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South Maroon Peak?

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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South Maroon Peak?

Postby zbirkel » Fri Jul 02, 2010 9:34 am

My dad and I were thinking about hiking South Maroon Peak? This will be my first time hiking a 14er. Im 17 and my dad is 45, were both in good shape and we have hiked in wyoming before and summited Medicine Bow Peak(which is very easy). I just need someone elses thought, if you've hiked the bells before, if Soth Maroon Peak would be alright for us to summit?

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Re: South Maroon Peak?

Postby tmathews » Fri Jul 02, 2010 9:39 am

zbirkel wrote:My dad and I were thinking about hiking South Maroon Peak? This will be my first time hiking a 14er. Im 17 and my dad is 45, were both in good shape and we have hiked in wyoming before and summited Medicine Bow Peak(which is very easy). I just need someone elses thought, if you've hiked the bells before, if Soth Maroon Peak would be alright for us to summit?


I would certainly not suggest it as a first 14er for anyone.

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Re: South Maroon Peak?

Postby crossfitter » Fri Jul 02, 2010 10:15 am

zbirkel wrote:My dad and I were thinking about hiking South Maroon Peak? This will be my first time hiking a 14er. Im 17 and my dad is 45, were both in good shape and we have hiked in wyoming before and summited Medicine Bow Peak(which is very easy). I just need someone elses thought, if you've hiked the bells before, if Soth Maroon Peak would be alright for us to summit?


South maroon peak is a long, tiring, and difficult peak. It requires excellent routefinding skills since there is no real trail to the summit. You will need solid class 3 climbing skills with possibly the occasional class 4 move. You spend a considerable amount of time above 13,000' and easy retreat is difficult if not impossible. The exposure is often significant and you are climbing on loose rock. At the bare minimum, you need a helmet and at this time of year it would be foolish to attempt it without an ice axe (and knowledge to use it) for security. An unusual thing about this route is that it takes almost as much time to climb down as up, so you need to start very early and have excellent weather conditions. Without experience on what gear to bring, knowing your limits, and general hiking/climbing skills I think you would be putting yourself (and potential rescuers) at considerable risk.

The only way I would think you could even think about trying this one as your 1st 14er is if your dad was an expert and you have some sort of climbing/scrambling experience. There are plenty of thrilling 14ers that are much less dangerous. If you insist on an exciting and challenging route for your 1st, consider the Keyhole on Longs. There are plenty of people there, it's close to Denver/Boulder, and it is relatively easy to bail out on if you decide the exposure/scrambling is out of your league. It makes for a long day but it would be a much better alternative than South Maroon which could easily be just as long of a day.
- A mountain is not a checkbox to be ticked
- Alpinism and mountaineering are not restricted to 14,000 foot mountains
- Judgment and experience are the two most important pieces of gear you own
- Being honest to yourself and others about your abilities is a characteristic of experienced climbers
- Courage cannot be bought at REI or carried with you in your rucksack


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Re: South Maroon Peak?

Postby unclegar » Fri Jul 02, 2010 11:38 am

I would not recommend this as a first 14er. If you want something that is hard but not so necessary to have other acquired skills (through experience) I would suggest you check into Longs Peak. It is 15 mi RT and really doesn't require much in the way of route-finding skills. (or a helmet).
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Re: South Maroon Peak?

Postby cbauer10 » Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:14 pm

I am going to have to agree. It was my 47th 14er just two weeks ago and I found it to be very taxing. We aren't lecturing you, but just want you to be prepared for what you are getting yourself into.

If you are set on climbing the Bells, do North Maroon first. Then when you are thinking about doing South Maroon, think of it as just harder than North. North is still one of the tougher ones, but it is not as tough as South. I would not suggest either of these are 1st 14ers.

Maybe Sneffels would provide the excitement you are looking for. It is farther away, but in a wonderful part of the state.

Whatever you do, be prepared and be safe.

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Re: South Maroon Peak?

