Peak(s):  Maroon Peak  -  14,156 feet
North Maroon Peak  -  14,014 feet
Date Posted:  08/20/2007
Modified:  08/21/2007
Date Climbed:   08/18/2007
Author:  jamienellis
 Maroon Bells Traverse (Maroon Pk to North)   

Maroon Peak (14,156) & N Maroon Peak (14,014)
Date: Saturday, Aug 18, 2007
Route: ascend S Ridge of Maroon Peak, traverse to N Maroon, descend N Maroon NE Ridge
Mileage / Elev: 10.7mi; 5,100'
Team: Mike Rodenak (Chicago Transplant); Erick Lord (denalibound); Jamie Princo (shanahan96) Jamie Nellis (jamienellis)

The monsoon pattern seems to be tapering off, so our Snowmass climbing crew decided it was as good a time as any to 'Ring the Bells.'

After a few hours' sleep in the back of our vehicles in the Overnight Parking Lot for the Maroon Lake TH, the four of us started up the trail at 3:15am.

We reached the 'Bent Tree' (10,500') where the trail turns off for the Maroon Peak South Ridge route just before 5am. Jamie had warned us that the route steepens quite a bit after turning onto this trail. Upon seeing the trail steepen, the look of pure shock on Erick's face and the expletives that followed provided us all with a good laugh. Yep, kids, the introduction is indeed over!

After climbing the initial headwall that greeted us near the beginning of the trail, we continued the steep slog up Maroon Peak's East slopes.

Heading up the steep E slopes of Maroon Peak: (Photo by Erick Lord)

We arrived at the 13,300' notch at 7:25am and stopped for a snack / sunscreen break. Our steep slog was well rewarded with stunning views of every ranked 14er in the Elk Range.

Negotiating the maze on the South side of Maroon Peak proved to be a task that would require all 4 of our brains (but, then again 3 of us are blonde!) From the notch, we followed a climbers trail and some cairns to the base of a chimney.

Mike climbing the chimney: (Photo by Jamie Princo)

Jamie heading up!

After exiting the chimney left, we followed the climbers trail to a small gully where cairns and ledges led us to the base of a much larger, looser gully.

Jamie and Mike traversing ledges on the S side of Maroon: (Photo by Erick Lord)

We found easier passage by staying to the right of this gully where the rock is more stable.

The Jamies and Mike traversing to the base of the large, loose gully: (Photo by Erick Lord)

Upon topping out of this gully we picked our way up Class 3 ledges to the summit ridge.

Scrambling up to the final summit block: (Photo by Erick Lord)

A few minutes later we were standing on the summit of Maroon Peak at 9:30 am.

Viewing N Maroon and the traverse from the summit of Maroon Peak: (Photo by Erick Lord)

At 10am Erick, Jamie and I started the traverse over to N Maroon Peak while Mike headed back down our ascent route (he won't admit it; but we all suspect he had a hot date lined up that evening)

The traverse...what can I say? It lives up to its reputation of being one of Colorado's 'Great 14er Traverses.' From the summit block, we dropped down to the apex of the Bell Cord couloir. The down climb of Maroon Peak is tedious to say the least.

Erick down climbing 'the crux' from Maroon Peak

Following the ridge N from the Bell cord, we entered the fray. Despite its challenges, both physical and mental, the traverse offered a couple hours of fun, exhilarating scrambling.

Scrambling on the traverse (Photo by Jamie Princo)

Arriving on the summit at Noon, we wished we could have stayed a while to enjoy it; but we knew that we could not relax yet. There were still a few hours of down climbing ahead of us.

Erick on the summit of N Maroon with Maroon Peak and traverse in the background.

Starting down from N Maroon Peak (Photo by Erick Lord)

Erick and I chose to down climb the dihedral, while Jamie wanted to have a little fun and rappel. Another guy that we met on the summit borrowed Jamie's rope to aid his down climb as well.

Jamie finishing the rappel of the dihedral (Photo by Erick Lord)(


A view of the route down from N Maroon. Can you find the climber?

The rumors are true! The seemingly endless route down N Maroon Peak finished off the days' theme well - steep and loose! Fortunately for us, it did end. A few hours later we rejoiced at the site of our vehicles containing sandals and beer.

The Maroon Bells definitely earn their reputation. All in all it was another great day spent in the hills with great friends! A beautiful rainbow greeted us on Independence Pass that evening.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Comments or Questions
Chicago Transplant

Thanks and more photos!
08/20/2007 19:56
Thanks for another great climb all! Sorry I had to bail on the traverse, I guess its just another reason to come back
The descent of the standard route went really smoothly and I was back at the car in about 3 hours. The route is easier to follow when you know where it goes

On the way down I got to hang out with these guys...

Here are some more ascent photos...

Maroon from the ridge, this was like 7.45am

The Jamies on the ledge system

Erick on the summit ridge

The Jamies nearing the summit

And finally, the Pyramid Family from the descent:


08/21/2007 00:08
Beer and sandals. Nothing better after a long hike! Nice job guys.


08/21/2007 15:18
Well.. I am speechless.. Great job you guys!! That is one traverse that I probably will never do.. Looks way too hard and scary..


08/28/2008 00:37
Good job you guys! Congrats Jamie for getting these in the traverse!!!


The route steepens
11/30/2010 17:28

It wasn't so much expletives, as uncontrollable laughter. Within 100 feet of the trail, you encounter a 20 foot headwall. It's mostly rocks, dirt, and grass, and not really a big deal, but at 5am I just couldn't stop laughing. There was just something about it that was hysterically funny.


Nothing like the Bells
11/30/2010 17:28
Great report...Way to get 'em done!!

Good work guys!


Thanks everyone!
11/30/2010 17:28
Mark, don't worry...we're still going back for the Bell cord next Spring.

Aaron, the good weather day did come at a price. We had to make a sacrifice to the mountain gods. I'm not really sure how to put this, but don't expect to hear from Jamie any time soon...

SarahT, I agree! Jamie told me a really scary story about some beers of yours cooling in a stream one time.


11/30/2010 17:28
on ringing the bells! And even better with the traverse. I can't wait to hit these peaks myself! Hearty congrats!



You guys are animals
01/19/2011 03:38
Just when I start to feel satisfied with my summer, here you go again. Congrats on this one, looks like lots of fun.

san juaneer
02/05/2011 00:22
congrats jamie and crew! good weather is hard to find up there... I'm glad you were able to.
It looks like somebody lost it up there that day... that really sucks, did you see anything to do with that?

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