Peak(s):  Maroon Peak  -  14,156 feet
North Maroon Peak  -  14,014 feet
Date Posted:  09/10/2012
Date Climbed:   09/08/2012
Author:  SurfNTurf
Additional Members:   Emily, SeracZack, I Man, kushrocks
 Stayin' High on the Bells Traverse  

MOUNTAINS: Maroon Peak (14,156'), North Maroon Peak (14,014')
ROUTE: South-->North Traverse
RT GAIN: 4,850'
RT DISTANCE: 9.5 miles
RT TIME: 11 hours (1.5 hours on the traverse, 2 hours on summits)
CLIMBERS: Zack (SeracZack), Emily (Emily), Jeff (SurfNTurf), Matt (I Man), Ryan (kushrocks)

The past few weeks have been filled with ups and downs. Most of the ups I have y’all to thank for. The Happy Hour last Thursday was the most fun I’ve had in quite a while; I’m not sure a picture from it exists where I’m not laughing my ass off.

The Bells Traverse was one of Rob’s favorite climbs. He absolutely glowed whenever he recounted it, and I was always more than a little jealous. With South Maroon among my final three 14ers, I had to return to the area, but I wasn’t sure what how my nerves would be and honestly I was planning on a boring jaunt up and down the 2,800 Feet of Suck.

Emily (Emily), Ryan (kushrocks) and Matt (I Man) were having none of it.

Sometimes everyone needs a little kick in the ass. They were happy to provide it. A few Happy Hour beers later, I finally agreed: the plan for Saturday was, without a doubt, the Bells Traverse.


Emily and I met Ryan, Matt and Zack (SeracZack) at 3:30 a.m. in the Bells parking lot. The start time was a compromise between Ryan’s suggestion of 12:30 or 1 a.m. and my suggestion of Ryan, you’re f’ing crazy. We had a bit of trouble locating the S. Maroon turnoff past Crater Lake in the dark as the cairn had been knocked over, but eventually we were on the 2,800 Feet of Suck.

The ascent to S. Maroon’s ridge lives up to its name. I’m just thankful we did it in the dark and I couldn’t see how far we had to go. It’s loose, there isn’t much of a trail, and it goes pretty much straight up. I had one of my closest calls ever as Matt and I hunkered down against an outcropping while a laptop-sized rock whizzed over our heads at full speed. We finally reached the ridge at the same time as the sun.

Sunlight greets us after the 2,800 of Suck.

The upper route was fairly easy to follow, as we’d studied the route and Ryan had been up it before. Before long we were within a couple hundred feet of the summit. The trail obviously snaked around low on loose rock, but given our plans for the day we decided to get warmed up. Staying as high as possible, we climbed a Class 4 wall and walked the ridge proper to the top, which we reached at 8 a.m.

Emily and Ryan leading the way.

Me, climbing a short Class 4 wall to reach the ridgetop.

Emily and Ryan nearing the summit of Maroon Peak.

Pyramid Peak, bathed in sunlight.

Me, Matt and Ryan, honoring lost friends.

“Staying high,” which again was kind of a joke/challenge Rob and I shared, became somewhat of a theme of the day. Looking back, it doesn’t only pertain to climbing. After so many downs and lows in dealing with the deaths of two friends, it’s important to keep your head up and embrace the abundant happiness remaining in all of our lives.

The sun was fully risen, but either the still-chilly morning or the sight of the Bells Traverse left us shivering. We fueled up, had a few conversations, took obligatory goat photos and dropped into the traverse at 8:45 a.m.

The Bells Traverse.

Dropping in.

The initial descent is straightforward, but it’s loose and a few short Class 4 downclimbs must be negotiated. We didn’t see many cairns. Before long we’d reached the top of the Bell Cord and were staring up at the first crux.