Postby zbirkel » Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:21 pm

Alright thanks guys. I think i'm going to stick with a class 1 or class 2 challenging peak for our trip. Do you have any suggestions on which mountains to hike Near the Elk Mountain Range? I was thinking Castle Peak or Mt. Elbert? Thanks again!

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Re: South Maroon Peak?

Postby cbauer10 » Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:40 pm

If you are trying to get some exposure to the Elks, then Castle is where you start. Although, I would suggest you go with Elbert. Here are my reasons.

1. There is no rush, the peaks aren't going anywhere. You don't have to jump right into lose rock and class 3 scrambling.
2. You won't want to do the Sawatch once you start doing the Elks and San Juans. The Sawatch are not very challenging technically. Elbert is a descent climb, but it is just a hiking trial that goes on for a long time and happens to go to the states highpoint. You will enjoy it, but once you start doing class 3/4 the class 1/2 stuff doesn't really do it for you anymore.
3. Go meet some people from the forum on Elbert and climb with some good people like Aubrey and do it for a good cause. http://www.14ers.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?t=25374&p=303419#p303419 This thread talks about the Cops on Top thing. It would be fun for your first one and you would meet some people in real life that share the same passion as you. They can tell you about the different peaks and what not as well.

Go for something like Elbert and you will not regret it. Have fun whatever you do this weekend!!!

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Re: South Maroon Peak?

Postby zbirkel » Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:47 pm

Thanks again guys, all this info helps out a lot!

Re: South Maroon Peak?

Postby Ski4me » Fri Jul 02, 2010 1:22 pm

Did the traverse on Monday and it took 12 hours. North Maroon... no ice axe needed. South Maroon ice axe recomended. This picture sums up the difficulty of these peaks.
DSCN2461.jpg
This is from the Trailhead at Maroon Lake.
DSCN2461.jpg (81.56 KiB) Viewed 1857 times

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Re: South Maroon Peak?

Postby cbauer10 » Fri Jul 02, 2010 2:20 pm

I figured someone would post a deadly bells picture. Never fail. :)

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Re: South Maroon Peak?

Postby WSC_Geologist12 » Fri Jul 02, 2010 2:55 pm

cbauer10 wrote:If you are set on climbing the Bells, do North Maroon first. Then when you are thinking about doing South Maroon, think of it as just harder than North. North is still one of the tougher ones, but it is not as tough as South. I would not suggest either of these are 1st 14ers.


Wait, what about North Maroon could possibly make it easier than South?
I haven't done North yet, but I have done South. North is class 4 and South is class 3. To me that means South is easier.

I am curious of your answer because I have climbed South and it was quite a challenge so I wanted to refine my skills before climbing North.

I do have plans to attempt Pyramid this summer because I heard North Maroon is harder than Pyramid as well, I figured Pyramid would be a good warmup.

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Re: South Maroon Peak?

Postby cbauer10 » Fri Jul 02, 2010 3:07 pm

I guess it is a matter of opinion then. Once you have done them both then I would love to her what you think.

I would say that both north and south are class 4 in spots though. South had a lot of route finding skills needed whereas I thought that North was well mapped out and straight forward.

I only did the south ridge on Maroon peak on the way down, Bell Cord up, so that is my only perspective on the south ridge route, but it was horrible in my opinion. I did do it in snow making it more difficult, but I could still see how it would be tougher than North when dry.

The people I have climbed with and others on this site will most likely agree with me the North is easier. I know that when we climbed North Maroon and Pyramid last year, we ran into Jordan White on the trail and he had climbed North, traversed to South, traversed back to North, descended and was then ascending Pyramid in one day. He did that because he did not want to descend the South Ridge. Now he is an animal, but even he wanted to avoid that route finding issue and the nasty scree slope. And he has been up there more times than any of us I am sure.

Don't get me wrong, North is a difficult mountain, but I found it much more fun than South. That makes it seem easier in your head when you are having fun.

Pyramid was a blast. You will see it is listed as my favorite mountain. I wouldn't suggest you change your plan, but if you did South, you are probably ready for North. Have a fun time climbing those two this summer. They are both much more fun that Maroon IMO.

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