Peak(s):  Maroon Peak  -  14,156 feet
Date Posted:  08/22/2011
Date Climbed:   08/20/2011
Author:  hberry



-I don't generally write trip reports (read: ever) but I feel that another perspective on Maroon is needed besides all the scary you will probably die on this perspectives.

(All photos in the report and the rest that I took can be viewed full size here: )

Back Story:
On the drive up to the trailhead for S. Maroon we were warned by the Forrest Service ranger that another camper had been "nipped" by a bear in his tent late Thursday night/Friday AM. He told us that it seemed like the bear was checking things out and not being overly aggressive. I'm not so sure that I believed the whole "nipped" story but we decided we would camp anyways.

Rest of the story:
I was extremely anxious about climbing Maroon peak after reading Bill's route description, Roach's route description, and many of the trip reports on this site seeming to describe climbing it as a certain death wish. Laying down Friday night at Camp Site 9 with the rain beating down on my tent and thoughts of bears eating me and loose rock ledges and falling to my death dancing through my head led to a night of fitful sleep. The alarm went off at 3:30 and after a bit of back and forth fighting with the alarm we were awake at 3:40 and thinking about eating and hiking. We got out of the campsite around 4:30 and started our hike the bent tree. This took about an hour - and then the steep hiking begins. From the Bent Tree up to the notch where you are actually climbing on Maroon is relentlessness steep. I did not bring trekking poles and completely regretted it on the descent. BRING TREKKING POLES! Up and to the left are the words to live by for the first part.

...more story after pictures - because what is a trip report without pictures?

Sunrise behind us

Steep - go Up and Up and UP!

The Notch - this is where things get serious

View of N. Maroon from the summit

**More of the story

Everything I read described this as a terribly loose and dangerous hike. I tend to completely disagree with this. There are many sections of loose rock in the gullies - but there is almost no exposure here. If you fall in the gully you make slide a few feet on your ass, but you aren't sliding to your death. On the ledges where there is a decent amount of exposure the rock is super solid and there is almost no worry about falling to your death. The most important thing to do on this climb is keep your eyes open for good route finding. If things are going way above class III or you are on a ledge that seems rotten and small - you are going the wrong (read: hard) way.

We did not descend the same way we went up - but we had no issues on the way down either.

Which way to Snowmass and Capitol?

One of several friends we met on the hike

Downclimbing a chimney

Steep gulley - again a fall here would not be fatal - perhaps a bit painful

A good shot of the steepness in some sections

There are people in the very middle of this shot - this is a good photo to see the scale of this mountain

Another shot for scale

No caption needed

Another chimney like feature to downclimb

Everyone that brought trekking poles up left them at the notch - the goats were displeased with this so they ate the grips off almost all of the poles.

A departing shot of the Bells

***In summary
This mountain was not NEARLY as hard as I thought it would be. I would say that it is physically demanding but not nearly as mentally demanding as I expected. We ended up with a great group going up and down - all of similar climbing ability and similar mindset in making sure we didn't kick stuff down on each other and we all worked together to find the route - This, I'm sure, made the experience much more pleasurable.

The hike out - once you reach the notch and enter the valley again sucks. Its steep -there is a lot of loose dirt and rocks - and it sucks. Again the hike down SUCKS. Bring trekking poles or you will regret it (my elbows are currently regretting it).

I will ABSOLUTELY do this hike again. If you are a fairly competent hiker - have done a few class III's - don't let this intimidate you - go out there and do it - and don't get eaten by a bear!


 Comments or Questions
Doug Shaw

08/22/2011 19:54
That poor fellow needs some dental work!

On a related note, I do not volunteer to be the guy to give him the novocaine....


Nice Outlook
08/23/2011 03:36
Attempting this mtn in a few days. Appreciate the encouragement and perspectives.


Ahhhh memories
08/23/2011 04:46
A lot of your pictures remind me of my trip on that mountain, albeit it was covered in snow.


08/23/2011 15:12
I will absolutely return to this mountain with snow on it to climb. The Bell Cord looks so enticing!


Cool report!
08/23/2011 23:11
I just did the South to North traverse on Monday 8/21 and I totally agree that South Maroon is a bit overrated as far as difficulty. Interestingly enough I felt the descriptions of the traverse were quite underrated. The exposure on the traverse will haunt my dreams forever.


A great day on Maroon Peak
08/25/2011 03:54
Great trip report Mike. It was a pleasure climbing the peak with you- Greg


Thanks for the comforting words
10/04/2011 18:46
I appreciate the comments about it being safer than you had read it would be. That gives me some confidence and will help me sleep when I am getting closer to climbing this peak in Summer 2012. Vort


07/29/2012 14:03
As a ”fairly competent hiker” with some class III under my belt I thank you for the description.

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