Peak(s):  North Maroon Peak  -  14,014 feet
Date Posted: 
Date Climbed:   09/11/2005
Author:  SarahT

 9/11/05 North Maroon, std route  

We began hiking around 5am and made steady progress, taking a right at the trail junction just before Crater Lake onto the Maroon-Snowmass Trail. We had some problems finding the cutoff that leads down to Minnehaha Creek and toward North Maroon. Roach says that it is 0.5 miles past the trail junction and near 10,700 ft. We couldn't find it after five minutes of searching and ended up bushwhacking our own way down to the creek. When we returned later in daylight, we found that we had stopped right before this turnoff. According to my GPS it was more like 0.65 miles from the junction and closer to 10,800 ft. After easily crossing the creek we hiked up a loose talus slope and then some steep muddy banks to reach the basin below North Maroon's north face. Once in the basin we hopped south across boulders to a point below North Maroon's northeast ridge's lowest cliff band. We then did an ascending traverse across the east face along a well cairned route to reach the first, wide gully. We followed a trail up the gully through steep, loose, grass, dirt, and rock until around 12,600 ft where the well worn trail left the gully and traversed across the east face to the second gully. Although Roach says to stay in this first gully until 12,900 ft, I had read in previous trip reports that there was a different way up that followed the trail we were on so we continued along the trail. The second gully was even steeper than the first and towards the top of it there was a lot of Class 3 scrambling. We ascended left following the direction of the ridge crest, but well below it until we came to the 20 foot Class 4 section others have mentioned near 13,600 ft. We had recently begun noticing some ice on rocks and this section turned out to be extremely icy. After some contemplation, I found a way to climb the thing without using the tops of the rocks as handholds (that is where the ice was) and Dominic quickly (but not gracefully) followed. There was still a rope hanging down this part and once on top I checked out the anchor, considering the possibility of using the rope to aid in the downclimb on the way back. From this point it was an easy climb to the summit, but required some caution due to the snowy, icy rocks.

We topped out around 10am and had the summit to ourselves. We could see someone on Maroon Peak from time to time when the fast moving clouds broke. The weather was looking questionable, but we had plenty of time to get down before anything developed so we took a lengthy 30 minute break. After beginning our descent we ran into a group of 3 on their way up who were hoping to do the traverse. They had bypassed the Class 4 section we'd climbed up and instead found a different path way to its right. Apparently, the climbing was very icy there as well. We quickly returned to the crux and chose to briefly hang onto the rope just to get into the chimney. This worked great and we found the obstacle to be quite easy this time despite the ice. I was glad to have this behind me and we happily made our way back down the same way we'd come until at some point (I think traversing between the two gullies) I took an unexplainable nasty fall. I crashed down the rocky, steep slope for about 5 feet, badly smashing both legs in various places. Luckily I managed to stay upright the whole time. It hurt like hell, but I was OK after a couple of minutes and my bruises did not at all hinder my progress back to the trailhead. The weather cleared and it was a hot hike out. The crowds I had experienced during my July trip had died out considerably which was nice. We reached the car around 2:30.

We stopped in Leadville at Pizza Hut on the way home which was surprisingly good. I was very happy to have conquered the other Maroon Bell and I thought that it was significantly easier than both Pyramid and Maroon. I might be biased though because I did those two first.


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