Peak(s):  Maroon Peak  -  14,156 feet
North Maroon Peak  -  14,014 feet
Date Posted:  09/09/2007
Date Climbed:   09/08/2007
Author:  ursidae
 Maroon traverse  

I was unable to find anyone to climb Maroon Peak with me so I ventured to Aspen solo with the primary target of reaching the ridge and then maybe take a peek at what lays beyond the first chimney.

Plans change... At 12500' I hooked up with 4 experienced and well equipped climbers from Glenwood Springs that invited me to tag along to the summit. They had plans for the traverse while I figured I would do Maroon Peak and turn around.

From the ridge we made good progress to Maroon Peak.
Here we have just left the chimney behind us and are heading toward the large gullies

There was one instance that could have ended badly. At the 2nd large gully (Bill's photo #16) I was the 4th in the group to start up, 1 climber was across and on the way up the left side and two above me on the right. I decided that the left side looked better and put my boot out for the first step across the gully and the whole thing came unraveled. I still had all my weight on my other foot and a hand on the rocks to my right so did not even have to move back, a full step out would have made for a totally different situation. This took out a large chunk of the gully and I had a change of heart as for route and moved up the right side...

This picture shows our party at the bottom of this gully prior to rockslide.

As the sign at the trailhead advise, this is not a friendly fuzzy mountain. Even following the regular routes can get you in trouble.

This was however the only incident of an otherwise perfect day, both weather and climbing wise.

A couple of pictures from the cairned and worn path we used to Maroon Peak.


At the summit my G.S. climbing connection pointed out that it would be more fun to tag along with them on the traverse then to head back down to the parking. I'm glad they did. The day proved to be the best climbing I've done so far and they were fantastic company. (These guys are vastly more technically experienced then myself and I made sure this was abundantly clear before I accepted the invitation to join them.)

We descended Maroon Peak along a cairned ridge trail to the top of a downclimb right before the crux (there is also a trail to the climbers left that follows a ledge and avoids the downclimb, another party of 3 came this way and we stayed in close proximity until the final rope section, that route is possibly easier but also lacks the views from the ridge route).

We lowered our packs and two of us roped down which in all extended the traverse with about 45 minutes. The weather was as mentioned perfect so we did not feel rushed and took our good time to do everything right and enjoy the day. It was a good day to be on the mountain.

The descent area photographed from the crux side.

We then ascended the crux following cairns, two of us using rope to get over a very short section at the top.

The crux. We went up on the left facing side in this picture.

Ascending the crux following a cairned route.

We then followed cairns that descended down from the top of the crux via a series of ledges to a choice between a chimney and a slightly longer way around a ledge. The chimney looked like more fun so we went up. The rest of the route consisted of multiple steep sections of scrambling and exposed ledges before reaching the North summit.

The views from N. Maroon are among the most impressive I've seen in Colorado so far. New favorite summit.

What awaits between the crux and N. Maroon.



Leaving North Maroon we followed a well worn switchback/scrambling/short down climbs trail.

Can you see the cairn in the middle of the ridge on it's left side? Almost in the center of the picture.

Further down, cairn in this picture is not the one mentioned above.

Arriving at a long steep section around 13000 (very approximate altitude reading) four of us used ropes. The location of this area is very apparent, it's where you go whoa and start looking really hard for other cairns.

This is the view from just below the steep section, the worn and cairned path switchbacks across the gully and then goes to the left in the area not far below the climber.

Once below the steep section we noted what appeared to be a trail on down facing climbers far right that seemed to come around the wide gully we were in, it entered this particular gully from the side at a steep but walkable pitch. This trail (might be a goat trail...) connected with the trail we were on.

We then descended via several ledges and short down climbs to and across a large talus field and slid down a very! loose steep hill filled with small sharp white rocks on top of wet slippery mud/dirt.

Talus field, it's cairned across. Climbers to the right of middle in picture, this is a fairly large field...

Rocks on slippery mud hill.

Looking back at the slippery rock/mud hill.

At the bottom of the N. Maroon trail right before the stream you also go through a couple of growths of brush that would pretty much completely hide the faint trail access if you don't know exactly where it is.

Trip tracks on gps shows 12.48 miles, total time 14h 1 min.

04:25 Trailhead (Glenwood Springs group 04:45)
06:20 Bent tree turnoff
07:24 12500'
07:55 Leave 12500'
09:08 Ridge
10:12 Maroon Peak
10:39 Leave Summit
13:20 N.Maroon
13:43 Leave Summit
18:26 Trailhead

An epic day in great company!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions
Scott Rogers

02/05/2011 00:22
You certainly did get more than you bargained for, but it looks like it was a wonderful time. Thanks for the great pictures too, I'm headed up there on the 15th and will hopefully follow the same itinerary. Congrats on a great climb.


Mtn Geek

not for me
09/10/2007 06:41
your pics are just more conformation that these peaks are not for me.


04/21/2008 16:23
Picture 10 is giving me the willies.

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