that was not the route, so we went down and finally saw a cairn (very small by the way) pointing us on the right trail. We lost about an hour here route finding. But the sunrise was just starting, so we still had plenty of time
The sunrise and Pyramid on the right
After this incident, things got better and the trail was easy to follow. The first gulley went pretty fast…
The first gulley
And thanks to the goat that I have seen in numerous trip reports, yeah the one that guards the entrance to the second gulley, we made it to this gulley in no time. This pic is looking back to the entrance to the second gulley, there she is!
The goat that guards the entrance
The second gulley was steep and loose, but again it was easy to follow the trail:
The second gulley
The last part of the gulley, before getting to the ridge crest:
There were plenty of ledges, loose rock and scrambling, as the route description depicts.
And finally we got to the crux of the route, the chimney. We were not sure if that was it, since there were no cairns around, not even below it. However we saw one on top of the chimney, once Mike climbed it. Later we realized there were more cairns leading towards the right and multiple routes could be found from there. As I read in previous reports it is very confusing up there, because of multiple possible routes. Mike helped me with the rope, I have short legs, so sometimes it is difficult to get up on this vertical pitches. I feel ok if it is tilted or horizontal, but vertical gets me.
After the chimney more rock scrambling, ledges and loose rock and multiple cairns and ways to go… Oh, and lots of exposure. I am glad I am not afraid of heights. However, we carefully chose every step and every handhold, and we finally summited, it took us 6 hours (that is counting the hour we lost trying to find the right route). The two hikers that passed us on the way up had already started hiking down, so we got the summit to ourselves. This was number 39 for me…
We saw somebody at the top of Maroon Pk and we wave at each other. Later he would catch us on our way down after doing the traverse! Here is the picture, if you are reading this (I forgot your name) post a comment please.
Maroon Peak (somebody is on the summit!)
And, of course, I have to insert some of the pictures we took from the top. I did not realize on the way up how magnificent the views were, too much concentration and time spent looking at rocks and footsteps…
On the way down, the cairns were a little bit easier to follow and they lead us a different way this time, avoiding the chimney (this is the part I was not comfortable with and I was very glad we missed it going down). This is the route we took, again with my short legs I needed reassurance with a rope. Mike does not have that problem
One of the exposed sections… it looks worse on the pictures, why is it?
And, of course, in the second gulley, our goat was waiting for us and showing us the way. These creatures amaze me, they are so cute… I had dozens of pictures on my camera after this trip and the one on Pyramid the next day.
This is one of the sections that I forgot to photograph on the way up, but now we were more relaxed.
This is looking back at the second gulley. We stayed on the left.
The hiker that we saw on top of Maroon Pk and did the traverse caught up with us just after the wall section on our way down. He was really fast!
After a short rest we finally made it to the tent, total time was almost 10 hours. Those hot dogs tasted so good…
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):