Peak(s):  Maroon Peak  -  14,156 feet
North Maroon Peak  -  14,014 feet
Date Posted:  07/13/2010
Date Climbed:   07/10/2010
Author:  doggler

 Traverse Trip Day 1 - Maroon Bells  

South Maroon Peak - 14,156' South Ridge
North Maroon Peak - 14,014' traverse from South Maroon, descend Northeast Ridge
Date Climbed - 7/10/2010
Climbers - doggler and Patrick

I obviously have too much time on my hands. Come springtime, I feel the need to plan some sort of epic trip that may be just out of reach...something challenging yet attainable. Such was the case this spring, when I decided it would be cool to not just do Colorado's four classic fourtenner traverses, but to attempt them in four consecutive days. Many of my climbs leading up to this trip were tests to see how I would fare.

The one aspect of my planning that concerned me was my inability to secure partners for the trip. Then, around July 4th, my friend Patrick told me he wanted to attempt the whole thing! Patrick and I had not yet climbed together, but I'd been picking his brain on a wide array of mountaineering topics for years. His resume is solid, having climbed Denali in addition to many in-state peaks. However, after blowing out his ACL two years ago, he hadn't really been in the mountains. This trip was a test for him, as well. When he showed up at my hotel in Avon on Friday afternoon, I can't tell you how excited I was!

I chose the Bells traverse first for a few reasons. I wanted to attempt it fresh as it is supposed to be difficult, and it was short enough that I felt we could get off the mountain in time to do some serious cross-state driving. The quicker we could get to the next trailhead, the closer to a normal night of sleep we could get.

We left Avon around 1:45 on Saturday morning and got to the Maroon Lake trailhead by 3:30. At 3:45, we were on the trail, jogging on the less steep portions and hiking the rest. Almost immediately, we ran into other 14er members, including Paul, Eric, Chris, and Jimmy. Not much further up, we found Jason.

Reunion at 10,000' - JA_son27 and doggler

The forecast for the weekend was concerning, and when raindrops started falling on us before it even got light, we prepared to bail. Thinking about loose AND wet rock on an unfamiliar route wasn't exactly encouraging.

Ominous skies

Many people mentioned how long the Maroon Peak standard route seems, and I agree. It takes a while just to get to the real elevation gain. The climb doesn't mess around once it starts, though!

Savage sunrise from high on Maroon's south slopes.

It took a lot of sweat to gain the south ridge of Maroon Peak. I knew Patrick was going to be fairly quick - he's an 18:00 5k guy and I've run with him many times. But he was a billy goat up those steeper slopes, and he led us to the ridge in no time flat. Finally, we were ready for some fun!


The west side of South Maroon

Otina's TR from a few weeks ago was one of many that stressed the difficulty of finding safe routes on this mountain. We were prepared for some difficult routefinding. It turned out to be much more intuitive than I had expected, and we didn't have any difficulties. However, I think trying to downclimb this route "blind" with snow bands to deal with would NOT be fun at all.


We summitted South Maroon at 7:30. It took us 3h45min.

Patrick pointing out Pyramid

Decision time. Roach suggested a two to four hour traverse. The rock was dry, we could see the route clearly, we both felt great, and the weather seemed to be improving. At 7:45, we decided it was a go!

Patrick pointing out North Maroon. He pointed out a few other things, as well, but they're best kept out of the TR.

Clear view of Snowmass, Capitol, etc.



I'll admit it; it's fun to upload pictures that look all scary. Truth is it doesn't look anywhere near this severe in person. Don't


The final pitch to North Maroon's summit.

The traverse was a blast. It was short and sweet, the line we needed to take seemed clear, and the rock was in better shape than I had expected. The exposure wasn't extreme, and the cruxes were more fun than anything else. I think the pictures make it look much worse. We topped out on North Maroon 70 minutes after leaving South Maroon. This surprised us; we had banked on over two hours. We hadn't been sprinting or trying to go fast or reckless, but we didn't really have any spots where we stopped for more than a minute or two to scout out our next line.

