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Ascent to North Maroon Peak-near top of 2nd gully on 2010-07-21

Climber: Patrick Lilly

Others in Party:Trisha Conlon
Date:Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:North Maroon Peak - near top of 2nd gully
    Location:USA-Colorado
    Elevation:14014 ft / 4271 m

Ascent Trip Report

I had concerns about route finding on this trip, and my main purpose in posting this is to address that. We found the lower part of the route to be much easier to follow than some published data suggested. Cairns are generally well placed where there is not an obviously visible trail (which is in most places). At least, going up. Near the top of the second gully, which is where we turned back, we finally began having real trouble locating cairns and seeing the best way ahead for the (leftward) exit from the gully.
Just as importantly, on the way down, we found it easy to see a cairn on the north side of the gully which marks the entry when following the rarely-taken alternate route which climbs much higher in the first gully before crossing over. This route is much more demanding, so the lesson is: Take a good look backward shortly after entering the second gully to see what your exit point is going to look like when descending, and resist the temptation to leave it too soon (too high) on the way back.
We did not feel any need to don helmets until after entering the 2nd gully.
We started before 5 am under partly cloudy skies with no preciptation. This quickly gave way to very cloudy skies with light, fine rain. This was no real problem. Slight wetness of the soil on the trail was not enough to make it slippery; it actually seemed to bind it somewhat. On the way back down, with more rain having fallen, this was definitely not the case, and slipping off one's feet was an ever-present danger.
The gullies are steep, and the climbing is relentless, but we generally found that the quality of the rock was actually better (read: less loose) than most places on Maroon Peak. Even when wetted by significant rain, it wasn't bad enough to be scary; that wasn't where we slipped.
Around 9:30 am (!) serious precipitation set in, significantly reducing visibility and eventually soaking us thoroughly. The visibility, plus the fact that it showed no sign of letting up, figured hugely in our decision to turn around before finding the exit from the second gully. Decent weather would make this route a relative piece of cake for any experienced hiker/climber, although most of the day should still be allotted for it by all but the speed demons amongst us. Even without completing the route, we needed nearly 13 hours to get back to the Maroon Lake parking lot.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:4614 ft / 1405 m
    Extra Gain:100 ft / 30 m
    Distance:17 mi / 27.4 km
    Route:NE ridge
    Trailhead:Maroon Lake  9600 ft / 2926 m
    Grade/Class:Class 4, Grade IV
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Stream Ford, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Raining, Cool, Calm, Partly Cloudy
clouds and steadily increasing rain
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:7 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:6 Hours 



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