Peak(s):  Maroon Peak  -  14,156 feet
North Maroon Peak  -  14,014 feet
Date Posted:  09/05/2007
Date Climbed:   09/01/2007
Author:  Shad

 Doing the Bells with traverse (S to N)  

Maroon Peak & N Maroon Peak
Date: Saturday, Sept 1st 2007
Route: ascend S Ridge of Maroon Peak, traverse to N Maroon, descend N Maroon NE Ridge
Team: Kirk (KirkT) and Shad (Shad)

I have been zeroing in on these peaks all summer after seeing them on my 4 pass loop trip around the Bell in June. That was the first time that I have been in this area. The first time I saw the Bells I got the urge to climb them. They were officially on my summer of 2007 list.

One week before Labor Day KirkT called me to see what my plans were for the Labor Day weekend. I was supposed to go down to the San Juans for a few days but really was not in the mood to drive that far and had to be home on Monday. He made the suggestion of the Bells and it was game on from that point on.

Friday night at 5pm we left the Denver area and headed to Aspen arriving around 8-9pm. The overnight parking lot was full so we had to park in the overflow parking about 1/4-1/2 mile down the road. I was a little worried about this. How many people are going to be on the mountain tomorrow? Was it going to be safe? We will see.

After a great night of sleeping under the stars we were off at 4:15am hiking up the road to the trailhead. After about 45 mins into the hike I realized that I should not have been leading without my head lamp on. I was on the wrong trail and was doing the loop around Maroon Lake, I missed the turn off for Crater Lake. So an hour was wasted, oh well. After getting on the the correct trail we hit Crater Lake and the turn off to head up the ridge by the bent tree in no time. At Crater Lake I thought about hiding my rope and climbing gear here and picking up on the way back because I had a pinched nerve or something in my neck and the weight was bothering me. I decided to take it anyway and suffer with the weight so I popped a couple of pills. Good think I did as you will see later. From here on out it is going to be an uphill slog.

The first half of the trail to gain the ridge was easy to follow but we lost the trail once we got into the rocks so we decided to make our own way up. Here is a trail map. In blue is the standard route and in red is our route. I may be off a little but should be very close to where we went. We tryed to stay as direct as possible.

At this point in the game we have passed 2 or so people and could see 3 head of us. I guess all those people were somewhere else and not on the Bells. We only saw about 10-12 people all day.

Here are some pictures of route we took trying to gain the ridge.

More steepness.


We finally gained the ridge by the notch. Here is a picture from where we gained the ridge looking up toward the summit.

From here we just followed the carins to the summit. More pictures.


Final pitch to the summit of South Maroon.

It took us about 6 hours to get to the top of South Maroon with the 1 hour side trip around Maroon Lake that I lead us on. But we made it no problem.

KirkT coming up the final pitch on South Maroon

Me on summit of South Maroon with North Maroon in the background

After spending a half hour on the summit watching the clouds we decided that we both were ok with the weather and that we were going to commit to the traverse. We left down the traverse around 11 or so. The first part of the traverse from South to North is the down climb down into the bottom of the saddle. This down climb is not bad if you take your time and not rush it. After hitting the bottom of the saddle the fun begins as you climb up North Maroon.

Bottom of the saddle looking up to where we are heading

KirkT working the traverse

More pictures of the traverse

Looking back what we just crossed about 3/4 of the way across the traverse.

KirkT working the traverse

It took us two hours to complete the traverse from South Maroon to North Maroon.

Me on the summit of North Maroon with the traverse and South Maroon in the background.

From this point on I have no more pictures. The decent off of North Maroon took all of my energy and I did not take the time for pictures. This was one of the hardest down climbs that I have ever done. We did the traverse without using the rope but due to how poorly the route was marked on the decent of North Maroon we kept getting off route and caught in cliff bands. We ended up doing 2 repells to get off this mountain, one of about 30 feet and one of about 100 feet. It was the longest and most tiring decent I have ever done. It took us 6 hours to get from the top of North Maroon back to the car.

We finally reached the lovely site of Kirk‘s truck at 7:30pm, 15 hours after starting. What a day!!! We were both beat and in trouble, Kirk with his wife and me with my girlfriend. It took us 5 hours longer than we thought it would and they were worried. They had every right to be for we under estimated how hard the route finding on this mountain would be. Even with all of this this has been my favorite climb so far as I hit the halfway point of my 14er list. I would gladly do it again for everyone that knows me well knows that I am sucker for punishment.

Here is a link to all my pictures.

Thanks for reading....... Shad

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

09/05/2007 21:29
Congrats. That is a very good time for the traverse; you two must be well condtioned and have made good route choices.

Good job!


More awe
11/30/2010 17:28
You guys make it seem so routine... Kirk, I'm serious when I say that I'd like to accompany you on your finisher next summer, so save something reasonably easy, would ya'? I'm smelling San Juans...


Nice work!
11/30/2010 17:28
Glad you got them both done. I wish I could have come with! 2 hours isn't bad for the traverse! Nice trip report, Shad!


Unreal Mountains!
09/06/2007 04:49
That was one of the most challenging climbs to date. That downclimb was one of the biggest pains in the ass I have ever completed. Seriously rotten and hard to find the route. Thank goodness for your rope. Those two rappels definitley helped us out of a tight spot! Great report and I thoroughly enjoyed (as usual) our hike together! Another epic day in the books.



09/06/2007 14:53
As Kirk stated it was a very challenging but rewarding climb. I was just thankful that I did not ditch my rope like I was thinking. Funny how things like that rise up based on the choices we make. The climb up South Maroon and the traverse has become my favorite climbs so far. The down climb of North sucked but if I had to do it in order to do the traverse than so be it.


Nice Work!
11/30/2010 17:28

Glad to see you made the traverse! That route is still on my ”to do” list, so perhaps Julie and I will get the chance to make it up there next summer (we're quickly running out of time this year). I'll touch base with you sometime for some route beta!

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2017®, 14ers Inc.