Peak(s):  Maroon Peak  -  14,156 feet
North Maroon Peak  -  14,014 feet
Date Posted:  07/29/2007
Date Climbed:   06/29/2007
Author:  san juaneer
 Maroon Bells Double Traverse ~ N.- S.- N.   

Maroon Bells ~ 6/30/07 ~ For whom the bells toll 100
Double Traverse ~ N.- S.- N.
to complete my Centennials (113/113)
on a ranked fourteener...

So, I'd been in contact with Steve K. reguarding a 6/29 climb of Dallas Pk. along with his friend Chris O. and bailed at just the last moment with visions of fiinishing the highest 100 in mind. In the end, they completed the SE Corner route on Dallas, a route I have been hungering for for some time, and I'm sorry I didn't make it. In the end for me, I got what I really wanted most though, and that was to finish my 13 year quest to complete the highest 100 peaks in Colorado.

I was reading the 5th book in Terry Goodkinds Sword of Truth series, called Soul of the Fire, when I dead ended into a rather lengthy poem which I will only relay a couple of Stanzas... you'll surely see the intimidation tactics as they began to gnaw at me...

Till he parted the falls and the Bells chimed thrice
till he issued the calls and demanded the price.
The Bells chimed thrice and Death met the mountain.

They charmed and embraced and they tried to extoll
but he bade them in grace and demanded a soul.
The Bells fell silent and the Mountain slew them all.
And the Mountain entombed them all.

OK, highly motivational, I continued to pack. I left friday morning for Aspen, my thoughts with Steve and Chris on Dallas. I reached the trailhead at 3:00pm, and paid the entry fee for the first time in history, and I have been there many times before! I gather my things in an overnight pack equipped with overnight gear and a smaller pack for the morrow... one that has seen many journeys, and will most probably soon be retired. I arrive at my intended campsite near 11,700' at 6:00pm. I'm in the highest group of trees along the standard route to N. Maroon above Minnehaha gulch, and below the talous apron of the North face. I enjoy the company of a friendly marmot, whilst shooting some photography of the late sun and shadow on the surrounding wilderness in all it's late day splendor.

I fall at 9:00pm and rise at 4:00am to meet the rogue trail across the apron at 4:20am under headlamp. I move into the first gully in the dark but familiar terrain. I find the upper headwall and move left toward the corner at at 12,900' in the dawn light. This is where I had stould with Davey and Jim precisely 9 months to the day earlier. I turn off my headlamp and traverse into the unknown terrain of the second gully. Making my way up toward the ridge, the sun came up in glorious fashion. I negociated the uppermost cliffband at the foretold brief 4th class section, and find the summit soon after at 7:10am. After signing in, a drink, a bite, and a photo, I contemplate my near future. It looks arduous and dangerous, the long traverse to Maroon Pk.. In all of my Colorado adventures, I had never completed one of its Four Great Fourteener Traverses! Most parties carry gear for the traverse in this direction, yet for the sake of speed... I have brought none.

I set out at 7:30am, downclimbing some simple cliffs to reach the ridge below. I move through a cleft inbetween two towers, and I'm on my way... over this around that, and the after the tallest tower, I reached my first significant obstacle. I backtrack on the West side of the ridge to a spot with webbing in tact and downclimb an intimidating but managable thirty feet in the shade to the continuing ridgeline below. Whoo! that was airy!!! A ways further, and I'm confronted with another obstacle, this one most easily overcome off of the East edge, with another exposed downclimb of 25 feet, containing a particularly puckering bulge near the bottom... Uhh, foothold please!!! I reach the Bell col at 8:30am. The snow looks great for an escape route if I should need one, but again I have no axe or crampons either.

I begin my ascent of Maroon Pk., my last ranked fourteener as well as highest 100 peak in Colorado. Twenty minutes later at 8:50am, I stroll onto the snowcapped summit, with thirteen years of emotion welling up to the top along with me, an hour and twenty minutes after leaving N. Maroon. There are three young gents enjoying the beautiful morning on top and I put my hand out for low fives as I stroll past them toward the summit Cairn. They instinctively slap my hand one after the other as I stroll to the finish line. Damn this feels good, and I feel good too. I briefly explain to them my reason for such joy as I break out a mini-bottle of Cooks champaigne procured in Carbondale along the way. Brian, Chris, and Nate shared this special moment with me, as well as some champaigne, which I was more than happy to share considering my location. Nowhere I would want to be too tipsy! I still have to do this traverse in reverse to collect my camp and return to the trailhead. I enjoy nearly an hour with these guys who have just climbed the Bell Chord, and they opt to join me on my return traverse, which they had intended to do anyhow.

