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[TR] Maroon Peak - Solo - Colorado 6/26/2008

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Trip: Maroon Peak - Solo - Colorado


Date: 6/26/2008


Trip Report:



I was down in Colorado for a week for some work - Maroon Bells and Capitol were both on my list. Maroon was a shorter hike in so I opted for that. After searching for a climbing partner online for a week or so, with no takers, I decided to head to the mountains solo. No sense just sitting in the hotel room on my day off with a weather forecast of perfect…


I was staying in New Castle and decided that I would get better sleep in the hotel than in the rental car at the trail head. So, at midnight I woke up and made the drive to Aspen after 3 hrs of sleep. From Aspen, it is only a short drive to Maroon Lake and the trail head. There is a $10 fee you have to pay to park ‘overnight’.


I started hiking at 2am. The weather was fantastic and the stars were out in full. The moon lit up the peaks with a pale glow and I could see my route from the car. Looked great, plenty of snow with the deep pack this winter. I had intended to take the Bell Cord couloir, but by my own mistake, took a different route (more on that later).




After a short approach (maybe 2 mi or so) I hit the snow. Trekking poles went away and the ice axe and crampons came out of the pack.




Once I climbed up a short stretch, I entered what I thought was the Bell Cord. I climbed for a while and ended up hitting a 3 story tall sheer wall of rock. No way I’m climbing over that solo… So I headed back down a ways and continued up to the left. After making my way through the ‘garbage chute’ (a narrow snow corridor with rock walls to either side) I made it to another basin. This is where you need to traverse to the right to head up the Bell Cord. I took a look, and decided to continue heading up the snow (Variation 24.3V in Roach’s book). There was still plenty of snow in the Bell Cord and 2 other teams of two went up it on that day.


Looking up the route I took (to the right):



Some wet snow slide:



Looking back at Maroon lake and Pyramid:



After finishing the couloir to the right of Southeast couloir (Var 24.3V), I reached a small col just north of point 13,753. From here, an ascending traverse along the south ridge and east face will get you to the summit (class 3 and 4).




Class 3 and 4 to the summit:



The weather on the summit was absolutely gorgeous. Not a cloud in the sky. I guess this is not common on a summer afternoon in Colorado where afternoon thunderstorms are quite frequent. I had to turn down an offer from another team to bag North Maroon as well due to an upset stomach (tried a new flavor of power bar – some new flavor – creamy citrus or something).




On the summit with N.Maroon in the background:



I ended up spending 1.5 hrs on the summit trying to fight the upwelling power bar and dehydrated head ache. I should have just gone down, but resting and enjoying the views felt the best at the time. Down climbing the class 3 and 4 loose rock led me back to the col…glasading down the couloir. I was out of water and saw a little trickle on a cliff near by. So I decided to wet my mouth. I went over and got under the trickle when I heard some cracking and falling rock. Just then, 5 huge boulders and a table sized ‘blade’ rock ripped down the glasade tube that I had just been in… Wow, I had just broken one of my basic mountain rules – get off the mountain early to avoid rock fall. A scary near miss. I'm sure everyone that has spent some time in the mountains have a rock fall story as well...


The glasade/down climb back to the base was eventless, luckily. But I was watching my back, looking for rock the whole time.




There are busses that take about 10 million people from Aspen to the Maroon Bells every day, and the valley was flooded with them. I stopped and talked to just about half of them on my way back to the car. The weather was great, lots of snow pack, and a beautiful mountain. Fun times.




Gear Notes:

Crampons and ice axe.


I took a rope for rappels if needed, not really needed.


Approach Notes:

Super easy short approach.

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Nice TR, and a great climb for sure :brew:


Way to avoid the rock fall as well. Since Maroon Bells are basically rotting chunks of rock, so you are lucky that you weren't hit on your way down. Hopefully you can go and get the traverse some other time, its a really fun exposed hike/climb.

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The "Deadly Bells" indeed. Nice write-up. And good work missing the early-afternoon t-storms, you're right they are quite frequent out there so spending a while on the summit isn't usually even possible!

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