Traverse #1 = success!

While South Maroon was quiet on this day, North Maroon was a party! We counted eight people on the summit during our traverse. South Maroon, however, only saw another party of two that we had passed just before the summit. They also were attempting the traverse.

Talus, talus, talus!

The routes on the two Bells are quite different. South is like a puzzle, whereas North is more like a hammer. It's steep, loose, and pretty straightforward. Jason did a fine job of illustrating it in his TR, so I skipped most of the pictures of our descent, which began at 9:15. It was here that we caught up to Jason, as well as the other guys. We visited and exchanged war stories for a bit then parted ways.

The rock glacier sucks. It doesn't even deserve a photo. Shortly after the "cliffy" thing below the rock glacier, we lost the trail and descended a small scree gulley. It sucked even worse. We spent a good half hour doing nothing but cursing it. Luckily, we weren't pressed for time!

Once we got back on a "real" trail, Patrick and I jogged it back in to the parking lot. As we got to Maroon Lake, the first of many waves of raindrops fell.


We pulled up to the car at 11:00, a little over 7 hours after we started. Paul joined us for a beer, and Eric (lostsheep) joined us a few minutes later. Getting to know other climbers is one of the most fun parts of this little gig. Guys, it was great meeting you both!

A great start!

With the first part of our journey taken care of, we began to look ahead to day two: the El Diente - Mt. Wilson traverse!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

07/13/2010 16:59
Awesome report. I‘ve been sticking to the easier hikes, but reading more and more of this trip reports has me inspired to up my game. Any advice as how to prepare for class 3/4 hikes?


07/13/2010 17:13
Nice, Sean! I‘m thinking of hitting Maroon Peak this weekend. Is the standard route snow-free, now?


07/13/2010 17:17
You guys are so fast it‘s amazing! Glad you didn‘t get rained out and that you got down safely. Good luck in the Pikes Peak Marathon.


07/13/2010 17:50
...on a super job and another fantastic TR! Looking forward to hearing about your trip to the San Juans.


Speed Demons
07/13/2010 18:10
I‘m surprised you guys even have time to take pictures ! Suddenly, I feel old and slow... Are you going to give Matt Carpenter a run for his money in the Pikes Peak Marathon ?


03/04/2012 18:31
...job seeing you. Way to get it done ”doggy” style . Good luck on the rest of the traverses. You guys are so fast.


07/13/2010 21:44
I look like a deer in the headlights! Way to get it done Dog!

James Scott

07/13/2010 21:55
You guys are animals. It took my party 14+ hours to do the traverse. I don‘t know how you‘re back at the car in 7. I hope the rest goes as well.


Too Quick!
07/13/2010 21:56
You went to fast to even notice the exposure!!


07/14/2010 00:16
the most aesthetic traverse of the ”4 Great”, although there are many other far greater traverses to be found in this state.

Love seeing people enjoying beer at the end of a fullfilling day.


Thx for the comments!
07/15/2010 00:56
toekramp - just keep progressing. You‘ll gain confidence as you go!

mtgirl - Nah, Matt is actually half man, half billy goat, so we don‘t even compete in the same division.

helmut - I‘m looking forward to discovering some of those traverses. Forgot to bring the beers to the summit, so we had to settle for them at the trailhead.


07/16/2010 01:07
”Thinking about loose AND wet rock on an unfamiliar route wasn't exactly encouraging.”

Glad you guys ended up with good weather after all. Smokin‘ fast, dude, way to get it!


Damn that's quick
05/02/2011 14:23
I realize this comment is a little late to the game but I was just skimming through these trip reports to estimate how long it will take me to do the bells traverse this weekend. 7 hours really throws off the average! I think I'll be really happy with 10. Strong hustle guys. Congrats on completing the 14ers last weekend btw.

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