The first crux, the way we did it, required a few Class 4 moves and one Matt rated at 5.0. It wasn’t very exposed and didn’t pose much of a problem. We did end up below the ridge proper on the left, following sparse cairns and trail segments. I’m not sure, but I believe we were slightly off-route as the first crux didn’t immediately yield to a catwalk like in the route description. We eventually realized we were too low and found a Class 3/4 scramble up to the ridge and the second crux.

Ryan below the first crux, after crossing the top of the Bell Cord.

Emily scrambling around to the left of the ridge crest.

Terrain where we regained the ridge crest, between the first and second cruxes.

The second crux, in my opinion, required the hardest climbing of the day. We had to link a few Class 5 moves up a nearly vertical chimney, though the footholds were huge and the handholds were solid. It got our adrenaline pumping, but again, no real problems were posed. Anyone on the summits of North or South Maroon may have heard a few yelps of joy when each of us topped out.

From the top of the second crux we walked on the ridge proper toward the third and final wall. A group traversing from North to South met us here, and we watched them rappel as we tried to pick our own ascent line.

Me about to follow Emily up the second crux.

Image #13 (not yet uploaded)

Matt watching the North-->South group rappel near the third crux.

Matt found a face climb he called 5.5, and Emily followed him with only a few seconds’ hesitation. Ryan, Zack and I instead found what we believed was the “standard” chimney around a bit farther to the left. It was short and probably Class 4, but as it tightened toward the top it got a bit awkward for us bigger guys.

The "easy" way up the third crux.

From the top of the third crux we each took a slightly different line. Some went lower on exposed ledges to the right, while I tried to stay ridge proper whenever possible where the rock continued to be quite solid. The exposure lessened the closer we got to North Maroon’s summit. A short Class 3 scramble later, we were done. I beat Emily in the race to the top. She isn’t a very gracious loser, and continues to insist she didn’t know it was a race.

Matt and Zack negotiating an exposed notch.

Emily on the solid ridge crest.

Zack nears the end of the difficulties.

Looking back at South Maroon, from North.

The North Maroon summit, which we reached about 1.5 hours after leaving South’s, was a party. Marcia’s group was already on top, and as soon as they left they were replaced by the CMC group for the Centennial Climb. Just as Zack, Emily, Ryan, Matt and I were beginning to soak in our accomplishment, someone gasped and pointed out a shirtless dude running across the traverse. It turned out to be Anton Krupicka, who ran the South→North Traverse from car-to-car in 3:07:58.

Our climb was no longer cool.

Anton completes the traverse in something like 25 minutes.

Still, seeing as how the day was perfect, we lounged for more than an hour. Dale’s were consumed. It was odd to see Hagerman Peak for the first time since Rob’s accident, and Ryan and I sent it our “regards.”

The crew (L-R Matt, Emily, Jeff, Zack, Ryan).

We approve of the Bells Traverse.

Fall Is Coming.

A toast to Rob.

Ryan and I had both been up North Maroon before, so the descent was fairly straightforward. I’d been only a month ago, and I was dreading the eroded trail and final willow bushwhack. Thankfully, the CFI has almost finished its improvements. The cruddy trail low on North Maroon has been replaced by a glorious rock path complete with "stairs" that completely avoids the surrounding willows. We took time to say Thank You to the still-working volunteers about 100 times.

The new CFI trail rocks.

We got back to the cars at 2:30 p.m., approximately 11 hours after we set out, including two hours on the summits. More Dale’s were opened as we soaked our feet in Maroon Lake, which was astoundingly lacking for tourists. Not that we were complaining.

It’s easy to see why recounting the Bells Traverse made Rob so ecstatic. What a fine route, one that I will definitely repeat in the years to come. Just not ever in 3:07:58 from car-to-car.

Da Bells.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

09/10/2012 19:20
What happened to the 36 (or was it 37?) boy scouts and 6 dogs?

Way to get it done! 8) What a beautiful day with not a cloud in the sky!


Congrats all ...
09/10/2012 19:22
Tell me about the 2800 feet of suck, I went up and down it ... twice in eight days. FML.

