Peak(s):  Maroon Peak  -  14,156 feet
Date Posted:  06/10/2009
Date Climbed:   06/06/2009
Author:  CAVUfool

 Bell Couloir  

Start Elevation & Time: 10,100 feet 2:30am
Summit (14,156 feet) @ 7am

The Bell Couloir is a long and fun snow climb that puts you at the saddle between North and South maroon @ 13,500 feet. It is then a 40 minute scramble/snow climb to the summit.

We attempted the climb the week prior but the snow softened way too quickly to continue past 8 am. We had a delayed start because I forgot my gaiters. I had to carefully tear the little duct tape I had in to strips to chain together for keeping my pants (conveniently boot flared) out of my cramp-ons.

Fortunately, this time it became much colder as we climbed. It was a comfortable night, probably in the 40's. But 1/2 way up, around 4am, it dropped below freezing.

Here is Tommy boy resting in one of the runnels on the way up:

Sunrise. The valley is about 3,000 feet below now, Pyramid on the upper right:

Nearing the top of the couloir:

The picnic area at the top of the couloir. So nice to have a some flat space for awhile:

The rest of the route begins with a traverse below a chossy cliff:

Then it is more or less choose your own adventure. I prefer being on or near the ridge. There were a few mixed class 4 moves, but mostly solid snow:

Snowmass and Capital to the northwest:

And the summit:
It was a very fun route and should be in condition for at least 2 or 3 weeks more, especially if the weather continues the current pattern. The mornings have been relatively nice (though we did get a light dusting of snow on the way up). But afternoons are wrought with thunderstorms and hail in the Elk Range.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

06/10/2009 22:01
Thanks for the pictures and good climb.


Untracked summit ...
06/10/2009 22:12
Love that photo! Interesting lighting, dark bottomed clouds, Pyramid looming in the distance. So pristene ... very nice pictures ... thanks for posting. Happy Trails!


06/10/2009 22:13
I‘m heading there this weekend and really appreciate the info in your report. Great shots! I really liked the untracked summit shot as well!


06/10/2009 23:20
a lot of snow on the summit. Around this exact time last year, it was nearly half dry. Very interesting. Nice early morning shots too, just another benefit of hitting these peaks early. Sunrises in the Elks are unique.


You made it!!!
06/10/2009 23:41
Nice trumps my mid-may attempt, turned around for the same reasons you did during your first attempt.
Mind if I ask about your descent route? I‘m assuming Bell Cord.
Good job.


06/11/2009 00:09
We did descend the same route we went up. Glissaded the lower half. The upper section was too risky with steepness, being still frozen, and possible run out in to rock.

Thanks for the comments.


I like
06/11/2009 02:55
that sunrise pic in Maroon Creek Valley. Looks like one helluva nice day on the mountain.


Nice climb.
06/11/2009 04:27
Been staying out of trouble?
I‘m probably going up the Sunday if it freezes well. What did it look like for the traverse? Probably some snow? Would pickets do the trick or is rock pro needed because of ice?


Lots of
06/11/2009 14:35
loose rock. The southerly aspects are probably 20-40% snow, the northerly 80-90% snow above 13,000 feet. The second to last picture shows the amount of snow on North Maroon from the south.


Ski descent?
06/12/2009 00:08
Would the snow conditions permit a ski descent from the summit to the top of the Chord?


06/12/2009 07:22
I‘m dying to get up and do that climb...not sure if I‘ll make it up there in time to do it this year, but loved living it vicariously through your great TR! Thanks!


06/12/2009 16:50
There were some guys skiing the couloir when we were there. Snow conditions were very crappy, not just because it was frozen. There have been some wet slides and the dust layer has made the surface rough even for a glisade. The boot slide was the preferred method.

I would only ski the upper ridge if your comfortable with serious death-fall potential. Not worth it in my opinion, no actual skiing would be involved and there are many exposed, loose rocks. Two of the skiers that went on to the summit when we were there chose to leave their sticks at the picnic area. Take a look at the picture following ”There were a few mixed class 4 moves, but mostly solid snow:”

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