| A climber named Sue
Maroon Lake TH
NE Ridge Route
This was Sue's 51st 14er, we are old 14erWorld friends, she came along with me on my Sierra Blanca trip in '10. We did Maroon Peak last year together and missed North Maroon last year at the crux because of heavy snow and ice. Sue only has Capital, El Diente, Wilson Pk and Culebra to do. Any donations for Culebra would be appreciated and can be sent to....
Anyway, we started at 3:45 or so and hit the trail fast, it was a little hot maybe in the 50's, but the darkness definitely made it harder when you could not judge your progress. The little cliff was fun out of the creek. We got a nice sunrise at the base of the mountain and that was all the sun we had, it was a very overcast day, but nothing threatening. After crossing into the 1st gulley, we saw a few goats with kids. A group of guides and us sandwiched them on the trail, but the goats actually got out of the way for the guides to pass.
We had a 50% chance of rain after 12 noon, but the guides said it was good til after 3 pm, hmm! They had a client or a trainee in the middle, he looked a little wide-eyed when we said 12 noon, but I think they were reassuring him it was gonna be ok. We made good time, but it was hard and the 2nd gulley went fast and we were standing on the slope looking at the crux of the climb before I knew it. The guides had just cleared it and we were surveying the route for a minute. That 1st step into the chimney is no gimmy and finally wriggled my way up to that step, before I could look down, Sue had followed quickly, but I went to the left in a nice little crack to finish the chimney. At this point, about 8:30, it began to rain and the exit out of the chimney became slippery. We made the summit about 9 and quickly signed in, got a picture and got the heck out of there. I yelled over to a guy standing on Maroon Pk and we then traded wahoos a few times before we departed. A tiny bit of snow started to fall, flashes of Ouray entered my mind, but it was ok, as we made it quickly off the summit back to the cliff.
We had a few tense moments on the slippery rocks there, but made it safely down the chimney, big sigh. After we got past the slope and into the 2nd gulley, the rain picked up a bit, but the trail was just dust with a moist layer on top. We didn't have any trouble and made it to the big ledge in between the gulleys.
At this point, it started raining a little harder as we entered the 1st gulley when we wanted to stop and rest, get something to eat, but we pushed on. The low clouds moved in and we had very poor visibility for the rest of the trip. The talus field crossing was very fun when you could only see 40 yards at best.
But that's not all, as we got back on the trail on the other side of the talus, we got the mud. It was super slippery, so slippery we walked on the grass and talus when available. Had to sling a rope around the tree above the little cliff to get down and use the willows to get down the next several 100 yards. It was so good to be on back on a good trail after the creek. Sue ate it a couple times on that muddy part, her pants looked like she did her business in them, her hands were ice cold, but she had a smile on her face and a certain lilt in her voice. You know that sound, that sound of triumph! Yeah, I hurt, but I climbed North Maroon today! That's right Baby, you did it! A 10 hour day, and what a day it was!
It appears the CFI has started a new trail beyond the creek in the talus field, maybe 50 yards have been completed. Nice work on it so far! You might see a few logs crossed over at the end next to the present trail as it goes along the willows just above the climb out of the creek. Been seeing the little markers in the talus for years now, curious to see how far they take it. A big tarp was strung up a 100 yards downstream of the creek crossing for their shelter.