Hiking Maroon Bells Separately vs traverse

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HikesInGeologicTime
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Re: Hiking Maroon Bells Separately vs traverse

Post by HikesInGeologicTime » Sun Oct 18, 2020 12:30 pm

My personal answer to the question of Traverse vs. separate visits: Unless my experienced climber buddy gets it in his head that he’d like to pull me up the Class 5 sections of the Traverse, I will be doing these two separately. I have another friend who has indicated his willingness to revisit N. Maroon with me if I don’t mind waiting until next year for that one, and I feel confident that I can do S. Maroon solo. I am also currently lacking the skills to do anything rated higher than Class 4 without a rope, and I have things I (again, this is just my own individual set of priorities) would rather spend my fun money on than hiring a guide.

That said, as far as the overall question of guide vs. no guide goes, I think NathanRL already said it best:
NathanRL wrote:
Sun Oct 18, 2020 11:41 am
Do hire a guide.
Do hire a guide because they're someone who loves being in the mountains, is trying to make a living doing it, and can show you the way, tell some good stories, and maybe teach you a thing or two.
You're not any less skilled if you go with a guide than if you go by yourself, unless that skill is routefinding.
You are more safe, and safety's great. Safety's worth a lot of money.

This just reeks of the way climbers will say "oh, you climbed that route? Yeah, well I soloed it." We both got ourselves to the top. You might be a stronger climber than I, or you might just have a higher risk tolerance, so you decided not to use protection. But taking fewer safety precautions doesn't make anyone cooler. Do whatever's comfortable for you.
But to add on a little, I think it’s worthwhile to consider your long-term goals in the mountains. Are you thinking of taking on the 13k’ Centennials once you’ve finished the fourteeners? Three of those have unavoidable sections of low Class 5, and you may find it more prudent to take classes, join a gym, etc. and invest in the equipment that you’ll need in order to do those on your own or with friends who have similar levels of experience - that would be easier on your checking account than lining up guiding services for at least three more peaks!

However, if you want the one-off outing of doing the Traverse without having to buy all the gear and hoping your/your partner’s skills are ultimately up to the challenge, go ahead and get a guide! It’s no less of an achievement, IMHO, if you pay someone in $$$ to help you across than if you pay them in rides/pizza/beer (which is how I have firsthand knowledge of 2/3 of those Class 5 Cents, as well as firsthand knowledge of just how bad I am at Class 5 climbing :X ), and you’re still learning and building your skill base under settings that are as reduced-risk as it’s possible to find in such circumstances.
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Re: Hiking Maroon Bells Separately vs traverse

Post by cindymo » Sun Oct 18, 2020 1:15 pm

Thank you all for your great advice. I have until next summer to decide, but will DEFINITELY hire a guide IF I do the traverse, and will also be looking for more experienced people to hike with if I do them separately. I know my limits and route finding is NOT my strength. Happy hiking all!
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Re: Hiking Maroon Bells Separately vs traverse

Post by corunner » Sun Oct 18, 2020 5:41 pm

This topic hit an area that has been rattling around my head as I think about next year. I've done 48/58 and have the Bells left in that remaining ten. Also have the Wilson Group and the Chicago Basin four. I have a couple friends of similar ability with the same peaks to complete.

I've done both the Crestone and LB>B traverses. Both produced a feeling of accomplishment, the exhilaration of doing something special, and satisfaction that I was able to get two peaks in one day rather than making it a two day affair. I'm one that can focus well despite the exposure. I know it's there, but the consequence of not focusing keeps me dialed in. I have not done any other class V climbing.

But both traverses also both produced a weird feeling that I'd be curious if others have experienced. In the days/weeks after completing the traverses, I've had many moments of anxiety thinking about the exposure portions. For the Crestone traverse, it was the crux wall. For the LB>B traverse, it was many places where the exposure was intense and I had to make moves that if a mistake was made, the result would be a serious fall. I often get sweaty palms and an elevated heart rate thinking about "what could have happened" with a loose rock or wrong step/slip. Often it hits when I try to go to bed and my mind starts thinking about those hikes. The recent (although happens every year) deaths on technical ridges bring that reality home.

I'm now wondering if the Bells Traverse is worth continuing the trend of post-traverse anxiety. Yet, I'd love to complete all four great CO 14ers traverses...as I feel so close with the Bells being the last big one. For some reason, I'm less concerned about the ED>W traverse.

All this to say - I appreciate reading the feedback on this topic. I don't post much, but value what this community has to offer.
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Re: Hiking Maroon Bells Separately vs traverse

Post by cougar » Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:14 pm

I did both separately from a camp at crater lake on back to back days. Felt like a lot effortwise as others have mentioned, especially Maroon, just a lot of sustained ledge hopping up there, but nothing too difficult, the chimney on north maroon was a tricky down climb where I had to have my feet spotted. Route finding is very important on both.

I heard the traverse had an overhang at one of the cruxes, with a lot of air underneath.