We leave the summit at 9:45am and cross the Bell col shortly thereafter. Immediately, Brian leads us on a route I had not traveled before to the West side at the level of the col. We followed gently downsloping ledges toward cairns at several corners, with 4th class upclimbs at intervals. Chutes and Ladders came to mind! Finally we returned to the ridge right at the very cleft I had passed through earlier, just a couple of hundred feet below the summit. This route was a fair bit easier and less exposed than the ridge 'proper' had been. We topped out at 11:15am, an hour and thirty minutes after leaving Maroon Pk. The day remained beautifuly clear, so we lounged for another forty five minutes on the summit of North Maroon Pk. Now it's all down hill from here, but one cannot allow complacency to take him with the downclimb of North Maroon's NorthEast ridge ahead. It is tediously loose and long and I'm still a ways above my camp.

We begin our descent at 12:00pm, reaching my camp at 1:50pm. My three new friends head off to break down their tent at Crater Lake, with plans to meet back up with me at the Crater Lk./Buckskin Pass junction. I break down my tent, repack my larger pack, and leave camp at 2:10pm. I head down into Minnehaha and arrive at the junction at 3:10pm. I wait approximately twenty minutes at the junction for my new friends, and we all arrive at the parking lot at 4:00pm, where we relieve our coolers of their beers, and celebrate our respective accomplishments. After a time, we move our party down to a place I believe was called La Cantina in Aspen where the waitresses looked better than the food tasted, and the margaritas could have tasted much better, too. Oh well, not to be dissuaded, I parted company with Brian, Chris, and Nate, and made my way to Penny hot springs near Redstone and soaked my toes before pulling up a side road to fall asleep with a big view of Chair Mountain. What an amazing day!

I awoke to sunhit on Chair Mountain Sunday Morning, and crossed McClure pass to Paonia and Hotchkiss, passing by Needle Rock as I went, which I would end up having the good fortune of summiting the following weekend with Jeremy H. I made it home to Telluride at noon, lounging and reveling for the remainder of the day. It's a lot to process, completing a goal I have remained faithfull to for nearly thirteen years. What's next? is of course my mind set at this time... I just want to climb... I guess I probably will!

Comments or Questions

07/30/2007 18:40
We passed by you just as you were getting back to the Bell Cord after your finish. Huge accomplishment, many cudos to you. I thought you ment your 100th 14er summit, not top 100, wow, so much more impressive.

11/30/2010 17:28
there aren't any pictures! can we be sure this really happened?


p.s. see you tuesday; it's almost here!

san juaneer
thanx jamies!
11/30/2010 17:28
sorry jamie, I haven't figured how to transfer photos from my off-line computer at home to the library where I am now...
Looking forward to our approaching excursion... see you soon!


11/30/2010 17:28
I still have your card, when I get around to setting my Wilson Group reclimb trip in stone, I'll give you a call. Hopefully we can find a bar in Telluride that has one, good food and two, legal aged hostesses who don't look like they have a couple skeletons in the closet. Nice write up, that was a fun day for 95% of the time till that N.Maroon downclimb.



Brings back memories ...
11/30/2010 17:28
Congratulations! That was our last 14'er (Maroon Peak) via the traverse back in 1991 (and we celebrated with a small bottle of champagne too!). We still have that bottle, the wire thingy and the cork. Definitely an emotional moment ... so glad you could experience that feeling on a summit worthy of the accomplishment. Happy Trails!

san juaneer
11/30/2010 17:28
doumall, I remember you and your crew... thanx for the comment!
Brian, I'm sure of it! looking forward to your call!
Presto, glad to supply the nostalgia, I look forward to that myself. Thanx!

On Rock... Rock On!

02/05/2011 00:22
Beautiful write-up for an emotional & hard-earned finisher! Congrats!!!! Have fun climbing this week. Someone I know has been counting down the days for months now...

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