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Back in September, I attempted this peak via the more usual West Maroon Pass. I thought I would get to the pass, and that the route would be obvious. But the combo of sore feet from the day before, thick smoke and the nasty route, I said: Another day, a better way! So I'll show a couple photos from that day, and then show the better route.
The trail from the CB side is really nice and goes quite quickly up into the upper basin. 1-2 hour approach is all!
As I made my way up the steep slopes to West Maroon Pass, I was trying to find the route, and wasn't liking it.
I spent an hour a little above the chaos of the pass, staring at this ridge. The smoke was giving me a headache and my feet didn't like the look of that scree. It just didn't look like fun. Not enjoyable at all. I understand that when you are running ridges and combining multiple peaks, you just have to roll over this terrain. But I wasn't doing that, and I do try to enjoy this hiking hobby. Not just get another checkmark and be done. So I figured I would take the route I had seen on the way up on a better smoke day.
I did enjoy listening in on the 70-90 some backpackers that passed up and over the pass while I was there. Plenty of funny conversations, including one from a lawyer talking about a local client.
Cop: Are you taking cocaine?
Dude: Yes, it's Asssssspen!!!
Though after awhile, all the non-hikers backpacking during Covid, I was over the scene, so I made a quick exit out and home.
3 weeks later I came back to a much emptier trailhead, and found a nice quiet campsite.
I got started up the familiar trail at civil twilight and made quick time up to where I decided to leave the trail to ascend the ridge.
I was treated to a nice local sunrise as I made my way uphill
I made my way up the steep grassy slope with only a few willows up to the ridge. It was steep, but much better than scree!!!
On the ridge the wind picked up a bit, as I got the first views into Fravert basin. I have a lot of memories contained in this view. One day I'll return on skis to finish it off.
Once on the ridge, it was an easy stroll to the west of the gendarme. The sun was in my face on the ascent, so the photos of the route above will come on the descent.
The ascent up to the false summit looked steep, but wasn't bad at all. There's a bit of use trail, as if a handful of people have used this route before. Just steep talus that is stable and pleasant, as compared to the other way.
Once on the false summit, the route over to the peak has a very defined climbers trail. While it looks like a ton of scree, it's actually quite limited.
While the route up to the summit has a couple cairns, you do have a few options. I went directly up the first gully to a mini saddle, and then chose a classic Bells class 3 blocky route to the summit. You can go around that little horn to the east for a more loose but easier option to the summit.
I sat for at least an hour on the summit enjoying the views. Since the route up here was not heinous scree, I will return during wildflower season (Hint MtnHub), when hopefully there won't be region wide wildfires obscuring the gorgeous views!
After drinking my fill of the amazingly beautiful views, I made a rapid descent down the trail, discovering a few new things along the way.
I noticed that if you trend more east off the summit, along the ridge with Maroon, the terrain is much easier - class 2+ I could see that if you went to the east of that little horn, you could go underneath it back to the false summit. Though I just traversed back west to near the horn, and down the gully I came up.
On the little green shoulder area, I went out onto the prominence to take a couple better shots of the route, from the further away vantage point.
Back at the false summit, it was a quick descent down to the ridge.
I took a slightly higher path down to the grassy slope I ascended. Less willows. I noted back at the trail, that I could have gone straight up to the pass, instead of contouring up, and it could be an easier way, less stress on the joints.
Once I was back on the lower trail, the exit to the trailhead was fairly rapid. I then got to relax with my grilled dinner and dessert. First time trying to grill bananas. They were a little under ripe, so the heat made them taste delicious!
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
I'd still LOVE to do this someday, but I'm afraid my opportunities are quickly dwindling. Still very disappointing we didn't get it in back in 2018, but it's great to see what I missed! Sept/Oct are good months for this -- no snow and high waters to cross, and lovely colors! Thanks, Otina!
Nice job on the alternate route!
I enjoyed this hike from W Maroon Pass in July a few years ago.
The wildflowers were absolutely stunning, definitely worth a visit, especially with your photographic skills.
The weird thing that has me questioning my sanity, is that I don't recall the scree being horrid!
We managed to get into some airy, sketchy terrain to gain the summit, which was corrected on the descent.
Enjoyed the TR!
Sunny1 - ones experiences in the mountains can be colored/biased by the company/partners we have, and things we see like amazing wildflowers. It‘s why one has to be careful when someone says ‘it wasn‘t as bad as I expectedĚ. When I was up on WMP, my feet were sore from the previous days endurance hike and the smoke was bad. My mind was already checked out and I was biased against finding a way through that. So I‘m glad you had a good experience!
One Pyramid hike with rock fall, and a partner freaking out. The next, a fun finisher party and no rock fall. 2 completely different experiences, same mountain. One person would say it was terrifying, the other ‘not as bad as I expectedĚ.
The weather day, how you are feeling and your current frame of mind, and a good partner can make all the difference in the world. My confidence levels drops dramatically when I go solo over even perceptively sketchy stuff, but when I'm with a good partner, it is completely different.
Nancy, that time we bagged CH and I first started to go over to Alice, that loose narrow ridge kind of freaked me out. I'm sure it wasn't that bad, especially if I would have crossed it slowly, but I wanted to hurry so I could eventually catch up with you. And doing Neva with Otina and Dillon, I don't remember any of it giving me any pause at all. I was completely comfortable with everything we climbed.
I probably wouldn't be super motivated to climb Belleview if it were smoky (it doesn't take much smoke for me to cancel hiking plans) and I were tired from a long endurance hike the day prior.
Unlike you, Otina, I tend to turn around easier when I'm solo than when I have a good partner.
I've never been to crested butte. can you believe that. I think this will be a good intro to put on my September to do list. Thanks!
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