Of note, a guided group was doing the traverse ahead of me and sending down a lot of rocks going up Maroon. Rockfall is a real hazard, not just from people but wildlife and on its own. Awesome peaks and views though.
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Re: Hiking Maroon Bells Separately vs traverse

Post by RETEP 1 » Sun Oct 18, 2020 8:54 pm

I guess it’s just really great to be in the mountains no matter what...especially the Bells. Couple years ago I had done Wilson-El D and Little Bear-Blanca. Some folks on here talked me out of the Bells traverse, and then I skipped the Crestone Traverse and opted to descend Crestone, re-ascend Broken Hand pass and ascend Needle. I did Bells traverse this summer and it was really no big deal for me, but why not do the peaks separately and then return for the traverse later? All you lose is a great day in the mountains...I’m real excited to go back and traverse the Crestones someday.
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Re: Hiking Maroon Bells Separately vs traverse

Post by randalmartin » Sun Oct 18, 2020 10:56 pm

corunner wrote:
Sun Oct 18, 2020 5:41 pm
All this to say - I appreciate reading the feedback on this topic. I don't post much, but value what this community has to offer.
I have done the Wilson/El Diente traverse and the Bells Traverse. I actually found the Wilson/El Diente traverse to be more difficult because there was at least one pretty difficult down climb. Down climbing serious terrain for me is far more anxiety inducing than climbing up. On the Bells traverse there was really only one part that I found difficult, I think it was the start of the third of three crux climbs. For that section I was belayed up which protected in case of a slip but the physical moves required on that section were harder to execute for me. The part of the traverse and the Bells in general that is the most crucial is route finding, not necessarily the climbing.
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Re: Hiking Maroon Bells Separately vs traverse

Post by JacerJack » Mon Oct 19, 2020 11:00 am

I did Maroon in a few years ago before all the parking reservations, etc., thinking it would be easy to just come back and grab N Maroon... Now with all the heightened restrictions and logistics of planning a trip to the Bells, I'm kicking myself for not doing the traverse while I was there. If you feel it's within your abilities and risk acceptance, it might be worth considering the traverse purely so you don't have to navigate that logistical nightmare twice.
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Re: Hiking Maroon Bells Separately vs traverse

Post by randalmartin » Mon Oct 19, 2020 1:24 pm

If you decide to go with a guide, I will add that I did the traverse with the Aspen Expeditions guide service. They handle all of the logistics as they are permitted to do so and have designated parking for them and their clients.
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Re: Hiking Maroon Bells Separately vs traverse

Post by ltlFish99 » Wed Oct 21, 2020 11:52 pm

I personally enjoyed maroon peak. Of course I think being 28 at the time, full of enthusiasm,with friends from the cmc, and camping at crater lake all helped the experience be a very positive one.
Of the ones I have left, there are 4 I have more concerns about. This may sound crazy as most comments on the crestones here are very positive, but I am concerned about both of the crestones.
I have no interest in the traverse, or BHP, so both will be individual trips from cottonwood lake.
The other 2 are pyramid and north maroon. I have heard a lot of good positive comments about pyramid and how most of it is quite mellow until above the amphitheatre and on the upper ridge.
North maroon is one I am currently not that thrilled about.
This may all sound a little unnecessarily anxiety ridden, but as I have aged exposure seems to bother me more the last year than before.
Anyway, I think part of the answer is to seek out some hiking friends to help me out, or go to some of these with the cmc.
It's always nice to read about not being the only one a little worried about certain types of adventures, and I always enjoy everyone's input.
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Re: Hiking Maroon Bells Separately vs traverse

Post by JacerJack » Thu Oct 22, 2020 9:43 am

ltlFish99 wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 11:52 pm
I have no interest in the traverse, or BHP, so both will be individual trips from cottonwood lake.
I was in the same boat recently, but ended up doing both in one go (no traverse). Was a huge day, but certainly more within reach than most might think: https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/triprepo ... m=tripmine
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Re: Hiking Maroon Bells Separately vs traverse

Post by triordie » Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:38 pm

I did the Bells travers this summer, this was my last two 14ers. I posted a trip report on that. We were fortunate to meet a gentleman on the mountain with a good climbing experience. It was much harder than anything I have done in Colorado (I have not done LBB traverse but did the other two). I do not think route-finding is a big issue on the Bells as it is very clear where to go. It is the actual climbing moves that one needs to do. If you hire a guide, they will tell you where to place your feet, hands, etc. The overhang (5.7) at the 3rd difficulty can be bypassed in the chimney to the left, but it is still 5.4 or so. The second difficulty is not a piece of cake either. If you do both mountains separately, logistically, it is not much harder. When you do parking reservations, just do them for two days in a row, that's it. Either way, the views are top-notch and you will enjoy the Bells.
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Re: Hiking Maroon Bells Separately vs traverse

Post by bigredmachine » Fri Oct 23, 2020 11:41 pm

ltlFish99 wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 11:52 pm
I personally enjoyed maroon peak. Of course I think being 28 at the time, full of enthusiasm,with friends from the cmc, and camping at crater lake all helped the experience be a very positive one.
Of the ones I have left, there are 4 I have more concerns about. This may sound crazy as most comments on the crestones here are very positive, but I am concerned about both of the crestones.
I have no interest in the traverse, or BHP, so both will be individual trips from cottonwood lake.
The other 2 are pyramid and north maroon. I have heard a lot of good positive comments about pyramid and how most of it is quite mellow until above the amphitheatre and on the upper ridge.
North maroon is one I am currently not that thrilled about.
This may all sound a little unnecessarily anxiety ridden, but as I have aged exposure seems to bother me more the last year than before.
Anyway, I think part of the answer is to seek out some hiking friends to help me out, or go to some of these with the cmc.
It's always nice to read about not being the only one a little worried about certain types of adventures, and I always enjoy everyone's input.
I’m curious on the reluctance to broken ass pass? It’s not the funnest, but also not much of an issue. North Maroon, I don’t recall a lot of high exposure, but it’s sustained and steep enough where a fall could lead to severe consequences. The rockfall hazard is also an issue on NMP as well. The more challenging moves however (ie chimney) are mostly protected from serious falls.
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