The Pile of Rubble Formally Known as Maroon Peak

After Capitol Peak Chris and I zoomed over to the Bells trailhead which doubles as a hub for every single tourist in the entire world with a camera.  The backdrop to Maroon Lake is two mountains, two very scary mountains.  We turned in early with visions of rubble dancing in our heads.  Alarms buzzed at 3 a.m. so did the rain, 4 a.m. rain and thunder, 5 a.m. rain, 6 a.m. it starts to die off.  7 a.m. seems like a reasonable time to start Maroon Peak during monsoon season, right? Wrong.

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I have seen this shot 4.5 billion times on instagram.  I am far more interested on standing a top those two badasses in the background.

For no reason at all we climbed half way up the 2,000 feet of suck (more like 2,800 feet in .9 miles) and decided to try again the next day.  If we had kept going we would have been stuck in a storm well before the summit.  At least I got “the” instagram shot out of the whole ordeal.  We went into Aspen and Chris played endless amounts of Pokemon while I ate fourteen different meals.

Stats – 13.1 miles/5,394 feet of gain (with a summit of 13,753)

Tomorrow, tomorrow, there’s always tomorrow.  With our game faces on we set out around 4 a.m. for real this time.  In day light we over shot the turn off for Maroon Peak.  Cool.  Once corrected, the up begins abruptly, and I mean this mountain goes up.  My bread and butter is climbing up 70 degree loose dirt rock grass slopes at altitude.  I was in heaven.  I wish I was being sarcastic but, the more straight up and hellacious, the better.  There are goat trails everywhere.  There are goats everywhere. We quickly picked our way up until we gained the south ridge.

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We crested the south ridge and what lie ahead but a pile of rubble…..

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Ridges of Rubble.

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Gullies of Rubble.

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Caress the Rubble.

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Climb the Rubble.

Eventually there is a very obvious and easy class 3 chimney full of rubble.  (Both photos taken on descent)

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Looking up.

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Looking down.

After we rounded about ten more corners full of rubble we were faced with this daunting view.

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Rubble Game Strong.

This is a place to vigilantly route find and not screw up.  We chose gully two, stuck to the solid rock on the left side, and exited just before the large patch of snow.  It worked out so well we did the same thing on the decent. Below, our route is sketched out in blue.  Gully one is an option, I am not sure why?

ROUTEHere are some shots inside the gully (also taken on the descent).  I am fairly certain collectively we took five photos on the ascent.

DCIM\100GOPRO\G0298508.Notice the goat center stage background.  Goats drop rubble bombs from above.  It’s quite like a video game.  Don’t die in a rubble slide, don’t get hit in the head by a rubble bomb, don’t put all your weight on a rubble hold…test everything, trust nothing.  In this video game you only get one life.

File Jul 26, 1 41 08 PMAfter the gully there is another corner, and then another gully, and then another corner, and then a complex face, all covered in…. rubble.  If you haven’t rounded 356 corners to consistently discouraging views of where the summit actually is then you have done something very wrong.

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Corners of Rubble.

There are zero photos from Gully 2 to summit ridge and I am not sure any words can explain it better than Bill and Gerry’s.  Just take your time to route find and all will be well.  Gaining the summit ridge there is a move marked by a medium sized marmot turd.  It is a blind move that requires pulling yourself up, so beware of a shitty situation.  The summit is Elk Range beautiful.

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Asking the magic eight ball if we should go for the traverse. (It replied, “the sky is dark and full of terrors). Also, I would never be comfortable doing the traverse without knowing the route off of North Maroon.

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Chris is very good at taking summit photos of us.

The last thing you need to do is everything you just did but in the opposite direction.

File Aug 01, 9 53 59 PMSince so much of the route is spent circumnavigating the allegedly insurmountable PT 13,753, we decided to summit it on the way out.  And we had a lovely scree surf off of it.  We also got a nice view of Maroon Peak from its summit.

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I was pretty surprised how fast we descended.

Oh and of course, goats.

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Hey bros, let me in on that sweet wildflower destruction.

I thought Maroon Peak was very fun and I would happily climb it again.  As much as I joke, like Pyramid and Capitol, I don’t think it is as loose as everyone makes it out to be. However, Chris and I did have the mountain to ourselves and we are both (for the most part), quick, light footed, and nimble.  North Maroon on the other hand……………** shakes fist angrily at sky ** is another story that I will someday tell.

“Motivation is a funny word.  I don’t need motivation to do what I love the most.”

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The Pile of Rubble Formally Known as Maroon Peak — 3 Comments

  1. Nice trip. If the weather had been better, I see no reason why someone with your experience could not have tried the traverse…the descent off N Maroon is not too tricky. You just need to look on your right for the departure point from the ridge.

    • For me personally, knowing the reputation of those two peaks I wanted to know the ascent and descent off of both North and South before attempting the traverse. I felt North Maroon was much more tricky than South and I honestly could not imagine coming off of it blindly. When I was at the trailhead sleeping 2 summers ago before a successful summit of Pyramid Peak, a black hawk was flying in and out for hours. Turns out two women (a mother and daughter) both very experienced climbers could not find their way off of North Maroon after completing the traverse. It is not so much experience as it is comfort. I would feel comfortable doing the traverse now that I know how to get off North Maroon. There are literally 100 places you could go wrong blindly descending that peak.

  2. Hilarious narrative and wonderful photos. It reminds me of climbing Pinnacle Peak in Mt. Rainier NP, which is much lower in elevation but still a pile of rubble, at least on its south face. I plan on climbing Little Bear, Blanca Peak, and Ellingwood in late June. I’m not looking forward to the loose rock in the Hourglass.

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