And that shirtless dude! I blinked my eyes for a second and he flew up those gullies up Maroon badass


Shirtless dude
07/29/2013 18:29
Yeah, he was freakin' amazing. Couldn't believe how fast he was moving up there. It was great to meet all you guys up near the top of North Maroon. Awesome job!


09/10/2012 19:48
Reading your TRs always gives me sweaty palms, wonder why! :

I Man

Excellent writing
09/10/2012 20:00
As always, your report is extremely well written...someone might think you do it for a living

This was an awesome day and a climb I had been looking forward to for a long time. It was an honor to share it with each and every one of you.

Jeff & Ryan - Thanks for letting me take part in honoring our friend.


Nice report, Jeff
09/10/2012 20:03
Way to stay high, all of you.


his name was ....
09/10/2012 20:06
Anton Krupicka

oh yeah, you guys were awesome too!


”my suggestion of Ryan, you’re f’ing crazy”
09/10/2012 20:22
Love it!!! Great write up Jeff and great getting out with everyone my favorite part of the trip was after finishing the traverse raising a toast to Rob . . . . .and giving Hangerman our ”regards”


Awesome job!
09/10/2012 20:42
Great write up on a wonderful traverse! I think Anton was up there running when I did it too, pretty crazy!


Stayin high eh
09/10/2012 21:22
I adopted a similar saying from a buddy...”stay proper”.

Anton's time on 4 pass makes mine look silly. Sweet sighting and nice job!


09/11/2012 01:01
Another solid report, do you even know how to disappoint? Looks like a great day was had by all, congrats on your traverse everyone!


Congrats guys!
09/11/2012 02:34
Looks like an amazing climb and what a great read this was! Jeff you're setting yourself up nicely for your finisher. Good luck on The Tooth (next week I assume)! Also, awesome tribute to Rob and I can't even imagine what ”sending your regards” entails

Weather in the Crestones not looking too good this weekend so I may hit up S. Maroon. First class 3 more me (if weather holds). Nervous but excited!


The shirtless dude again
09/11/2012 02:37
Once upon a time, back when I was in my prime (last June). I was healthy and thought I was in shape from hiking with weighted vests up some stupid adobe hill in rifle Colorado, enduring session after session of Shawn T telling to dig deeper and go harder, jogging up the Colorado national monument, and running 6 miles weekly. I went to mt. Massive thinking I was bad A. I reached the summit in a timely 3 hours. Then I met that guy who climbed it in 1.5 hours without a shirt, water, nor fatigue. I then I thought to myself, ”wow, I suck” and then he left sprinting off the hill side.


So motivating!
09/11/2012 14:31
You guys are so motivating for me. I love reading about what you guys get up to since it makes me want to push myself harder. Thanks for taking the time to write this up and congrats on finishing a great traverse!


Awesome report
09/11/2012 15:09
I agree with Kathy! Seeing the pics and reading the report is really motivation to keep pushing myself and not be intimidated by greater challenges. Nice work to you all on what I've read is a pretty intense traverse! Oh, and Ryan mentioned that Emily pretty much smoked everyone....just sayin


09/11/2012 17:40
Did this same thing on Sunday and loved every second of it. Great pics!!


The Trav
09/12/2012 15:50
Well done to all involved. It's always depressing to see climbers destroy a route that caused me so much mental anguish. Just another notch in the belt, Jeff and Ryan. I can't wait to see where these next years take you guys. Can't wait for The Snef, man. BTW, I thought you already got that summit?


09/24/2012 15:44
I'm glad to see you're doing a good job following in my footsteps. Someday, you'll be a fine hiker.


Hate to Leave You Neglected
09/12/2012 21:05
So here's a comment.


09/12/2012 22:46
Thanks for the kind words everyone. Annie, Ryan obviously had too much wine that night.


Not to burst your bubbles, but...
09/12/2012 23:09
I hear this guy's roommate does all his writing for him, and his laundry, too!


09/15/2012 04:02
Congrats, gents. Looks like a great day out.

Stellar report, Jeff.

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